Trans Alta Commons
Founded in 1925 as Centralia Junior College, the school is the oldest continuously operating community college in Washington State. Located in Western Washington, in the heart of downtown Centralia, the school has evolved from modest beginnings of offering classes without a physical campus and 15 students its first year, to providing four-year degrees on a campus of 25-acres to over 6,000 students.
As the school and community grew, a vision evolved to create a pedestrian-oriented campus. Through multiple masterplans, this vision was maintained despite the difficulty of implementing the design in an area of the campus that was divided in half by major streets. The new 70,000 sq. ft. student union building, called TransAlta Commons, was the catalyst project for pulling together 30 years of dreams and hard work to create a pedestrian campus. It was one of the final steps of the master plan to upgrade and modernize the college.
Studies had been done to identify how to tie the campus together and make it more pedestrian-oriented, and it was found that closing two streets were key to that vision. The development of the Commons building, and its surrounding walkways, provided an opportunity to convert the streets to pedestrian esplanades. The idea was presented to the City of Centralia and was met with approval by both the council and the community.
SCJ Alliance's landscape architecture studio designed all exterior hardscape, plazas, sustainable landscape and high-efficiency irrigation. To help the architects and school visualize design options for the courtyards and hardscape design, 3-D models were created by the landscape architecture team.
In the beginning stages of the project, the team identified their key goals, which were providing a paving design that respected the existing campus esplanade design, providing an environmentally sustainable design, including high efficiency irrigation, ensuring fire truck and service vehicle accessibility, and creating a space for hosting college, community, and regional events.
As seen in LASN magazine, November 2020.