3. Final Aerial Panorama-0

CCA Graduate Center

From Warehouse to Art School

To complete California College of the Arts’ MFA center, Jensen Architects employed inexpensive, utilitarian building systems with provocative results.

Now You See It …

JENSEN draped new and existing pre-engineered steel buildings with an aluminum mesh to make them one. At once delicate and robust, the scrim-like mesh works as a hybrid fence-façade that allows in light while securing the urban complex. The buildings appear opaque in daylight, but after dark they glow with light from inside. The daily play of light and form fittingly gives this hub of creativity a dynamic presence in the city.

6. 501-31
1. 501-27
2. IMG_5590

Hacking the System

The structure’s heavy steel beams and insulated metal panel siding reference the school’s light-industrial neighbors, yet JENSEN has hacked this off-the-shelf system to create a subtly provocative building. Skylights and clerestories fill the buildings with daylight, and large auto-showroom doors hark back to the warehouse loading docks. Today, the swinging doors provide easy access for students transporting all kinds of materials and projects.

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16. 501-15

Getting It Done

Everything on this site is practical, flexible, and durable, designed to meet the art students’ ever-changing and unpredictable needs. The pre-engineered trusses frame an open, column-free space filled with 68 artist studios, each 10 x 20 feet in size and designed for maximum daylight. There are also classrooms, exhibition spaces, and offices. Outside, the tree-shaded courtyard between the buildings provides space for workshops and gatherings.

13. 501-6
14. 501-4

Built to Last

Future reuse doesn’t mean disposable. The mat-slab foundation for the new building is three-feet thick and acts like a giant boat floating on different types of soils. Foundation pile cut-offs were repurposed as benches in the courtyard. This project, phased over several years, connects with the Graduate Studios building to create a combined 50,000 square-foot, ever-changing graduate studies complex.

12. 501-18
8. 501-23
4. 501-29
California College of the Arts
San Francisco


2009 Chicago Athenaeum, American Architecture Award

2008 AIA California Council, Honor Award
2008 AIA San Francisco, Merit Award


a+u Magazine, “CCA Graduate Center,” April 2018
San Francisco Chronicle, “California College of the Arts quietly heading toward San Francisco” March 2016
Architecture Zone Vol. 3, H.K. Rihan Int’l Culture Spread Ltd., 2010
San Francisco Chronicle, “New faces start a welcome trend,” March 3, 2009
AIA California Council 2009 Calendar
1000x Architecture of the Americas, Michelle Galindo, Verlagshaus Braun, 2008
arcCA, “2008 AIACC Design Awards,” August 3, 2008
Restroom: Contemporary Design, Jennifer Hudson, Laurence King Publishing Ltd, 2008
San Francisco Magazine, “Five Degrees of Gradation,” February 2008
arcCA, Journal of the AIA California Council, Prefab Issue, Q4 2007


Project Leads
Jensen Architects / Jensen & Macy Architects:
Mark Jensen
Frank Merritt
Project Team
Chris Kalos
Steven Huegli
Pantea Tehrani


Jeffrey Weber & Associates
Mechanical & Plumbing
Guttmann & Blaevoet
Silverman & Light
KCA Engineers
URS Corporation
Charles M. Salter Associates


Oliver & Company


Mark Luthringer
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