CCA Graduate Studios

The Art (School) of Adaptive Reuse

When California College of the Arts needed to quickly expand its MFA studios, Jensen Architects recast a run-down warehouse with the poetry of everyday materials.


Presented with a 10,000-square-foot warehouse and an eight-month schedule, Jensen innovated by turning to inexpensive, everyday materials that recall the neighborhood’s industrial character and history. Corrugated polycarbonate siding forms a continuous clerestory, allowing diffuse daylight to pour into the artists’ studios within, while corrugated cement board wraps the rest of the exterior walls. A low, wide building that could have appeared squat and lifeless instead is subtly dynamic and intriguing.

A Place for Work

Inside, the building is a hive of creativity, with 32 artist studios, covered in high-grade plywood and designed for maximum daylight. The spaces are practical but comfortable, utilitarian but attractive — providing the CCA students with an ideal, decidedly neutral environment for creative work.

Contained Solution

Ever since FEMA set up bathrooms in shipping containers out of necessity after Hurricane Katrina, private firms have adopted the concept as an affordable, off-the-shelf solution. To preserve the building’s open interiors, Jensen had a shipping container restroom, fitted out by Kohler off-site, craned onto the property’s exterior courtyard. A planning grace note, the container complements the site’s industrial aesthetic.

Future Adaptation

In refurbishing the warehouse, Jensen emphasized using economical materials and working with the existing structure. This streamlined, budget-conscious approach gave CCA flexibility and agility in planning for its future growth by minimizing investment in a leased property and leaving open options for expanding to adjacent lots.

California College of the Arts
San Francisco


2005 IDSA Industrial Design Excellence Award, Silver Medal
2004 AIA California Council, Merit Award
2004 AIA San Francisco, Excellence in Design Award


and:guide San Francisco architecture and design, teNeues, 2005
Innovation, “Yearbook of Industrial Design Excellence: Environment Silver Award,” Fall 2005
Business Week, “IDEA Awards Environments,” July 2005
arcCA, Journal of the AIA California Council, “2004 AIACC Design Awards Issue” Q3 2004
Architectural Record, “Facing the Future”, Campus Planning Feature, August 2004
San Francisco Chronicle, Home & Garden Section, “Plastics” March 24, 2004
The Wall Street Journal, “Plots & Ploys”, July 9, 2003


Project Leads
Jensen & Macy Architects:
Mark Jensen
Mark Macy
Frank Merritt
Project Team
Chia-Yu Yen


Jeffrey Weber & Associates
Guttmann & Blaevoet


Oliver & Company


Richard Barnes
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