[caption id="attachment_66461" align="alignnone" width="595"] The Library Learning Center at Mendocino College uses the natural topography.[/caption]

Location: 1000 Hensley Creek Rd., Ukiah

Owner: Mendocino College

Design: structure -- TLCD Architecture; landscape -- Quadriga Landscape Architecture

General contractor: Midstate Construction, Inc.

Engineering: civil -- KPFF Consulting Engineers; structural -- KPFF Consulting Engineers; mechanical and plumbing -- Costa Engineers; electrical -- O'Mahony & Myer

Consultants: acoustical -- Charles M. Salter Associates Inc.; cost estimating -- Davis Langdon; energy -- Sol-Data Energy Consulting

Cost: $20 million

UKIAH -- Designed to deliver much more than library services, the Mendocino College Library Learning Center, completed this fall, is a new central pivot point for a campus that had long outgrown the cluster of portable buildings that have sat at the site since the permanent campus was established in 1985.

"It completes the campus," said Mike Adams, the college's director of facilities planning and a staff member  since it first moved to its current site. "It's the showpiece."

Built and furnished in two years at a cost of approximately $20 million, the 47,000-square-foot building and its surrounding courtyard were designed to give students and faculty a common area for work and leisure. The building is the final step in a 25-year master plan for growing the campus, Mr. Adams said.

The building was oriented to control the heat gain, and a high-efficiency climate control system silently delivers cool air from the floor to maintain a quiet indoor environment. Recycled and non-toxic materials are used in construction, minimizing the environmental impact.

The building houses a traditional library collection on the upper floor, with meeting rooms and other common areas below. The structure also includes dedicated space for the Math Engineering Science Achievement program, a disabled resource center and a language lab. A video production area allows instructors to record lessons, with technology that allows video instruction to a remote audience, Mr. Adams said.

[caption id="attachment_66462" align="alignleft" width="384"] Inside the library entry[/caption]

"The way libraries are used at colleges has changed quite a bit. Now, it's more about learning and meeting space," said Brian Wright, associate principal at the architectural firm behind the project, Santa Rosa's TLCD.

Embarking on the project helped jump-start further expansion for Mendocino College. The former library, a smaller space opened in the 1980s, will reopen as a student service center in June. In addition, the portable buildings formerly at the site were relocated to an area already earmarked for growth, allowing cost and environmental savings versus new construction.

While the north-to-south slope of the campus presented a challenge to designers, Mr. Wright said that the natural topography was ultimately implemented as an asset in the final design.

"The main entry is at mid-level," he said. "We used the topography to make it possible to only travel up or down half a level to reach either floor."

That topography was also used to enhance the building's aesthetic aspects.

"As you walk into the library, the view of the Ukiah Valley is right in front of you," Mr. Adams said. "It was designed to draw you in."

Mr. Adams estimated that the number of individuals in the facility at any given time has tripled versus the former, 24,000-square-foot location.

[caption id="attachment_66463" align="alignnone" width="576"] The interior of the new library overlooks Ukiah Valley[/caption]

Funding for the project was provided by Measure W, a $67.5 million school facility bond measure including the Mendocino-Lake Community College District. The measure passed by a 62 percent majority in 2006.

Today, more than 3,700 students attend Mendocino College, including part time and full time enrollment. Funding from Measure W is also supporting construction of two satellite campuses, a 17,000-square-foot site in Lake County and an 8,000-square-foot site in Willits.