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Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.

Woodbury University Studio Building in Burbank, California by Rios Clementi Hale Studios

March 21st, 2012 by Sanjay Gangal

Article source: Rios Clementi Hale Studios

As the most visible building on the campus perimeter, the studio building mediates between the public view and private use of the campus. The south façade is a horizontal, large-scale gesture to passing motorists that curves and wraps around the building.  Varying patterns of concrete masonry units (CMU) compose this prominent wall.  The stacked blocks create a large-scale, changing pattern of subtle shadings as the sunlight moves across the south façade during the day.  Rios Clementi Hale Studios maintains continuity with the campus by using block colors and horizontal banding sympathetic to brick colors and patterning on existing buildings.  Functionally, the south façade filters sunlight and traffic sounds from the adjacent city streets and freeway.

Image Courtesy Tom Bonner

  • Architects: Rios Clementi Hale Studios
  • Project: Woodbury University Studio Building
  • Location: 7500 Glenoaks Blvd., Burbank, CA
  • Size: 19,000 square feet; two stories
  • Photographer: Tom Bonner

Image Courtesy Tom Bonner

Client: Woodbury University, a private, nonprofit, 1,500-student, specialized university that prepares its students for professional careers in areas such as architecture, animation, design, business, information technology, and marketing.  Founded in 1884, Woodbury is one of Southern California’s oldest institutions of higher education.  The university acquired its current 22.4-acre campus in 1987.

Program: Woodbury University required a new studio building to complete the existing architecture department, comprising five, one-story buildings.  Rios Clementi Hale Studios designed the new, two-story studio building to house architectural studios, critique spaces, support spaces, and a double-height multi-purpose room.

Image Courtesy Tom Bonner


  • Design/Build Contractor: Swinerton Builders
  • Project Management: Exceleration Project Management
  • Structural Engineer: Charles Tan + Associates
  • Acoustical Engineer: Newson Brown Acoustics LLC
  • AV Consultant: PlanNet Consulting
  • Electrical Systems: Unison Electric
  • Mechanical Systems: Western Allied Corporation
  • Plumbing: Pan-Pacific
  • Civil Engineer: KPFF
  • Lighting: Mark Jacksen Illumination
  • Landscape: Valley Crest
  • Code Consultant: Arup Fire
  • Waterproofing: Independent Roofing Consultants
  • Fire Sprinklers: Advance Fire Protection
  • Environmental Graphics: Woodbury University

Image Courtesy Tom Bonner

While the south façade creates a buffer zone, the north façade opens the studio building to the existing department complex and provides a porous edge to a courtyard formed by the existing studio building to the north.  To connect the new structure to the existing complex, the north façade employs smaller-scale layering of vertical elements.  The block pattern consists of vertical stripes with alternating neutral colors.  The guardrails at the balcony and open stairs mimic the pattern with vertical wood polymer pickets fastened to steel supports.  These exterior circulation balconies and open stairs also animate the space.

Image Courtesy Tom Bonner

The double-height, multi-purpose space differentiates itself from the mass of the building with a high glass lantern that acts as a beacon to the south.  A custom olive leaf patterned graphic film covers the glass to control sunlight.  At nearly 1,700 square feet, the multi-purpose room provides additional critique space and a flexible area for all-school lectures and exhibits.  The interior south wall follows the curve of the exterior, adding a soft gesture to the structure and countering the sharp edges of its exterior.  A large, bi-fold hangar door, when opened, extends the space into the north courtyard.

Image Courtesy Tom Bonner

In the bulk of the building, programmatic space for architecture students extends across two floors.  An exterior wooden staircase connects the two levels and is made of TimberTech Wood.  On each floor, 5,500 square feet of studio space adjoins 1,500 square feet of critique space.  The studio space allows each student approximately 35 square feet of individual work space.  Insulated walls with gypsum drywall provide pin-up surfaces for students.  This interior finish stops short of the structural ceiling to expose approximately 30 percent of the structural CMU walls on the inside of the building.  The concrete floors are exposed 100 percent throughout the building, as with the structural CMU walls on the exterior of the building.

Image Courtesy Tom Bonner

Exposed construction and mechanical components of the building serve as teaching tools for the architecture students and include structural steel beams that extend from the studios to hold the cantilevered balcony and roof, metal decking that forms the structural floor and roof, hanging wire management ladders for electrical and data cable routing, roof drain pipes, metal ducting and DuctSox for the HVAC system, sprinkler pipes, and pendant lighting.  Lighting and mechanical systems adhere to the California Energy Code’s Title 24 standards for energy efficiency, as required by code.

Image Courtesy Tom Bonner

Where possible, sustainable interior materials are specified, including ceramic tile made of recycled clay, glass, and grinding paste; pressed paper and resin countertops and backsplashes; and recycled cotton acoustical insulation.  In the restrooms, partitions were made from recycled materials and organic wood fibers, and dual-flushing toilets are located in each stall.  The KONE EcoSpace elevator, with its hoisting machine attached to the guide rail, consumes approximately half the energy of conventional traction machines and approximately one-third of the energy of hydraulic machines.  It requires no oil, removing the risk of soil contamination.  Ninety-five percent of the materials in the elevator are recyclable, including flooring made from a blend of recycled tires, post-industrial waste, and colored rubber granules.

The architects reduced the amount of air-conditioned interior space by utilizing exterior circulation areas, installing sheet metal sunshades at the south façade exterior to impede direct sunlight and glare inside studio areas, and using a white cap sheet at the roof to further reduce heat from entering the building.  By applying DuctSox—a fabric air dispersion system—in open studios, 65 percent of sheet metal ducts traditionally used were not required.  This is considered a green product, because it improves air quality with more effective air distribution, protects against mold, allows for easy duct cleaning, and reduces shipping and jobsite waste.


Image Courtesy Tom Bonner

Firm:   Rios Clementi Hale Studios, established in 1985, has developed an international reputation for its collaborative and multi-disciplinary approach, establishing an award-winning tradition across an unprecedented range of design disciplines.  Acknowledging the firm’s varied body of work, the American Institute of Architects California Council gave Rios Clementi Hale Studios its 2007 Firm Award, the organization’s highest honor.  For its varied landscape work—from civic parks to private gardens—the firm was named a finalist in the 2009 National Design Awards.  The architecture, landscape architecture, planning, urban, interior, exhibit, graphic, and product designers at Rios Clementi Hale Studios create buildings, places, and products that are thoughtful, effective, and beautiful.

Image Courtesy Tom Bonner

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Category: University Building

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