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California College of the Arts plans for San Francisco expansion, student housing

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The California College of the Arts main building at Eighth and Hooper streets on June 28, 2018. The college is looking to tear down a nearby building at 188 Hooper Street to create student housing. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

The San Francisco Planning Commission advanced plans Thursday for the expansion of the California College of the Arts’ San Francisco campus, including the addition of a new academic building and 520 beds for students.

With campuses in San Francisco’s Design District and in Oakland, the 111-year-old nonprofit art and design college is seeking to focus its services solely in San Francisco, with plans to eventually shutter its Oakland site.

The commission signed off on a conditional use and big project authorization that will allow the college to convert a surface parking lot at 1147 7th St. into a two to four-story, 58-foot tall academic building, and to construct a new five-story, 56-foot tall building that will serve as housing for its some of its 1,950 students.

The project also includes plans for 10,999 square feet of public open space and a 400 square-foot deck, and the college plans to make “minor modifications,” including installing an HVAC system, at its main offices at 111 8th St.

The proposed project would bring 17 four-bedroom, seven three-bedroom, 161 two-bedroom and 95 one-bedrooms units to 188 Hooper St., the current site of three one-story buildings that serve as studios. The student housing will also include an 8,000 square foot dining hall.

It is unclear how much students will required to pay to live in the student housing.

The goal behind transformting CCA into a “more residential campus” is to eliminate commuter stress and congestion and to provide low-cost housing to students who would otherwise be “unable to afford San Francisco rents,” said David Meckel, CCA’s director of campus planning.

During public comment, supporters spoke of a dire need for affordable students housing in San Francisco.

Timothy Reyff , a field representative of Carpenters Local 22, said the project would free up some housing supply in the market for those in need.

Across the street from the planned student housing, a parking lot at 1147 7th St. will be transformed into 96,000 square feet of arts and education space, including studios, design labs, classrooms and fabrication workshops.

“We aim to provide the distinctive spirit and functionality of the Oakland and San Francisco facilities in a campus that reflects the heritage of CCA while creating a new model for interdisciplinary arts and design education,” said Steve Wiesenthal, of Studio Gang Architects, the firm designing the revamped campus..

Wiesenthal explained that a layered landscape, called “double ground,” will create a “unified academic campus” with flexible teaching spaces on the ground and an elevated series of garden spaces on its top level, where three pavilions will rise “out of the upper ground.”

“In addition to the campus yard, there will be large windows that reveal exciting maker spaces within the campus,” said Wiesenthal.

Commissioner Kathrin Moore said that she was excited at the prospect of an “interconnected campus” coming into an “area of little signature,” and predicted that the new campus would become an architectural destination.

“You have large, somewhat obscure industrial buildings, and this has turned their use from the inside out because you can clearly see what’s happening inside the buildings,” said Moore. “This will be a mark for architecture.”


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