Award Winner 2007:

Kirsch Center for Environmental Studies

De Anza College, Cupertino, CA

The Kirsch Center at De Anza College is a LEED® Gold buiding that was implemented by the students and for the students. Determined that the Kirsch Center be green, the student government allocated $180,000 of its own funds to support the project. Students were heavily involved in programming and design workshops, pushing for features that have made the building a highly popular place to socialize and learn.

Outstanding Features

The guiding motto for the Kirsch Center is a "building that teaches about energy, resources and stewardship." To live up to this motto, the building is designed to let students view its inner workings. Structural and utility systems, some of which have transparent panels to aid viewing, are exposed throughout the building. Passionate about incorporating renewable energy into the project, students can watch a real-time display of power generated by the photovoltaic system as well as the building's overall energy usage. An organic garden, bioswales, and many other features chosen by students directly impart energy and resource stewardship principles to building users.
View the projectsubmittal (pdf) >>

Survey Results

The Kirsch Center currently ranks in the 100th percentile for general building satisfaction in CBE's occupant survey database. The building shows exceptional performance in air quality and lighting, ranking in the 100th percentile for these categories as well. The Kirsch Center received excellent scores for acoustic quality, an area where many otherwise outstanding buildings often fall short.
View the survey results (pdf) >>

Jury Comments

"The Kirsch Center has so many ratings in the top 100 percentile. Does it get better than this? And it has acoustical, comfort, and air quality scores just not heard of in almost any buildings."

"It looks like a very, very livable building indeed."

Project Team

Executive Architect: VBN Architects
Design Architect: Van der Ryn Architects
MEP, Lighting & Acoustics Engineer: Arup
Structural Engineer: DASSE Design Inc.
Contractor: S.J. Amoroso
Commissioning: Rumsey Engineers

Additional Information

Kirsch Center website

Images © De Anza College
Livable Buildings Award

Entry courtyard of the Kirsch Center.

Interior spaces receive ample daylight.

Livable Buildings Award

View of the rooftop photovoltaic array.