Designing for higher learning | SierraSun.com

Designing for higher learning

Renée Shadforth
The area of the proposed Sierra College site in Truckee is bordered by Interstate 80 on the north, State Route 89 on the West and West River Street on the south.
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Measure H has yet to pass the scrutiny of Truckee and North Tahoe voters, but Sierra College officials aren’t wasting any time designing a permanent McIver Hill campus.The preliminary concept includes a 40,000-square-foot building set in a protected saddle between two peaks on the McIver Hill site. In a partnership with the Truckee Donner Land Trust, Sierra College officials have agreed to keep as many as 50 percent of those 72 acres as open space.”That’s a powerful piece we’ve been working on as a partnership,” said Jordan Knighton, project architect from Auburn-based NTD Stichler.In its pact with the land trust, Sierra College agreed that development will not be visible from state Route 89, West River Street, Commercial Row or Interstate 80, except for a potential access road connecting to West River. Also in the agreement, the land trust said it would publicly support Sierra College in passing Measure H and disagreements between the two parties would remain private and confidential.

In Truckee’s General Plan update process, community members have stressed the importance of not over-developing McIver Hill, the swath of land set north of West River Street, east of state Route 89 south, and south of Interstate 80.Knighton said the concept of the Truckee campus keeps those concerns in mind, with a low-profile school and protected view sheds from around the hill.The concept has the campus’ classrooms organized around a south-facing solarium, which can serve as a campus connector. The classrooms will include spaces for general education, science, technology, art, photography, music, physical education, distance learning, student services and administrative offices.”It’s a small, village-type structure rather than one, large mega-structure,” Knighton said.The preliminary concept uses “high-performance design,” which he said will save energy and resources through daylighting, acoustics, clear air ventilation and energy-efficient materials.

If Measure H passes, Knighton said he wants to begin engaging the community in a more complete design after Jan. 1, 2005.There are also future plans to expand the Sierra College Truckee campus, which college officials expect will serve 500 full-time students by 2015.Measure H – The bond

Measure H is a $35 million bond initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot that would pay for a permanent Sierra College campus in Truckee. If passed, the measure would form a school facilities improvement district to purchase a 72-acre parcel on McIver Hill for a permanent campus capable of handling 500 full-time students by the year 2015. Property owners would pay between $15 and $16 per $100,000 assessed value on their homes over approximately 25 years. The measure needs a 55 percent majority to pass, a threshold voters in Sierra College’s four-county district were unable to meet in March with the failed $384 million Measure E. The March initiative would have provided funds for capital improvements all over the Sierra College district.However, voter support for Measure E in March was stronger locally than elsewhere in the Sierra Joint Community College District, said Dave Ferrari, Sierra College trustee for the Truckee and North Tahoe areas. Ferrari said Sierra College plans on running a $50,000 campaign for Measure H, with some funds leftover from the Measure E campaign and another $40,000 or so to raise. Sierra College cannot use school funds for the campaign. Currently, Sierra College leases a 10,000-square-foot building with four classrooms, two computer labs and one art room in the Pioneer Commerce Center for its Truckee students. It serves approximately 400 students – 30 percent more than fall 2003, according to Truckee Dean Frank DeCourten.