Since 1988 BCA Architects has been serving as a trusted partner and advocate for clients throughout California. Based in San Jose, California, with branch offices in Sacramento, Orange County and Los Angeles, California, the BCA team has provided a range of integrated architecture and design services to commercial, civic, institutional and community living clients all over the state.
Paul Bunton (AIA), CEO and founding partner of BCA, has more than 30 years of design experience. His broad portfolio includes schools, offices, health care facilities, municipal buildings and more. He works alongside fellow principals James Moore (AIA) and Brian Whitmore (AIA) — both skilled and experienced architects with LEED accreditation – as well as 30 in-house professionals.
Bunton explains that one of the characteristics of BCA that sets the company apart is service. “We provide many value-added services – things that we do for our clients that others in our profession don’t,” he elaborates. “We can help bring additional funds to projects, for example, because we have outside consultants who can write grants for construction, career technical education grants, energy grants and a whole series of other options to increase our clients budgets.”
Beyond value-added services, Bunton and his colleagues strive to offer holistic services to clients, taking into account more than form and efficiency when designing a space. Extensive collaboration and consensus building with owners and end users is a vital component of the firm’s success and has helped BCA to excel in new and changing markets.
This approach is pertinent especially in school design, where Bunton has seen major changes over the last few years. “We have done a lot of long-range master planning for our public school district clients as well as designing new schools and modernizing existing facilities,” he says. “One of the core value added services that BCA offers our educational clients involves the creation of 21st Century learning environments.”
The goal of 21st Century learning environments is to design spaces where students utilize current technology to learn in a creative, flexible, comfortable and collaborative environment. In order to support this vision, BCA designed and constructed a 21st Century demonstration classroom in the company’s San Jose office that models a range of design theory application and technology to educate potential clients and decision makers.
The 21st Century demonstration classroom provides participants with the use of a fully integrated environment, including multiple interactive displays, flexible mobile seating, an amplified sound system, mobile devices and a truly interactive experience. Educators, administrators, Board members and Community members, can come in and see a hands-on demonstration provided by BCA’s 21st Century educator in residence, Devorah Merling. A former classroom teacher and technology trainer, Merling adds tremendous value to BCA’s educational clients by bridging the gap between traditional architectural services and those provided by BCA.
Putting theory into action
In 2011, BCA was selected to prepare a long-range master plan for the Mendota Unified School District in Mendota, California. One of the key outcomes of their master plan was the need for a new elementary school to relieve the overcrowding in the Districts existing schools. . As a growing trend in school design throughout the state, BCA implemented 21st Century learning environments and technologies into the new school design. With Mendota, BCA specifically worked to create a cost-effective building solution that met the needs of the entire community within the confines of a 21st Century Learning Environment.
“This is BCA’s best work to date in terms of 21st Century learning environments because we created spaces that encourage student collaboration and use multidisplay, multidevice classrooms with mobile furniture — it’s everything we talk about when it comes to 21st Century education,” Bunton said in a press release issued after the school’s opening ceremony. “This is the first school we’ve designed that takes a completely holistic approach to these important issues in education.”
The company’s portfolio includes a number of innovative architecture and design projects outside the K-12 market as well. Bunton and his team were recently selected to design the new Cañada Kinesiology and Human Performance Center on the Cañada Community College campus. Combining elements of commercial and institutional design, the facility will serve students, faculty staff and people from the surrounding community as a private health club and campus fitness center.
The facility is targeted to meet LEED Gold certification and implements a range of environmentally-efficient features including strategies for capture and reuse of graywater, solar panels, natural ventilation, maximization of views and thermal comfort/control of the fitness and gymnasium areas. Surrounded by tapered glass paneling and a central spine of corten steel running down the middle to facilitate circulation, the building will take advantage of natural sunlight and high efficiency building systems to reduce energy dependence.
BCA applies many of the same values and strategies to its own facilities, including the San Jose office, which opened in 2010 and earned recognition as 2011 Green Project of the year, as well as the company’s new Sacramento office, which will open in August 2015. While both projects have garnered attention for a commitment to sustainability, the company’s offices stand out in terms of unique, efficient and high-aesthetic design as well. Utilizing 21st Century office environment concepts, the Sacramento office integrates flexibility and openness while also supporting vital staff’s ability to find individual comfort in their workspaces.
One of the fastest growing sectors of the design and construction industry today is senior housing. “The baby boomers are getting ready to retire – we are approximately five years away from the first wave,” Bunton explains. “The current level of thinking in senior housing is stale and doesn’t take into consideration the specific needs of this generation of people. We are taking the architecture of senior housing in a new direction, adapting environments to the people who will live in them by creating exciting and dynamic living spaces that allow seniors to age in place while providing them a variety of relevant activities designed to keep them mentally active.” Bunton says.
“Not all of the people retiring today or tomorrow want to simply play golf or bingo,” explains Bunton. “People of the baby boomer generation in general are continual learners, and therefore demand environments that cater to their interests both intellectually and physically. Some of the ideas that BCA is integrating into the design of their senior facilities today involve the placement of independent living, or active adult communities within the confines of college campuses allowing seniors to go back to school. Many seniors enjoy the environment of a college campus where they can audit classes and get involved in the daily activities of the campus including attending theater events and working out in the college athletic facilities. In addition to the independent living environments being created by BCA, we are designing assisted living and memory care facilities that provide additional services to seniors and allowing them to age in place.”
These principles and those that guide the firm’s other areas of expertise continue to adapt and change with the market. Looking ahead, Bunton and his team of architects will continue to strive for excellence in technology, cutting-edge design and collaboration with clients as BCA Architects remains a leader in the California architecture and design market.
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