Case Studies

Cañada College

Project Team

Cañada College


David Gates + Associates

When Cañada College sought to update its 40-year-old campus located in Redwood City, Calif., David Gates + Associates had the perfect plan in mind. With a mission to create a comfortable exterior atmosphere for students and enhance the college’s presence in the community, Gates drew upon the history of the land and the existing natural elements to create his design.

In 2009, the college hired Gates + Associates, San Ramon, Calif., to renovate the theater plaza and courtyard and to unify the campus by improving circulation and useable outdoor spaces.

Key design elements feature sandstone, granite and Corten steel to compliment the campus’ dual natures – a historically rural character combined with a modern, technological learning environment.

The area now includes extensive seating, an active plaza, usable/sculptural stairs, passive green space, new signage, two fountains and a pedestrian wayfinding signage system.

The visual aesthetic of designer David Gates recalls the site’s ranch heritage by using locally sourced natural sandstone along with 1,191 cubic feet of granite from Coldspring in two colors – Carnelian® and Academy Black®. Split along the natural clefts and concave surface, the Carnelian granite walls and vertical signage monoliths feature a Rock Pitch finish. Corten metal combined with granite in the signs achieves a rusty, worn appearance. Carnelian granite seat pads supplied by Coldspring were fabricated 30 inches square and 17 inches high with a Thermal top and naturally split sides. This material and finish combination were chosen for its easy maintenance and anti-skateboard properties, while Carnelian’s brown and terracotta tones blend well with the native sandstone used for the walkways.

Carnelian granite in a Rock Pitch finish was also used for the clad columns, entry signage and fountain. In addition, Carnelian, featuring a natural quarry Split finish, was chosen for the gateway signs and bollards. For the fountains, Gates selected sandstone and Academy Black granite. The granite was deliberately drilled in the quarry to expose the stone’s natural iron oxide.

The Academy Black fountain sections and boulders were minimally modified from their natural state as part of Gates’ rugged, natural design concept and provided an ideal backdrop for the water.

“The critical element was the size and nature of the stone to get the random ashlar look. Coldspring gave us excellent details,” Gates said.


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