Westmont College

Adams Center for the Visual Arts

Santa Barbara, California

The site for Adams Center was steeply sloped and dotted with stands of heritage oak trees, suggesting a design response that would sensitively integrate the built environment with the natural. As the building transitions more than 30 feet in elevation, following the site’s existing topography, the roofs of the various building levels create a series of landscaped terraces. These terraces function as exterior sculpture gardens, as well as venues for public functions. Two pavilions rise above the terraced roofs, providing natural light to the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art and the visual arts studios below. Large bi-folding glass doors allow the studios to open up to the outside which, combined with skylights, provide an abundance of light and natural ventilation. Taking advantage of the mild Southern California climate, the sculpture studio features an exterior covered work area, highly visible to both arts and non-arts students as well.

Project Data

31,328 gsf

Program & Highlights

Art museum
Ceramics, sculpture, drawing, painting, and print studios
Computer graphics classroom
Art photography/frame shop
Tiered classroom for 60

“Every student will be exposed to the art department, helping them gain a broader education through those experiences.”
— Randy Jones, Director of Campus Planning


2012 Structural Engineers Association of Southern California (SEAOSC) Excellence in Engineering Award for Sustainability

2010 Cornerstone Concrete Excellence Awards


General Contractor: MATT Construction
Structural Engineer: John A. Martin & Associates
Civil Engineer: Mac Design Associates
Mechanical/Electrical Engineer: IBE Consulting Engineers
Theater: Auerbach Pollock Friedlander
Acoustics: Jaffe Holden Acoustics
Lighting: Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design
A/V: Multi-Media Consulting, Inc.
Landscape Architect: Van Atta Associates
Photographer: Eric Staudenmaier