Foothill Community College

Foothill Community College

Revisiting an Historic SWA Landscape 


LocationLos Altos, California United States
Size100 acres

SWA’s design for Foothill College is an exemplary model of site, building, and landscape harmony. The 100-acre campus bridges two hilltops, with parking and roadways relegated to the surrounding valleys. Buildings and landscape together form a series of courts and terraces connected by a continuous campus greenway. Overhanging wood eaves of the low profile buildings, together with the meandering paths and rolling landscaped meadow, create a classic pastoral campus setting. The College replaced its Student Center building that formerly sat on an earthquake fault, relocating it next to the Loop Road, providing an opportunity for the landscape to redefine the ceremonial entrance to the school. An orchard of Purple Leaf Plums now defines the front slope and pays homage to the land’s original orchard and farm. The main plaza for the campus, located at the edge of the buildings, serves as a stage for concerts and presentations. The master plan additionally provides an open plaza for various events, with an outdoor room centered around a glass-paned fireplace. The landscape helps create a serene space within an evergreen forest, with Camellias and Azaleas providing color. The Campus Center, along with the new South Slope buildings, is the first addition to the Foothill College campus since its original design in the 1960s.