The ArtCenter Master Plan is a critical step in the realization of the College’s strategic plan: to establish a collective vision of ArtCenter’s future that both reflects the diversity of its academic programs, faculty, and students, and unifies the ArtCenter community in its shared intensity to invent the future.


Since moving to the historic Craig Ellwood-designed building in 1976, ArtCenter has thrived at its Hillside Campus location yet at the same time has been seemingly isolated from the social and cultural realm of the city.  The birth of the South Campus in 2004 created the opportunity to better connect with the city and participate actively in its cultural and civic life. This opportunity has been expanded in recent years with the acquisition of two other existing buildings.  With the growth of ArtCenter and nearby Huntington Hospital, the area is transitioning from an overlooked industrial zone into a cultural, educational, and health district at the city’s southern edge.

The Master Plan outlines four primary pillars for growth at South Campus:  PLACE-MAKING – creating dynamic learning, living, and community spaces; COMMUNITY BUILDING – Strengthening connections between ArtCenter and surrounding communities; STUDENT LIVING – Integrating affordable, accessible housing within the campus setting; and SUSTAINABILITY – Incorporating responsible development practices with a focus on ride and bike sharing, campus shuttles, and mass transit, as well as water management and energy efficiency.


These themes are the basis for the Master Plan and are reflected in a holistic development strategy that integrates student housing and amenities, formal and informal learning.  It also aims to create exhibition spaces, public auditoriums, connective cycling paths between buildings, elevated outdoor green spaces and terraced gardens, enhanced transportation connections and a mobility hub, supportive retail and cafe areas, and a more active, vibrant city streetscape.  The synthesis of the various connectivity and massing concepts in the Master Plan create a campus that is organized vertically where the program is distributed over a series of layers, each with its own distinct connectivity solution. This layering strategy allows the various campus program categories to be optimally located.

The Master Plan imagines a ground-level layer oriented toward the street. Filled with transparent and accessible programming, it expands outward onto the sidewalk to animate the streetfront and engage the surrounding neighborhood. The second-floor layer is programmed with academic space and campus-specific services and is connected by the CycleWay, a pedestrian-oriented path that connects to each building and the main quad.  The third-floor layer is defined by elevated quads, which are productive landscapes, green open spaces and also connective roofscapes.  The six student residential houses rest on top of these layers and will house 1,000 students.


MMA has been working with ArtCenter since 2012 to re-imagine the physical environment of its campuses, create opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration and learning, enable technologically sophisticated craftmaking, and encourage an appreciation for sustainable design practices.The first stage of this process was the development of a comprehensive Academic Master Plan that documented the College’s existing and future programming and space needs at both the Hillside Campus and the South Campus in Pasadena.  Following the completion of the Academic Master Plan, the firm completed a Pre-Development Plan (2014) that outlined the Master Plan concept before embarking on a formal Master Plan process.  The new Master Plan was completed in 2015 in collaboration with Tina Chee Landscape Studio, ARUP (Energy)and Sherwood Design Engineers (water infrastructure).  The realization of this Master Plan is anticipated to be completed in two phases from 2017 through 2027.

LOCATION / Pasadena, California
TYPE / Master Plan
SIZE / 7 acres
STATUS / Master Plan completed 2015