Local Oklahoma City community college extends its reach and revives the surrounding community.
Many individuals can be intimidated at the prospect of stepping onto a college campus. To allay those fears, Oklahoma City Community College operates Capitol Hill Center, a multicultural program which serves as a transitional stepping stone, encouraging people to further their education and providing them with free tools ranging from computer labs and free internet access to GED prep classes, workforce development and English as a Second Language classes. The center serves as a major outreach initiative to the area’s high-poverty neighborhood and classes are frequently delivered in Spanish and Korean, as well as English.
To make its program even more appealing to the surrounding community, OCCC committed to a multi-phase renovation program to turn two dilapidated, 50-plus-year-old buildings into a new showpiece home. Phase 1 of the project encompassed a renovation of the first two floors of these adjacent structures, one of which had a partially collapsed roof. The first building contains a basement, first floor and mezzanine; the second contains three full floors and a basement, for a combined total of 40,000 SF.
Phase 1 of the project began with stabilizing and renovating the buildings’ exteriors with energy-efficient glazing and graffiti-resistant materials. The two structures were connected via circulation space that accounts for the 34” difference in heights between the two floor slabs. The damaged roof also was replaced with a new terraced rooftop plaza, which can be used for outdoor classes and special events like movie nights or receptions.
A large community room with its own direct access can be utilized by students, as well as rented by the general public for special events. Fronting the room is a small gallery area, creating opportunities to display artwork created by OCCC students and the general community. Administrative offices and several large, contemporary classrooms were also included in the renovation.
In addition to education, the renovation serves a broader community purpose, in that it serves as a catalyst in the revitalization of the low-income, heavily-minority Capitol Hill district surrounding the two buildings.