Architecture / Craft / Interior Design / Planning / Education

Alamo Colleges District Support Operations Headquarters Building


The Alamo Colleges District Support Operations (DSO) building is an administration complex is a 160,000-SF Class A office building located just north of downtown San Antonio, TX. The building houses all 500 District Support Operations administrative staff members who were previously dispersed across four separate locations, three in San Antonio and one in Live Oak. For the first time in the college’s history, the administration staff is all working from one central location.

The project was originally programmed as a single contiguous building with site parking, which would have taken up a significant portion of the site. Our team quickly challenged the model of a big-box structure and envisioned the building as a campus of connected structures—a three story contiguous building sitting atop occupiable pilotis. The first floor takes advantage of public-facing amenities, such as the UPS store, student outreach, and the bookstore and food service components. These programed elements splay around a central amphitheatre and interpretive plaza—much like the campuses that the Alamo College District is in the business of running.

The complex provides an environmentally conscious, safe and comfortable space to optimize DSO employees’ performance. The building is designed to be totally flexible, allowing the rapid reorganization of departments utilizing DIRTT (Do It Right This Time) modular walls to the greatest extent. The building is also “future-proofed,” allowing easy integration of future office systems technology.

The project includes a conference center with boardroom, Alamo Colleges Police Headquarters, 24/7 Fire Alarm Monitoring Station and DPS dispatch. In addition, the project includes a chiller plant to support the building, sustainable features and systems, 900 surface parking spaces and an adjacent parking garage designed to wedge into the existing grade in order to minimize its urban profile.

Taking advantage of the site, the building and parking garage preserved a substantial grove of trees on the site. The east wing of the building was also pulled apart to preserve remnants of the Acequia Madre, an archeological structure found on the site. The complex’s open-air amphitheater allows District employees to enjoy an outdoor lunch or attend District functions, all while allowing the prevailing southeast breezes and overhead shade to protect them from the hot south Texas sun.

The roof deck is constructed of timber decking, supported by deep laminated wood beams, and is exposed to the third-floor office spaces to recall the heavily treed site. The roof line slopes up to the south, providing views of downtown. Ample expanses of glass provide natural light into all three floors of the building.

Innovation in material selection, program integration, mechanical systems stacking, and site responsiveness makes the DSO a model for employee consolidation projects where elements of biophilic design and cultural resources are on display in an active manner, housed under the bold form of a roof line that responds to the site topography as well as the not-to-distant skyline. Employees, students, and the general public are reminded of the District’s commitment to this city through the responsive architecture this project conveys.

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