Barbara Lee Science and Allied Health Center at Merritt College

Oakland, CA

Perched on top of a hill with sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay, the Barbara Lee Science and Allied Health Center provides the next generation of students with a modern classroom setting on the Merritt College campus. Built into the side of the hill, the building is actually two separate structures, a two-story building with a partial basement and a four-story building, that accommodate the large grade change across the site. Sitting less than a mile from the Hayward Fault in the Oakland Hills, the seismic demands on the structure are among the highest anywhere in California. A main design feature to the project is a helical stair, designed to mimic a strand of DNA, that connects the 2nd-4th floors at a pedestrian bridge between the seismically separated wings of the building.  

Quick Facts

  • Size: 110,000 SF
  • Architect: Jordan Knighton Architecture
  • Certified LEED Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council
  • Construction Cost: $45,000,000
  • Contractor: Clark & Sullivan / Walsh Construction Joint Venture
  • The sun screen on the south and west face of the building is patterned to represent a DNA sequence that is almost identical in every human


  • 2018 DBIA Western Pacific Region - Award of Merit
  • 2018 SEAOCC Excellence in Structural Engineering Award - Award of Excellence (New Construction)
  • 2016 WCCC - Outstanding Project Achievement (New Buildings)

Photo credit: Rien van Rijthoven Photography