Photo of Bellevue College Student Success Center

Ⓒ Francis Zera

Bellevue College Student Success Center

A Student Center with a Higher Mission

College is a major transitional time in a student’s life, and their first steps into this new adventure are crucial. Sitting high on a hill in the center of the Bellevue College campus, the Bellevue College Student Success Center represents not only a trailhead leading to campus, but a map to the next stage in a student’s educational journey—a place where they’ll receive guidance, reflect on their progress, and celebrate their achievements. A 71,462 sq. ft., ground-up, progressive design-build project, the building’s layout mirrors a student’s journey at the college, with entry services located on the first floor, student support services on the second floor, and students success services on the top floor. Our team worked closely with Washington State Department of Enterprise Services (DES) representatives through rigorous value engineering processes, topographical challenges, and management changes. We successfully managed all these considerations and worked in conjunction with Bellevue College’s stakeholders to drive the design while maintaining project goals, schedule, budget, quality, and contractual obligations. The project is on track to reach its targeted certification of LEED Silver, on time and within budget.

Bellevue, Washington
  • 4 stories
  • 71,462 sq. ft.

Higher Education


Architecture: Mack Selberg

Interiors: Amanda Morono

Architecture Story

A Path to Education

The Student Success Center is a gateway for visitors coming in through the main campus gate. In contrast to most of the college, where buildings are nestled among their surroundings, the new Center is prominently situated on a sloping site in the heart of campus, with separate entrances on different levels, placed at opposing ends of the building. In contrast to most of the campus, where buildings sit nestled in nature, the SSC, proud of its surroundings. This will create an opportunity, unique to campus, to encourage elements of nature to spill directly through the building. The building’s location at the center of campus responds nicely to the campus master plan and encourages pedestrian circulation through the building. Our layout for the Bellevue College Student Success Center inherently strengthens the metaphorical concept of a student’s “ascent” through their academic program. Entry services are located on the first floor, Student Support services are on the second floor, and spaces focused on celebrating the Student’s Success are on the top floor. The exterior massing reflects the programmatic organization inside the building, with the most active uses on display through a glazed, transparent facade.


Interior Story

Ascend to Success

Architecture Photo of Bellevue College Student Success Center

Ⓒ Francis Zera

The Student Success Center at Bellevue College is a modern community space and work environment that encapsulates the college’s spirit and values. By studying the existing campus; by gathering insights from the full ecosystem of building users and stakeholders; by facilitating the change management from the old space, to a new, modern work environment, we’ve designed a facility that will support and inspire students and staff for years to come. The interiors for the Student Success Center create intentional paths of discovery, reflection, and connection with others. Through the concept of “ascent,” we parallel the journey of a student’s collegiate experience with that of a mountain hike: the celebration of reaching top and the discovery that occurs along the way. Our programming of the building recalls the concept of “ascent” with entry services located on the first floor, Student Support services throughout their time at BC on the second floor, and the Students Success on the top floor. Given the SSC’s prominent location on campus, the top floor makes the perfect event space. Here in the Commons, rising above the Bellevue campus, students, staff, and visitors are treated to expansive views of downtown Bellevue and Seattle while they celebrate their achievements, strengthen personal connections, and prepare for their futures. The old building was defined by long lines, small, crowded spaces, and unclear circulation, so our design of the new center uses tactile details to help students move through the building’s open, vertical circulation. Light and warm colors guides students to areas where they can find assistance. Special areas are carved out to give students a moment to pause, reflect, and take it all in, such as enlarged landings on the accent stairway, an intimate seating space tucked beneath it. These places also give students plenty of spaces to be seen and have serendipitous, spontaneous encounters with other students and staff. Throughout the design process, we served as advocates for each department, making them each active participants in the design process. The new workspaces in the Student Success Center accommodate each group’s unique needs, joined by shared priorities of flexible working areas, inspiring collaboration spaces, and an environment filled with daylight. Departments that previously operated separately, are now strategically connected to enhance every student’s experience and access to educational opportunities.


Brand Story

The Journey Starts Here

Architecture Photo of Bellevue College Student Success Center

Ⓒ Francis Zera

Needing a front-and-center feature that welcomes students and visitors to the Bellevue College Student Success Center, we designed a beautiful, custom art installation directly behind the front desk. Our piece serves a secondary, more practical function: Giving a little privacy to people entering and exiting the Center’s restrooms, which sit right behind the reception area. Our cut-wood feature wall is inspired by local views of several nearby mountains. Selectively permeable—with varying widths of cuts that allow different levels of visibility—the artwork screens out foot traffic below about eight feet, while above that, drawing in light like slats in an open fence. Our work makes the Center’s design language immediately recognizable to students, visitors, and staff, from the moment they enter the building.