ALISO VIEJO, CA-Designed as a hilltop village in Tuscany, Soka University of America is scheduled to complete construction of the first phase of its campus here by the end of the year. The university’s signature structure has a 58-foot copper dome and a granite and travertine map of the world on the floor.

“The challenge we gave to the architects was we wanted the campus to complement the community in which we were situated, primarily Mediterranean architecture,” says Wendy Harder, director of community relations for SUA. “Everything was done with the thought of how it was going to affect future students. All buildings are within close proximity so that no student has to sprint across campus on a bicycle to get to class on time.” Built on 103 acres, the 18 concrete block and steel buildings in the campus’ first phase will total 750,000 sf when completed. The second phase of construction will add another 500,000 sf, including more residences, a music hall, a 2,000-seat performing arts center, masters and doctorate program buildings and a student center. In all, the campus is expected to accommodate 1,200 students when all construction is completed.

Surrounded 80% by a wilderness park, the buildings, which are located on a sloped parcel, are cut into the hillside so that the entrances are on one level and the exits on another. The buildings are built to 100-year standards and in conformity with the strongest earthquake standards in the country. There is an Ethernet system in place and 4,000 computer ports on campus, with raised floors in every building to adapt to advances in technology.

In addition to housing the one-stop admissions center, as well as the community relations and finance departments, Founders Hall will be the home to an 8,000-sf art gallery with an atrium, featuring a glance-up 98 feet to the copper dome roof. Under that dome is a series of windows that are computer controlled and powered by a wind vane on top of the building. The system operates as an air evacuation and emergency smoke evacuation system that is the first of its type in the nation. A similar system is already in use in Europe.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 1 free article* every 30 days across the ALM subscription network
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.


Join GlobeSt

Don't miss crucial news and insights you need to make informed commercial real estate decisions. Join now!

  • Free unlimited access to's trusted and independent team of experts who provide commercial real estate owners, investors, developers, brokers and finance professionals with comprehensive coverage, analysis and best practices necessary to innovate and build business.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and GlobeSt events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join GlobeSt

Copyright © 2024 ALM Global, LLC. All Rights Reserved.