Construction Underway for Science Center

Michael Konigsberg
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Hundreds of feet of chain link fence wrapping the GCC science buildings signal a new round of construction for the campus, after a brief intermission following a building project last that yielded a new student center and plaza.

The Cimmarusti Science Center, which is expected to be completed in 2003, will include five buildings for which William Taylor, the project supervisor, projects three building phases.

The demolition phase will run through November, followed by renovation of the Physics and Biology buildings. The Central Plant building will be enlarged to provide hot and cold water to the enlarged facilities.

Completing the project will be construction of two new buildings – the Cimmarusti Science Center and the Science Center Annex – and renovation of the Chemistry and Math building.

The roughly $15-million project was started with a $1-million donation from Ralph and Larry Cimmarusti, brothers who are alumni of the college.

The remainder of the funding will come from federal, state and city funding, as well as GCC Foundation fund raising.

Federal funding includes $3.8 million through NASA, as part of the science agency’s “educational mission,” according to physics professor Jean Lecuyer. It is hoped that NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will play a key role on campus, but that relationship is still in the planning stages.

Among the possibilities is that JPL will participate in advising Glendale’s science programs, and may invite students to participate in research fellowships, send speakers to campus, and provide information links to satellites.

An additional $4.2 million will come from the state of California, $500,000 from the Glendale Community College Foundation (in addition to the $1 million contribution from the Cimmarustis), and $500,000 from the City of Glendale for energy conservation improvements.

The college Foundation will also raise funds to pay off $5 million in bonds underwritten by Sutro and Co., according to campus controller Ron Nakasone.

The original plans to renovate the science buildings were rejected by the state five years ago, and GCC revised considerations of health and safety issues, ventilation, and other deficiencies. Taylor says with the current project, “We’re staying within the Facilities Master Plan [as of 1992] for the ultimate build-out of the campus.”

Taylor also said that all the sciences at Glendale will be increasingly geared toward computers. Among many anticipated building features are an anthropology lab and, in the Science Center, a geology lecture hall and a 50-seat planetarium.

“The build-out will increase operating costs on campus,” said Taylor. “But we hope to attract more students. It shouldn’t create an increase in tuition, because that’s set at the state level.”

There have been some concerns about the fate of trees on the construction site. Six trees will be relocated, but two older liquidambars will be sacrificed because of cost prohibitions. The Rike Ginko Grove, named after the retired former biology department chair, will bring more green to the concrete campus.

Classes are tentatively scheduled to start in the new science complex in the fall of 2004.