As students rush back and forth from the hilltop parking lot to their classrooms, construction workers toil away in the sweltering heat to complete the Lab/College Services building, where an open parking structure and the culinary arts building used to reside.
Although construction began in July of last year, the new building has been in the works for ten years. GCC’s former president, John Davitt, launched plans for the building in 2004.
Measure G, which is a $98 million bond that was approved in 2002, is funding fourteen percent of the construction costs. A portion of the bond has already been used to fund the health sciences building and the upper parking lot. Eighty-six percent of the funds come from the 2006 Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities Bond passed by California voters in 2006.
The starting costs estimated at $64 million; however, due to the economic crisis of 2008, the budget was lowered to $36 million.
“It’s a $36-million project,” said Nelson Oliveira, director of facilities and chair of the campus development committee. “When it’s finished, it is going to be a $42 million project.”
The building is finally starting to take a noticeable shape; however, Oliveira said that there have been a few setbacks, including underground water and hidden drainage that had to be dealt with before construction continued.
“We call it unforeseen, unforeseeable conditions because we couldn’t have planned for it,” he said. “They were not exposed and under the soil.”
Fortunately, the state provided $1.38 million to cover the costs of the unanticipated problems.
The new building is going to have three floors and several departments. Student services divisions, such as counseling, admissions and records, the Bursar’s office, and Financial Aid, in addition to EOPS and the International Students office, will occupy the third floor.
The second floor will contain the culinary arts department and some classrooms. The building will also have a patio with a view and the first floor will contain two large classrooms, a DSPS department for disabled students, the lobby, and a coffee shop. The first floor will also house the journalism department and the El Vaquero newsroom.
Once construction is complete, the other buildings on campus, including San Rafael, San Gabriel, Camino Real, and Aviations Arts, Administration, and Sierra Madre will have open space. A program called secondary effects has already initiated plans for the empty spaces.
The Administration and San Rafael buildings are also scheduled for remodeling. The first floor of the Administration building will hold the campus’ mailroom and processing area while instructional services will replace the old mailroom.
The labs on the third floor of the San Rafael Building will be modernized and the restrooms will be upgraded as well.
The San Fernando buildings will eventually be demolished and used as an extension to the gym. The classes that are currently in the San Fernando bungalows will be relocated to the first floor of the San Gabriel building.
The new structure is also following LEED guidelines. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, promotes energy efficiency in new buildings. Under LEED, establishments can be certified as silver, gold, or platinum. The Lab/College Services building is currently certified as silver under LEED, as it includes low-flush toilets and urinals that use reclaimed water.
Although the building is currently referred to as “Lab/College Services,” members of GCC’s campus developments committee are working on a new name.
“We wanted to set up a contest where the students will have the opportunity to name the building,” said Oliveira.
A campus-wide email will be sent out for name suggestions. Once suggestions are sent in, the development committee will decide on the final name. According to Oliveira, they are also looking for a donor to name the building after.
Although construction was originally expected to finalize in August 2015, delays have pushed it to December instead. As of now, one-third of construction is complete.