Sierra Vista Nears Completion


Sal Polcino

COMING SOON: Students pass in front of the Sierra Vista building, now scheduled for completion on Jan. 10, 2017.

The Sierra Vista building resumed construction with a new contractor after setbacks concerning quality and timeliness that have turned it a three-year project.
Construction began Sept. 13, 2013 with the building’s original completion date set for Dec. 10, 2015. The project faced complications due to numerous impediments including failure to pass inspection.
The current tentative completion date is set for Jan. 10, 2017.
“Sixty-five percent of the prior installed materials are being removed and replaced due to deficient materials and workmanship,” said Nelson Oliveira, director of facilities and construction. “Our district team, facilities management, design, inspectors of record, project manager, and quality assurance and quality control specialist have identified these problems … they are being implemented by the takeover contractor.”
Replacements for the original contractor, Mallcraft Inc., are Toby Hayward Inc., the newly appointed contractor and Vertex Construction, the company set to replace the defective heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, among other projects.

Vertex found close to 70 percent of HVAC had been installed improperly and needed to be replaced due to insufficient materials and substandard workmanship.

Mallcraft’s liquidated damages are still complying daily. GCC has elected not to dismiss any damages to date.

Subcontractors re-signed contracts on Sept. 2 to begin the last phase of completion. This includes landscaping, elevators, countertops, plumbing, and flooring.

“They’re just completing the work now that they are back on track,” said Karl Aldridge, construction manager.

Still left to be re-contracted are those responsible for controls, insulation, hydronic tile, paint, carpeting and the kitchen.

Sierra Vista is made up of three floors, 16 classrooms, $3 million worth of furniture and equipment and an area to house all of the students services, those of which are presently spread throughout campus.

The first floor will house the journalism department, Disabled Students Programs and Services and a center with two large lounges for collaborative learning.

The culinary program will occupy most of the second floor, with two sit-down classrooms, two kitchens, a multipurpose area for dining and lecture, a patio and a support area equipped with a washer and dryer.

The third floor is a one-stop center for a multitude of student services, from assessment to registration.

Throughout construction the culinary department has been displaced by lack of space and learning equipment.

Andrew Feldman, department chair of culinary arts, says the students have suffered because of the delays. Enrollment for the culinary department has dropped due to lack of classroom capacity and space to use cooking machinery.

“We were told the process would be fast and that we would be sharing for one-and-a-half years in the cafeteria at the most,” Feldman said. “Labs that used to hold 24 students can now only hold 18 to 20 because there is just not enough space to accommodate them, it’s sad for the students.”

Last September the completion status stood at 75.4 percent. Today, the completion status is at 95 percent. The first and second floor are at 90 percent, and the third floor stands at 40.

Anthony Culpepper, the newly appointed vice president of administrative services, has visited the site and gotten familiar with the issues facing completion.

“The best part of the takeover was that the board made the decision or we’d be spending half a million dollars a year for the next five years. Now we’re getting back to where it should’ve been,” Aldridge said.


The culinary arts department can’t wait to get into the new Sierra Vista building.
“It’s very disappointing this has taken so long to sort through the problems,” said Andrew Feldman, the department Chair of culinary arts, hotel management and nutrition.

Feldman has been a culinary instructor since 1999, and despite the setbacks, he said “my students ask why I’m always smiling, it’s because I love it. I love what I do.”
Displaced from the Los Robles building, which was razed to make way for Sierra Vista construction, culinary arts was moved to the cafeteria, where it has had to share space for classes with the staff for nearly three years.

Due to space restrictions, the department has had to curtail its restaurant run-through, “Wednesday Restaurant,” which gave students experience in a real-life setting to sharpen their skills.
With culinary arts sharing the faculty dining room and cafeteria, there is only enough time for three five-hour classes a day with 18 to 20 students.

When moved to the Sierra Vista, they will have the resources for more classes. Two classes will be able to take place concurrently with additional space for cooking equipment and a washer and dryer.
Feldman says there has been a recent popularity in culinary classes at community colleges due to the collapse of proprietary schools, such as Le Cordon Bleu, which was locally based in Pasadena.
“More students are understanding why [they should] get in debt for $50K [when they can] take culinary classes here without the burden of student loans,” said Feldman.