Much-Anticipated Building Opens to Fanfare

Ken Allard, Editor-in-Chief

On Feb. 15, Glendale Community College officially opened the doors of the new Sierra Vista building to students, faculty, and the general public during its open house event.

GCC President David Viar kicked off the ceremony, and was joined by other prominent figures who played a role or supported the project throughout the building’s evolution. That included Glendale Mayor Vartan Gharpetian, Board of Education President Dr. Armine Hacopian, and Associated Students of Glendale Community College President Colleen Gabrimasshi.

“This, today, marks the culmination of a very exciting dream and vision,” said Viar. “Initially a vision and a dream of a one-stop-shop for all student services, and then it expanded to be more than that.”

Now the largest on campus, this three-story, 94,000-square-foot, $49-million dollar building is home to the College’s critical administrative services.

The third floor is where visitors will find the nine student support services, such as admissions and records, financial aid, job placement, career center and the counseling offices, among others.

The second floor houses the Culinary Arts program and the Anthropology lab. Seventeen classrooms are located on this floor, each equipped with interactive televisions, collaborative desks, and an entire wall covered in a water-based paint that functions as an end-to-end, floor-to-ceiling, dry-erase board.

“Every detail in the building reflects the needs of students in today’s society and the tools they need to succeed,” said Colleen Gabrimasshi. “From the simplicity of having student services in one row, from the inviting student commons – which is an open space for students to collaborate and socialize together – to the innovative study spaces, the building will definitely be a driving factor in our students’ success.”     El Vaquero, GCC’s award-winning student newspaper, can be found on the first floor, in addition to the Learning Commons. This area is divided up into two rooms. The first, the “Active Lab,” functions as a hangout spot for students and holds a coffee kiosk, which will eventually be transformed into a Starbucks. It should be available by Fall 2018. The second area, the “Quiet Lab,” is more of a library-like study environment.

Each room has multiple computers with internet access available for use. Printing services are accessible, as well.

“It’s been a 15-year process between an idea and moving forward,” said Viar. “It has required advocacy working with the Legislature, trying to assure with our State Board of Governors and Chancellor’s Office that the College receive appropriate State funding through the State bonds, and the strong support of our local community.”

Funding for the building came through bond Measure G, passed in March 2002, and Measure GC, which was passed in November of 2016. The college and the original contractor – Mallcraft Inc. – broke ground in October 2013 with an initial completion date of November 2015.

The building was at 95 percent completion in April 2015, but repeated setbacks left Glendale College with no choice but to terminate the contract with Mallcraft Inc. Toby Hayward Inc. took over the project. The new contractor had to deconstruct many of the mechanical systems that were deemed substandard, like the HVAC and firestop systems. This brought the completion percentage down to 75 percent.

The building has been awarded LEED Silver status. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which is a rating system put together to evaluate the environmental performance of a building. Buildings can be rated silver, gold, or platinum. Sierra Vista achieved Silver status because of its low-flush toilets that use reclaimed water, as well as its ground-source heating and cooling.