Building User Group builds consensus

The future of the Pierce College North of the Mall project, including the addition of new buildings, was discussed during the Building User Group meeting on Friday, Sept. 6.

BUG looked over the floor plans for 10 different buildings that specifically indicated where classrooms, labs and offices are to be located and which department would have access to the allocated space.

Recommendations were also made to move some departments from their current location into different areas of campus.

Beth Abels, a full-time faculty professor of architecture, said the recommended location for architecture classes would not accommodate the needs of her students.

“Right now it looks like we’re going to try to squish architecture into Building 1600, which is in North of Mall,” Abels said.

Currently, Abels teaches in the Applied Technology building located behind the Center for Sciences and estimates she has between 2,600 and 2,700 square feet for her students to work in.

Unsure of the actual new square footage, Abels estimated from the diagrams presented at the meeting that the new space would be about 1,800 square feet.

Other than physical space inside the room, she also was concerned about students being able to transport their materials to and from class.

“Architecture program students have a lot of big equipment materials. They bring wood and construction materials and small constructions and models,” Abels said. “They need to be able to move around, and so right now the doors are really small, and they wouldn’t be able to fit their material in or their projects into the door.”

Also looking out for the well-being of his students was retired Instructor of Automotive Service Technology Tom Rosdahl. He strongly opposed the renovation of the current Automotive building.

“The problem with renovation is the program has to move out,” Rosdahl said.

He made it clear that unlike other programs that have been displaced on campus — such as the Performing Arts Department — automotive students have particular needs and cannot be housed in a temporary white tent.

“It’s not like you can move into another classroom,” Rosdahl said. “You can’t take shop lifts and all the stuff you have and put them in a trailer or something.”

In the original proposal, the automotive service technology program under the Industrial Technology Department had enough funds to build a new facility and transition from the current building when it was completed, in addition to renovating the existing building, according to Rosdahl.

However, the department understood that they would have to downsize the program to accommodate the students in the current space.

Suggestions of moving the program off campus, including next door to West Valley Occupational Center, while the renovation takes place were quickly terminated by Rosdahl.

“To take our students and move them there would be disastrous to the program,” Rosdahl said. “It doesn’t work. You’d lose half your students.”

After further discussion, the idea of moving the automotive program was terminated by BUG, and plans for a new building to house the Industrial Technology Department reached consensus.

Meanwhile, the design of the Digital Arts and Media building that is set to replace the old library was not finalized.

Discussion over the design elements of the Digital Arts building, including an art gallery on the first floor, were supported by Pierce College President Kathleen Burke, but without a floor plan that included which departments would share the building, the topic was withdrawn and returned to a subcommittee for further review.

Project Deputy Director Ed Cadena would not comment to the Roundup.  He requested all questions from the Roundup go to Glenn Gritzner of Mercury Public Affairs.

“The North of Mall project had a Design-Build Request for Proposal released on April 5, 2013.  All proposals are currently under review and evaluation.  Information on the bid amounts and/or timelines for completion of the work are not available at this time because the competition is still on-going.  The Program Management Office anticipates providing more information this procurement before the end of the year,” Coby King, Ek & Ek public affairs executive, said in an emailed response.