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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Department home shakeup

Pierce has changed the construction plan of the Multi-Purpose Academic Workforce Education building (MPAWE), including the development of a new name and two separate structures.

The decision to split the structure came after faculty expressed concern over traffic and safety hazards. Some thought one building would be inadequate to house the math, psychology, computer science, art and media arts departments.

Currently referred to as the Academic West and Academic East buildings, the West structure will be located in place of the old library while the East location has not yet been determined.

Those responsible for leading these efforts are primarily College Project Director Marco Tarantino, Project Engineer Sonia Babian and management from the Jacobs Engineering Group Construction Company.

Still, in the initial stages of programming, the buildings are not scheduled to begin construction until December 2022 and are expected to near completion by the first quarter of 2026.

Rolf Schleicher, the Vice President of Administrative Services and TaskForce leader of the projects, wrote in an email that there are still many programming and design steps the team must go through before construction can begin.

“These two projects that are estimated to reach $130 million in total expenditures are very significant structures that will need to go through all the steps of programming, design, State Architect’s approval, builder solicitation and contract award before any construction can begin,” Schleicher wrote.

Schleicher wrote the biggest challenge the team has seen since they last spoke to the Roundup staff in May was making the changes needed to accommodate two buildings instead of one.

Associate psychology professor Angela Belden said in a phone interview that she and other faculty members have been in favor of two buildings since the administration first proposed the building plans several years ago.

“Think about all the course offerings that we have, 30% of them coming in and out of a single building is way too much for the traffic flow,” Belden said. “There’s no reason to cram everybody into a single building when we have the space to spread out.”

Jennifer Moses, an associate professor of psychology and statistics, voiced her concerns over the original building plan in an interview.

“I was going to be moved into the new building, so I made myself aware of the issues going around it,” Moses said. “It was important to me and on behalf of my students that we had a workable plan moving forward. One that was healthy and safe, and functional for all the affected disciplines that were going into those buildings.”

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