Hammering away at construction

Although the majority of current students will have transferred to other institutions by the projects' end, Santa Monica College is moving forward with construction efforts to improve the campus. The college's 1998 Master Plan for the institution's facilities was recently updated in a Board of Trustees meeting.

The most noticeable project is the Student Services Building in progress at the front of SMC on Pico Boulevard. Originally set for completion in 2012, the $53.5 million project began construction in December 2008 and is now expected to not be complete until February 2014.

Not highly publicized is the fact that our current buildings do not meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition to lacking handicap accessibility, the buildings are not connected by a central fire-alarm system nor do they contain fire sprinklers.

The new Student Services building will facilitate all of the aforementioned requirements. It will also be designed for sustainability, water savings, and energy efficiency.

Whereas many of SMC's main services such as admissions, counseling, and financial aid are currently dispersed throughout campus, the new building will consolidate and place them together. Convenient for future students, the building will also house a three-story underground parking garage.

"The building is very cool. It's going to help in a lot of ways," says Public Information Officer Bruce Smith. "Right now when students come in they have to go to different places. It can be very confusing, particularly for new students."

In addition to the new building, the school will create a plaza there in hopes to make it more accessible for cars and buses to pull in.

"As you're driving by Pico now, it sort of looks like a wall. You can hardly sometimes tell it's a campus," Smith said. "It will be beautified. It will be prettier. It will open the campus up more to the community."

Even in the midst of this construction's finish date being pushed back by two years, SMC will soon begin a $61.2 million project on the Arts & Entertainment Technology campus to build its new Media-Technology Complex.

"It's a domino effect. Everything connects to everything else on campus no matter what," says Dean of External Programs Katharine Muller.

She went on to explain, "The AET campus, being a very small campus, had to have a parking structure in order to accommodate the rest of construction because we're going to build everything else on the existing parking lot."

"It's part of a long process that involves a lot of people, a lot of discussion and a lot of decision making," says Muller.

The Media Complex, which won a design award in 2009 from the Los Angeles Urban Land Institute, will house media programs including KCRW.

According to Director of Contract Services Charlie Yen, SMC also just purchased another building on Pico Boulevard. Costing the college $1.74 million, it will house the SMC Foundation.

Yen said the building will need no further renovations. "It will just need to be furnished and then they can move in," he said. He estimates the transfer could take place as early as the beginning of the New Year.

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