Pearl construction keeps on trucking

Construction at Santa Monica College is a common sight, and along Pearl Street these projects are taking a much larger form. The Information Technology Project, budgeted at over $13 million, started last spring and is set to be completed in March 2014, according the master construction plan. The new building will foster an environment for the Information Technology, Network and Telecommunication departments, formerly located in Drescher Hall, that focuses on technological infrastructure in and out of the classroom. “The new building will consolidate all the technology resources in one building," said Greg Brown, director of facilities planning. Since construction began last year, this undertaking has required a lot of sacrifices. It has displaced the Library Village - former home to the Scholar’s Program and Career Services Center - and has obstructed the Math Complex and Media Center in an effort to establish the new building. In addition, construction has been delayed slightly by the presence of underground utilities that leaders in the project guess might be old sewage lines that did not appear on the schematics.

An old baseball field was also found beneath the ground.

Mike Toepfer, the building's senior project manager, said that the baseball field may have been built before the library.

The technical hiccup has delayed construction only slightly, but these discoveries are to be expected. The construction process was planned far ahead of time in order to coordinate the project with the community. Student services have been relocated to the Counseling Village, fences were put up along the construction area and traffic control measures are in place. “We follow very strict regulations with [the Occupational Safety & Health Administration] anytime we have something that could potentially be a safety concern," said Toepfer. According to SMC's master plan, which outlines plans to improve the school's infrastructure with Measure AA bonds worth $245 million, the first phase of the project is estimated to finish around March 2014 with a fully constructed Information Technology building.

After that, the Media Center will be transferred to the new building on Pearl Street. The second phase will begin with the demolition and reconstruction of the Media Center and will conclude around the end of 2014.

The final phase will renovate or replace obsolete buildings to meet current health and safety standards. Brown said when the project is complete, the use of technology will expand across campus. Not only is the new building pioneering technological standards for the school, but it is also “going to be a great-looking facility” said Toepfer.

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