Renovations give facelift to aged building

By Anthony Kinney, Associate Editor

Renovations on the Applied Arts Building are expected to begin this fall semester, leaving a large area of the building inaccessible until the renovation’s completion in the fall of 2018.

The AA Building renovation project is the first of four planned projects over the next five years. They are aimed at modernizing the remaining buildings on campus following the completion of the Student and Administration Building and other inner campus buildings last year.

Contra Costa College’s Buildings and Grounds Manager Bruce King said the biggest task of the AA Building’s revamping is the transformation of Aqua Terra Grill’s predecessor, the Three Seasons restaurant, into the new nursing department.

“It’s been a process, giving the campus a new look, but we’re getting there,” King said. “We want to make the college work more efficiently for all the departments.”

King said the long-awaited project, which also includes installing automatic sliding doors on the main entrance of the building, will cost the district between $4.5 and $5.5 million, depending on the bidding deliberations with contractors.

Renovations will also include improvements to first and second floor offices and restrooms, as well as converting the speech department’s Conference Room into the campus’ archive room.

King said the more disruptive construction will be conducted in the earlier hours of the morning before classes start to help minimize classroom disturbances.

Middle College High School freshman Samantha Vazquez said she’s worried about the possible distraction the construction can be for students trying to focus in their classrooms, but feels the AA Building is in much need of an upgrade.

“It’s a really old looking building,” Vazquez said as she gazed around the interior of the first floor. “Getting a renovation might give students a better sense of pride in the campus and want to focus more in class.”

AA-117, the former KCCC television studio, is also expecting a remodel and new occupant, the custodial department. King said the move is a welcomed improvement and will greatly enhance the department’s daily operations.

According to King, two of the three entrances to the building will be restricted from students during construction, so students will have to use the main double door entrance as the only way into the AA Building.

The old culinary arts area of the building, which includes both a men’s and a women’s restroom, will be closed off to students until construction is over, leaving the men’s rest room downstairs the only one in the building. Women are left with two, one on each floor.

Once the construction is completed and the nursing department is fully moved into its new home, the demolishing of the Health Sciences Building and Liberal Arts Building will begin.

Nursing program student Amber S. said the move will hugely improve the nursing program in many ways, but the increase in space the relocation will provide for the department is the biggest factor.

“(The department) has issues even trying to find classrooms to put us in,” she said.

“Having more space dedicated to us is a major advancement.”

However, not all the building’s occupants are thrilled about the vexation the renovation will cause.

Gateway to College Resource Specialist Anna Chuon said a move for Gateway classrooms and offices into the former President’s Office in AA-205, was included in the initial planning, but recent changes have left the Gateway program relocating to the Speech Tutoring Office and the old President’s Office will be the new Math Lab.

Chuon said this move marks her fourth in the three years.  More importantly, she feels the constant moving has become an inconvenience for the Gateway program and its students.

“It’s a nice improvement, but it’s also a lot of work packing up and shifting into a new area,” she said. “Along with it comes a long list of anomalies and factors that will affect our students.”

Bidding to find the most suitable construction company to accomplish the project will start Thursday.

The Governing Board is expected to approve the bid and officially sign off on the AA Building’s upgrade at its Oct. 11 meeting.

Construction is expected to commence Oct. 23.