Administrative leaders, professors, staff and students from Contra Costa College, as well as architects and designers of the campus science center, gathered Thursday night to officially open the building that began holding its first classes this semester.
“This state-of-the-art building will open the door and career opportunities for CCC students in the years to come,” said Contra Costa President Dr. Tia Robinson-Cooper.
The $ 72 million project is mostly financed by bonds.
The building features a variety of architectural innovations on its 50,000-square-foot three-story building, faculty leaders said.
“I remember the groundbreaking ceremony … we envisioned something that turned out to be such an absolutely extraordinary space,” said Contracting Chancellor of the Contra Costa Community College Mojdeh Mehdizadeh.
On the first floor there are staff offices, a computer lab and six classrooms with laboratories for anatomy and physiology.
On the second floor are the Dean’s Office, the Biological Laboratory and the Center for Scientific Excellence. The Center for Scientific Excellence is a presidential award-winning program that offers financial and academic support to students majoring in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
“Our college is committed to increasing access to students from all backgrounds in the STEM field,” Robinson-Cooper said. The College has received several Hispanic Serving Institution (HIS) scholarships aimed at advancing STEM and social justice.
Above the Center for Scientific Excellence on the third floor is a 55-seat planetarium along with engineering and chemistry laboratories.
“Even the planetarium itself has a unique design and structure, usually the planetariums are located outside the main building,” said vice-rector for facilities, planning and construction Ines Zildzic.
The Department of Astronomy, Informatics, Engineering, Geology and Physics, Jon Celesia noticed a student who recently entered the planetarium and said, “This puts CCC at stake,” and another student who said, “UC Berkeley has nothing like this should call UC San Pablo, ”
“And I agree,” Celesia said.
The science center also has open study spaces for students on each floor and an umbrella astronomical observatory that will be used in the future, among other events, for star-watching parties.
“The building and the project are a testament to our collaboration, unity and community pride,” Robinson-Cooper said.
The building also won the California Community Colleges Energy and Sustainability Board of Governors Award, which recognizes projects that are environmentally friendly for their district.
“The building respects our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and using existing solar energy on campus to offset energy consumption,” Robinson-Cooper said.
Being the first Zero Net Energy building in the district is another achievement for all those involved in the culmination of the building.
Including a fully electric heating and air conditioning system prevents unnecessary fossil fuel combustion, and classroom lighting is automatically dimmed to available natural sunlight to save electricity.
“Science buildings usually consume probably about 70 percent of the energy on any campus – they are huge energy pigs,” Zildzic said.
In addition, fritted glass was used for the windows, which reduces heat and glare from the sun, and several shades of brown brick adorn the exterior of the building.
“The brick was chosen to literally represent the communities this faculty serves. That really should have reflected diversity and inclusion, “Zildzic said.
The San Francisco Brothers architectural design team from San Francisco designed the building to have three entry points for easy access and lots of windows and open space.
Leading team architect Hiroko Miyoke, a 30-year-old job expert (24 years in the Smith Group and six years in Japan), shared some of her thoughts on building design.
“I wanted to design a building for the community. All the different aspects of the building are connected by thinking about how people are going, ”Miyoke said. “By using a lot of openness and windows we try to create curiosity. We hope that the people inside will be motivated to move with curiosity, by promoting natural exercise and health. ”
Miyoke added, “The campus was already very nice, but hopefully we could give it a little spark.”
Thursday marked a busy day on campus, with the grand opening of the Science Center. The Extended Opportunities Programs and Services (EOPS) held a graduation ceremony, and a representative, John Garamendi (D-Davis), came to visit earlier in the day.
District Board Secretary and First Department Manager John Marquez (and the alumni of Contra Costa College) concluded the ceremony before cutting the ribbon with an impromptu holiday reminder.
“I would have been pardoned if I hadn’t recognized the special occasion for today and the reason why I wear my cholo hat: I want to remind you all that today is the Cinco de Mayo,” Marquez said. “Viva Cinco de Mayo! Long live Cinco de Mayo! Long live Cinco de Mayo! ”