California Community College Revamps Student Services Center

CLEARLAKE, Calif. — In August, Sundt Construction Inc. completed a $13.4 million project that revitalized the student and instructional services buildings on Yuba Community College’s Clear Lake Campus in Clearlake, Calif. Three new buildings now replace several modular structures built in 1975 and house the school’s library and learning resource center, culinary arts classrooms, science laboratories and administrative offices.

The campus had not seen much improvement in 37 years, but the new buildings now have “up-to-date systems and a lot of natural light. It’s shown that when students work in a positive environment, the results improve. [The new facilities provide] a better learning environment, which makes it a more positive experience overall,” said Teri Jones, vice president of business development for Sundt in California.

Kevin Teel, project architect for TLCD Architecture, said the original buildings were small and cramped, so TLCD helped improve those learning environments with three major enhancements.

First, the project tripled the size of the old library to 10,000 square feet, which also added the latest technologies and incorporated much better daylighting, with vaulted ceilings and windows that overlook campus.

The building for the culinary arts program — one of the school’s most popular programs — was updated with completely new equipment and continues to feature a full kitchen and restaurant that is open to the public three days a week. In addition, a new audio/visual system was added so that students and the public can now sit in the dining area and watch what lessons are taught back in the kitchen.

Lastly, the science rooms received all new lab equipment, a new cadaver room and were updated with 21st century gas and water supplies, along with data connection.

Jones is particularly proud of the facility created for the culinary arts program. “The campus is known for that program. They actually serve meals there, and [guests] have to make reservations because it’s always sold out. We were very excited to be a part of constructing that facility for that program because it’s in such high demand.”

Teel added, “The culinary arts program was an interesting middle ground because the school was obviously doing something for students, but the whole part of their philosophy was to bring the public onto the campus and interact with the student body, recognizing that there’s interesting learning opportunities there. I took that piece as being an island that captured campus life but was also trying to pull in the public at large, which I think is really important. “

One of the project’s biggest challenges was working to keep the campus fully functional despite the fact that Sundt was constructing three buildings in different locations throughout the campus, Jones said. During construction, Sundt worked with campus officials to avoid any inconveniences and safety concerns. In fact, crews responded to a staff request and rebuilt a sidewalk between two existing buildings so that student foot traffic was not interrupted at the start of summer school.

Now completed, the new facilities total 26,000 square feet and are pending LEED Silver certification. Sundt, one of the country’s largest general contractors, was responsible for the demolition, site work, utilities and construction, while TLCD was the architect. The project began in May 2011 and was completed at the end of August 2012.