Construction will cause closure of the west side of campus

Students+sit+at+tables+at+The+Common+Grounds+on+Monday%2C+Sept.+23.+The+popular+hangout+area+will+be+fenced+off+during+construction+in+December+as+the+Student+Activities+Center%2C+old+Student+Services+Building+and+Peet%E2%80%99s+Coffee+will+be+demolished+and+replaced+with+a+new+Behavioral+Science+Building+and+art+complex.+Omar+Rashad%2FThe+Union

Students sit at tables at The Common Grounds on Monday, Sept. 23. The popular hangout area will be fenced off during construction in December as the Student Activities Center, old Student Services Building and Peet’s Coffee will be demolished and replaced with a new Behavioral Science Building and art complex. Omar Rashad/The Union

The demolition of El Camino College’s Student Activities Center and old Student Services Building begins in December 2019 and will cause the closure of the west side of campus, officials said.

Fenced-off portions of campus will extend from Peet’s Coffee located near the Art buildings to the walkway between the Communications Building and old Students Services Building, Executive Director of Facilities and Planning Jorge Gutierrez said.

For safety purposes, a walkway canopy will be placed around the demolition site for the safety of pedestrians on the ECC campus, Gutierrez said. Safety officials will be placed at Parking Lot B to help direct construction vehicles arriving on campus to their respective sites.

“Our number one issue is safety, as well as environmental,” Gutierrez said. “We will have a consultant full time, who is certified, to make sure the abatement procedures follow through correctly with federal and state requirements.”

During construction, the Student Activities Center will be temporarily relocated to the Manhattan Beach Boulevard Modules (MBBM) on Friday, Nov. 1, Gutierrez said.

Peet’s Coffee, the coffee shop next to the Student Activities Center, will also be caught in the scope of the demolition project. Executive Director of Marketing and Communications Ann O’Brien said there are plans to make up for the loss of the popular food option.

“Right now we’re planning on having a coffee station probably between the Arts Building and [Parking] Lot L because it’s important for students, faculty and staff to have a coffee option on that side of campus,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien added that information on how to navigate campus during the closure of two large buildings on the west side of campus will be readily available to those who may need it most, including students with mobility issues and organizations who help those students.

“We have an ADA accessibility specialist also serving as a consultant on the project to ensure that these paths accommodate everyone with mobility issues,” O’Brien said. “We know it’s an important concern with some students.”

Emails and social media posts containing construction notices and announcements will be sent out in October, O’Brien said.

“We wanted to just really make sure that we were proactive in getting in front of campus [concerns] by communicating often,” O’Brien said.

In addition to the various forms of communication, the online interactive map will also be updated to reflect the construction project.

As a result of the construction project, events that are normally held on the Library Lawn will have to find new locations that can host the events.

“We want to ensure that [student clubs] have inviting, comfortable spaces around other areas of campus to hold their events.” O’Brien said. “We’re going to proactively work with students [to relocate] events that typically would be on the Library Lawn.”

The new Behavioral Science Building and art complex will be built in the place of the Student Activities Center and old Student Services Building once demolition of the two buildings is complete.

Construction for these two new facilities is scheduled to take place from Aug. 2020 to Aug. 2022, Gutierrez said.

“Overall, you’re looking at almost three years that this area will be impacted,” Gutierrez said.

Jose Solis, construction engineering major, said the construction project will affect students and will be a big inconvenience.

“This [area] is basically in the middle of the school, everything is all super close.” Solis said. “This is the place you want to go to in between your classes.”

Sara Wermers, art major, also said the closure will be a large inconvenience for students and staff, as the passage between the Pool and Classroom construction site and the former Student Services Building will be closed during demolition.

“This area is the social hub [of El Camino],” Wermers said.

Renderings of the new arts complex depict an open outdoor area that is to be used as classroom and independent studying areas; the complex will also have a film lab, jewelry and ceramics lab, and an art gallery.

The interactive map is available on the ECC website: http://www.elcamino.edu/map/