Construction offers opportunity
Posted Sept. 12, 2008
Steven Bier
Palm trees that were originally planted next to the Old Gym remain at the site of the Abraham Campus Center, the newest addition to the University of La Verne. The construction is scheduled to be completed in June 2009. The Center will offer new amenities to students and faculty.

courtesy of Gonzalez/Goodale Architects
?An architect’s rendering of the completed Campus Center depicts a showcase structure that will become ULV’s hub of activity.
courtesy of Gonzalez/Goodale Architects

The changed traffic patterns, closed parking lots and construction noise are all birthing pains for the large building that is being erected next to the Athletics Complex.

The Abraham Student Center is on schedule for completion in late May 2009. The inconveniences and anticipation will fade once the structure is finished, for this building has no comparison on the University of La Verne campus.

Once completed, the Student Center will also enhance the campus’ beauty, adding an impressive focal point.

“The building will change the campus skyline from Arrow Highway, especially because it’s a three-story building among mostly two-story buildings,” Chip West, director of the campus center, said.

The building will also be a milestone for environmental awareness, according to Roger Hardy’s office. Hardy is the deputy vice president for major projects and campus development.

A green initiative, actively sought by ULV, implies that the building will strive to follow sustainability guidelines. The quest was led through a $50,000 grant from the architects. Gonzalez/Goodale Architects are pushing for a high level of certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System.

After the architects rendered the projected image, K.A.R. Construction has been at full tilt ever since. The steel framing is complete, and work has begun on the windows and roof, with a project phase completion date of late December.

According to Hardy, K.A.R. Construction has been closely linked with ULV, since president Kurt Rothweiler’s son attended La Verne.

K.A.R. Construction has also renovated buildings for ULV’s College of Law campus in Ontario.

The impressive large building—45,000 square feet and a towering three stories above ground—is a major investment.

“The budget of the building is $21 million, which has been accumulated through fundraising,” Hardy said.

The structure will be called the Abraham Campus Center, which is named after the primary donor, Michael Abraham, Hardy said.

Those involved with management of the project speculate that the opening of the Center will not only change the physical presence of the campus, but will also alter the feel of the campus at large. The question they pose is: Do students realize they are on the brink of re-branding the visual and social realms of ULV?

Students have been noting the visual transformations since December 2007. On the other hand, Hardy has been visualizing this transformation for more than two years.

The Student Center is designed to serve all types of students—commuters, boarders, grad students and even faculty.

One of the current limitations of the La Verne campus, according to Hardy, is that there is no gathering place for students to learn about activities and groups to participate in.

“The University hasn’t had much of a center; no nexus for students,” Hardy said.

The nature of La Verne—having no center for activity—makes it hard for students to show excitement for something they cannot see, Hardy said.

Once the Center opens, students will surely appreciate the cafeteria, lounges, concerts and breathtaking third floor view, he said.

Nevertheless, there are doubters. “I haven’t heard anything about the new Student Center,” said Jessica Hernandez, a junior athletic training major. “There is a construction banner that explains what is being built, but they should try to explain what it will have so that students can get excited about it.”

West is currently working with the Student Center’s architect and the construction company to establish the exact functions of the new Student Center. West is well aware of the procedures that are involved with a new building.

For instance, West works as a liaison between students’ needs and the new building’s facilities by administering the Owner Project Requirements.

“Prior to the construction, studies were conducted to determine the wants and needs of faculty, students and grad students who share the campus,” West said. “These needs were then compared to the budget and prioritized.”

As far as problems with the construction, Hardy reports that the University has been lucky not to have many complications.

“The three elements of project management are (1) whether the structure is completed on time, (2) completed within the budget and (3) that the building meets the expectations of the owner,” Hardy said.

The University has no problems with the first two areas. The Abraham Student Center expects to open by June 2009. It is then that ULV’s stakeholders will have a sense of whether it meets their expectations.

“Working out the details has been like a puzzle,” West said. “Now the puzzle is almost complete. We just need to fine-tune it.”

Lesley Michaels can be reached at lesley.michaels@

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