BY MARCO URIAS
PHOTOS COURTESY CYPRESS COLLEGE
Cypress College held the grand opening ceremony for its new SEM and VRC buildings on Oct. 19 at 10 a.m a.The project took five years and was the “largest” in the history of the NOCCCD.
Sundt Companies Inc., LPA Inc. MAAS and Porter Consulting LLC were involved in the construction and designs of the SEM and VRC.
On Nov. 4, 2014 the district voted to pass Measure J. The measure passed with a 55% supermajority vote which bond measures need in order to pass since 2001, according to EdSource, because taxes are raised on homeowners for repayment.
Having passed, the district can borrow up to $574,000,000 for Cypress and Fullerton colleges.
The grand opening was the first major event in over a year which made the event extra special, according to Cypress College President JoAnna Schilling, PhD. The SEM and VRC building projects were the result of a promise to students that they could reach their academic goals, she said.
The money was to modernize facilities for the buildings like quick elevators in the SEM that carry up to 4,500 lbs; all gender restrooms, in addition to the men’s and women’s, with no-contact soap and water dispensers.
Modern water fountains with water dispensers for hydro flasks were also added.
“The project [had] sustainability at the forefront,” said Silke Frank, LPA director of design, and will, “reduce the college’s water consumption by more than half.”
Junnior Rodriguez, a veteran and affiliate, flew from Kentucky to Cypress College for the VRC’s grand opening.
“I’m a proud alumni,” said Rodriguez. He said the help he received at Cypress College shaped and catered him; it structured him to be a professional and to succeed in every day and civilian life.
President JoAnna Schilling, assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, and director of communications Marc Posner were among those involved in the ribbon cutting ceremony of the VRC.
The funds Measure J allowed for the VRC, its meeting rooms, computer labs, offices and facilities required the VRC be designed with the success and well-being of the veterans’ in mind especially to ease the transition into civilian life.
The computer lab could be found upon turning right at the curved information center, as well as Nick Gutierrez’s office, counselor offices,and the meeting room for conferences.
To the right, a lounge with new seats, a microwave, and coffee maker that leads to an outdoor patio area with seating, tables, and a TV mounted on the wall.
The patio area in the back of the VRC was meant for veterans to destress and connect with other veterans.
Furthermore, the VRC was strategically built to face the pond and memorial bridge in the center of campus. The curve of the pond was meant to be a symbolic representation of a veteran’s transition into civilian life.
At the Immersive Digital Classroom, located on the first level of the new SEM building, with the domed ceiling, Michael Kavanaugh narrated the dome-gazing audience through the projection of ‘Edge of Darkness,’, a tour of space that took the audience out of Cypress College and Earth’s atmosphere, next to Mars and to Saturn’s icy rings.
Brinda Subramaniam, who has been teaching physics for 21 years, showed people the magnetic physics lab’s e/m fine beam tube, used to find the charge of an electron. Subramaniam said that the charge-finding tube was not usually found at community colleges.
Also in the physics lab was Allan Mottershead, former Cypress College student and professor of physics, tuning the oscilloscope for an AC circuit.
Adele Rajab, professor of marine biology at Cypress College, was on the second floor showing visitors the new protein skimmer technology which keeps marine life in the aquariums in good health and alive due to a process which ends in waste collected in a skimmer.
A microscope, used by students and faculty, was set up for visitors, and through its lens tiny brine shrimp seemingly swam and moved about. In an aquarium was a female round stingray which Rajab had found injured, with a broken stinger, and decided to rescue it.
On the third floor, Alison Gotoh, professor of chemistry, explained the college’s rotary evaporator, used by students in advanced chemistry courses to eliminate solvents from the mixtures of reactions. Students had just finished taking a test and could be seen using chemical hood vents, used to safely handle chemicals that release toxic fumes.
Gotoh said the chemistry department offers general chemistry classes.
Students around campus have called the design of the SEM building’s center courtyard, located on the first level, “nice” for its unique lime green and yellow color scheme, modern facilities, architecture and/or technology.
In comparison, the Fine Arts building was designed with only men’s and women’s restrooms. Its mirrors have been scratched up and graffitied while having contact soap dispensers and contact water faucets.
Karina Altamirano, an arts major in 2D design, said that though she is not currently taking classes in the SEM building, she thinks the laboratories provide a great opportunity for new students coming to the college. The COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to virtual learning made it hard for her to learn. “I’m a hands-on learner,” said Altamirano.
Measure J also made possible upcoming renovations for the Library and Fine Arts building.