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Orange Coast College breaks ground on new College Center and Student Life building

Orange Coast College breaks ground on new College Center and Student Life building
Officials of Orange Coast College and the Coast Community College District break ground Friday on a new College Center and Student Life building at Orange Coast. (Courtesy of Orange Coast College)

More than 125 students, administrators and Costa Mesa community leaders gathered at Orange Coast College on Friday for a groundbreaking twofer to celebrate the start of work on a new campus College Center and Student Life building.

Though a stubborn breeze repeatedly knocked down a stand of easels holding renderings of the projects — “the winds of change,” a speaker joked at one point during the program — OCC officials painted a clear picture of how they believe the new facilities will enhance students’ academic and social experience as well as provide additional resources for the community at large.

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“Simply stated, students will experience a higher quality of campus life and can enhance their college experience,” said Jesse Lopez, OCC’s student body president. “Our future students will get the opportunity to have a better student life experience that most California community colleges are unable to provide.”

A rendering shows the exterior of a portion of the new College Center planned at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.
A rendering shows the exterior of a portion of the new College Center planned at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa. (Courtesy of Orange Coast College)

The Student Life building will house OCC’s student government and other clubs and programs, while the College Center will include space for the culinary arts and hospitality programs, a cafeteria, meeting and event space and administrative offices.

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Both facilities will be along Fairview Road, just off the main campus quad. Construction is expected to be completed in fall 2020.

Orange Coast President Dennis Harkins said “this started as one building and ended up as two” as the college realized during the planning process “that the students needed a space of their own.”

“As Orange Coast College grows, it grows on the shoulders of our students and our graduates, and this is a space that will be the front door to the college and, we hope, a front door for the community,” Harkins said.

The total estimated budget for the new buildings is $89.9 million, with funding from bond proceeds through Measure M, according to OCC.

The interior of the planned Student Life building at Orange Coast College is seen in this rendering.
The interior of the planned Student Life building at Orange Coast College is seen in this rendering. (Courtesy of Orange Coast College)

Friday’s ceremony was the second time in as many weeks that Orange Coast marked the official start of a campus construction project.

Last week, officials broke ground on the college’s first on-campus student housing project — an 814-bed development that also is set to be completed in fall 2020.

Work also continues on OCC’s new planetarium, which is expected to open early next year. The college also is gearing up to begin construction of a new campus aquatic center.

Put together, the spate of projects represents “a tremendous change for the campus and tremendous advantages for students,” said Mary Hornbuckle, board president of the Coast Community College District, of which OCC is part.

“This is a wonderful day and a great occasion to look forward to the next, say, 70 years,” she said, referring to Orange Coast’s 70th anniversary this year.

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