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Glendale Community College to open $49-million student services building

Glendale Community College to open $49-million student services building
A view of Glendale Community College's new Sierra Vista building set to open Thursday. The roughly $49-million facility will concentrate student services on one floor and relocate the culinary arts and journalism academic programs on other floors. (Scott Stalnaker)

Glendale Community College will open the doors on Thursday to its Sierra Vista building, a roughly $49-million facility designed to streamline student services as well as become the new home for the culinary arts and journalism programs.

At three stories and nearly 95,000 square feet, the building is now the largest on the Verdugo campus. The facility was paid for mostly with state funds, with about 14% coming from the $98-million Measure G bond approved by voters in 2002. Construction began in 2013.

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That bond has also helped construct the college's current parking structure and spend about $22.8 million to upgrade its Garfield campus, which included a new 38,000-square-foot building with classrooms, a career center and administrative offices.

The Sierra Vista building will combine a number of student services, from enrollment to graduation, on the third floor. These include admissions and records, academic counseling, career services, assessment, financial aid, a transfer center, extended opportunity programs and services as well as an international students office.

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"As a community college, we attract those who may be going to college for the first time or coming back after a hiatus," said Drew Sugars, a spokesman with the college. "We want to make sure that process is as fluid and you can get without confusion."

The second floor has a 3,000-square-foot space for the culinary arts program, with two side-by-side kitchens, a place to serve food and an outdoor deck area. Also on the second floor are an anthropology lab and 15 classrooms.

The college's journalism department, which includes student newspaper El Vaquero, is another academic program moving from its aging and cramped facility to the new Sierra Vista building.

The department moved into its new location on the first floor over winter break, and students are "excited" about the upgrade, said Rory Cohen, journalism instructor at the college and student newspaper advisor.

"[The college] had enough faith in the journalism program to give us the space. It's a phenomenal space that looks and feels like a newsroom," Cohen said. "It's night and day from the previous facility, which was state-of-the-art in the 1980s, but the new one is more in keeping with modern journalism."

The first floor also provides a "Faculty Innovation Center" and an open collaborative area for students known as "The Learning Commons." The latter is split into two areas as a type of hybrid student lounge and work space filled with booths, couches as well as a quiet space.

A coffee kiosk is also planned for the 7,500-square-foot student space with a "brand name" in talks to move in.

"The building will remind residents, who just passed another bond for $325 million in Glendale, of our huge commitment," Sugars said. "It shows them the money they committed to earlier pays going forward."

Twitter: @JeffLanda

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