Cal Poly Pomona is gearing up to replace its iconic but flawed CLA Building with a facility that will be worlds apart from its predecessor.
While the CLA’s obelisk-like tower is an exercise in stark, abstract geometry, the Student Services Building aims to be organic, taking its cues from its surroundings. It is low-slung with an undulating roofline that echoes the hills that make up the rolling landscape of the campus.
The differences don’t end with aesthetics. The way the building is intended to interact with the campus community is a departure from the CLA.
For new students and visitors, the CLA Building can be a confusing labyrinth of hallways, staircases, floors, plazas and elevators. In contrast, the Student Services Building will rise a mere three stories and will have a more open, airy feel, while grouping services like the cashier’s office, financial aid, the registrar and admissions in a one-stop location.
The centralization of student services was part of the vision of President Emeritus J. Michael Ortiz, who spearheaded the project. Focused on serving students, Ortiz wanted to make it easier for them to find the people and resources they need.
“The desire was to create a much more student-focused facility,” says Walter Marquez, associate vice president of facilities planning & management. “We’re trying to make it a student-friendly building. The CLA Building can be difficult to navigate.”
Marquez says the building will also put sustainability at the forefront, with features that include skylights and passive cooling to reduce energy needs.
“The roofline will create shading that will allow us to minimize the air conditioning units that we need,” Marquez says.
“We’re really conscious of where we are, and it’s pretty hot out there,” says Paul Zajfen, design principal at CO Architects, the firm that designed the building. “The roof covers everything.”
Construction of the Student Services Building is expected to commence in summer 2016, with completion in fall 2018. Plans for a facility to replace the CLA originated in the Ortiz administration. Ortiz, who retired in December 2014, was instrumental in securing funding for it from the California State University system.
For progress updates on the Student Services Building, visit the Construction Updates website.