To students and faculty on their way to classes and staff getting to offices, it may look like the construction of the Student Services Building is proceeding at a rapid pace and will be in operation not long after the university converts to the semester calendar.
But beyond the concrete floors and steel rebar reinforcement, plans for the Student Services Building were drawn up years ago, and started with a site feasibility study. Sweat equity was built up well in advance of construction.
Cal Poly Pomona is one of 23 campuses in the CSU system that submits projects to the construction pipeline at the Chancellor’s Office. With the needs of so many campuses to juggle and funding limited, the wait for approval and financing can last several years.
The Student Services Building, which is expected to be fully operational in early 2019, required administrative foresight, long-range planning, piles of approvals and documentation, and truckloads of patience. The concept for the building originated during the administration of President Emeritus Michael Ortiz.
A Long Process
The first step in the long road to construction for the Student Services Building included submission of a feasibility study, environmental impact report, programming plans for the building and funding requests to the Chancellor’s Office. There, plans are dissected, scrutinized, revised and approved. When a project is approved and funding is secured, only then can it proceed to the next phase.
Design schematics, state fire marshal permits and approvals, invoices, construction schedules, waiver forms and contract submittals are a sampling of the next phase of paperwork that needs to be cleared before the first shovel of dirt is lifted at the construction site. This paper chase can last up to two years, but once the hurdles are cleared it’s on to the construction phase.
The paperwork is necessary to fulfill state requirements and to ensure that buildings are planned, designed and constructed in the most cost-effective manner. This process also safeguards the health, safety and well-being of students, faculty and staff.
More than four years have elapsed since the proposal for the Student Services Building project made its way into the pipeline at the Chancellor’s Office.
The responsibility for getting capital construction projects into the CSU pipeline, securing approvals from different entities and awarding the bid to a contractor falls upon the Cal Poly Pomona Department of Planning, Design & Construction.
Bruyn Bevans, the senior project manager for the Student Services Building, has been managing campus construction projects for 14 years. Inside a trailer on the construction site, there are file cabinets full of contracts, project phase reviews from third parties, contracts with the architect and contractor, design schematics, working documents and submittals. Bevans isn’t quite finished traversing this paper trail, though.
“We still have another year to go of submittals,” Bevans said. “There’s still the roof to put on and all the interior, the glass, and all the landscaping.”
While construction of the Student Services Building is making steady progress, another major campus project is just getting underway.
The opening of realigned Kellogg Drive on Aug. 21 carved out room for the start of construction on the Student Housing Replacement Project, which consists of two eight-story mid-rise towers that will contain 980 beds and encompass 280,000 square feet. A dining commons facility that can accommodate 680 people at a time also is part of the complex.
The new $185-million housing complex will allow future generations of students to walk to Bronco Commons, the BRIC, the Student Services Building and most of the academic buildings on campus. When completed, the Student Housing Replacement Project and the Student Services Building will change the landscape of the campus and benefit future generations of students.
The student housing complex is financed by bonds and is considered a non-state funded project. There are extra layers of paperwork that include a market analysis, which is the equivalent of a business plan, because the rooms will be rented to students. The project also needed an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), feasibility report, a land-use study to determine the best site for the project and a Kellogg Drive realignment traffic study. The complex’s dining facility will need to undergo an inspection by the Los Angeles County Department of Health.
Amid this mountain of paperwork, the Student Housing Replacement Project also needed to be introduced to campus stakeholders.
“One of the critical aspects was campus outreach workshops to get students, faculty and staff involved in having a say in what they want the project will look like in terms of ancillary support functions, location on campus, accessibility,” said Mooris Taylor, a senior project manager for the housing complex.
Rough grading of the land has started for the housing complex. The road to this construction dates to October 2015 when the Environmental Impact Report was submitted to a CSU review committee. The report was approved in November 2016, with schematic design and finance approved by the Board of Trustees meeting last January.
“Those are major milestones that you go through,” said Taylor, who has managed university projects for 13 years.
The new facilities will support the president’s strategic vision and provide the necessary housing and instructional and administrative spaces to promote student success.
Like the Student Services Building, the housing complex is near the midway point of the paperwork process. Upcoming paperwork will include contracts for items such as beds, desks, furniture, card-key access and other amenities.
In one room at the Department of Planning, Design and Construction, there are 65 numbered boxes stacked against a wall that document the construction of the three-building College of Business Administration complex. Inside those boxes are the same type of paperwork required for the Student Services Building and the Student Housing Replacement Project.
“For any major capital construction project, it takes approximately, depending on project scope and complexity, at least five to six years to finish, from funding approval to design to construction,” says Chi Kwan Fong, the project manager for the College of Business Administration complex that opened in 2012.
Even after a project is completed, Planning, Design & Construction is required to keep an extensive and detailed record of paperwork for 10 years in the event of disputes or litigation.
There is also a formal audit by the Chancellor’s Office of most major completed projects, when paperwork will be examined in accordance with state guidelines, policies and procedures. This audit can last up to three months.
Like the CBA complex, the paperwork for the construction of the Student Services Building has piled up. The $80-million, 138,000-square-foot building is designed to replace the services delivered on various floors of the CLA Building and consolidate them in a central location.
“The paperwork process is frustrating and long. The design process is arduous,” Bevans said. “Once you receive the approvals, the construction part is fairly easy.”