The Star-News


More plans for Southwestern College

Sat, Mar 09 2013 12:00 PM Posted By: Allison K. Sampité-montecalvo

A facilities master plan for Southwestern College was revealed recently during a workshop at its Chula Vista site.

Irvine-based Cambridge West Partnership, LLC, an educational resource and facilities planning firm specializing in California community colleges, is in charge of updating the college’s education and facilities master plan.

Cambridge consultants shared their vision in February for how to meet the college’s 2025 projected goals, including the college’s corner lot project and its three other higher education centers in San Ysidro, National City and Otay Mesa.

Over arching goals of the plan include supporting the college priorities in its 2012-15 strategic plan by meeting the short- and long-term educational, social and physical needs of the college and serve as a blueprint for action.

Cambridge proposes new construction and renovation, which focuses on campus flow from the program of instruction through collaboration and integration as well as creating a framework to support current and future growth for campus improvement.

The integrated plan includes better student access, socialization and formal learning, fostering environmental responsibility, maintaining student safety by improving vehicle and pedestrian circulation and parking, campus amenities and identifying future building sites and alternative land use opportunities.

Cambridge senior partner Joyce Black emphasized the importance of support from the college community.

“It’s a hands-on approach,” Black said. “The educational master plan talks about what the college community is.”

The team proposed 13 new buildings in the next 15 years, including a student union, math and science and art buildings, central student services, an academic success center, athletic facilities and a performing arts center for the corner lot at H Street and Otay Lakes Road.

Consultants examined and identified facility and campus strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and categorized them as far as need.

Of major importance is the age and condition of buildings, their operational efficiency, future growth and cost of renovation.

Cambridge teamed with Newport Beach-based HPI Architects, Inc., an architectural firm experienced in campus planning and development for postsecondary educational institutions.

HPI President Larry Frapwell said it’s important that a campus continue to maintain and operate efficiently over time.

There are approximately 30 buildings on campus at least 40 years old that will approach 60 years of age in 2025.

“One of the things that we’re looking for is where is the appropriate location for new science and math facilities,” Frapwell said. “We’re suggesting that math and science buildings be located where the old gym and pool buildings are.”

Frapwell said they tried to reflect some best practices seen at other campuses by coupling similar services; for example, a new student union would include a bookstore, student activities center and other like amenities.

“The idea here is that you’ve created a great one-stop spot for students, Frapwell said, adding it would maximize dollars.

Vehicular traffic and pedestrian safety was also a key focus, an area where consultants plan to develop greater visibility for destinations, signage and landmark elements.

Proposed vehicular circulation and parking includes a transition loop road to the perimeter of parking, distributed parking, greater student access and minimized pedestrian and vehicular conflicts.

The workshop was also an open forum for public input.

Southwestern College Citizens Board Oversight Committee member Tom Davis asked how the new plan differed from the old plan and how much it will cost.

“My concern is the citizens voted for one thing and now there’s  another plan that doesn’t really have all the parts to it yet,” Davis said. “Are you going to come to the citizens again in the future and ask for additional bond money?”

Cambridge Managing Director C.M. Brahmbhatt said the bond dollars would still be in line within original bond language.

“Our role is to find a way to stretch those dollars,” Brahmbhatt said, adding they’re hoping to stretch the monies to $600 million.


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