Construction begins on the Valley Academic and Cultural Center
Paul Rosenbusch, Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Community College District recently approved the $78. 5million Valley Academic and Cultural Center on a 6-1 vote and crews began prepping the campus for the new building over the weekend.
The 118,000-square-foot facility, formerly called the Media and Performing Arts Center, initially carried a budget of $94 million, but the project was pushed back and delayed for a several reasons.
After years of setbacks, the district set a ceiling of $67 million for the project. The $11.5 million gap between the building’s cost and its budget caused concern for what some have called the campus’ “crown jewel.”
The project was approved on Aug. 11, and its scheduled completion date is August 2018. LACCD board President Scott Svonkin was the lone no vote, but campus officials were just happy the project passed.
I was elated,” said Media Arts Department Chair Eric Swelstad who has been a strong advocate for the building for more than a decade. “It’s a wonderful, wonderful feeling to finally know that we are going to get our building.”
The two-story facility will feature four indoor theaters, including a 450-seat main stage theater, 225-seat screening theater, 150-seat horseshoe theater, an 80-seat lab theater, and an outdoor amphitheater.
“Valley will be able to participate in world-class film festivals for the first time, and the theaters will be the first and only in the community dedicated to showing the work of our students,” Swelstad said.
No groundbreaking ceremony will be held, but the campus should expect construction traffic, noise and dust on the northern end of campus for the next 27 months. Parking Lot C will permanently close, and Parking Lot B will be re-striped to create and east-to-west roadway.
The 1,800 feet of fencing will be erected between the Library to the Art Building, and pedestrian walkways between the Music Building. The Fulton Avenue entrance to Parking Lot B will serve as the contractor entrance from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., so students who use this entrance should alternatively enter on Campus Avenue to avoid construction traffic.
The Valley Academic and Cultural Center (VACC) will include classrooms, study and rehearsal spaces, a newsroom, radio station, faculty offices and more.
“I have been focused on getting the Valley Academic and Cultural Center project approved and started almost since my first day at Valley College over two years ago,” said Valley President Erika Endrijonas. “I am thrilled to see the fences going up and ground beginning to turn for the building. It will be a game-changer for our college.”
The facility will be designed by QDG Architects, who also designed Valley’s Community Services Center and the new administration building, and will focus on sustainability just like the other new facilities throughout districts. The full-scale general contractor Pinner Construction Company will coordinate and oversee the construction of the facility with sustainable features and renewable materials. Wood from the trees that once stood where the new facility broke ground were locally milled into slabs and stored, and will be recycled into the main theater.
Valley’s Academic and Cultural Center is part of the district’s sustainable construction program, and is funded by $6.26 billion in bond money supplied by propositions passed in 2001, 2003 and 2008. The program has contributed to the completion of 614 projects at nine colleges district-wide, including 33 at Valley, with $1 billion dollars left to spend on the remaining 200 projects.