Cerritos College - Fine Arts and Math/CIS buildings


The construction of new Fine Arts and Math/CIS buildings at Cerritos College

will help the college ensure that students and faculty can succeed.

By Eric Slack

Founded in 1955, Cerritos College is a public comprehensive community college with more than 40 buildings situated on 135 acres in Norwalk, Calif. Serving more than 23,000 students each semester, Cerritos College is committed to providing accessible, low-cost and quality education for everyone in the communities it serves. Additionally, the college is always looking out for opportunities to enhance its physical plant to benefit its student population.

Since 2004, Cerritos College has benefited by receiving voter support of two general obligation bonds. These bonds totaled $560 million for capital improvement projects. The 2011 Facilities Master Plan (FMP) provides a construction phasing plan to implement the building program funded by the bonds. This phasing plan included the development of the Fine Arts and Math/Computer Information Science (CIS) buildings, which were identified in the FMP as new construction capital improvements.Cerritos Fact Box

“Under the college’s existing building scheme, the campus had no designated space for mathematics or computer information science,” Director of Physical Plant and Construction Services David Moore says. Since assuming his position in 2011, Moore has been responsible for providing oversight to the facilities operations and the capital outlay building program.

“The new Math/CIS building provides a dedicated space for the instruction of these critical disciplines,” Moore says. “Additionally, the existing fine arts building was constructed in 1963, and the new Fine Arts Complex will provide modern, state-of-the-art instructional space that will enhance the educational experience of all stakeholders.”

Tied Together

During the strategic planning of the FMP implementation, Cerritos College made the determination that it was best to approach these two buildings at the same time due to their proximity to one another, as well as to possibly achieve some economy of scale. Both buildings were bid together with the same construction schedule, but as separate budget items to provide proper construction cost accounting through the life of the projects.

The Fine Arts Complex has a construction cost budget of approximately $26 million, while the Math/CIS building has a construction cost budget of approximately $18 million. With 55,000-square-feet under roof, the Fine Arts Complex will support faculty offices, general lecture classrooms, 3-D design, printmaking, ceramics, film, an art gallery, painting/drawing, computer graphics, photography and mass communication.

“Early in the design interview with the architectural firm HPI Architecture, the fine arts division expressed that they did wanted their new building to be unique on our campus, not the typical plaster and exposed steel that was prominent in our new buildings,” Moore says. “HPI presented a Mondrian concept exterior finish. Piet Mondrian was a famous abstract painter, noted for his own type of abstract painting, which used only horizontal and vertical lines and primary colors. The front of the Fine Arts Complex uses metal paneling in primary colors to reflect the Mondrian concept of grid lines and colors.”

The Math/CIS building will be approximately 33,000-square-feet, and it will be the home for math faculty, math classrooms and a study center. The second floor will support CIS related labs, classrooms and a study center. Both buildings had a groundbreaking in the summer of 2014 with an expected completion in January 2017.

As the development of the buildings has been moving along, Cerritos College has been working with a number of external partners on the projects. HPI Architecture is the architect of record. S&K Engineers has been instrumental in assisting with energy efficiencies and commissioning. Tilden-Coil Constructors has acted as the construction management team, maintaining an aggressive schedule and managing the budget and analyzing change orders.

Moving Ahead

Among the challenges of the projects have been the site conditions. Moore says Cerritos College has very poor soil conditions subject to liquefaction under severe seismic activity.

“All of our new construction buildings require numerous underground concrete pylons to meet the requirements of our Division of State Architect standards,” Moore says. “These two buildings combined have more than 120 concrete pylons as deep as 60 feet to meet the building’s structural needs. This is a significant portion of the building construction cost that goes underground, with no visible benefit to the building design or use.”

Looking down the road to the January 2017 expected completion date, Cerritos College is understandably optimistic about what the Fine Arts and Math/CIS buildings will mean to the college and its faculty and students. This project should help the college live up to its longstanding legacy and mission of ensuring student success. These buildings will be a key part of educating the Cerritos College community for decades to come, and the experience of constructing the buildings will help educate Cerritos College about how best evolve as an institution.

“Going forward, the college construction program faces the challenges of working within the public contract code, value engineering our construction projects to get the best return on taxpayer investment, and meeting the needs of an evolving, technology driven educational environment,” Moore says. “With an improving economy, construction costs continue to escalate. That means the challenge for Cerritos College is to complete our building program per the FMP with the bond dollars from our taxpayers.”


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