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Contra Costa College New Student Center by Interactive Resources is "Pretty Cool"

Opened on June 10, 2008, the new Contra Costa College Student Services Building designed by Richmond architecture-engineering firm Interactive Resources is just now becoming familiar to students as fall classes begin.


The following article was carried in The Advocate, The Weekly Student Voice of Contra Costa College, Wednesday August 27, 2008.


For more on this project, click here.





Gateway to Learning

Student Services Center opens to rave reviews


By Brett Abel

Associate Editor


After decades in the Humanities Building, the oldest building on campus, all student services department were finally relocated over the summer to the newly opened Student Services Center.


College, district and city officials gathered June 10 at the SSC, located between the Computer Technology Center and the Student Activities Building, for the building’s grand opening.


All student services – CalWORKs, job placement, the Transfer/Career Center, EOPS, financial aid, admissions and records, international students, counseling, DSPS, matriculation/articulation and assessment – are housed in the 18,000-square foot building, making it a “one-stop-shop” for all student services.


The building was open to the public on June 2 after student services staff moved in after Memorial Day.


“When (students) leave this building they will be ready to go to the other (academic) buildings,” Dr. Tony Gordon, Governing Board trustee for West County, said of the new building.


The building is the first major project of the college’s Facilities Master Plan, according to a report released by design firm Perkins + Will on March 7.


“This marks the beginning of some changes going on at Contra Costa College,” President McKinley Williams, who also acted as master of ceremonies at the opening, said.


The area between the SSC and the SA Building will serve as an entry point to the campus, creating what Williams and Senior Dean of Students Frank Hernandez see as CCC’s version of Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley.


Hernandez said the plans for the SSC began six years ago and did not experience any major stalls in development.


“We had to be patient, but here we are,” he said. “When we broke ground 18 months ago, I told everyone to envision a new building, a gateway. It is here.”


Donte Blue, an assistant in the now combined Financial Aid and EOPS Office, said he is glad to be in the new building, despite the few bumps that come with a new location.


“It’s a change for everyone – students and staff alike,” Blue said. “We’re working to make the transition as smooth as possible for our students. If it’s not better for them, what does it matter?”


Hernandez said the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.


“I’m hearing students really like the new building,” he said. “Nothing but positive comments.”


Nursing major Siriphone Ratanasith likes the SSC better than the H Building because of its appearance, location and size.


“It looks way better and (is) closer to the parking lot,” she said. “Everything inside is easier to find. In the H Building, it had long lines and in the Financial Aid (Office) it was really small, hard to move around.”


Hernandez said at the time the building was opened, it still had work to be done.


“It’s (more than) 90 percent done with,” Hernandez said of the construction to the building. “As we get used to the building, we’ll still continue to find issues. We’re still working on getting out some of the bugs.”


Alexis DeVille, music major, said he had a difficult time knowing when to get to the Financial Aid/EOPS counter.


“You can’t hear when they call your name,” DeVille, in his third semester, said. “I did admissions over there (in Humanities). It’s just a little too crowded. Over there it’s kind of small. It’s kind of bigger here, more space. I like it.”


A common fear during the construction of the building was the possibility of delays similar to what happened during the two-year renovation of the Library. Building from the ground up, however, the SSC has not had any major set-backs to its completion.


Andrew Butt, principle architect of the project, said the biggest problem in the new building deals with the floor’s edges continuing to pop off the individual floors.


“It’s not a huge problem. (It will be fixed) in the next few weeks,” he said.


The building’s positive aspects, however, greatly overshadow any shortcomings it has, especially when compared to those of the H Building.


Its greatest aspect, many say, is the working heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, which was not working in the H Building, causing hot summers and cold winters for student services.


Counselor Norma Valdez-Jimenez said, “In the (H Building), the air conditioning doesn’t work, the heating doesn’t work.


“When we were packing it was like a party in there. I remember years ago when we were told about a new building. I was excited,” she said.


The SSC, Butt said, is a “green-building,” designed for sustainability. The sunlight into the building allows for minimal electrical use during the day, but the light itself is also limited, which will keep the lobby from heating up and requiring excessive air conditioning, Butt said.


He said the energy conservation design will help the college save approximately $10,000 a year when compared to the amount used in the H Building.


Funding for the SSC came from the Measure A Bond passed by county voters in 2002, a fact college and district officials did not overlook during the commencement ceremony.


“Voters in West County need to be thanked,” Gordon said. “They passed the bond to make this possible.”


Williams continued, passing on that sentiment.


“Without the voters in West County, we couldn’t have passed Measure A,” he said. “I think students deserve (the SSC) and the community deserves it.”



Contact Brett Abel at babel.advocate@gmail.com


Campus Comment

What do you think of the new Student Services Center?


It’s very well organized. It is easy for us to move around in. The technology is helping us a lot.

ERIC RASCON, culinary arts


It is all right. It’s nice to have all of the administration and counselors in one place.

JORDAN MILLER, engineering


It’s better than the old location. The old location was crowded.

JOSEPH SILO, physics


I’m happy with it. It’s more organized than the old building that was half classrooms. I’m glad that they’re fixing the school, it has a nicer layout and it’s easier to find.

KRYSTIAN GROVE, psychology


It is pretty cool, it’s more organized than when it was in the Humanities Building.



It is a lot nicer. It has air conditioning (and) it’s a lot more organized.



I like it. The location sets it apart from the rest of the school, which is more convenient.

SIARA SPRIGGS, sociology