Beyond a little polish and final checks, the most ambitious project of the Measure E renovation of Modesto Junior College stands ready to teach.
The Science Community Center, a four-story, 109,000-square-foot behemoth, reaches 60 feet underground to stabilize a 26-inch rooftop telescope.
Visitors enter past a cutting-edge planetarium large enough to seat 127 that's two field-trip school buses. Through the doors beckons a wide-open lobby where the Great Valley Museum is moving in.
Stairs winding around a DNA sculpture lead to chemistry, physics, biology and anatomy labs, classrooms and lecture halls. The clicking of laptops and chatter of students will fill the now-silent floors beginning in the fall semester.
Brown Construction was awarded the $35 million contract to build the center, designed by Lionakis. Total budget for the building: $70 million.
Much of that expense lies in the massive foundation and infrastructure extras, such as ventilation systems with backup generators for dissection labs. Green building technology, from high-tech rooftop solar panels to a low-tech second-story roof garden, added initial cost, but should pay off over time, said Mark Newton, project manager for lead contractor Kitchell.
Zapping electric bills and other workaday costs was a high priority as state cutbacks have scaled back the operating funds for the campus.
A sign of the times is the lawn that graces the building's exterior. The plan was to create a nature laboratory with native vegetation, an American Indian village, a sundial and a pond with below-water viewing. But upkeep would have taken extra staff the college could not afford, Yosemite Community College District Chancellor Joan Smith said.
The feature is still planned, but waiting for better budgets, she said.
SAVE THE DATE
WHEN: 10 a.m. May 21
WHAT: Science Community Center ribbon cutting, with brief ceremony and tours of the building
LATER: Plans are under way for a grand opening gala and fall visits to instructional programs.