Long Beach City College kicked off a $8.7 million renovation of Building P on Wednesday.

The groundbreaking of the English Department’s home took place at noon on March 8 at the college’s liberal arts campus. LBCC District Board President Virginia Baxter, LBCC acting superintendent-president Ann-Marie Gabel, academic affairs vice president Terri Long and language arts/communication studies dean Lee Douglas were on hand.

The new building will maintain most of the architectural integrity of the original — a 1935 Spanish-Mediterranean style — while making it meet current building codes, and updating the information technology and audio-visual systems. It will preserve some rooms and parts of the old building, including fireplace nooks and decorative beams. 

The first permanent construction on campus, the roughly 16,000-square-foot building was one of 20th century architect Kirtland Cutter's last projects following 40 years of designing hotels, homes, offices and a 1892 World's Fair Chicago pavilion.

"I would agree that it's special," Gabel said. "The look and feel will be kept exactly the same...

"The interior courtyard is going to change," she said, noting there will be benches and space for such things as poetry readings. 

Other changes include enlarging the current classrooms, upgrading the cooling/heating system, and retrofitting it for seismic codes, Gabel said.

"We'll save money on utilities down the line," she said.

Teachers in the building still were using projectors wheeled between classes, Gabel said, but the upgrades will provide ceiling-mounted projectors. 

"It will have all the bells and whistles," Gabel said. 

The upgrades also will provide five classrooms, each with capacity for 36 students; a computer lab with 32 computers; a digital newsroom; two meeting rooms, one of which is the preserved English lounge; and 12 offices for 21 faculty, Gabel said. The changes amount to a redistribution of space.

"We're making it better suited for the classroom environment... We've been looking forward to it (renovation) for quite some time," Gabel said. 

During winter break, students and staff were relocated to buildings M and N, and are meeting there while the renovation takes place, Gabel said, with the expected completion by fall 2018. 

The $616 million Measure E bond for capital projects, passed by voters in 2002 and 2008, will pay for the renovation. 

Emily Thornton can be reached at ethornton@gazettes.com

Emily is a staff writer covering higher education and other various topics for Gazette Newspapers. She has a background in weekly and daily newspapers and a bachelor’s in communication from La Sierra University.

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