October 26, 2018


Since my last update on the Learning Commons during the Spring semester, progress on designing the building has continued. The 100% Design Documents were completed in May and the 50% Construction Documents have been recently completed. The 50% CDs were shared with the stakeholder representatives and their feedback is being incorporated into the drawings.

Please view the renderings of the building in its current design here. The drawing on the left shows how the building is located on the site, the drawing in the middle is the first floor and the drawing on the right is the second floor.

 While the basic shape of the building has remained the same since Spring, overall the building is smaller and has been shifted both northwards and westwards. This increases the distances between the Learning Commons and Camino as well as between the Learning Commons and Copley Library. The patio seen at the junction of the three buildings is approximately 5000 square feet, which is much larger than before. In addition to moving the building, the patio is larger because the stakeholder representatives group reluctantly made the decision to recommend removing the podocarpus tree. The explanation of this decision can be found here. Increasing these distances and increasing the size of the patio were both items that faculty requested in the feedback I received after my Spring update.

The building is smaller in part because some “value engineering” aka cost reductions had to be made. The cost of construction in San Diego for both materials and skilled construction workers is skyrocketing. For example, an article earlier this month in the Union-Tribune indicated that the cost of steel is up 31% in San Diego since the beginning of this year. While a cost escalation factor had been built into the budget for the Learning Commons, it was not nearly large enough given these unforeseeable cost increases. While most of the cost reductions were made in non-programmatic building features, the one programmatic space that was lost was the Turn and Learn. This one room was more than ten percent of the cost of the building.

Thus when you look at the floor plans you will find 12 general use classrooms (one of which is a computer classroom that can serve as an Emergency Operations Center when needed and one of which has some additional features to facilitate teaching science courses), one 100 person classroom (to facilitate LLC and integration classes meeting together), spaces for the Honors Program and Writing Center, the Town Square (which provides student study space and can also serve as a 200 person event  space), a number of student study spaces and a Grab & Go food space. The Town Square, student study spaces and the Grab & Go are intended to be open 24/7.

Unfortunately construction costs have continued to escalate and another round of value engineering will be required in November. The stakeholder representative group will be reviewing possible options and once again the goal will be to reduce non-programmatic building costs first and only reduce programmatic building features as a last resort. I will send out another update after that.

 If you have feedback you would like to provide, please send it to your stakeholder representative.