City signs off on new Mudd computer science building

A conceptual rendering of the McGregor Computer Science Center, a mostly-glass rectangular building. The building is surrounded by images of people.
Harvey Mudd College will be building a new computer science building. Construction is expected to begin in 2019 and continue until 2021. (Courtesy: Harvey Mudd Office of College Advancement)

Harvey Mudd College’s proposed computer science building is one step closer to becoming a reality after the Claremont Architectural Commission voted last week to approve the project.

Mudd’s McGregor Computer Science Center is slated to be built at the northeast corner of Dartmouth Avenue and Platt Boulevard. The building will be 36,000 square feet and three stories tall, according to a city council presentation by Chris Veirs, the principal planner for the city.

The building will be oriented away from the central walkway through Mudd’s campus, unlike most of the other buildings on its campus, which are inward-facing, according to Veirs.

“The college has noticed that it’s great once you’re in the great mall but it really doesn’t do much to interact with the surrounding streets,” Veirs said. “They’re trying to fix that, and this feels like an appropriate place to welcome in people into the campus.”

The new science center will replace a 26-space parking lot, Veirs said. But it won’t affect the abundance of parking spots at Mudd, according to the parking report based on current city parking code. Mudd added 37 new parking spaces to the median on Platt Boulevard in September 2018, which will offset the loss, Veirs said.

A conceptual drawing of the McGregor Center, a mostly-glass building. The building sits behind a road in the foreground.
The McGregor Computer Science Center will be the first of Harvey Mudd’s buildings to face away from the campus’ central walkway. (Courtesy: Harvey Mudd Office of College Advancement)

At the meeting, the commission approved a provision allowing the building to come within eight to nine feet of the curb on Platt Boulevard — closer than is generally permitted, according to the approval resolution.

The commission will also appoint a subcommittee of one or two commissioners to work with city staff and Mudd to determine tree placement and landscaping for the new project, according to the resolution.

The project is expected to be completed in early 2021, according to the building brochure on Mudd’s website. The construction itself should take up to 18 months.

Unless any appeals to the Architectural Commission’s decision are filed with the city before 5 p.m. April 8, the overall plan for the computer science center does not require additional approval, Veirs said via email.

The college will next need to develop more specific plans for approval by the city engineer, the building official and city planning staff, as well as gain approval of permits for grading, public works, street trees, landscape and building before it can begin construction, according to Veirs.

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