Some 5C construction projects stall during pandemic, others move forward

A scaffolded building is surrounded by a brown contraction fence.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down many projects including the renovations on Pomona’s Rains Center, Harvey Mudd considers the building of The McGregor Center an essential function. The building is still set to be finished in spring 2021. (Anna Horne • The Student Life)

While Harvey Mudd College is on schedule to complete its McGregor Computer Science Center, some major construction projects backed by Pomona College, Scripps College and Pitzer College have stalled, some due to budget and virus transmission concerns raised by the pandemic.

HMC computer science building still set for spring 2021 completion

The HMC McGregor Center is still set to be complete in spring 2021, HMC spokesperson Judy Augsburger told TSL in September. 

Construction was considered an essential function during the ‘safer at home’ order,’” she said via email.

The building was 55 to 60 percent complete as of June 30, Rick Vanzini, senior director of capital projects, said in a Facebook post.  



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The McGregor Center replaces Academic Building One and is unique because of its location and orientation. Situated on the corner of North Dartmouth Avenue and Platt Boulevard, McGregor faces away from the main quad, a feature different from many of Mudd’s other structures. 

The 36,000-square-foot building was projected to cost $30 million and will help meet demand for HMC’s computer science program by adding faculty offices and teaching and research laboratories. 

Pomona College’s Rains Center construction postponed 

Renovations to the Rains Center have been postponed, according to a June email Pomona President G. Gabrielle Starr sent to faculty and staff.  

We are delaying construction of the new Rains Center by up to one year in part to preserve cash we may need to respond to the crisis and to limit activity on campus while we ready the campus for a future re-opening,” Starr said. Construction was originally set to begin at the end of spring 2020.  

Pomona now expects to begin construction by May 2021 but is exploring options to start sooner, Pomona Vice President Robert Goldberg said.  

The renovation will cost $55 million and add 15,000-square-feet to the athletic facility, Pomona previously announced in December 2018.

No start date for Oldenborg Center renovation 

There is still no set start date for construction on Pomona’s Oldenborg Center for Modern Languages and International Relations, according to a September email to TSL from Anne Dwyer, the building’s facility director. Dwyer said the college had a plan to move toward construction.

“The initial design process with the architectural firm was completed over the summer and will be presented to the Board of Trustees in October,” Dwyer said in the September email.

A potential need for single-occupancy rooms because of COVID-19 has not altered plans, Dwyer added.  

Built in 1966, Oldenborg needs an upgrade, according to Assistant Vice President of Facilities Bob Robinson. The building has plumbing issues and is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act — most rooms are accessible only via stairs. 

“It’s incredibly old and at the end of its useful lifespan,” Robinson told TSL last year.

Scripps Pitzer Science Center groundbreaking date still unknown

A construction start date for the Scripps Pitzer Science Center is still unknown due to uncertainties raised by the pandemic. 

“We are fully committed to continuing this project,” Josh Reeder, executive director of facilities management and auxiliary operations, told TSL via email Oct. 29. “A formal update on the building’s construction will be available as soon as the colleges receive approval to have in-person classes.” 

Reeder expects construction to last for 18 months. He also said a construction website is being designed, which will provide a view of the new building. 

Construction was originally set to begin last January, according to a December 2019 facilities department email sent to Scripps students. The date was then postponed to spring 2020, according to a statement from Pitzer spokesperson Anna Chang in February. 

The new building, budgeted at $65 million, will measure 70,000-square feet, Pitzer Dean of Faculty Nigel Boyle said via email early last year. Boyle added that Scripps and Pitzer plan to split the costs after Claremont McKenna College announced its intention to withdraw its involvement from the joint Keck Science Department in October 2018.     

Malott Dining Commons installs protective equipment 

Scripps’ dining hall has undergone construction to safely accommodate individuals during the pandemic. 

“Work completed at the [Malott Dining] Commons includes re-envisioning the main servery to allow for social distancing while creating immediate grab-and-go options,” Reeder told TSL via email. 

Plexiglass, sneeze guards and touchless equipment were installed, Reeder added. 

Indoor seating capacity was reduced, with outdoor seating expanded in Seal Court and on Bowling Green Lawn, Reeder said. 

To protect workers, he said touchless faucets, plexiglass partitions between cook stations and new stainless prep stations to provide more distance between staff were also installed.


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