CUCs New Home on First Street Has Architectural Flair

High ceilings, doorways that lack 90-degree angles, and a light installation that resembles falling neon raindrops greet visitors to the Claremont University Consortium’s (CUC) new Administrative Campus Center (ACC), which was relocated to First Street in June.

“We call it the white whale,” CUC Guest Services Coordinator Dawn Grimes said of the light installation. Using 6,500 light bulbs that sense and respond to changes in body temperature, the installation changes color as people walk past.

Artistic touches like these and enhanced sustainability features are highlights of CUC’s new ACC, which was built as part of a repurposing project that utilized a pre-existing structure on the grounds of the new building.

“Reusing the building [instead of starting from scratch] was one of the greenest aspects [of the project],” said Troy Hansgen, CUC Director of Construction Management and Facilities Planning.

“We are in the process of getting a LEED certification,” he added. “We anticipate getting a LEED Silver.”

Sustainable features of the building include light sensors in the ceiling that allow natural light and electric light to work together, so that on sunny days the building uses less electricity. Also, most of the wood for the furniture in the building is sourced from managed forests, where growers are responsible for replanting a tree every time they chop one down. The landscaping around the ACC is composed of native and drought-tolerant plants.

According to a brochure about the project, the new ACC cuts the “CUC Administration footprint” by 54 percent and the “CUC Shops & Trades footprint” by 51 percent.

Hansgen said a major motivation for constructing the new ACC was a desire to use the structure that formerly stood on the site.

“The biggest reason we felt compelled to do the work was [because] this building was underutilized,” Hansgen said. The previous structure housed trade workshops, which provide storage space and workspace for CUC carpenters and electricians.

The new ACC houses almost all of the CUC administrative staff, according to Grimes.

“We have everything from human resources to real estate and housing to payroll to accounts payable to IT,” she said. The trade workshops are now located in the back of the ACC, with a decrease in storage space from 6,000 square feet to close to 1,200 square feet.

Hansgen said the drop in storage space was motivated by a new system for keeping materials for repairs on site.

“We went to a ‘just in time’ inventory model,” he said. “So instead of keeping a bunch of material on hand, [if] we get a call for a repair at Harvey Mudd for plumbing, now we might have to order the material or go get it instead of having it in storage [already].”

According to Hansgen, this change in immediately available supplies will not affect the speed of repair work at the Claremont Colleges.

”Not in today’s market,” he said.

The building also includes 11 meeting rooms of various sizes, including a 72-person stadium seating meeting space that is reminiscent of the steps in Times Square. Hansgen said these steps were called “the stairs to nowhere” during the construction phase, in part because it was unclear how the space was going to be used.

The lobby area of the ACC also features an open café-style seating area. “This [public] space is open for students [or] for faculty to use for meeting spaces should you need it,” Grimes said.

The building is already being utilized by the Claremont Colleges community and some local organizations, including the local non-profit Uncommon Good, which has rented out the space after hours.

“It’s really quite amazing,” Grimes said of the building.

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