Monday, October 23 , 2017, 5:38 am | Fair 54º


Westmont College Breaks Ground on Two New Buildings

The construction kicks off the college's Master Plan to add 166,000 square feet to campus.

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Trustee Phyllis Marble, Steve Stong, chairman of the board of trustees, donor Stephen Adams, trustee Denise Adams and Westmont College President Gayle Beebe break ground on the campus’ Adams Center for the Visual Arts. (Brad Elliot photo)

Westmont College officials broke ground on two new buildings Thursday, the first significant construction on the Montecito campus in 24 years. Trustees and other college dignitaries wielded gold shovels to turn dirt at the sites for the Adams Center for the Visual Arts and Winter Hall for Science and Mathematics.

The construction signifies the start of the first phase of the college’s Master Plan, adding 166,000 square feet to the campus while maintaining more than 90 acres of landscaping or open space.

“This is an historic celebration for Westmont,” President Gayle Beebe said. “Our students will directly benefit from the enhanced educational experience they’ll receive in these new facilities.”

The groundbreaking ceremony was planned several months ago to coincide with the annual October meeting of the Westmont Board of Trustees.

The Adams Center, providing classrooms, studios and offices north of Porter Theatre, has been designed with natural ventilation and lighting. Two pavilions sit on the landscaped roof of the main level, while the east pavilion houses the gallery and gallery reception area. A computer graphics lab and ceramics and sculpture studios and work areas occupy the street level.

Winter Hall, north of the Murchison Gym complex, will house offices, classrooms and laboratories for mathematics, computer science, physics and psychology. The top level has three office areas around a central atrium, one for each department. The offices are clustered around lounges designed for individual and group study. Each lounge opens on to a landscaped roof deck. Undulating Santa Barbara sandstone walls surround the middle level.

Eight years ago, Westmont began a lengthy permitting process to update its previously approved Master Plan, undergoing an extensive environmental review and public hearings. Under the updated Master Plan, the college intends to build the Adams Center, Winter Hall, a chapel and a new residence hall in the first phase of construction and additional buildings in the future after a lengthy quiet period. Construction for the first phase is expected to take about three years to complete.

In May 2006, the college redesigned the project to incorporate guidance from the Montecito Board of Architectural Review and the Montecito Planning Commission, reducing total construction by more than 20,000 square feet and moving buildings away from the perimeter of the campus. The county imposed many new conditions as part of its approval, and the college has agreed to operate under a revised conditional use permit (C.U.P.) with 116 conditions, as compared to 31 under the prior C.U.P.

Scott Craig is Westmont College‘s media relations manager.

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