Jennifer Hall

The shovel finally hit the dirt on Saturday, May 6, signifying the start of construction at the Gala Groundbreaking Celebration for the new Center for Construction Excellence building.

The construction management facility, part of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, is being built in place of the Air Conditioning building located on South Perimeter Road.

The official groundbreaking ceremony, part of a weekend of activities to celebrate the new building, took place at 3 p.m. on Dexter Lawn.

“This building has been 10 years in the planning,” said Allan Hauck, the department head for construction management. “This is the next-to-last big step on this journey.”

The 58,000-square-foot center including lecture space, labs, classrooms and office space will cost an estimated $21.3 million to build. Funding for the facility was raised both publicly and privately and an alumni campaign to raise an additional $1 million is underway.

“This is the first time we’ve combined funds to increase square footage,” Hauck said. “We almost doubled the square footage because of private donations.”

A large majority of those private funds came from the two founders for the building, Rob Rossi and C. Nicholas Watry, both Cal Poly alumni.

“(Cal Poly) has always been a great school of architecture,” Rossi said. “It continues to be a great legacy.”

The celebration included a golf tournament, a barbecue, product presentations, an ice cream social, a construction management open house, the groundbreaking ceremony and gala dinner on Saturday with a family day at Cuesta Park on Sunday.

“The main purpose of the groundbreaking is to honor the donations,” Hauck said. “A lot of people at Cal Poly contributed.”

The center will include a two-story, state-of-the-art materials demonstration lab sponsored by Simpson Strong-Tie. The 5,000-square-foot space will allow for training in planning, design, engineering and construction as well as professional demonstrations of building components to students.

“These facilities will be available to students for a hands-on experience,” President Warren Baker said. “It helps in the curriculum projects and improves the quality of education.”

Construction will begin in June and should take one year and 10 months to complete. The center is set to open in summer 2008.

“This is a good example of how the university and construction management can work together,” Baker said.

The construction management department has grown 50 percent in the last five years, according to the College of Architecture and Environmental Design Web site.

“Because California is facing such urgent housing, facility and infrastructure needs, there is a great demand for a ‘new breed’ of architecture, engineering and construction professionals to help solve the state’s problems,” said Barbara Jackson, a construction management professor and director of the center. “The California Center for Construction Education helps fill that need.”

For more information about the Center for Construction Excellence visit http://construction.calpoly.edu.

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