HomeBlocksFront-GridGlendale Community College Unveils Cutting-Edge Buena Vista STEM Facility

Glendale Community College Unveils Cutting-Edge Buena Vista STEM Facility

With much fanfare, Glendale Community College unveiled its state of the art, five-story STEM facility, the Buena Vista building, at a June 13 ribbon-cutting ceremony where community members, GCC staff and administrators, and local leaders gathered to celebrate the milestone.

Funded by Measure GC, a $325 million bond measure approved in 2016 by Glendale voters allowing GCC to upgrade its facilities, the Buena Vista building will house a number of departments including biology, biotechnology, chemistry, geology, oceanography and physics. 

The 116,000-square-foot center is equipped with a 125-seat lecture hall, 31 specialized laboratories, collaborative study spaces, indoor and outdoor teaching spaces, a cadaver lab and 31 faculty offices. Local residents and the GCC community showed excitement to open the space to students and faculty after years of project execution. Prior to the ceremony, the college wasted no time to utilize the shining facility and held several classes this past semester at the building.

GCC Superintendent and President Ryan Cornner gave the opening remarks at last week’s opening ceremony, taking time to express his gratitude for all the faculty, administrators, hundreds of construction workers and board of trustees members — especially thanking his predecessor, David Viar, for his vision and commitment to getting the project off its feet.

“This building provides facilities worthy of the excellence of instruction and support that goes on inside these walls, worthy of the brilliance of our students that will be learning between these walls and worthy of the community that has supported the college for nearly 100 years,” Cornner said.

Sevada Chamras, the physical science division chair, noted that for as long as he could remember, GCC’s biology and physical science departments have been facing a “sky high” enrollment demand that the college was unable to meet due to limited facilities.

“For a good couple of decades, we were out of space and time — no physics pun intended,” Chamras said at the opening.

This is one of Buena Vista’s 31 specialized laboratories. While the grand opening took place on June 13, a few classes began operating in the building last semester.

The Buena Vista building is set up with hundreds of specimens including marine life and reptiles. It’s also filled with “cutting-edge technology” such as a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, which allows students to study the structure, identity, concentration and behavior of molecules.

Joseph Beeman, chair of the biology division, put into perspective what these technological tools can do for students and the community alike.

“Not only will we be better able to help our students explore the living world at a macroscopic level, but with our state-of-the-art camera-embedded microscopes, they will be able to explore the life unseen to the naked eye.” Beeman said. “… Our then confident and well-prepared students will truly have the vision to make great contributions to our local society and the world beyond.”

Chamras also stressed that Buena Vista was thoughtfully constructed to accommodate students, not only with the vast technology and laboratory equipment, but also with workspaces and lounge areas to encourage student collaboration and bonding. 

“These are large areas furnished with couches, chairs, tables, workstations, desks and floor to ceiling whiteboards for our students to hang out, to spend time, to study, to actively learn from their peers and to teach each other,” Chamras said.

Representatives from the offices of Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, state Sen. Anthony Portantino and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger were also in attendance and presented GCC with certificates of recognition.

Sevan Benlian, outgoing president of the college’s board of trustees, thanked everyone involved in bringing the project to fruition, including the 2016 voters who supported Measure GC, and shared the impact he believes the building will have.

“To me, this building is much more than bricks and mortar. It embodies our collective dedication to providing high quality educational opportunities for our students,” Benlian said. “… Improving our college is not just about benefiting our students; it’s about enriching our entire community. A stronger, better equipped college leads to a more educated workforce, driving economic growth and enhancing the quality of life in our city.”

The Buena Vista building stands five stories tall and spans 116,000 square feet. Here, students will have access to cutting-edge technology and lab facilities to further their science studies.

First published in the June 22 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

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