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New Valley center faces significant delay

Significant construction issues have slowed the progress for one of Valley College’s new buildings.

By Gabriel Arizon, Staff Writer

The Valley Academic and Cultural Center faces a delay of two years due to poor planning and weather delays.

Originally due to open in August 2018, the facility has faced significant construction issues, pushing the completion date to 2020. Two different architecture firms, Ehrlich Architects and QDG Architects, designed the center at different points of the facility’s planning. This has raised questions on the amount of rebar and steel needed, and about the design of the facility. In addition, heavy rainfall in the past couple of years led to progress on the project stagnating.

According to BuildLACCD, progress on the facility is 26 percent complete with an academic occupancy date of June 17, 2019. However, the Build LACCD management team informed the Valley Bond Work Group, which oversees campus-wide improvement decisions at the college, that the completion date would be moved to 2020 due to rain delays.

“There’s two bars: one is the move-in date, when you start bringing everything over and moving it in, and then there's the class start date,” Professor and Department Chair of Media Arts Eric Swelstad said. “The move-in date would be early 2020 and the first semester we would be using it would be fall 2020.”

Since 2002, the center has been included in Valley College’s Facilities Master Plan, which outlines the future developments for the school. On Aug. 11, 2016, the Los Angeles Community College District approved the 118,000-square-foot-facility with a budget of $78.5 million. This makes the facility a part of a $612 million renovation and building project for Valley to renovate existing buildings and construct new sustainable ones.

Ehrlich Architects did initial design work for the facility in 2010 - when it was originally called the Media Arts and Performing Arts Center - before QDG Architects came in at a later date. 

Swelstad, who is the building user group leader, has remained optimistic about the project’s completion, despite the setbacks.

“We thank the taxpayers for their patience and for their diligence in making sure this happens. We’re building this for the students - this is all for them,” he said.

This isn't the first time has Valley faced construction issues. When the Allied Health and Science Center was opened in September 2008, it faced a myriad of problems. According to the Los Angeles Times, dirty water flowed at emergency eyewash stations, the temperature swung wildly between boiling and frigid, and an imbalance in air pressure created a wind-tunnel effect, causing the simple task of opening and closing doors to require a great deal of strength. On top of the $48 million it cost to build the center, LACCD had to pay other firms $3.5 million to fix the issues.

When completed, the two-story facility will feature classrooms, study and rehearsal spaces, a newsroom, a radio station, faculty offices, and four separate theaters. It will also include an Outdoor Amphitheater for outdoor performances and concerts. The center will occupy a large space in the northwestern part of campus, near the Music Building and the Art Building.


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