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Set back at VACC

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

The long-awaited building enters a new phase of construction.

By Griffin O’Rourke, Staff Writer

Pinner Construction employees meet in the main hallway of the Valley Academic and Cultural Center at Los Angeles Valley College on March 14, 2023. (Griffin O'Rourke | Valley Star)

The doors of the VACC building may remain closed to students for another year while Pinner Construction edges towards the July completion date.

Litigation and construction woes have long delayed the art facility for over five years. With the projected completion date around the corner, new complications arise. Pinner will finish the construction of the center, but descoping of certain items and features, meaning replaced or reduced in design, will be handled by a different company hired by the district. Two thousand interior sound-dampening panels in most of the building’s rooms will need to be removed, reinforced and reinstalled. Some stairways and ramps are too narrow and will have to be remade.

“I was told that they will have someone else come in after we complete [the building] and leave,” said Pinner Construction Vice-President Robert Boyington. “We built it per plan and per specs, what they did is came in and made changes.”

These revisions could take upwards of a year. Boyington does not think the VACC will be approved for occupation while the final construction measures take place due to safety concerns.

The LACCD and BuildLACCD have declined to comment on the VACC due to active litigation with the General Contractor, Pinner.

Pinner is still dealing with problems of the design changes, some of which are compounded by poor weather. The Trespa paneling on the exterior of the complex is still being replaced, though progress has been impeded by the rain. Approval for the redesigned support beams in the VACC’s roof have been pending approval from the Division of State Architects for two years. The air duct system exceeded the length of the original schematics, making a redesign necessary for the beams.

“We’ve worked on more complex, more expensive projects before. But this has been the most difficult by far,” said Pinner’s Chief Administrative Officer Newt Kellam.

Theater arts and media arts will eventually move into the $92 million building. At their disposal will be four new theaters, a greenscreen room, a newsroom, a radio station, classrooms and an outside amphitheater. The theater department temporarily moved into Campus Center after their Horseshoe theater was demolished last spring. The aging Campus Center flooded at the beginning of the month, displacing the theater program again.

(L-R) Pinner's Chief Administrative Officer Newt Kellam and Pinner's Senior Paralegal Nicole Orsi stand in front of a pulley system in the backstage of the Valley Academic and Cultural Center's mainstage theater at Valley College on March 14. The system of cables are attached to 32 pound weights which can raise and lower a rig above the theatre's stage. (Griffin O'Rourke | Valley Star)

Pinner’s legal battle with the LACCD could last over a year after they leave the project site. The district is still reviewing Pinner’s multiple claims for damages, which amounts to $26 million. The claims were submitted last September. Once the reviews of the claims are finished, mandatory meetings between the district and the construction company will convene. Mediation and arbitration will follow soon after.

In August, the company filed a lawsuit with the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Pinner alleged that the district defrauded $20 million from taxpayers and caused the company to lose $24.8 million. The district filed an anti-slapp motion, citing an intent to intimidate, because Pinner publicly named district officials on the project. The court overruled the motion, allowing the Pinner legal team to proceed. A hearing on the lawsuit will take place in June.


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