Students and faculty at Mesa College returned to classes this fall to the opening of an expansive new student commons building that will serve as a welcoming gateway to the campus as well as house labs and classrooms.
“Those of us who have been on campus watching this building come out of the earth and watching it open this semester know it has changed the pattern of how our students and all of us experience this campus,” Mesa Colleage president Pamela Luster said at a dedication ceremony held on Sept. 14. “It’s really a remarkable space where students are finding their space and place on our campus, and that’s exactly what Mesa is all about. We want them to come here, and we want them to be in community with one another and with all of us.”
The new $44.3 million, 73,000-square-foot Mesa Commons project serves as a student hub, housing the college’s state-of-the-art culinary arts management labs and classrooms, modern student-run M-Fusion Dining Café, expanded new cafeteria and food court, campus bookstore, convenience store, coffee café, faculty and student lounges, and conference rooms. The new facility, funded through the San Diego Community College District’s $1.555 billion construction bond program, also includes the campus stockroom, mail and printing services.
Ava Fakhrabadi, president the Mesa College Associated Student Government, praised the Mesa Commons as a place that “feels less like a school and a little more like home.”
“Every year, Mesa proves more and more that it’s not a commuter school but a community. Student government this year wants to work more closely with students and give them more opportunities to be involved on campus. And with the community that the Mesa Commons has given us, we know that this is going to be totally possible,” she said. “We want to make Mesa a home for everyone here. With all of the amazing people surrounding us, we know there is no limit to what we can achieve.”
Constance Carroll, SDCCD chancellor, reflected on when she served as Mesa College president.
“What a great day for the students of Mesa College. It makes my heart proud to look around and see all of these new facilities, especially what is now the new heart of the college, the Mesa Commons,” she said, also thanking local voters for their support of the bond measures that made the project possible. “These bond measures were the result of bold action on the part of our board, bold action on the part of the entire community, and bold action on the part of the voters of San Diego.”
“I have now been on this board since 1990, so I’ve seen the transformation to our district because of these wonderful measures,” said Maria Senour, president of SDCCD’s Board of Trustees. “This is a wonderful addition to the campus. This is a place where they can meet with their peers, they can study together. We all know one of the parts of retention of students is their sense of community within the campus, and this building helps to create more of that sense of community within the campus that already exists. We’re very proud of this achievement.”
A hallmark of the SDCCD bond program is sustainability through its Green Building Policy, and the Mesa Commons has extensive “green” features:
- Permeable paving utilized throughout the hardscape areas reduce site stormwater runoff; landscape areas are designed to capture and filter runoff.
- Landscaping design incorporates computerized irrigation system, and, when coupled with selection of native and drought-tolerant plants, will save an estimated 300,695 gallons of water annually.
- 270,000 gallons of condensate water is estimated to be collected annually from HVAC equipment that feeds below ground cisterns as well as a 700-gallon water storage tank at the second floor organic roof garden. The tank provides irrigation for the organic food planters that will be managed by the Culinary Arts Department for use in their student-run M Fusion Restaurant.
- A 37 percent reduction in water use with low-flow toilets, urinals and restroom and kitchen sinks compared to more traditional fixtures, saving an estimated 148,380 gallons annually.
- Approximately 630 million BTUs of clean energy generated annually through an on-site solar thermal system, offsetting 6.7 percent of the total building energy use.
- High efficiency LED lighting with integrated dimming, occupancy, and daylight sensors are used throughout building to decrease energy use in lighting when not needed.
- Solar tracking skylights use solar powered GPS sun-tracking controllers that accurately calculate location and follow the sun’s position regardless of weather or season to reflect the most natural light possible into the building. They provide comfortable daylighting and reduce electricity use.
- The project maximizes the use of materials with recycled content and sustainably harvested materials, including wood slat ceilings, composite wood fencing, cork flooring, tectum ceiling panels, and carpets and structural steel fabricated with high recycled content.
The new Commons was funded through the district’s $1.555 billion construction bond program, and is one of seven new academic and career training facilities, four major renovations, numerous infrastructure projects, parking facilities, and public safety enhancements at Mesa College.
—Ursula Kroemer is the public information and outreach manager for San Diego Community College District’s Propositions S and N construction bond programs.