The recently opened Ernest H. Moreno Language Arts and Humanities Building at East Los Angeles College provides a welcoming front door for the institution’s more than 30,000 students.
The community college, which previously comprised multiple bungalow-style buildings, now has a dynamic center where students, faculty and staff all come together.
East Los Angeles College is in the top 10 nationally for enrollment, having seen a 20 percent increase over the past three years alone. Prior to the construction, the campus’ multiple smaller buildings hampered any sense of community.
“We needed a larger facility and more square footage, but we also needed to serve our students better,” President Marvin Martinez says. “That sense of community is now special because it creates a different dynamic amongst faculty and students that we hadn’t had before.”
Named after a former long-term university president, the 135,000-square-foot, five-story building provides state-of-the-art classrooms, offices, success center labs and common space, serving nine once-dispersed departments. It is also home to an English reading and writing lab, a learning assistance center, and ESL and foreign language labs.
An open-air courtyard, which takes advantage of southern California’s weather, separates faculty offices and classrooms into two distinct wings. It also serves as the main entrance. An atrium in each wing creates informal gathering spaces to encourage student collaboration.
And the glass-and-brick exterior makes for an inviting destination—a fundraising and recruiting tool that the institution lacked previously.
On the sustainability side, a storage tank collects rainwater for landscape irrigation and low-flow water fixtures have been installed throughout—features important in a region with drought problems. The facility was built to LEED-gold standards.
“When you think of a community college, here in California, you think of adult-education sites—one story, temporary buildings,” says Martinez. “Now, students say, ‘This feels like a real university.’ It has a psychological effect that makes students go, ‘I’m no longer in high school. I am now in college.’”
- COMPLETED: September 2016
- COST: $55 million
- PROJECT TEAM: Architect: HGA Architects and Engineers (Los Angeles); general contractor: Pinner Construction (Anaheim) —R.B.