Dirt was shoveled, a massive banner was unveiled, and confetti shot into the air around a gathering of university partners, civic leaders, and a diverse mix of the campus community.
It was official. On Sept. 28, California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) broke ground in dramatic style on its long-anticipated $82 million Science and Innovation building.
Strikingly illustrated by a 20- by 70-foot banner hanging on the east side of the University Library to announce it, the 91,000-square-foot building is tentatively scheduled to begin construction in late fall 2017. The festivities took place where the three-story, ultra-modern instructional and research facility will be built, in the lot adjacent to the Natural Sciences and Mathematics building.
“When I first came to Cal State Dominguez Hills, I fell in love with this campus and its mission. I was impressed with the faculty and the students. I wanted to be part of what was happening here,” said CSUDH President Willie J. Hagan, who provided the opening remarks at the groundbreaking. “Now, when I think about all the students, all the ideas—all the ‘ah-ha!’ moments that are going to come out of this building—I feel a deep sense of pride and joy knowing that thousands of lives are going to be changed forever.”
The exterior of the Science and Innovation building will feature a blue and gray façade with an esthetic “decoded DNA strand” design in the paneling. The building will have three primary entrances, and HGA has incorporated courtyards and outdoor work space into the building to create a seamless gateway from campus.
Following President Hagan to provide remarks at the event, which included a VIP reception and one of CSUDH’s four new mobile science fabrication laboratories (fab labs) on display, were those who have played essential roles in the building’s planning, design and funding, and those who will benefit the most from the building when construction is completed.
From the university, other featured speakers at the groundbreaking were Michael Spagna, provost and vice president for academic affairs, who served as emcee; Philip LaPolt, dean of the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences; John Thomlinson, chair of the Biology Department, and CSUDH student Noraim Nunez, a physics major.
“Our students are really the best. That is with the facilities we have now. Imagine what the students are going to be able to do with the facilities we are going to have,” said Thomlinson. “When the Class of 2025 graduates, high-tech labs will be all they know. With the experience and self-confidence that they will gain in our new Science and Innovation building, our graduates will transform the world.”
California Senator Steven Bradford, who represents the 35th District and is a CSUDH alumnus, also offered a few words at the groundbreaking, followed by Tracy Underwood, national manager, social innovation for Toyota Motor Sales USA, who spoke on behalf of the Toyota USA Foundation. The foundation donated $4 million to fund the Toyota Center for Innovation in STEM Education, a 7,000 square-foot center which will be housed on the first floor of the new science building.
“Toyota and Cal State Dominguez Hills have had a mutually supportive relationship for a number of years. Both institutions believe in supporting our communities, believe in empowering our teachers, and we certainly believe in supporting our students,” said Underwood. “Dr. Hagan, we have no doubt that our investment will be returned hundreds-of-thousands fold… The future is looking very bright, and we (Toyota) need the students who will come from working in this new building and developing new innovations.”