Ohlone College
Ohlone academic core

Bay area community college opens 3 new academic buildings

Jan. 27, 2020
Ohlone College spent about $190 million for the facilities that make up the academic core of its Fremont, Calif., campus

Ohlone College in Fremont, Calif., has opened three new academic core buildings for the beginning of its spring 2020 semester.

The Marin Independent Journal reports that the new facilities at the community college consist of about  188,000 square feet of space and represent the centerpiece of a major bond-funded renovation of the campus nearly a decade in the making.

The buildings include a science center with modern labs and prep rooms, a music and visual arts center featuring a recital hall for concerts, band room, as well as a recording studio and photography darkroom, and a learning commons that houses a library, and English learning center and study rooms.

The new facilities have been under construction since April 2016, and have taken  the place of three nearly 50-year-old buildings that were demolished in 2015.

“I am inspired and in awe of what our community has helped us create,” says Gari Browning, the college’s president.

The buildings, along with several other projects, were all funded by a $349 million bond passed by voters in 2010.

All the new buildings feature floor-to-ceiling windows lining the edges of the structures, letting students, faculty, and staff take in the sweeping views offered by the college’s hillside location, and letting plenty of natural light fill the interior spaces.

The previous buildings in this spot at the heart of the campus were built in the 1970s and “were a bit like castles,” Browning says.

“You could go down a staircase and up a staircase and across and never run into anybody, which was awful. There was no college community because of the physical structure,” she said, noting that the layout of the new buildings should encourage more collaboration and interaction.

The trio of structures was slated to cost about $132 million when ground was broken, but costs ballooned in the intervening years, and construction officials now estimate the total cost at $190 million.

The new buildings are named for an East Coast developer and retired contractor, Frank DiMino, who donated $9.8 million to help buy and maintain furniture and equipment for the structures, and support scholarships and academic programs.

The academic core buildings make use of sustainable design, including a solar hot water heating system, the solar array, all LED lighting, and even feature some reclaimed redwood finishes taken from the original Ohlone College buildings that were demolished.

The college says the buildings have been designed to achieve LEED Gold certification.

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