Hello, my name is Elyse Clark, my partner, Neo Li, and I are sophomores here at Otis, I'm in Graphic Design, and he's Product Design. 

We were curious about exactly what is happening with all that construction, so we decided to ask the man himself, William Schaeffer, Vice President of Administrative and Financial Services, who gave us the scoop.

EC: I think I'd like to start off by asking what exactly do you (William Schaeffer) do at this school?

WS: I handle fiscal matters at school, budget prep, outsider finance reporting, student accounting. Things relating to facilities such as the campus expansion

NL: When’s the expected completion date?

WS: We're aiming for next July 2016, right now they are working on acceleration by trying to get exterior walls up in case of rain to work on the interior. Our goal is to get the academic part done by the end of October and residential part done by the end of November.

NL: Who was the Architect for this project?

WS: There are two architect firms Ehrlich(El Segundo) and Fischer Partners(Santa Monica). The two firms competed for the job, but they decided to partner up which is quite unusual having two firms work on one job, but it works and works well.

Blueprints of Construction Plans

EC: I've seen the picture, but I want to know what exactly are they building and where?

WS: They are bulding a residential wing and an academic wing.
The first floor of the residential wing (pictured above in green and blue) is going to be the new library, and then next to that is the new cafeteria. The cafe will introduce meal plans for students who are both living in the dorms and not. Along with meal plans is the new student ID's that are being created, it's called a one card system that will not only allow students living in the doors to get in (instead of a key), but it will also act as an easier way to pay for food with meal plans as you can reload your card with money. 

The next floors above it are the residential housing floors, each floor has a lounge with areas for students to be able to do art, dry art only, and a room were the RA lives.

Then there's the academic wing (pictured above in orange), which will be attached to the parking garage, has quite a lot. On the bottom floors we will have a 'grab and go' which is like a cafe that doesn't make hot food, it will have longer hours than the cafe that will allow students to be able to still get cold or ready made foods when the cafe closes. It will also include things like a full-service barista, soups, cold foods, and a juice bar. Also on the bottom is going to be the SRC (Student Resource Center) and Student Activities, and a full security office. The floors above which are the academic part will be where fashion is moving to.

There's also going to be what is called an artist-in-residence space, and that is a little apartment like room for visiting artists to be able to live while they are here at Otis. It is something we wanted to create to be able to accommodate them, and it's free of charge.

From the picture above the purple building will be the new Forum, and it will have a pull apart wall that can expand it in size.

                                                                     New Forum

EC: Since the new buildings contain a lot of the things the Ahmanson Building now has, what will happen to things like the Library and SRC that are currently in the Ahmanson Building? 

WS: So basically the first three floors of the Ahmanson Building are going to completely change. 

The basement of the Ahmanson Building will be different because the lab press is moving to where printmaking is, and the screen print room is being expanded. 

First floor, Admissions is moving to where the lounge and Student Affairs is currently. Continuing Ed moves from the second floor to where the current Forum is. There will be contracted doctors and nurses, trained healthcare workers on site. Also on the first floor there will be a on campus art store for students, we aren't sure which company will be coming in to run the store yet, but that will be where the cafe currently is.

Second Floor, the Business Office will move over a little, Registrar, Financial Aid, and Student Accounts will all share one big office. And the resources over on Walnut St. will move to the Ahmanson Building, meaning that our President will be moving here.

EC: Are only freshmen allowed in student housing? 

WS: The priority is freshmen, but other levels will be able to be put on a waitlist and see what is available after the freshmen are taken care of.

NL: If we have more students, if there going to be more space in the parking garage?

WS: No, but we are thinking of adding a canopy over the top level of the garage for shade and added cover. That's not set in stone yet.

NL: Who made the design solutions? Whose ideas was the construction?

WS: Design solutions are made by the architects, they go through Otis to make sure everything is correct. It's a combo of what Otis needs and getting concepts to provide functionality. 

Kerry Walk, Randy Lavender and myself are Board Members, Laura Kiralla makes decisions. The Aesthetic Group come into to make design choices.

Campus Advisory Board   
NL: What is the total cost of the construction going to be? Will the money be coming from our tuitions?

WS: The cost is going to be around $51 million dollars. No, this money doesn't come from the students' tuitions, we get it through other means. $35 million of it comes from loans we take out from a bank, $10 million is from fundraising we do, and the last $6 million is from Otis reserves. 

EC: Are we going to have drought tolerant plants? Because we are supposed to be a sustainable school, but we still have a lawn full of grass.

WS: We are going to be putting in drought-tolerant plants, there is going to be a hardscape "O" in the middle of the quad area, and in the center of that is going to be a bench for people to sit on and around that area will be the native plants. The only grass left will probably be the grass that's on the lawn area now.

We are also talking about changing the grass and plants from the front of the Ahmanson Building on Lincoln and Tijera to drought tolerant plants as well.

Picture of Quad Area

So there you have it folks, the inside scoop about the construction at Otis. I hope it answered some of those burning questions you had as you sit in class and listen to the peaceful sounds of drills, saws, and giant machines. And what's with that air horn?

- Elyse & Neo -


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