This is a rendering of what the new facility would look like upon completion.

This is a rendering of what the new facility would look like upon completion.

Charlotte Weiss
Staff Writer

Lorain County Community College prides itself on being a hotbed for manufacturing and technological advancement in the world of higher education, and is taking another step toward being a prevalent resource for students and community members alike. Beginning in February, the Nord Advanced Technology (AT) and Campana buildings at LCCC will be undergoing renovations for an addition that will provide added space and improvements to the existing facilities.

With the desire to improve resources for students and campus community in mind, LCCC submitted a capital request to the state to receive a small campus grant from funds set aside by the Governor meant to be distributed for use in fields of workforce needs. Funds received from the state totaling $2.5 million were matched by the college, as well as a generous donation of $750,000 from the LCCC Foundation to be used for equipment inside the facility. This brought the budget to a grand total of $5.75 million. This is an all-inclusive budget that incorporates all facets of construction, including the building and fees of the architectural firm, Weber Murphy Fox (WMF).

WMF is an architecture, interior design, construction management, land planning and development, and historic preservation company with offices located in Cleveland, as well as Erie and State College, Pennsylvania. “The vision of this project is to showcase the successes and continued growth of the Fab Lab and Automation Lab,” said Clete Miller, the principal of WMF. “Externally, Dr. Church desired an architectural response which balances the building masses along the western public edge. Our response provides contextually complementary materials coupled with a dynamic, organic screenwall which captures the viewer’s attention and speaks to the robust nature of activities contained within this new space. Internally, the new environment provides room for growth of both functions within efficient operational configurations and welcomes students and guests to observe the numerous activities formerly behind solid walls.”

At the Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 21, bids for the opportunity to work on the project from 11 different construction companies were shared.  The low bid of $3,297,500 from Coastal Quality Construction Inc., a company headquartered in Broadview Heights, was approved. “This amount is for the building addition and changes within the existing building only,” said Laura Carissimi, the Purchasing/Facility Planning Office director, “The equipment, furniture, computer hardware, software, and audio-visual equipment is in addition to the construction costs.”

The main purpose of the addition is to position the campus to have a larger emphasis on manufacturing and create a hub with this focus. The addition will create a more prominent space for the FabLab, with a designated safely ventilated new facility deemed the “dirty fab” for projects requiring more in-depth elaboration. Developments will also include a fiberglass area, an automation lab, a courtyard space, and the inclusion of regions available for further ideation. “It’s our desire to build synergy among all these manufacturing elements,” said Carissimi, “There is such a strong emphasis on programs like GLIDE, the Smart Center, and the FabLab here. With the grant we could have chosen workforce aspects like healthcare or manufacturing, and we picked the manufacturing piece.” Renovations will be made to the existing structure to expand the AT building, provide a new west side main entry, and link the new addition to the Campana building.

In keeping with the trends of technological and construction advancements, LCCC considers itself at the height of developmental plans for its campus. “As we plan our buildings, we assume a minimum of a 50-year use of the structure and its systems,” said Carissimi, “Our ‘original’ buildings have reached that 50-year mark, which is a big reason as to why so much construction and renovation in the past several years.”

With the desire to perfect and develop useful resources for students and campus community members at the forefront of the minds of all involved parties, the AT and Campana building addition will prove to be a valuable asset to the campus once completed. The timeline for construction is estimated to take place from late February of this year with targeted substantiation by the spring of 2017.