Building on the Past

“The Master Plan affirms a compelling set of goals, none of which are more important than building a community of learning and hope worthy of the trust that our students and the people of California have placed in us.” —President Paul J. Zingg

Standing on the newly renovated First Street Promenade can feel like having one foot in the past, the other in the future. Bustling by on the way to class, students look up from their smartphones to the brick fa├žade of the Trinity bell tower—an intricately soaring masterpiece designed in the 1920s by Chester Cole.

The new Trinity Commons area (formerly the Free Speech Area) is designed to harmonize with the campus's historic core, a riff on the Romanesque Revival style with brick details and integrated greenery. Trinity Commons was redesigned as part of the ongoing First Street Promenade project, which will revitalize First Street while upgrading the underground utilities running toward Taylor Hall.

The project creates a unified, accessible corridor through central campus. “It guides pedestrians through campus seamlessly,” says Vice President for Business and Finance Lori Hoffman. “Activity nodes mark the eras, creating a visual connection from the more contemporary setting of the Student Services Center to the 1960s Meriam Library to the historic Kendall Walk and beyond.”

Alumni and students often cite Chico State's sheer beauty as one of the University's most cherished attributes—the historic trees of the Arboretum (some planted by John Bidwell himself), the oasis of calm found on the bridges crossing Big Chico Creek at the campus's heart, the oranges and yellows of fall foliage.

Planning for the campus's future is done with these gifts in mind, and with a keen eye to preserving the campus's unique character while making judicious use of its limited footprint. The recently completed Wildcat Recreation Center, Gateway Science Museum, and Sutter Hall buildings were designed to integrate naturally into campus while showcasing modern designs and construction technologies. Elements like rainwater capture for irrigation, solar panels, reclaimed materials, additional bike parking, and natural lighting have garnered the buildings LEED gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The new Student Services Center is certified LEED silver.

The next phase of the First Street project will extend past the Kendall Walk in summer 2012, and the final phase will be included in the construction of a new arts and humanities building in the cornerstone location of the current Taylor Hall. The facility will include many areas for student and faculty collaboration and interaction, including a Writing Center and a two-story area for project review and “crit space.”

“Planning space for student success and learning is a priority,” says Hoffman. The arts and humanities building is just the beginning of a new phase in planned facilities focusing on academic buildings and collaborative workspaces. After the completion of the arts and humanities building, a sciences building will be constructed on the site of Siskiyou Hall, next to Meriam Library. The building will attract budding scientists with hands-on-learning opportunities in state-of-the-art laboratories.

Additional learning spaces will be created in older facilities, such as collaborative study spaces built into the existing hallway alcoves of Holt Hall. Other new places for students to gather and study include a laptop lounge in Meriam Library, student spaces created in the Student Services Center, and outdoor furniture throughout campus.

The University is committed to protecting the campus's unique gifts—a well-preserved historic core, the vision that faculty like Wes Dempsey (professor emeritus, Biology) had for the Arboretum, and campus's proximity to downtown Chico—while meeting the needs for student learning and success in the 21st century, says Hoffman. “We are fortunate to have such a vibrant space in which to educate our students,” she concludes.

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