Early CLA demolition disrupts graduation photos

By Silas Hood and Brandon Cummings, May 3, 2022

At the end of the 2021-22 academic year, graduating students face an impediment to their commemorative photos as the soft demolition phase of the iconic Classroom, Laboratory and Administration building on the Cal Poly Pomona campus has undergone physical alterations and fencing around the premises in preparation for the hard demolition phase, with the entirety of the tower being scaffolded off starting May 9.

Students looking to include the tower in their graduation photos have until this process begins to get their shots as the construction already carried out obstructs the photo process, but the steps to come will eliminate the opportunity.

The campus is urging students to take graduation photos prior to May 9. (Silas Hood | The Poly Post)

“To the rest of the students that want to get a picture of the building … take it before we get to May 9 when that scaffold starts going up,” said Bruyn Bevans, senior project manager of Facilities Planning, Design and Construction. “If they decide to run the scaffold from the corner of the building all the way up and then move across, you’re going to lose every opportunity of taking a picture of the building very quickly.”

The scaffold process is a preliminary requirement to contain debris inside of the building and provides external access as contractors move to the hard demolition phase on May 23. Current construction still allows for the tower to be photographed but has disrupted some students’ plans.

“I didn’t know they would tear it down before commencement happened … students who came in during the quarter system who are used to the CLA, seeing it knocked down before graduation pictures kind of sucked because now you have all this construction in the way,” said Pablo Ramirez, a graduating industrial engineering student.

In anticipation for the scaffolding, Strategic Communications published a photography article on the PolyCentric news website April 29 for students to learn how to best photograph the point of the CLA without any obstruction.

As for the soft demolition process, power was cut to the building and the elevators were removed with their chutes being utilized as debris-ways. To gain access to the numerous floors with equipment, the front side of the building had entranceways cut through the external wall where workers will utilize a manlift to enter and work from.

A manlift will be erected on May 2 spanning the height of the tower in front of the previous entrance ways, presenting another obstacle to photographs.

Facilities Planning and Management arranged to reopen access to the front steps, CLA Paseo and elevated plaza, for students to take photos from May 14 to May 22 which, under new project understanding, may be changed.

“By the time we get to finals week, this thing will be completely covered so there won’t be any opportunities for photos,” said Bevans. “That was based on our understanding that we weren’t going to scaffold the building, now that we are … I’m not opposed to opening it up, but it may have to be in a circumstance that’s (earlier) over in an area that allows the building to be exposed.”

With the CLA facing many facets of construction causing visual obstruction, graduating students are urged to take their pictures, if they can, during the height of the school year.

“The CLA was cool to a lot of people and was actually our school’s trademark; I’m never going to forget that pointy building,” said Elber Henriquez, a graduating psychology student. “I’m kind of upset that I couldn’t get any grad pictures on time, but my memories at the CLA building are that much more valuable now.”

While the construction process is conflictive to the graduating class of 2022 looking to incorporate the CLA tower into their graduation pictures, the demolition date and planning takes precedence over photo opportunities.

“At this point and time, I don’t want to dictate to the contractor not to do something because that just means we’re not going to make the end date, and as much as it pains me to tell people they’re not going to get a picture of the building, it pains me more to tell the university you can’t use the building,” said Bevans. “We can’t stop the fall semester; it has to go forward.”

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