By David Pendleton and Oscar Huerta, May 2, 2023
What was once the iconic CLA Tower, also known as “the pointy building,” there is now a new green space park for Cal Poly Pomona students.
Last March, CPP started the demolition of the CLA Building after discovering it was built on an earthquake fault line and suffered from multiple structural issues. With a $14 million budget, it took a year to take down the tower and create the CLA Park.
To honor the legacy of the CLA Building, built in 1993, a seating wall was built in the shape of a point for everyone to remember the building that once stood.
The park consists of three different levels; each level of the park contains a seating area with power outlets and Wi-Fi for students. The park can be used for social gatherings, outdoor classes, picnics and club gatherings.
Bruyn Bevans, the senior project manager and construction management program coordinator who supervised all aspects of the renovations for the new park, along with the new Student Services Building, needed the construction crews to haul in thousands of pounds of dirt in order to build the park.
“Primarily the first function was to make up for the elevation change between the existing walkways to the existing second floor,” said Bevans. “So we had a 15-foot plus dimension that we had to overcome.”
The elevation of the park allows students to overlook the well-known Aratani Japanese Garden. Bevans believes the park will look at its best when all the plants and trees have grown alongside the same plant life next to the Student Services Building.
Many students have already taken the time to stroll through the park to see what it has to offer. Some lounged around as they talked to their friends or did homework, while others simply walked through the park and admired the view while taking pictures.
Mia Madrid, a psychology student, decided to stop by the park and sit down in one of the chairs on the higher levels to use her laptop. She said she enjoyed being outside and admired the greenery and various colors of the park as she worked.
“I love how open the space is, I love the variety of the nature of it, I just like how it overlooks the campus a bit too,” Madrid said.
The most difficult aspect of the project according to Bevans was the demolition of the CLA Tower. The demolition crew had unexpectedly found a $1.5 million worth of asbestos abatement within the CLA Tower, which has been banned in construction since the ‘80s. The cancer causing substance had to be taken off carefully by the demolition crew in order to protect students, facility and even the surrounding plant life.
As the park waits for more furniture to come in, students during the day will have the opportunity to gather at dining tables and chairs in shaded areas. During the evenings and nights, students will have access to LED lights from the canopy on the top level.
While many students have started to become accustomed to the park and enjoyed its facilities, some have said it currently feels somewhat empty. George Eto, a graduate student in electrical engineering, noted this feeling after he walked through the park and felt the open space.
“It’s interesting but it seems a bit sparse,” Eto said. “It feels like there’s a void here.”
With the precedent set by the CLA Tower, Noe Medina, another graduate student in electrical engineering, said the old building felt more representative of the campus.
“What was here before, people used to take pictures of and you would know it’s Cal Poly, but if you’re here and you take a picture, it could be anywhere,” Medina said.
Despite their critiques, Eto and Medina agreed the park felt like it was on a solid foundation, but it was just missing out on some inherent potential. Eto added it may have also hit harder for older students like them because of their attachment to the old CLA Tower.
Although it might be difficult to forget the prominent CLA Tower, Bevans believes the money was well spent on creating a new outdoor area for students.
“It’s important for CSU campuses to continue to have a place that creates the opportunity for learning, lifelong learning as well,” said Bevans. “But the opportunity to create a college experience.”
Feature images by Jocelyn Reyes
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