Phase II opens with brand-new views and quirks

By Lily Simon

Pitzer’s newest addition to campus residence halls, East Hall and West Hall, welcomed students back to campus in August 2012. Despite major construction headway, Phase II has a long way to go.

The buildings, which house the new study abroad office, media studies center and student housing services, have received mixed but generally positive reviews from students and administrators. As improvements are made everyday, residents and faculty continue to adjust to the new buildings on campus.

Dean of Students Moya Carter served on the Phase II committee last year and is pleased with the project’s results.

“It was the College’s goal to create a multi-use living and learning community that highlighted Pitzer’s core commitment to sustainability,” Carter said. “We also wanted to integrate instructional spaces into adjacent living areas… and create a connection with the landscape with views and use of indoor-outdoor spaces.”

To date, Phase II currently has received Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the United States Green Building Council. Carter still expects that Phase II will receive Platinum LEED certification, the highest level.

Part of the LEED certification requires that the buildings contain sustainable elements such as use of recycled material and engagement of the remaining 3.5 acres of Outback Phase II also incorporates solar panels and a living wall.

Jamie Francis, Director of Study Abroad and International Programs, is happy with the larger and brighter study abroad office. “We have a new conference room that is a convenient space for orientation and focus group meetings with students.”

One disadvantage of the new office, which students have notes, is the distance from other student service offices.

“Our proximity to [the registrar and student affairs] was a great benefit and convenience to faculty, staff and students,” Francis said of their previous offices in Scott Hall.

A new media studies production center provides students with editing suites open twenty-four hours as day, seven days a week, equipment check-out, shooting space, and a gallery among other services. Staff at the West Hall’s new Mosbacher/Gartrell Center for Media Experimentation and Activism, feel that the move has improved their sense of community.

“We definitely feel like we are more of a community center” said Director of Media Studies Production Stephanie Hutin. “Now it is a much more evolved place… Now its not only the people that fill the space but the people that support us as well.”

The design of the new buildings allows for more visibility and interaction between students and administration. “The buildings are very community-oriented,” said Residence Director for Phase II Alayna Goins, . “In Southern California, we make use of our community spaces outside.”

Faculty aren’t the only ones who are excited about the recent developments. In general, the consensus among students is that the aesthetic appeal and services that the new halls provide will greatly benefit the community. “Phase II is modern and beautiful‘ resort-esque.’ I like the porches” said sophomore Lily Shaffer.

Junior Evan Slovak is a little more reserved in his appraisal of Phase II. “You have this system for watering that is supposed to support all the plant life in Phase II, but it requires so much cooperation that I’m concerned how well it really works,” Slovak said.

Other concerns about the Phase II living situation include the lack of service desk, thin walls, and no printers.

“I can clearly hear conversations …and the incessant sound of what I have deduced can only be dorm room derby racing or early morning DDR practice from the room above me,” said Yael Horowitz, a resident of third floor East Hall.

Despite the transitional issue, Phase II seems like a worthy addition. “We’re a brand new building and we’re figuring out the kinks,” Goins said. ”We’re all the first residents… I think everyone has a good attitude about being here.”

Dean Carter is optimistic that Phase II will improve how the students feel about the school as a whole. She believes “it was time that our living accommodations for students matched the satisfaction that students were enjoying in other areas of the College.”

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