Point Loma Looks to Advance Education With New Facilities

December 11,2009

2008 meant a large amount of education-related construction projects in San Diego County -- from elementary to universities.

From the North County to the South Bay, and from the inland area to the beaches, it seems schools were either under construction or in the design phase.

Point Loma Nazarene University is no different.

The school by the sea saw one facility completed and a new $40 million science project designed to be built next year.

The new science complex is a two-part project that will involve the construction of a new science facility and the renovation of the existing Rohr science building.

The first phase encompasses building a new modern laboratory facility that will hold biology and chemistry labs, along with nursing, chemistry and graduate biology classes.

The second entails renovating classrooms, offices and lab space of the existing science building for the biology, chemistry, mathematics, information and computer science, physics and engineering departments.

Also, four group classrooms will be built to the west of the new building, where two of these classrooms will hold 80 students and the other two will accommodate up to 60.

Overheard bridges will also be built to connect new and renovated buildings, creating a cohesive unit.

An astronomy telescope deck is also in the blueprints.

The new science complex will total 35,000 square feet when completed and has been designed to be LEED silver certified.

The school is working with the architectural firm Carrier Johnson, said Joseph Watkins, vice president of External Relations.

Watkins said he hopes to break ground on the project sometime in 2009.

"The project is in its early campaigning phase to raise funds to build the new science center," said Watkins, whose private Christian school does not receive any financial help or bonds from the state and relies on donations from alumni and the public.

A general contractor has not been chosen to head construction of the new science center project.

Smee Hall was just completed in November and is the home of the school's new theology and Christian ministry department.

The new two-story building, which totals 8,500 square feet, has a large multi-media classroom, administrative offices and a large gathering space to encourage interaction between students and faculty.

The building, which was headed by general contractor Erickson Hall Construction Co. is LEED silver certified and contains several energy and water efficient amenities included solar panels with construction cost totaling $4.2 million.

A unique aspect of the project, designed by architects Mosher Drew Watson Ferguson, is a large stained colored glass window in the front of the building.

The window measures 20 feet by 21 feet, making it the largest cathedral-style stained glass window in San Diego, said Cheryl Thomas of Alpine Glass.

The window was designed by David Strawn, who retired after the 2007-2008 academic year after serving as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Smee Hall is named after two Point Loma Nazarene alumni, Dr. Roy Smee, a pastor and district superintendent, and Francis Smee, a lay leader and trustee.

Roy was part of the "food caravans" that helped support the Sea Lions during financially difficult years, and Francis provided legal services to the campus.

According to Watkins, both projects are part of the university's expansion to give students better tools to succeed.

"The new building was built because of necessity," said Watkins said. "We are looking to continue our success in providing our students with the best education possible and helping them stay competitive."