It’s all hammers on deck as Orange Coast College’s new Student Life Center and College Center projects are under way.  

The combined $89.9 million projects, located off the main campus Quad on Fairview Road, were funded through the Measure M bond fund and will be completed next summer. Construction of the two-story Student Life Center began in August.

“This will be the first mergence of the Hospitality, Travel and Tourism program, Food Service Management and Culinary and Food Science program in the school’s history,” Rich Pagel, OCC’s vice president of Administrative Services said. “The remodel for public safety will be moved into this facility. Community and Publications will be moving to this modernized building.”

Originally drawn as a one-building plan, college officials soon realized that students need extra space for themselves to further enhance academics and social experiences.

Plans for the first floor include expanding and relocating the Veteran Resource Center that is currently housed in the Student Center building. The second floor will showcase a new student lounge, house the director of student housing offices and will include a rooftop observation area that will loom over the Quad. Groups visiting the center will be able to utilize the new banquet room that will feature a ballroom capable of seating 400 people.

A separate four-story OCC College Center building will include space for the Culinary Arts and Hospitality programs, a cafeteria, meeting and event space and administrative services.

The original plan was to expand the focus on the Culinary Arts department. The on-campus Captain’s Table Restaurant, a part of the Culinary Arts department, will move into the new Student Life Center.

The four ovens currently operated by the Culinary Arts department have been in use for nearly three decades, according to Bill Barber, director of Culinary Arts for OCC, and will be replaced.

 An extension to the program’s space will house 11 kitchens equipped with quality culinary equipment. The program will also get new classrooms including hot and cold labs.

“The program is very excited to fill up the classrooms. The new equipment will help us a lot. We’re moving a lot of current equipment as well as replacing the 30-year-old ovens that have run their course,” Barber said. “Our new kitchen will include Miele Combi-Steam ovens that are programmable to steam and dry heat cook at the touch of a screen pad.”

In addition to Culinary Arts, OCC’s student government, campus clubs and programs will have meeting space.

“There will be two buildings in the College Center that will host a new large cafeteria replacing the existing one, in addition to a new food court that will offer more seating,” Doug Bennett, executive director of the Orange Coast College Foundation said. “With student housing coming, we will be extending hours of operation to better accommodate to student needs.”

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