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Palomar College's makeover includes new planetarium, Health Sciences

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With its improved planetarium and Industrial Technology building, Palomar College's campus is undergoing a renaissance this year.

That includes a recently opened multi-disciplinary facility, and work on a bigger and better performing arts theater.

These and other projects are "changing the look of the campus," said Laura Gropen, director of communications, marketing and public affairs for the college. "Students enjoy the new facilities."

That includes a 23,000-square-foot Industrial Technology Center, which opened in January and features state of the art facilities.

"It's really spacious, like being in a top-line auto shop," Gropen said. "That's very different from what they were in."

2011 saw the opening of the three-story, 110,000-square-foot Multidisciplinary Building A. This year, the single-story, 6,000-square-foot Palomar Planetarium opened in March.

Palomar College's makeover is happening because of the $694 million Proposition M bond, which voters passed in 2006 -- the largest by a single-college district in California.

Gropen said expanding the campus has been a process, one that involves managing traffic flow, "and in some cases, we have departments relocated, such as performing arts), while work is being done on a (new building)."

“Faculty has been in offices that are outdated or temporary office facilities," she added. "And, in some cases, a department was housed in multiple locations. New buildings allow faculty to interact much better. That's been something really positive for our campus community."

Gropen said all new buildings are designed to meet LEED standards and take advantage of San Diego Gas & Electric’s “Savings by Design” program.

Now, contractors are remodeling the Howard Brubeck Theater, and adding 25,000 square feet of new space with an adjacent two-story complex that will house classrooms and offices.

In the works are a new, three-story Humanities Building set to finish in 2013, and the Teaching Learning Center.

Balfour Beatty Construction is working on the 80,000-square-foot Humanities building, the Teaching and Learning Center and the Howard Brubeck Theatre.

The firm is also working on a road for Palomar's future Fallbrook campus.

Anton Greenville, Balfour senior vice president, said in terms of working on the theater, the biggest challenge was mitigating underground water.

"Obviously, we're in the middle of a very active campus, but we think have our arms around (handling) that," Greenville said.

Greenville described the college as "a true partner, as well as LPA, the architect."

Along with Balfour Beatty, Palomar College is working with C.W. Driver, Gilbane and Swinerton construction firms.

Architecture firms working with Palomar College include HMC, Mosher Drew, tBP, Davy, Carrier Johnson, GKK and DLR Group.

There are plans for future projects, but they are "far out," based on a whole variety of issues, Gropen said.

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