CSU Board of Trustees approves next stages of Sierra Annex

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Shannon Carter

A digital rendering of the Sierra Annex’s interior.

Shannon Carter, Assistant News Editor

The CSU Board of Trustees approved a blueprint design of the nearly $50 million construction of CSUN’s Sierra Annex project on Tuesday.

The project will construct a new 62,500-square-feet annex located immediately south of Sierra Hall that will consolidate and reduce the number of classrooms from 55 to 38 new classrooms.

The Board approved the original master plan to construct the annex in July 2018 and now the design schematics have been officially approved.

“We are delighted to move forward with the development of this important academic project,” said President Erika D. Beck to the Board of Trustees. “The Sierra Annex is designed to promote student success by providing flexible technology, rich learning spaces supporting modern teaching pedagogies, and enhancing our ability to continue to adapt to the post-pandemic academic environment.”

A digital rendering of the Sierra Annex, which is expected to launch in July 2023. (Shannon Carter)

The multi-phase project also includes the renovation of the 58-year-old Sierra Hall, which houses the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the College of Humanities. According to the proposal, Sierra Hall is the largest and the oldest classroom building on campus and has not had a major renovation since 1963. The renovation will repurpose the current lecture spaces and address existing campus space issues.

The new three-story extension will replace most of the current lecture classrooms in Sierra Hall and is not expected to disrupt academic programs during its renovation stages.

The aim of the project’s design is to get a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification. The LEED rating system, the most widely used green building rating system globally, was developed by the United States Green Building Council for evaluating the design and environmental performance of buildings, homes and neighborhoods. The benefits of a LEED-certified building include resource and energy efficiency, which will lead to lower utility bills.

The annex is designed with sustainable features, including shaded building entries, the use of natural gas, zoned heating and air conditioning systems, and energy-efficient lighting and control systems that will be used in conjunction with natural lighting.

According to the building proposal, construction on the new building will begin in March 2022 and is expected to be done by July 2023. The project will be funded with $44,809,000 from the CSU’s systemwide revenue bonds and $5,150,000 from CSUN’s campus savings.

The Board also approved the Committee on Educational Policy’s resolution to establish a bi-yearly symposium recognizing African American history and achievements that promote anti-racism work.

Following the killing of George Floyd, CSU students, faculty and staff have looked for ways to advance diversity, equity and inclusion through meaningful action, according to the resolution. These events allow an opportunity for the “CSU to strengthen its commitment to closing equity gaps and eradicating systemic barriers to college access and attainment for students who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.”

The symposium will recognize and highlight the contributions of the CSU community’s African American students, faculty, staff and alumni. Chancellor Joseph I. Castro will appoint a standing workgroup of CSU and campus-based representatives who will develop and implement the event. The resolution resolved that the entire CSU system will celebrate Black History Month, commemorate the significance of Juneteenth, strive for transformative change that promotes social justice, close educational equity gaps, and hold a biennial symposium that commences in 2022.

Lastly, the symposium will act as a safe space for social justice advocacy work to be discussed and sustainably advance anti-racism efforts.

“In this society, the way we are situated now, having conversations is hard; we need a space. This resolution says clearly that this institution, from the Chancellor’s Office, is committed to making a space for real conversation,” said Trustee Jack B. Clarke, Jr., who praised the Board on the resolution.

The next CSU Board of Trustees meeting will be on May 17.