Remodeled college entrance to open by March 1

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The renovation of the main entrance will remain incomplete until at least March 1, despite an original November 2014 deadline and a previous delay.

The new delay is due to an effort to protect the fragile new landscaping—designed to mark the 100 year anniversary of the Eagle Rock campus—from the high volume of visitors expected on campus for the 2015 Los Angeles County Science Olympiad on February 28, according to Director of Facilities Management Tom Polansky.

Last week, landscaping crews put the finishing touches on the project, planting mature flowers and shrubs and readying the pavement for use. 100-year-old olive trees, transplanted from a Central Valley grove, can already be seen lining the pedestrian walkway that will lead to the foot of Gilman Fountain.

Originally, the date of completion had to be pushed back because of modifications made to the design by Facilities Management and the contracted landscaping company, Polansky said.

He added that the project now includes more permeable, decomposed granite, which will capture rainfall in the renovated area. In addition, Facilities requested the construction of a bioswale, a landscape feature designed to remove silt and pollution from runoff water.

“We want to make sure we’re thinking about the sustainability impacts of the projects,” Polansky said. “This project is a really cool signifier of our commitment.”

Still, Polansky said the renovations will actually increase Occidental’s overall water useage. According to the Dining Services Student Intern for Sustainability Research and Implementation Dylan Bruce, the design could have been further modified to be more environmentally conscious.

“They could have chosen plants that would have been even more low-maintenance, and also better for the environment,” Bruce said. “There are beautiful native wildflowers that are good pollinators around here if we just established them. We don’t have a single strand of California poppies on campus.”

While Polansky said the project has exceeded the original $1.5 million donation, forcing the college to supply additional funding, he believes the design will benefit the community and environment. For example, it could promote biking and walking on campus instead of driving and add green space for Northeast Los Angeles wildlife.

Still, the prospect of a campus with less fences and more flora is equally as exciting as the sustainability features for some students.

“I’m going to wait until I see it, but I think that not having a construction project on campus will make me happy,” Evan Tolley (senior) said.