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College Library Delayed 2 Years

Cal State Channel Islands officials blame rising construction costs for the setback.

August 13, 2004|Amanda Covarrubias | Times Staff Writer

The new library planned for Cal State Channel Islands will be delayed two years because bids from contractors were too high, partly because of rising costs of labor and materials, President Richard Rush said Thursday.

To ensure the John Spoor Broome Library gets built without breaking the budget, university officials have decided to use a different bidding process, one that requires contractors not to exceed $44 million, Rush said. Bids were opened Thursday but were not disclosed.

The library is important to the future of the young campus because it represents the "heart of intellectual life at a university," Rush said. "It's the repository of knowledge, of information and inspiration, which is the bedrock of academic endeavor. It represents our hopes and aspirations and commitment."

University officials hope to have a successful bidder after Thanksgiving and to have excavation and initial construction underway by early next year. After a contractor is selected, the site authority, the body that oversees development of the campus, will be asked to issue $44 million in bonds to cover the cost of the project, Rush said.

"I cannot speak definitively, but I'm one of seven members of the board and I will speak in support of it," he said.

The project is expected to be completed in 2007.

Originally, the library was to be built on the campus of the former Camarillo State Hospital for an estimated $37.5 million, Rush said, but after the job was put out to bid, the quotes ranged from $45 million to $49 million.

Part of the increase was related to a price spike in building materials and a jump in labor costs because of a construction boom statewide.

"We got caught in the middle of those price increases," he said.

Rush credited Deborah Wylie, associate vice president of operations, planning and construction, architect Lord Norman Foster and former university President J. Handel Evans with helping shave $5.5 million from the price, including using more readily available materials.

Despite those changes, the building will remain a Foster original and will give the campus the prestige that goes along with it, Rush said. Foster also designed the new German parliament in Berlin and Hong Kong International Airport.

His design will convert a former hospital laboratory into a two-story, glass library with a reading room, a cafe and other amenities. It will be named after rancher and university patron John S. Broome, who donated $5 million toward the library.

"The building," Rush said, "will symbolize what we're doing here: preserving the best of the past as a basis for future endeavors."

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