Mike Brown and his wife, Nancy, have literally helped build a new university with their generosity.
The university’s new 102,000-square-foot residence hall, Vista La Verne, opens its arms to La Verne students just a few steps from the Campus Center and Downtown.
As the University of La Verne begins its 121st year, a major addition has been made to the main campus landscape. Vista La Verne, the new student residence hall, rises four stories above D Street and offers a friendly face to the local community along the southernmost entry into the city’s Old Town La Verne district.
Where some new facilities begin as a blank canvas requiring time and human interaction to inject color and vibrancy, Vista La Verne needs no such maturation process. One step into the main entryway and it is immediately evident that life emanates from the core of this stately structure.
At 102,000 square feet, it is the largest construction project in the school’s history. The new Campus Store, which replaces the University Bookstore previously located on the northwest corner of Bonita and D streets, takes up nearly 9,700 square feet of the building’s ground floor. The remaining three-plus floors of space houses 373 students in a variety of multi-room suites as well as study areas, lounges, laundry rooms and more. It is a place where learning and living intersect, where enduring friendships will begin and where lifelong memories will be made.
The entryway sets the tone and is a study in contrasts; dark wood trim set against lightly colored walls, united at the base by flooring featuring whitish expanses interrupted by large and distinctive deep-hued rectangles. Visitors are naturally drawn forward to a reception counter reminiscent of the front desk at a boutique hotel.
Nearby is a roomy main lounge offering more than just meet-and-greet space. It can serve as a dining area with a full kitchen and preparation space to facilitate both cooking and clean-up. And with its fashionable furniture and large plasma flat-panel television, it provides a great location for entertaining visitors or hosting student events.
Banks of elevators and multiple stairwells provide access to all floors. All of the residences are arranged suite-style with private baths, appropriate furnishings and a shared living room featuring a flat-screen television with cable service. Wi-Fi is available throughout the building so residents can connect wherever they go. Each floor also includes community lounges, study rooms and multiple laundry rooms, all complete with appliances that accept debit card payment and that can send a text message when a load is finished. There are also numerous refuse rooms providing rubbish and recycling collection.
While there is sure to be plenty of energy emanating from Vista La Verne, it is important to note the building is designed to be in line with the university’s longstanding concern for the earth. As the finishing touches were being applied and interest began to pique across the campus, Mike Pavlinik, project manager for Hanover Pacific LLC, the Irvine-based real estate development company involved in planning Vista La Verne, pointed out his favorite feature.
“I can sum it up in two words: energy efficient,” said Pavlinik. “We’re waiting to hear final LEED certification.”
Leadership in Environmental Energy and Design (LEED) is an internationally recognized green building certification system designed to reduce the negative environmental impact of buildings while improving occupant health and well-being.
In May 2010 the Campus Center became both the first building on the university campus and the first within the City of La Verne to earn LEED certification when it was officially presented Silver status. The addition of a second LEED-certified building will again demonstrate the university’s determination to support environmentally sustainable practices and will serve as a strong leadership example for its students, the campus and the community.
The opening of Vista La Verne also provides a morale boost to the campus. At a university proud of its supportive and caring environment, the establishment of a residence hall that upholds that tradition of compassion is extremely popular.
“What I am discovering more and more each day is what this means to the people – the students, staff, and many others who are involved – especially those behind the scenes who most people never really recognize” said Juan Regalado, Assistant Dean of Students Affairs and Director of Student Housing & Residential Education. “They’ve all worked so hard for so long and now it’s here, a reward for all their efforts. I’m seeing a lot of smiles and tears of joy.”
Vista La Verne impacts the entire campus community in another way. The outdoor space created along the western side of the hall is certain to become a favorite gathering place. The open and expansive quad offers green space with sustainable plantings, a basalt fountain, propane-fueled barbecues and picnic areas, a great place to host assorted activities and that naturally invite social interaction.
“We’re calling it the Courtyard, the Vista’s back yard,” said Sierra Taylor, a resident assistant who served as a tour guide during a recent open house for the new facility. “Some of us believe it should be called the Vista Mall. It will be the same as the University Mall outside of Brandt Hall on the north end of campus.”
While students have already moved into Vista La Verne, the official “grand opening” celebration will take place on Thursday, Oct. 18, as part of this year’s homecoming week festivities.