Outdoor learning classrooms are slowly coming to the Long Beach State campus, but the construction has been delayed.
The construction plans for the outdoor classrooms began in summer 2020 as a preventative measure in case an event like COVID-19 were to happen in the future.
The open air environment would allow professors to have this option if they wanted to teach in-person. The classrooms can fit roughly 30 students according to Gardner, but a lecture hall type of class would not be able to use the space.
The delays were caused by equipment accessibility and approvals from front offices and ADA compliance. The learning spaces are a part of an initiative by the campus to promote outdoor learning rather than being stuck inside traditional classrooms.
The spaces will be equipped with shade, accessible seating, power, Wi-Fi and a writing wall for professors to use. The classrooms are only located in four different locations around campus, but every professor can schedule a class to use them.
This money is being used to fund all of the new portions of the project as well as design the project.
The campus has outsourced to bring in an architectural company called Environ Architecture, which helped the CSULB facilities department plan out the new look on campus.
Even though the construction has started with good intentions for a new way of learning at CSULB, the noise at the courtyard between Liberal Arts 4 and 5 has caused disruptions for students in both buildings.
“Sometimes I will get distracted by the noise and our professor gets a little upset with the fact that that happens, but there’s nothing we can do,” fourth-year history major Janet Casada said.
The noise is filled with jackhammers and machinery which has dug out a ditch for new line work and furniture implementations.
“The trench is a retaining wall because the area between LA4 and LA5 is on a slope, so we had to make it ADA compliant,” CSULB Architect Michael Gardner said.
As of June 2022, CSULB was allocated $10.1 million in student support services funds through Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds, but has only claimed 92% or $9.2 million leaving 8% or $845,000 still on the table.
The total project cost is $2.6 million and the estimated completion date has already passed. The completion date was supposed to be January 2023, but this is not the first time the deadline has been pushed.
Originally, construction was supposed to begin in August 2022 and be completed by October 2022.
“The projects are nearing completion and we are waiting for a few final furniture pieces,” Manager of Capital Program Development Design & Construction Services Melissa Soto said. “Some are open as of now for sitting and lounging. They will be available for faculty to reserve in Fall 2023.”
Each outdoor classroom will have different types of furniture for the school to see which materials do the best over time in weather and sunlight.
The outdoor classrooms will be a space that Gardner said will be easily accessible through a barcode, which will be displayed on the outside of the classroom to be reserved as well.