OCC to expand campus building space by 75%

Oakland Community College is breaking the bank to break ground on an expansion to its Southfield campus.

The school broke ground on the $25.3 million project on Tuesday. The development will add 69,350 square feet to the campus, located just south of 9 Mile Road and east of the Southfield Freeway.

“It’s the largest construction project in the college’s history,” says George Cartsonis, director of college communications for Oakland Community College. “This is the biggest.”

And it’s happening at the college’s smallest campus. The Southfield campus is home to much of the college’s health and science programs, including health care administration, hospital pharmacy, nuclear medicine, and surgical technology, among others.

The demand for healthcare education has pumped up the enrollment in Southfield by 114 percent over the last decade. That means 3,924 students are enrolled today at a campus designed for 2,500. The expansion should ease overcrowding by expanding its footprint 75 percent to serve another 2,000 students.

The two-year project will upgrade the existing building’s infrastructure, create more space, and modernize the technology. For instance, gone is the 27-year-old building’s HVAC system. It will be replaced with a new, more efficient system.

There will be eight new laboratories for biology, anatomy, and physiology classes, a 25 percent bump in lab space, and a new state-of-the-art surgical technology program lecture lab that replicates a hospital operating room. The project will also provide seven new double classrooms, bigger nursing labs for an additional 100 students, and enhanced space and technology for the respiratory therapy program.

And of course there will also be the usual suspects of a new computer lab, study areas, testing center, offices, children’s center, extra space for tutoring and even room for physical education, all being paid for by a 0.8-mill property tax approved in 2001.

This will be the biggest project for Oakland Community College for a while. There are plans to do a similar large expansion at the Auburn Hills campus, specifically updating the circa-1972 vocational education building. That is still at least a few years away from becoming a reality.

Source: George Cartsonis, director of college communications for Oakland Community College
Writer: Jon Zemke