If you haven’t noticed there are some major changes taking place on the Northwest corner of Magnolia and University Avenues.  This is the future location of Riverside Community College District’s Centennial Plaza which will open in 2016 and “will mark the debut of a major arts, cultural and education resource for our region.”

The buildings you are seeing under construction are the Henry W. Coil, Sr. and Alice Edna Coil School for the Arts and the RCC Culinary Arts Academy & The Office of the Chancellor.  These two buildings are currently being raised together with a large parking garage.  They will join the existing Center for Social Justice & Civil Liberties  The sites have actually been under construction for over a year, but everything being done prior to January this year was happening underground. When working with historic locations you never know what you’re going to find once you start digging around. This project was no exception to that rule. According to Chris Carson, RCCD Chief of Staff & Facilities, they found numerous historic artifacts, a gasoline storage tank, and a deep cavern which extended underneath University Avenue.  All of this contributed to a few delays, but now completion for the $80 Million plus project is slated for March 2016 in conjunction with RCC’s Centennial year.

The city will also have two additional facilities to add to it’s Arts & Innovation program. The Culinary Arts Academy which will boast  professional quality teaching kitchens, a bakery, class-rooms and a public dining room while the School for the Arts will feature state-of-the-art instrumental labs, recording rooms, and classrooms.  The upper floors will also house the RCCD district services offices.

The School for the Arts will also feature the Inland Empire’s first mid-size concert hall (450 seats), suitable for individual artists, quartets, ensembles or even full orchestras.”  This modular space is “made out of wooden slabs and heavy curtain. These wooden slabs can move around and be removed, as well as the curtain, to provide a desired acoustic effect, and can go from completely wooden, to all curtains, to open air.”

The Center for Social Justice & Civil Liberties is already open to the public.  It is fast becoming a popular event location.  Visitors to the center can enjoy the Mine Okubo Collection, Multi-Media archives and a children’s education zone.  The building is currently open to the public on Saturdays from 10:00am to 4:00pm.  You can also set up an appointment for additional visits.

The project should be fun to watch as these beautiful buildings start to take shape.  This portion of the downtown corridor is going to look fabulous when construction is complete.

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