An architect defends his masterpiece
The Classroom + Laboratory Administration building at Cal Poly Pomona, known to students simply as CLA, has served as something like a second mascot for the school for almost 20 years, but last month the landmark was slated for demolition due to flaws in its design and construction. Even though the building has become an icon for the city too, not just the school, no one in Pomona, not even the students, seem that upset or are as outspoken about it as the building’s architect, Antoine Predock. Predock, who calls CLA “one of the most important of [his] designs,” says that tearing it down will create an “irreplaceable loss” and “a void in the Cal Poly campus fabric.” It’s “the new campus gateway,” he says, “a pivotal, landmark building” and a point of origin on a “difficult to navigate campus.”
The university, on the other hands, cites the building’s many functional problems. It’s cramped, difficult to navigate and plagued by design and construction deficiencies like water damage and earthquake un-readiness that will cost $80 million to fix – the same as a brand new building. Predock warns that in their haste to fix what he calls “common structural problems,” the administration will destroy the university’s identity, which calls into the question things besides construction flaws, like maybe they don’t like the way it looks anymore? If it costs the same to patch up a “major icon” as it does to tear it down and build something brand new, why wouldn’t they just fix what’s already there, especially if it’s a landmark everyone loves so much? Maybe the school just isn’t so crazy about Predock’s 90s take on Futurism anymore. It’s massive, hulking stone body and randomly sized windows and cut-outs looks like something George Lucas might have sent into space back in the 80s. Hey Predock, maybe citing “structural flaws” is just the university’s way of letting you down easy.