Merritt College Breaks Ground on New Horticulture Building Complex
On Wednesday, September 6, 2023, Merritt College held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new horticulture building complex on campus in the Oakland Hills. The project is part of the Peralta Community College District's “Build Peralta” Bond Program, funded by Measure G bond dollars, a bond overwhelmingly approved by the voters of northern Alameda County. The Peralta Colleges are grateful to the taxpayers for supporting the students at Merritt College, and also at Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, and Laney College.
The new Merritt College Horticulture Complex, designed by the award-winning architects at Noll & Tam, will be a state-of-the-art facility that will provide Merritt students with the latest training and equipment in the field of horticulture. It is a $34 million project that will feature a greenhouse, classrooms, and a laboratory, as well as outdoor gardens and demonstration areas.
The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by Merritt College students, faculty, staff, and administrators, as well as local elected officials and community members. Dignitaries included Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees President Dyana Delfín Polk, PCCD Vice Chancellor of General Services Atheria Smith, Oakland City Council Member (and former PCCD Trustee) Kevin Jenkins, and César Macias, a congressional aide representing US Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s office.
Ellissa Thompson (Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma), representing the Merritt College Intertribal Student Union, provided an eloquent Land Acknowledgement. “This is, has always been, and will always be, the traditional land of the Confederated Villages of Lisjan/Ohlone,” said Miss Thompson. “We in the Intertribal Student Union are proud to be implementing a California Native Garden on campus to serve as both a ceremonial and educational space in the coming months.”
Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees President Dyana Delfín Polk commented, “The possibilities for the Horticultural degrees and programs here at Merritt College are endless. Having state-of-art facilities and classrooms and areas in which students will work is a huge part of ensuring that our students have the tools necessary to succeed.” She went on to express sincere gratitude to the bond-approving voters, "who continue to support our students, staff and faculty here at Peralta.”
In his remarks at the ceremony, Merritt College President Dr. David M. Johnson said that the new horticulture building will be a game-changer for the college and the community.
“We’re gathered here this morning to behold and contemplate the commencement of another grand endeavor,” Johnson said. “The Merritt Horticulture Complex is the consummation of what our faculty, staff, administrators and students believe is possible for this institution. And that belief is that Merritt College could build a complex befitting of the amazing program that we’ve established as well as position ourselves as leaders in this field for years to come.”
Horticulture faculty members and Department Co-Chairs Chris Grampp and Laura Forlin expressed their appreciation to great partners Noll & Tam (architects), Kitchell (the project management firm), and Thompson Builders (the general contractor for the project). Professor Forlin concluded, “Ultimately, we feel like this new building is going to put us on a par with the best horticulture facilities in the state. We’re really grateful.”
The presentations were hosted by Shonda Scott of Total Concept 360 on behalf of the Build Peralta program management team. Sharon Serano of AECOM, the bond program manager for PCCD also participated in the presentation.
The new horticulture complex is scheduled to be completed in 2025. You can read the Thompson Builders press release about the event here. More photos from Faiza Ali and Marcus Creel of the PCCD Marketing, Communication & Public Relations team are available on SmugMug here.