Gavilan College Superintendent Pedro Avila is pictured Jan. 24 with students who signed their names to the Phase 1 campus construction project’s final beam in Hollister. Photo: Raul Ceja
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About 100 people attended a ceremony Jan. 24 to commemorate the “topping out” of construction of Gavilan College’s new San Benito County campus, located on Fairview Road in Hollister.

The ceremony included a traditional signing of a steel beam, the last one to be placed atop the structure’s frame. Under construction since late 2023, the Phase 1 Hollister campus project’s main structure is “designed to seamlessly integrate into San Benito’s historical and picturesque setting (and) signifies a commitment to better serve both the students and surrounding community,” says a press release from Blach Construction, the contractor for the local project. 

As is customary, everyone attending the Jan. 24 had an opportunity to sign the final beam before watching crews hoist it into the air and secure it into place. 

The Phase 1 project includes the first building of the new campus—a 34,000-square-foot campus core that comprises a lobby and welcome center, as well as classrooms, science and computer labs, learning resource and testing center, a cafe, community room, gender neutral restrooms and administrative and support services. 

At the end of the Jan. 24 ceremony, crews and a crane lifted the final beam into place atop what will be the new Gavilan College Hollister campus student center. Photo: Raul Ceja

The modern, sustainable facility accounts for current and future technology needs, furniture layouts, potential modification and collaborative learning options, says the press release. With plans to serve the broader community, the all-electric campus will be net-zero energy ready and is designed to accommodate a future solar array. 

Outside, the project also includes a hardscape entry plaza, instructional and work environments, parking lots and landscaping. Overall, the new campus will pay homage to the people of San Benito County from the past, present and future—not just the students and community who will benefit from it.

“This is a historic event for Gavilan College. Not only does it mark the topping out of the first of many buildings to comprise our San Benito Campus, it very clearly cements Gavilan’s commitment to expand higher education offerings in Hollister,” Gavilan Director of Capital Projects Serafin Fernandez said. “We are delighted to be on track to greatly improve access to higher education in Hollister, San Juan Bautista, Tres Pinos and other rural county areas. Most importantly, we are grateful for the support this much-needed project continues to receive, from the designers and construction teams to local residents and businesses, as well as city and county officials.”

Gavilan College has partnered with the City of Hollister and neighboring home builder Dividend Homes to install and connect a sewage system to the new campus project, avoiding a more costly on-site septic system, says the press release. 

The $60 million project is funded primarily through Bond Measure X, which was passed by San Benito and Santa Clara County voters in 2018. The new campus is slated to welcome students for the 2025-26 school year. Future phases will be addressed as needs arise. 

“We are all pleased with the construction progress thus far and understand the importance of the project for the San Benito County community,” said Blach Project Executive Brad Fannin. “The use of design-build has allowed for a lot of very productive collaboration between Gavilan College and the broader construction team. As a result, we’ve been able to respond to newly developed requirements from Gavilan with no compromise to the budget, schedule or overall project expectations.”

The project is being built through the design-build delivery method by Blach Construction,  Quattrocchi Kwok Architects (QKA) and Gensler. 

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.

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