Former Home Ec. Building demolished to make space for new Teacher Ed. Center


Bethany Reeves

The Fire Department cut holes in the roof of the former Home Ec. building as a part of their training

Bethany Reeves

People driving along Placerita Canyon Road in the past week may have been surprised to see massive tractors parked in front of one of TMU’s classroom buildings. The unassuming building, once just a regular house in the canyon, was fenced off, emptied and completely demolished, from Oct. 3 through Oct. 8.

The building once housed the now-defunct Family and Consumer Sciences Department. It has been torn down to make way for a new Teacher Education Center.

In an email sent out to students on Wednesday, Oct. 3, Sharon Staats made students aware of the situation. The email described the work as “light demolition and remediation,” and it informed the student body that the Los Angeles County Fire Department would be using the building to run training for local firefighters.

“The live fire training will provide visible simulated smoke from time to time while fire department units are on the scene,” Staats wrote. “If you see smoke or fire in this area while emergency crews are present there is no need to dial 911.”

The building was completely fenced off, blocking the sidewalk in the area, and a few signs propped up around the fence stated that the pathway will be closed until spring. By Saturday, the trees that grew in front of the building had been reduced to piles of branches, and a bulldozer was parked outside the fence. Holes had been cut all across the roof of the building.

Bethany Reeves
The building was completely demolished on Monday, Oct. 8.

Ralph Barosh, executive director of Plant Operations, explained that this was just an example of some of the training the firemen had undergone.

“They had like 25 guys out there,” Barosh said. “They we’re practicing fire safety—venting a building. They had respirators. They were in full gear. The only thing that was missing was the smoke and the fire.”

The training went on from Oct. 4 through Oct. 6. Early Monday morning, they knocked the building down.

“They crushed everything,” Barosh said. “They’ll have to get the debris out. Then we’ll start the process of getting the land ready for the future building.”

Barosh explained that they are planning to begin building in November, with the goal of adding the finishing touches in May or June, to be ready by the start of the fall 2019 semester.

Before building can start, however, the contractors have to dig 5 feet down in a process called over-excavation. Then the dirt must be re-compacted foot by foot and inspected, until they reach proper compaction for building.

“You’re gonna see a mountain of dirt,” Barosh said.

The three buildings along Placerita Canyon were originally homes owned by people in the community.

“They were just regular dwellings where people gardened and did whatever you do in a house,” Barosh said.

The buildings were bought by Master’s in the 1980’s, and renovations in the early 90’s prepared the building for the Home Economics department after it was established in 1987. In the fall of 2005, the name changed to “Home Economics—Family and Consumer Sciences”, and in 2015, “Home Economics” was completely dropped from the department’s name. In fall 2016, the Family and Consumer Science major was no longer offered to incoming students.

Bethany Reeves
An illustration from the blueprints shows what the new Teacher’s Ed. center will look like.

The new building, set to house the Teacher Education Department, will feature five offices, three classrooms, a resource center and a break room. It is planned to encompass 4,000 square feet and is being built in a craftsman style, with stonework and beam work, to match the style of many of the other buildings on campus.

“It’s a style that is academic but will also fit in with the neighborhood,” Barosh said. “(The new building) is making way for the future—for growth for both departments.”

Victory Builders, the general contractors hired by TMU to complete the project, is a business started by an alum of the university. Plant Ops. will provide oversight to the project, but they will not be building it.