José Sanchez of Akowski Masonry helps build a wall on the second story of an expansion project at Pima Community College's Northwest Campus at 7600 N. Shannon Road. The expansion is expected to open for the 2014 spring semester.


As the northwest side grows, so does the Pima Community College Northwest Campus.

Crews are working on a new 48,000-square-foot building on the south end of campus. The facility will include five classrooms, six science labs, five math/computer testing labs and 11 faculty offices.

The building also will include a hotel lobby and suite to serve as simulators for the college Hotel Restaurant Management program.

The three-story structure, the college's first new building in eight years, will be the campus's largest. The expansion will bring the total footage of the campus to 174,903 square feet.

Darla Zirbes, PCC's Northwest Campus president, said the facility will help the college adapt to increased enrollment as the northwest side grows.

"This will definitely increase the number of students we can serve," she said. "Knowing Oro Valley and Marana are the leading growing parts of Pima County is a great motivator. We're really optimistic about that."

Enrollment at the Northwest Campus, 7600 N. Shannon Road, has climbed more than 40 percent since it opened in 2003, with nearly 7,000 students attending each semester.

Construction was approved by the college's Governing Board in spring 2010 and work started in October. The cost is expected to be about $10 million.

Sticking with the campus' simple building-naming tradition, the facility will be called the G building.

Bill Ward, the college's vice chancellor for facilities, said it will be open for spring-semester classes Jan. 20.

"Part of the original plan when this facility was developed years ago was to build the facility to expand," he said of the Northwest Campus. "This is just part of that expansion. The facility is set up so it could even expand more."

Burns Wald-Hopkins Shambach Architects designed the building to complement existing structures.

"One of the things we wanted to do was keep the facility looking the same, while maybe modernizing it a little bit," Ward said. "The idea was, we wanted the campus to flow and not look a lot different."

Ward said Lang Wyatt Construction is "doing a phenomenal job for us." Administrators have worked with the contractor to minimize noise disruptions during class.

"They've been able to work with us and move things around," he said. "There have been some complaints, but they've been minimal. When you're building a facility of that size, you're not gonna be able to stop all the noise."

Did you know?

Including the buildings on its six campuses and its off-campus facilities, Pima Community College takes up approximately 1.7 million square feet on more than 500 acres in Southern Arizona. The 53-acre Pima Community College Northwest Campus opened in 2003.

Construction webcams

Watch construction on the Northwest Campus at (click the box on the right side of the screen with webcam choices: camera 1 or camera 2).

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or