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APU's Kresge Plaza Undergoes Construction

by Rachel White

“They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:1-3

Amidst a flurry of summertime construction on Azusa Pacific’s West Campus, two majestic coast live oak trees took root in the new circular planting areas on Kresge Plaza. The mature trees, with heights reaching 30– and 20–feet respectively, each weigh nearly 30,000 pounds and required a crane to transport them. The oaks, under the care of an arborist for the next two years, will grow to 50–80 feet, providing natural beauty and much-needed shade for students seeking an outdoor study space. The new trees mark one of several improvements underway as the university prepares to welcome students this fall.

Jim Christl, executive director of design and construction, describes summer as the busiest time of year for Facilities Management. “With dozens of projects in progress, September comes quickly,” he said. “The tight deadline means crews put in long, sun-drenched days, but the hard work proves worth the effort. Come fall, students, faculty, and staff, reap the benefits of an improved campus.”

These benefits include more outside seating and lighting on West Campus. A construction crew works to create cement benches anchored around the oak trees and complemented by a new stamped concrete walkway. Landscaping, scheduled for installation the end of July, promises to add the finishing touches to these latest campus focal points. Further enhancing the functionality of the plaza, eight new lampposts and the addition of overhead LED patio lighting offer students the option of studying outdoors during the evening, taking advantage of the mild California climate.

Along with the oak trees, the most noticeable change to West Campus involves the renovation of the water feature that encircles Darling Library. “For at least six years, we’ve left it empty due to water leaks,” Christl said. “The needed repairs will enable the water to flow once again. To update its appearance, we’re adding dark blue tile at the waterline.” Once complete, the water feature lends an aesthetic touch to both the outside and inside of the library. Sunlight hits the water creating a reflection that passes through the expansive windows to adorn the interior walls.

The Kresge Plaza renovations were made possible in part by the generous gift of Roy Smith, an APU board member of more than 40 years, who passed away eight years ago. “Roy’s long relationship with the university, and his sacrificial gift, continue to make a difference,” said Hank Bode, JD, vice president emeritus, in the Office of University Advancement. “Like Roy’s legacy, the oak trees symbolize strength and a rootedness in Christ. They will enhance our community for generations to come.”

Note: Summertime construction extends to East Campus and off-campus student housing as well. The project list includes an extensive Adams Hall bathroom remodel, new exterior paint and windows for the Bowles apartments, new air conditioners for the University Village complex, and repairs to several university parking lots.