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Claremont Colleges Transfer Bridges Auditorium Ownership to Pomona College

The Claremont University Consortium Board of Overseers and the Pomona College Board of Trustees have voted to transfer ownership of the Bridges Auditorium to Pomona College effective July 1, 2007. The CUC vote occurred at the Board’s April 11 meeting, and the Pomona College vote followed on May 12, 2007.

With Pomona College in the midst of a multi-year strategic planning effort, many people involved in the decision about Bridges Auditorium see a brief window of opportunity to solve a problem for the Claremont Colleges and to give Pomona flexibility in finding a solution for Bridges Auditorium, which has been an architecturally central feature of the Pomona campus for more than 75 years.

According to Richard Fass, vice president of planning at Pomona College, “This is a win-win situation. It solves The Claremont Colleges’ problem of having a not very functional building with substantial deferred maintenance costs on the horizon, and it gives Pomona the opportunity to incorporate a modified Bridges into its strategic planning process which will almost certainly include significant new facilities for the arts, over the next several years.”

Pomona will honor all existing contracts and commitments for using Bridges Auditorium through at least June 30, 2009 and assures some level of future use by the community and The Claremont Colleges in the future.

According to James L. Dunkelman, interim chief executive officer for CUC, “This is a wonderful opportunity for Bridges Auditorium to become a component of Pomona College’s future planning. In addition, it also promises the infusion of resources into Bridges Auditorium, which has substantial deferred maintenance and the need for updated equipment to support modern production technologies.” Dunkelman estimates the total deferred maintenance and capital renewal requirements range from $25 to $60 million.” The ultimate goal is to have an upgraded facility that will continue to serve the needs of Pomona College, The Claremont Colleges and the community for years to come.

The Mabel Shaw Bridges Auditorium was built for the Claremont Colleges on the Pomona College campus in 1931 at a cost of $600,000 and opened in 1932. It was designed by architect William Templeton Johnson as a free adaptation of Northern Italian Renaissance architecture.

The Auditorium was closed in 1975 to bring it up to then-current fire code and renovation of furnishing and equipment at a cost of $1.6 million. In addition to cosmetic renovation, the project included seismic and fire/life safety upgrades as well as auxiliary power, new lighting, new sound system, new stage rigging, improved ventilation and an elevator in the lobby.

Twenty years later, usage of the facility had fallen dramatically and in 1994, the Council of Presidents voted to close the building. At that time, the possibility of transferring ownership to Pomona was explored but not pursued further, and the closure was “temporarily” rescinded. Studies of Bridges Auditorium in 1995 concluded the cost of deferred maintenance and renewal issues of the building systems was substantial. Among the items needing repair are the mechanical and plumbing systems which date primarily from the original construction, with some modifications and parts replacement over the past years. Most of the building’s electrical service is also original.

Pomona began its strategic planning process in 2005 and expects to complete its plans in fall 2007. The College anticipates incorporating the building into its plan as an auditorium and performance space and making it available to the community and the Claremont Colleges as it has been traditionally.

CONTACTS:

Richard Fass
Vice President of Planning
Pomona College
Email: Richard.Fass@pomona.edu
Phone: (909) 621-8507

Barbara Jefferson
Director of Advancement
The Claremont Colleges
Email: Barbara.Jefferson@cuc.claremont.edu
Phone: (909) 607-7431