Keck Graduate Institute puts finishing touches on new dorms

After years of construction, Keck Graduate Institute’s new student housing buildings are just about finished.

Dubbed the “Oasis KGI Commons,” the two four-story buildings are the latest new housing and classroom facilities for the relatively young Claremont graduate school, which bills itself as “the first higher education institution in the US dedicated exclusively to applied life sciences.”

KGI is accustomed to adaptive reuse of existing buildings, but this new $53 million project is entirely their own.

When it was founded in 1997, KGI took over a former business park and manufacturing building just west of Indian Hill Boulevard. But they’re creating their own ecosystem there, and have bought a number of surrounding parcels for future expansion, including the historic Vortox property.

The project, which is about 10 months behind schedule, includes two buildings at the corner of Bucknell Avenue and Wharton Drive featuring 419 beds, lounges, a pool and spa and fitness center.

When the COURIER met with KGI for a tour on Friday, Michael Jones, KGI’s vice president of finance and operations, said things were still being fine-tuned, with a small number of workers putting the finishing touches inside and outside.

The southernmost building houses the Gayle Carson Riggs student center, named after the wife of KGI’s founding president, Henry E. “Hank” Riggs. The roughly 10,000 square feet of the classroom space can hold hundreds of students for small and larger classes. Windows in classrooms are high up, letting in light while cutting down on outside distractions.

While the buildings belong to KGI, it won’t only be KGI students living there—the block will also house students from Claremont Graduate University as well as employees of the Claremont Colleges.

“We anticipate a pretty high occupancy in the first term,” Mr. Jones said.

There are two leasing options, based on how long a student plans to live there—a yearlong lease or a shorter, 10-month lease.

There are three size options—studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments. Prices depend on how many people will stay in each apartment and the length of the contract, but the range is $870 to $2,040 a month.

The dorm project has been the culmination of five years of planning and construction, including four years of going through the city process, Mr. Jones said.

In terms of amenities, the Oasis has virtually everything a graduate student would need—large kitchens open up into a living room perfect for late-night cramming sessions, and each building will have a fourth-floor balcony space to cool off. The units feature a lot of natural light and, depending on where it is, have nice views of either the mountains or the Pomona Valley.

The courtyard between the two buildings will also feature a staple of modern campus life—a life-sized chessboard.

The dorms will have six community assistants, four of which will be KGI students, who will act like residential advisors and assist students with needs, Mr. Jones said.

The first students are scheduled to move in July 15.

—Matthew Bramlett


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