Austen Thibault, The Union Democrat

Columbia College students returned to school this week to the continuing construction of the central Manzanita building.

The largest of the college's original buildings houses most administration and student services, which have been scattered across campus since spring, when construction began.

The $9.2 million project is a complete renovation of the upper floor, adding a new "one-stop-shop" layout for students to get all their critical services like registration, payments and counseling in the same area.

The building's electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems will be upgraded, including on the lower floor, which is otherwise untouched.

The building's central student area - the rotunda - will be reduced in size and squared off, but will maintain a rounded ceiling and will now include a prominent welcome center.

The Manzanita remodel is part of the $326 million Measure E bond passed in 2004, of which Columbia College got about $52.5 million

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