Calif. Seminary Opens Solar-Powered Classrooms, Rooftop Garden

Solar-powered classrooms and a rooftop garden are what make up the new state-of-the-art building at Biola University, which opened for the first time on Monday.

The four-story building is home to the Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, Calif., accommodating the school’s nine graduate degree programs and a growing student body within the university.

There are more than 1,200 current students at Talbot, while 6,250 students attend the university’s undergraduate and graduate programs. Recently ranked by the U.S. News & World Report as an “up and coming” national university, Biola is continually transforming to adapt to the growing campus.

The new finished structure constitutes the East building, marking the first phase of construction, while the second phase of renovation on “Talbot West” is expected to follow shortly.

“This is a tremendous milestone in the history of Biola University, especially in the midst of the economic uncertainty our nation has experienced over the last four years,” Barry H. Corey, the president of Biola, shared in a statement.

The $18.2 million building was fully funded, with a large amount of the funds coming in during the last 18 months. Talbot School of Theology West, which will renovate an existing building, will cost $32 million to update.

Classroom and conference space is widely available in the new 30,617-square foot East building, which also features 34 offices, eight classrooms, two conference rooms, a prayer chapel and one large multipurpose room.

Created by innovative technology, many of the distinctive features of the four-story structure utilize nature to function. Photovoltaic panels on a major stair panel generate electricity to help power the building while a rooftop garden on the north side of the building collects rainwater for irrigation and cools the building.

Stone and wood from Biola’s 125-year-old olive trees are incorporated into areas like the prayer chapel. Jerusalem stones from a quarry outside the ancient city of Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac were buried, line the pathway leading to the plaza.

When the light hits at just the right angle, “Scripture Shadows” will be reflected on the floors and walls through ceramic fritting on windows inside the building.

A sunken outdoor plaza with a cascading waterfall and still pool hopes to give students time for reflection as well as provide a retreat from the business of college life.

All of the unique features of the new building only serve to enhance the already distinguished conservative seminary school, which provides evangelical scholarship to students who are preparing for a lifetime of ministry and service.

“The reach this building will have will undoubtedly extend throughout the world,” Corey shared during an official opening ceremony on Friday.

Dignitaries and Talbot alumni attended the morning dedication service as well, celebrating the new building.

“Talbot is the backbone of Biola University in more ways than one,” Frank Pastore, a Talbot alumnus and current radio talk show host on KKLA, said at the event, according to Biola News.

“Talbot puts the B in Biola, providing the anchor, which grounds the university in unchanging word and keeps the university from being blown adrift by social and cultural trends.”

Talbot School of Theology is a theologically conservative, evangelical seminary in Southern California, as part of Biola. The school was founded in 1952 and offers six master’s degree programs and three doctoral degree programs.

Biola University, which began in 1908, offers more than 145 academic programs through its six schools, ranging from B.A. to Ph.D. The mission of the university is to provide biblically centered education, scholarship and service-equipping men and women in mind and character to impact the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.