Long Beach, CA
California State University, Long Beach
Construction Approaches @ MATT: The Design-Build Delivery Method Finds Repeat Success on University Campuses
MATT's Teams Find Repeat Success at CSULB with the Design-Build Delivery Method
For a major construction project, finding the right method for the job is a crucial factor. Having worked on numerous university and campus enhancement projects over the years, MATT has found that the design-build method serves complicated, evolving designs particularly well. MATT’s experienced leadership has spearheaded these design-build efforts, putting together the ideal team for each job and continually working to keep key stakeholders informed and involved. Patient, thorough dedication to the design-build process results in minimal roadblocks and maximal time and cost saving to owners.
Why Design-Build Works So Well on University Sites
Design-build stands out as an ideal option for carrying out a design vision in university settings. This method encourages collaboration, helps to identify cost-saving opportunities and reduces wastefulness while maximizing the strengths of all parties from an early stage. With so many stakeholders and end-users involved in any given university project, whether it be a cutting-edge research space like Caltech’s Karman Labs or an accommodating, campus-based Childcare Center for busy, working parents, design-build guides construction by getting the right opinions at the right time and streamlining the conversation before any equipment hits the soil.
CSULB Campus Benefits from Design-Build with MATT Construction
MATT Construction has leveraged the enormous benefits of design-build on numerous projects, including the recent completion of the new College of Continuing and Professional Education (CCPE) building at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). CSULB’s new, 38,000 sf, three-story structure holds 20 classrooms and a conference room. Success on the jobsite came largely from the design-build format. MATT’s extensive background and familiarity with this delivery methods fostered the right kinds of discussions at the right stages. Through confident steering of subsequent meetings and decision-making efforts, MATT’s guidance led to the early identification of potential problems and the implementation of effective solutions.
Design-Build At CSULB
Design-build fosters the identification of potential issues in constructability early on, providing the opportunity for creative solutions from all parties. At CSULB, the combined team of the owner, ZGF Architects and MATT used a design-build approach for the permanent home for the Department of Continuing Education, the first new building on the campus in nearly 10 years. It’s also the first building that’s ready to produce net zero energy, with power supplied by PV solar panels that cover the roof and a 150-ft canopy that shades a walkway.
The schedule of the 18-month project at CSULB benefitted from a robust preconstruction analysis period. Design-build helps to streamline communication and expectations between the general contractor and the architect during this critical phase. Bringing subcontractors into the discussions while shaping the design vision with the owner and architect helped the team to understand the scope of work and what it entailed. The design team presented different levels of drawing and design-schematic broad strokes. They then welcomed feedback about the details, efficiency and overall cost. Managing and steering this process remained a driving focus for MATT during this early stage to ensure the owner’s needs were satisfied prior to getting into the ground with construction. The combination of anticipation and momentum during preconstruction prepares everyone on site to work quickly and efficiently once the crew breaks ground. Since few opportunities arise to change things once this begins, all of the work prior to construction determines how smoothly the process will flow.
Design-Build Subcontractor Success
Identifying fine-tuned details at the right time gives a project team the ability to act early, well ahead of construction, minimizing any delays to the schedule that could result from not identifying these issues earlier on. A large part of analyzing these details with necessary rigor comes from partnering with the right subcontractors. Mitsubishi Electric Escalators and Elevators helped enormously with the elevator design in the new CSULB building. Originally, the design called for a certain size that hadn’t yet factored in engineering particulars of the intended hydraulic system. Bringing Mitsubishi into the conversation helped to guide the design according to both the building and elevator parameters.
Design-Build and Problem-Solving on the Jobsite
Design-build’s faster pace from start to finish also benefits from the design team’s availability during construction. Any construction project is an evolving process, with emerging conditions in the field. Input along the way, especially as unforeseeable challenges come up, can prove invaluable to maintaining the budget and schedule.
On the CSULB campus, the design team shaped the schematic around existing utilities. Once in the field, the team encountered unusable underground utilities and a sewer below the water table. Despite their plans to work with the existing utilities, they ended up needing to replace them. They also had to make sure they could install new utilities that wouldn’t be impacted by the surrounding water. Design-build made it possible to lean on the design team to address this unexpected obstacle.
Another challenge that arose during construction involved the building’s base frames. They were designed to bear specific seismic loads, with exterior plaster walls surrounding them. In the field, the team saw that the base frames needed to sit outside the plane of the buckling-restrained braces (BRBs) rather than alongside it. Once again, designers and subcontractors worked together to problem-solve on the fly, ensuring that the building still got the wall and seismic braces it needed to be structurally sound.
Design-Build Sustainability Opportunities
MATT makes a practice of recommending environmentally-conscious construction options on any project whenever feasible. California has also long been a national leader in encouraging the development and use of renewable resources. Naturally, sustainability goals ranked as high-priority items from the project’s outset. MATT and the design teams took extra care to incorporate elements of efficiency into the vision where possible. Using a design-build approach greatly helped this process along, as building materials, methods, equipment and the sequence of operations for HVAC, electrical and some of the plumbing all flowed from the goal of achieving a high level of sustainability.
“The new College of Continuing and Professional Education at Cal State Long Beach is designed to achieve LEED Platinum® and is net-zero energy-ready, setting a new benchmark for sustainability on the Long Beach campus,” said Dan Brill, Associate Principal at ZGF. “The campus-facing elevations of the building are characterized by a screen of horizontal metal tubes, which function as a sunshade, mitigating solar glare and minimizing heat gain. Also contributing to reduced energy needs are the high ceilings, operable windows, and externalized circulation, which have allowed for naturally-lit, cross-ventilated classrooms.”
MATT @ Work, Helping Universities Move Into the 21st Century
As MATT continues to partner with some of California’s finest institutions in creating new living, learning and research spaces for students and faculty, MATT’s teams will continue to draw from the company’s extensive experience in successful design-build projects. This tried and tested delivery method facilitates communication, keeping key parties involved and informed from the earliest stage possible. Group collaboration and creative thinking flows organically from this process, often leading to savings in time and cost before the first shovel even hits the ground. It’s an ideal way for the owner’s needs, the designer’s vision and the contractor’s resources to harmonize.