April 25, 2012
March 14, 2012
The newly expanded Cal Poly Recreation Center is used by more than 5,000 people per day.
There’s no excuse for being a couch potato at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo, now that Sundt has completed a $51 million project that updated and expanded its student recreation center. Students and university employees now have a number of new fitness features to enjoy, including six racquet ball courts, two basketball courts, a multipurpose athletic court, 19,000-square-foot leisure pool, 1/8-mile indoor track, three sand volleyball courts, lobby and workout rooms.
They can also feel good about the rec center’s sustainable features. The project is pending LEED Silver certification thanks in large part to an innovative HVAC system that makes use of both evaporative cooling and chilled/heated water to regulate indoor air temperatures. The system will save a considerable amount of energy over the lifetime of the building.
January 25, 2012
Construction is underway on SDSU's new 200,000-square-foot Aztec Student Union. Its mission style design matches the historic architecture of nearby buildings.
Contemporary design, or traditional? That’s one of the big questions faced by colleges and universities when they’re planning new building projects on campus. Many opt for a historic look that’s only skin deep: the exterior finishes on the new structure mimic the surrounding architecture, but that’s where the similarities end.
Officials at San Diego State University and the project architect, Cannon Design, decided to go one step further in their pursuit of historical accuracy when planning the school’s new 200,000-square-foot Aztec Student Union. In order to give the four-story building a true mission style design, the structure won’t just have gently curving walls and a white-washed finish. It’s also being built without any control or drift joints in the plaster system – just like the nearby historic buildings that inspired its appearance.
That decision, while ensuring a more authentic-looking end product, has created a number of challenges for Sundt, which began the university construction project last June under a $70 million Construction Manager at Risk contract.
“Eliminating the joints increases the risk of cracking on the plaster exterior,” explained Project Manager Jamie Frye. “In order to combat that, we’ve reinforced the building, added fiber-mesh to the plaster mix and extended the cure time for the brown coat. We’ve also added a waterproof membrane beneath the plaster in addition to the standard lath paper to eliminate water from entering the building through cracks in the plaster.”
The team’s modern approach to this historical design challenge also includes getting creative with construction sequencing. Under ordinary circumstances, the roof would be completed before work could begin on interior finishes, but extending the plaster cure time has changed that.
“We can’t afford to wait for the plaster to fully cure before putting the roof on; we’ll simply lose too much time that way,” Jamie continued. “Instead, we decided to put the roof membrane on first and then put a temporary protection roof over it. This way we can give the plaster the time it needs to cure and still get started on the interior – without delaying the project.”
Students, faculty and staff will be enjoying their brand new LEED Platinum building – a thoroughly modern facility with the look and charm of the older structures on campus – when classes begin in the fall of 2013.
January 13, 2012
Chamisa Village will accommodate 282 students when it is complete this winter.
Some higher education projects go beyond the expected, like Sundt’s current work for New Mexico State University (NMSU) in Las Cruces. This winter, we’ll wrap up phase two of Chamisa Village, a student housing project for NMSU that is seeking LEED Gold for Homes certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, making it the first Gold-certified multi-unit university building in the state.
Sundt’s $22 million Construction Manager at Risk contract includes construction of four new three-story buildings along with associated site development and utilities. We’re also performing all of the project’s concrete work with our own crews. To achieve its high level of sustainability, the team is using environmentally preferred wood materials and efficient framing to reduce waste.
Have you ever budgeted a year in advance for a European vacation, only to discover that airline ticket prices suddenly doubled right before you made your purchase, leaving you with enough cash to buy round trip bus fare to Truth or Consequences, N.M.? Although it’s a simplistic example, the equivalent situation happens often in construction: yesterday’s estimate may fall short of today’s prices, catching less experienced contractors – and their clients – off-guard. The result is less buying power, i.e. building potential, than was originally planned.
Pricing in the construction industry is affected by a number of factors, primarily the cost of materials, fuel and labor. These numbers fluctuate over time in response to changes in supply and demand – both domestic and international. The challenge is to make reasonably accurate predictions about future prices when estimating the costs of projects that may not begin for several months or even a year or more. In 2011, the average cost of construction materials rose about six percent, which was less than the previous year’s increase but twice the annual inflation rate. What’s on tap for 2012? Industry experts, including Sundt, agree that the U.S. construction industry will experience an average price increase of approximately five percent this year, driven mostly by international demand.
What does all this mean for builders and those who hire them? “We put a lot of time into tracking and understanding pricing so that we can effectively manage risk, both for ourselves and for our clients,” says Don Goodrich, Sundt’s director of preconstruction services. “When we serve as the Construction Manager at Risk, we work with the client to ensure that there’s an escalation line item that acts as a buffer for price fluctuations to protect our clients and their budgets. When we are competing for projects that require us and our subcontractors to go at risk for a fixed amount – regardless of what the prices are when it’s time to purchase materials – we use the data to analyze and manage risk.”
What if a contractor doesn’t factor the right costs into in its early estimates and include its clients in conversations about market volatility? That, says Goodrich, can create a credibility problem. “Construction pricing is a very dynamic process. It pays to work with an experienced contractor that dedicates time and talent to this subject, and it also helps to utilize alternate project delivery methods that provide the most flexibility and protection against the unexpected.”