McCarthy Building Cos. Inc. recently completed construction of Soka University of America�s new Performing Arts Center and Academic Building project, located on 1.9 acres of the Soka University campus in Aliso Viejo.

McCarthy, ZGF Complete Soka University Project
McCarthy, ZGF Complete Soka University Project
McCarthy, ZGF Complete Soka University Project

The new Performing Arts Center is designated to become a venue in South Orange County for concerts, theater productions, lectures and assemblies, enhancing Soka University�s role as a cultural center and community gathering place.

McCarthy served as general contractor for the $73 million project that began in December 2008. It was designed by Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects LLP of Los Angeles.

The project included construction of a three-level, 47,836-sq-ft Performing Arts Center housing a reception lobby, various support spaces and a 1,200-seat auditorium. McCarthy also built a 48,974-sq-ft Academic Building located next to and providing support for the Performing Arts Center. The new four-level academic building houses 11 classrooms, 29 faculty offices, a 150-seat black box theater, four dressing rooms, a rehearsal/dance studio, musician warm-up spaces and other support areas. The project�s design and construction team is pursuing LEED gold certification for the buildings.

Because of sloping terrain, both new structures presented design and construction challenges.

�The Performing Arts Center structure itself was a challenge,� says Nate Ray, McCarthy project manager. �The structure is cast-in-place concrete with 65-ft-tall radius shear walls. Also, due to the site logistics involved with building into an existing slope, the sequencing of the pours was very complex.�

Ray says McCarthy performed all of the structural concrete work for the project, and �the team did an excellent job during the formwork, planning and review process to ensure a successful completion on a very challenging structure.�

Ray adds that the complexities involved with the cast-in-place concrete on the project continued in the interior of the Main Hall of the Performing Arts Center. The floor finish of the tiered seating in the Hall is architecturally exposed concrete using Type III Colton Cement, which successfully produced a unique exposed concrete floor with an appearance similar to granite or terrazzo.

�Construction of the Performing Arts Center required intense coordination with the many building components as well as several unique trades such as those responsible for theatrical rigging, tension grids, seat wagons and stage lifts,� he says.

The coordination process started during the shop drawing and submittal phase and continued through installation.

�This process went smoothly thanks to the help of Soka University and its Program Manager R.W. Buck and Associates, which made timely and wise decisions, as well as a responsive and knowledgeable design team led by ZGF Architects, and proactive subcontractors who know how to work as a team,� says Ray.

The Performing Arts Center is designed with four massive roof trusses that span the width of the performance hall. At 16.5 ft tall and 114 ft wide, these trusses were so large that they had to be delivered at night with a special California Highway Patrol escort.

Both structures were built with a combination of a structural concrete and structural steel frame. Building exteriors feature smooth plaster walls, travertine stone bands, aluminum curtain walls and clear glass glazing. The Performing Arts Center features a green roof and solar panels, while the Academic Building has a clay tile roof to match the existing campus.

To successfully address the LEED aspects of the project, the design and construction team employed 15 LEED-accredited professionals, and McCarthy used sustainable construction methods throughout the project. These included recycling approximately 75% of construction waste; maintaining proper indoor air quality; utilizing local labor; and ensuring that the subcontractors install the specified �green� materials.

Likewise, the design of these structures incorporates numerous sustainable and energy efficiency solutions. The academic building features operable windows and displacement ventilation. The Performing Arts Center�s �green roof� and sunshade structure surrounding the lobby uses photovoltaic (solar) panels, and a bioswale will help manage storm water runoff. McCarthy says it used building materials made from recycled content and that are locally extracted, processed and regionally manufactured. Additionally, Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood and low-emitting adhesives, sealants, paints, carpets and composite wood products were incorporated in both structures.

�Meeting the project�s LEED gold certification goals required rigorous tracking and monitoring as well as developing innovations to some of the project�s challenges,� says Ray. �For example, the installation of the reclaimed irrigation water on the green roof proved challenging. Our solution included routing the reclaimed water lines up the exterior of the building in concealed faux downspouts, and working closely with the authorities having jurisdiction to approve this solution. We also had to plan in advance for the longer lead time required for the FSC wood products.�

The project team achieved 33% below Title 24 requirements for energy efficiency by utilizing the LEED Energy Cost Budget methodology. This energy efficiency rating was achieved by incorporating: 1) displacement ventilation to reduce the amount of space being conditioned; 2) photovoltaic panels; 3) green roofs; 4) sensor lights; 5) operable windows for views/climate control; 6) white roofs; 7) instantaneous gas water heaters for the dressing room showers and theater support areas; 8) and automatic daylight lighting controls in all classrooms and theater lobbies.

Working in accordance with LEED 2.2, McCarthy is in the process of submitting the construction documentation needed for official certification.

Other project team members included Program Manager R.W. Buck and Associates of Rancho Santa Margarita; JAMA of Los Angeles, structural engineer; RBF of Irvine, civil engineer; Syska of Los Angeles, electrical and mechanical engineer; and SWA of Laguna Beach, landscape architect.

Arch Asawa, Soka University�s CFO, notes that construction of these two buildings came in �on time and under budget� � a tribute to the professionalism of the construction team.

�We�ve been very impressed with McCarthy�s management team and their attention to detail,� says Asawa. �Soka University will be celebrating its 10th annniversary in 2011, and the opening of the Performing Arts Center and the adjacent Academic Building will be a big part of that celebration.�