ENR California Best Projects 2018 Higher Education/Research: Solano Community College Biotechnology and Science Building
Solano Community College Biotechnology and Science Building
Owner: Solano Community College District
Lead Design Firm: SmithGroupJJR
General Contractor: Rudolph and Sletten Inc.
Civil Engineer: Cunningham Engineering
Structural Engineer: Buehler & Buehler Structural Engineers
MEP Engineer: Turley and Associates
Designed to inspire and showcase biotechnology, the new 38,000-sq-ft science building replaces a small lab on the campus of Solano Community College. The design-build project was completed in less than three years to meet state requirements for the college’s new four-year baccalaureate program in biotech.
The exterior of the building, which also houses chemistry, biology and anatomy laboratories, offers a glimpse into one of the labs. A wood trellis at the entryway leads to a main lobby, where science experiments are showcased behind glass walls, including a view of floor-mounted bioreactors. The halls are lined with collaboration spaces positioned next to professor offices to encourage student and faculty interaction.
Completed under budget and ahead of schedule, the project’s fast-paced construction was one of the most pervasive challenges. To meet the schedule, the project team decided on design-build instead of the design-bid-build, which the school district was familiar with. The design-build method resulted in the building being delivered a semester early.
Because of early and active participation with the Division of the State Architect, the design-build team was able to obtain the site permit in January 2016, and the building permit was received six months later.
Another hurdle to overcome was the rain. During construction, crews faced one of Northern California’s wettest winters in years. This required more temporary weatherproofing than anticipated, while workers contended with 17 in. of rain throughout the winter and 10 in. in January alone.
To establish an early benchmark of quality on the project, Rudolph and Sletten self-performed all the structural and architectural concrete scope of work. By self-performing the first key scope, the contractor was able to establish a level of expectation for quality and schedule with its subcontracting teams.