McCarthy Building Companies announced June 15 that construction has begun on El Camino Fundamental High School’s new performing arts center, located in Sacramento. Working in collaboration with HGA Architects & Engineers (HGA), McCarthy will use a progressive design-build approach on the $14.4-million project.

The new, roughly 11,600 sq-ft facility will provide much-needed space for the school’s award-winning music and drama programs. The theater will feature a raised stage, a control room, dressing rooms, 500 fixed seats and 100 portable seats in the orchestra area, a ticket booth, and a lobby area equipped to showcase student artwork. The performing arts center is one of nine projects in the San Juan Unified School District supported by the four-phase Measure N Signature Project program, a $350 million bond measure passed by voters in 2012.

The project, slated to complete in August 2018, is also the first in the district to utilize the progressive design-build delivery method, a collaborative process in which one entity – the design-build team, comprised of builder and designer - works under a single contract with the project owner to provide design and construction services.

"Progressive design-build, sometimes referred to as collaborative design-build, is a procurement and contracting approach that allows owners to select a design-build team based primarily on qualifications," says Creed Kampa, Associate Vice President of HGA Architects and Engineers. "The design-builder and owner work collaboratively to confirm the basis of design and to subsequently advance that design. At a point in time when the design has achieved an appropriate level of definition, the design-builder will provide a formal proposal including overall contract price for the remaining services."  

Ian McQuoid, McCarthy project director, says under this project delivery method, the selection is largely based on qualifications and collaborative proficiency.

"Enormous emphasis is placed on team qualifications – including design, preconstruction and construction expertise – and how they work together, in addition to project-specific requirements," says McQuoid. "The process encourages a high level of collaboration between the owner, architect and contractor during the selection process, enabling owners to assess each team’s collaborative skills in areas such as leadership in facilitating innovation and creativity, design integration and owner/end-user engagement."

McQuoid told me that since the selection of the design-build entity is early on in the process, minimal criteria is issued within the Request for Proposal (RFP) and the final cost is then formalized after design concepts and intentions are vetted and agreed upon by all three parties.

The new performing arts center will bring a modern, state-of-the art facility to the school, which has never had a dedicated building for its musical or theatrical productions and performances.

"Outside of the necessary visual and acoustical aspects of the project, the design has several highlights," says Kampa. "First and foremost, the siting and orientation of the building was designed to simultaneously connect to the existing school campus and serve as a welcoming beacon to the community. The building will comprise two solid forms that are conjoined with a transparent lobby and an expansive roof overhang that will invite the community in and allow the outdoors to function as a natural extension of the lobby."

He says the two solids will have a variegated appearance through the use of three types of concrete block in a combination of four- and eight-inch high courses. The multi-textured, variegated facades will break down the scale of the large solid forms. "The surfaces will also look as good over time as they do when they are newly constructed, as opposed to pristine monolithic surfaces which need regular and resource intensive cleaning to maintain their beautiful appearances," he says.

As for sustainability, the project is not pursuing LEED certification. However, the design employs many sustainable features, including filtered storm water on-site to reduce run-off and contaminants; a highly-reflective roof to reduce the heat island effect; drought tolerant landscaping; and water-efficient fixtures used throughout.