University of California at Riverside, School of Medical Research Building Riverside, CA

University of CA School of Medical Research

We had the privilege of building the first LEED-rated building on the UCR campus. How did we use BIM to save more than $1 million in potential change order costs?

We had the privilege of building the first LEED-rated building on the UCR campus. How did we use BIM to save more than $1 million in potential change order costs?

Riverside, CA
Market Type
Green Building, Higher Education

University of California at Riverside, School of Medical Research Captures a Number of Impressive “Firsts”

At the University of California, Riverside (UCR), the School of Medicine Research Building is a 59,785-square-foot facility that is not only one of the smartest buildings on campus, it is also the first building delivered in the University’s School of Medicine program.

This facility officially marks the first public medical school approved in California in over 40 years and trains a diverse workforce of physicians who are more likely to live and practice in the communities where they receive their education. The School of Medicine was conceived to address a shortfall of health care professionals in Inland Southern California. With a lack of healthcare professionals in Inland Southern California, the University hoped the training at the new medical school would emphasize preventative care and health care education, recruit students locally, and encourage graduates to stay and practice in the region.

Balfour Beatty was the construction manager at risk and oversaw six months of pre-construction and 19-months of construction.

The $29 million, three-story building incorporates flexible laboratory environments for biomedical research, including a biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) suite, numerous cell culture rooms, a central autoclave facility, and various support spaces for imaging and instructional needs. The project is the first LEED® - rated building on the UCR campus.

Resolving System Conflicts

Due to the high complexity of the project, the ceilings above the corridors were designed to be the main thoroughfare for the mechanical ducts and piping, fire sprinkler piping, and electrical and telecom cable tray routing. These areas were extremely confined, difficult to represent using traditional two-dimensional documentation and had a significant number of system conflicts. Our BIM specialists identified over 4,000 significant clashes in these utility runs. We worked with the designers to resolve these clashes, thereby maintaining the intended ceiling height and space layout, but also diverting an estimated $1.63 million in potential change order cost savings. After the clashes were resolved, we had zero RFIs from the jobsite.
The challenges in constructing this facility were not limited to the design constructability, there were significant safety hazards due to the ongoing campus operations. Immediately adjacent to the site is the University’s Entomology Building, the building houses many sensitive species that could not be disrupted through the noise and impact typical of construction requiring special care and noise mitigation efforts. Due to the foot traffic patterns of the students and faculty, we restricted deliveries to the site from 8am-9am and 12pm-1pm. We also implemented full-time flag men to route traffic in order to maintain an environment in which zero harm was maintained.

Transcending Sustainability Goals

The UCR School of Medicine Building is LEED Gold Certified, exceeding UC Riverside’s initial criteria for LEED Silver.
Of note, this facility uses approximately one-third of the energy consumed by a typical lab. It capitalizes on natural daylighting and features a unique “night flushing” cooling system to take advantage of cool nighttime air, thereby reducing energy usage for air conditioning. Computer systems help minimize electric lighting. The open laboratory rooms feature movable furniture and supporting systems, providing flexibility to change the space to meet needs in the future. The non-laboratory spaces feature a dynamic shade control system that automatically adjusts to sun conditions, but still allows manual control for personal comfort. A portion of the building materials contain recycled content and waste diversion and recycling during construction and the landscaping is water-efficient.
In addition, numerous energy reduction and sustainable design strategies are integrated into the overall design, including:

  • Minimized laboratory ventilation rates, (in compliance with campus safety standards)

  • Reduced cooling loads based on metering comparable labs

  • Active chilled beams for temperature control

  • Optimum daylighting and controls

  • Night flush ventilation in office areas

  • Extensive performance monitoring

Delivering Promises and Predictability

We’re passionate about providing clients with the best construction experience possible. We were successful in living up to this promise by maintaining a relentless focus on UCR’s expectations. The project team built honest and productive relationships with the owner as well as a sense of loyalty by delivering on all of our promises and taking ownership of all problems. On numerous occasions, UCR expressed confidence in our ability to deliver accuracy, predictability and certainty throughout all phases of the preconstruction and construction process.
Thanks to the close collaboration with the owner and our partners, this project was awarded the 2012 “Project of the Year” award by the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA), San Diego Chapter in the New Construction/Higher Education $11-50 M Category.
Additionally, The UCR School of Medicine Research Building was selected as one of the three projects for an award from the Energy Efficiency Partnership Program of the California Energy Commission’s Best Practice Awards Competition in the “Overall Sustainable Design” award category. Winners were selected by a panel of impartial judges with content-area expertise. Over 100 projects were nominated for this competition.