Building New Futures at Bellevue College
HSW leverages progressive design-build delivery model to deliver integrated and collaborative service experience on the Student Success Center project
At Howard S. Wright, a Balfour Beatty company (HSW), our goal is to serve as more than a general contractor on every project we deliver. For our project teams, that means becoming not only passionately invested in the construction details but also possessing a deep understanding of the end users’ unique needs and goals.
For our project team at the Bellevue College Student Success Center in Bellevue, Washington, becoming a true construction partner required leveraging a progressive design-build delivery model to facilitate critical collaboration early in the design process, allowing for optimal alignment and successful value engineering. At every stage of the project, the team demonstrated not only an investment in the construction of the Student Success Center but also in the students' success in furthering their education.
By utilizing their experience and expertise in value engineering, the project team successfully delivered $1.74 million in value-add solutions for the College.
Building a Center to Serve the Students
The Bellevue College Student Success Center design was inspired by the College's mantra of "students first" as it mirrors students' ascent and progression through their academic journey. The project included student common areas, testing rooms, administrative offices, coffee bar and the Commons, a large event space and warming kitchen available for student groups and the community at large to convene.
The progressive design-build team, which consisted of Bellevue College, Washington State Department of Enterprise Services, HSW and Ankrom Moisan (AM) as the design partner, fostered a collaborative approach to designing and constructing the 71,000-square-foot, three-story structural steel facility for Bellevue College's main campus. The progressive design-build delivery model enabled greater engagement and collaboration between the owner, designer and HSW during the earliest stages of project development. This effective collaboration facilitated:
- Fast-tracking of the project schedule, which enabled the team to achieve substantial completion 30 days ahead of schedule
- Significantly reducing the overall number of requests for information (RFIs) and field changes or fixes, limiting the number of change conditions and re-work throughout the project
- Early design coordination and buyout gave the client a defined budget and allowed the team to incorporate $1.74 million in added scope without exceeding the maximum allowable construction cost (MACC)
With the new Student Success Center's collaborative design and construction approach, Bellevue College will now be able to modernize its service model to students. Built to house more than 15 departments serving students throughout their tenure at the College, the Student Center transforms how departments such as admissions, advising, placement and career services, among others, operate from a function-centric modality to a single, integrated service experience.
Previously, the departments occupied nearly 50-year-old buildings across campus that lacked the necessary infrastructure to serve all students, staff and visitors. By housing the departments in one building, the Center creates a single location for students to connect and work with each department in one visit, optimizing student success.
HSW and AM successfully advocated for each department throughout design development by fostering an inclusive, team-oriented culture. The project team held stakeholder meetings that included a lead or stakeholder for every department to provide ongoing input throughout the design process. Through these meetings, HSW and AM ensured that each department received visibility and the spaces they needed to serve the students.
As a result of this process, the new workspaces in the Student Success Center effectively accommodate each department's unique needs, joined by shared priorities of flexible working areas, inspiring collaboration spaces and an environment filled with daylight. Departments that previously operated independently are now strategically connected to enhance every student's experience and access to educational opportunities.
"From the beginning, our project team emphasized providing the departments with the resources they needed to enable students’ success," says Nicole Meehan, HSW project manager. "By working closely with the College and our trade partners, we were able to provide Bellevue College with an integrated and seamless service experience that delivered a building where students can receive guidance, reflect on progress and celebrate achievements."
But the process didn't come without a few design evolutions and challenges along the way. Mid-way through construction, the College requested the team incorporate the design and build-out of a warming kitchen to serve the event space, previously earmarked as a shell space for a future project.
Through HSW's expertise in design-build construction, the project team effectively absorbed the schedule impacts, which included design, permit changes, upgrades to multiple building systems and equipment selection and procurement, without disrupting construction progress. The team engaged in proactive coordination and re-sequencing of work areas to mitigate any re-work while the event space was undergoing re-design. As a result, the team delivered the warming kitchen—representing approximately $1 million in added scope—within the client’s target budget without extending the project schedule.
Providing Leading Value Engineering
Because the project was publicly funded, the Student Success Center's budget was fixed. However, the College identified several alternatives to the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) drawings provided the budget and design rendered them feasible. These add alternates included:
- Additional site lighting upgrades
- Exterior lighting for signage
- Upgraded sliding glass doors
- Wood ceilings in feature areas
- Upgraded restroom partitions
- Incorporation of a feature wall.
By providing industry-leading value engineering and collaborating with the client and trade partners to balance cost and constructability with design intent, the project team met challenges they encountered with an efficient lens that delivered the best overall value for Bellevue College.
A Shared Commitment to Success
During the construction of the atrium, a large skylight located in the central lobby and reception area, the project team worked closely with the City of Bellevue and trade partners to maximize available space. A large horizontal fire shutter, punctuated by its unique trapezoidal shape, was a critical design feature that tied into the life safety system to provide requisite smoke controls. The shutter assembly, weighing over 17,000 pounds, is hidden from public view within an integrated soffit.
The team also worked closely with the manufacturer of the fire shutters early in the design process to gather information about available inventory and delivery schedule to ensure the pre-manufactured shutters arrived at the precise installation point during the finish stage.
Through the target value design (TVD) process, the team recognized that the building enclosure was substantially over the desired budget. To reduce cost, the project team made strategic design changes such as replacing the glazing and curtain wall with metal panel sections on multiple facades. These cost savings allowed the College to implement other significant design elements, such as the event space on the third floor that was not planned in the original project budget.
"One quality that permeated across the progressive design-build team was the principle that anyone could contribute to the solution," adds Nicole. "Our team maintained an open mindset and welcomed out-of-the-box thinking, which included engaging other team members and partnering with key trade partners that brought their experience and expertise to develop creative solutions."
The collaboration between the progressive design-build team was successful primarily due to their shared commitment to the project's success. The project leadership maintained a high level of accountability that allowed the team to engage in critical conversations about deadlines and decision points and share a unified vision of the team's resources and goals.
HSW begins every project with a central purpose: to be a Relentless Ally for the success of each dream we are entrusted to build. For Bellevue College, that meant creating a space to help students succeed in their journeys through higher education and beyond. By leveraging our team's expertise in value engineering and design-build construction, our team delivered a Student Success Center that is built to last.
Since completion, the Bellevue College Student Success Center has received the 2020 Design-Build Institute of America National Award of Merit for Educational Facilities, 2020 ENR Northwest Best Projects Award of Merit in Higher Education/Research and the 2020 Northwest Construction Consumer Council Award for Innovation and Achievement in Sustainability.