Taking Elevators Off-Site at Southwestern College

by Balfour Beatty

Southwestern College in Chula Vista, CA turned to Balfour Beatty to build its new, $45.1 million, 40,000-square-foot Field House that today overlooks the school’s DeVore Stadium. The state-of-the-art Field House includes team locker rooms and training facilities. It also houses strength and conditioning facilities, four new classrooms, a 140-seat mixed media auditorium, faculty offices and tutorial spaces for student-athletes among other amenities.

To make the project more efficient and improve jobsite safety, our team leveraged off-site construction for one of the job’s more complex elements—a two-stop elevator. With the off-site method, elements of the project are constructed in controlled environments and subsequently transported to the project site for final assembly. While the off-site concept isn’t new, this lean construction approach’s many benefits include the ability to build faster, safer projects at consistently high levels of quality, while driving out material waste and cost.

Balfour Beatty realized the benefits of off-site construction on the Field House’s elevator system. Rather than constructing the system on-site, which involves constructing a shaft made of concrete, installing rails and assembling the car, the team moved the process to a controlled environment. There, the elevator shaft was constructed on its side with tubular structure steel. All of the welding, rail installation and car assembly were completed off-site.

Meanwhile, as the elevator system was being manufactured, project construction moved forward in parallel. During this time, the project team constructed the elevator system pit based on dimensions provided by the architectural team and confirmed by the elevator manufacturer. Once the elevator shaft and system were completed, they were shipped to the site in components and installed in the elevator pit with a crane. The Southwestern College project team worked with TL Shield and Modular Elevator Manufacturing to achieve this modular building solution.

Benefits of Off-Site Construction

  • Schedules are more predictable because units are produced in a controlled environment and not affected by weather, daylight or construction activities.

  • Engineering time and expenses are reduced with a pre-engineered system and structure.

  • Off-site offers enhanced quality control and cost savings. With fewer issues per million joints welded, teams can minimize time traditionally spent resolving any issues during finish work phases.

  • Safety is perhaps the most important benefit. Risk is mitigated due to less trades working on-site, less debris and material laydown areas and less construction traffic on the jobsite.

  • ​While a standard elevator requires a 14-16-week lead time with three to four weeks of on-site work, this off-site solution came with a 10-12-week lead time and a five-day install, including testing and inspection.

  • Modular elevators are constructed with tubular structural steel making them lighter, which reduces the size required for concrete pits and the need for additional support such as grade beams or caissons.