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UC San Diego Sees Need to Double Square Footage

With a recently completed Long Range Development Plan in place, UC San Diego could nearly double in size during the next three decades, creating the potential for several million dollars’ worth of new design and construction business.

The $14 million Pepper Canyon Hall, which opened its doors to students and faculty this fall, is a sign of the growth anticipated at UCSD during the next several years.

The four-story, 71,000-square-foot building designed by SmithGroup Inc. of Los Angeles will house classes and departments while they await construction of facilities elsewhere on the La Jolla campus. The Rady School of Management will inhabit the facility until its offices and classrooms open in 2006.

Pepper Canyon Hall was designed and constructed in two years and two months a fast delivery for UCSD, according to Boone Hellmann, the UCSD campus architect and assistant vice chancellor for facilities design and construction.

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“We wanted to get it online as fast as possible,” Hellmann said.

SmithGroup has worked on several campuses in the UC system. Before it was hired by UCSD, the firm designed a “surge” building at UC Riverside similar to Pepper Canyon Hall.

According to Mark McVay, a principal at SmithGroup, almost every UC campus has a surge building to handle Tidal Wave II the surge in enrollment expected through 2012 as the children of baby boomers enter college.

Susan O’Connell, another principal at SmithGroup, said not every University of California campus is as good at master planning as UCSD.

Before 2004, UCSD’s Long Range Development Plan was last updated in 1989.

At that time, it projected 26,050 students in facilities totaling 16 million square feet by 2005. During the 2003-04 school year, enrollment totaled 24,160 students in 10 million square feet. The 2004 plan approved by UCSD’s Board of Regents on Sept. 21 anticipates total enrollment of 29,900 students in 19 million square feet by the 2020-21 school year.

According to Lance Schulte, a senior planner in UCSD’s Physical Planning Department, the long-range plan expires in 2020, but the construction anticipated in the plan could last until 2035. The cost to build all of those facilities has not been determined.


Academic Neighborhoods

UCSD is divided, in the long-range plan, into neighborhoods defined by academic programs. Planners expect the University Center neighborhood to become an urban hub for the campus. Temporary buildings that dot the district’s landscape will be replaced with taller, mixed-use buildings, Schulte said.

In early 2005, St. Louis-based McCarthy Building Cos. will complete the $104 million, 158,000-square-foot Rebecca and John Moores UCSD Cancer Center.

In August, the contractors commenced a $13.3 million renovation and expansion of the Biomedical Library, which will double in size to 51,460 square feet when completed in 2006.

Ron Hall, the executive vice president overseeing Southern California operations for McCarthy, said the firm plans to soon bid on the 76,484-square-foot Student Academic Services facility, estimated to cost $30.2 million; the 50,000-square-foot first phase of the Rady School of Management, estimated at $31.4 million; the Hopkins Parking Structure, at a cost of $29.7 million; and the 50,000-square-foot San Diego Supercomputer Center expansion, worth $41.7 million.

UCSD has more than $1.2 billion in construction projects worth $400,000 or more in active planning stages or under construction. Most of those projects are expected to open by 2007.

“The problem out here right now is there’s too much work,” Hall said.


Soaring Costs

Big demand for labor and materials is resulting in tight supplies, especially for steel, he said. Based on the last six months and looking forward to the next six months, McCarthy expects local construction costs to escalate by 15 percent next year, Hall said.

The $14 million price tag for Pepper Canyon Hall, which amounted to $200 per square foot, was a good buy for UCSD, Hellmann said. Because of rising construction costs, it appears that improvements at Center Hall may cost $250 per square foot, he said.

O’Connell said construction costs are causing many UC campuses to shorten their lists of new projects.

“You need to build mechanisms into the specifications so projects can go ahead if costs increase,” she said.

For public institutions and private clients, construction cost increases are a big problem, said Taal Safdie, a principal of San Diego-based Safdie Rabines Architects.

“It has taken everyone by surprise. With the campuses, (the UC system) has a certain amount of money and no more,” Safdie said. “Sometimes you spend all this time redesigning to deal with the cost increases, then when you go out to bid (for contractors) again, the project’s more expensive than it was because of cost increases.”

Safdie Rabines and Moshe Safdie and Associates of Massachusetts designed the $106 million Eleanor Roosevelt College, which opened in 2003. The project has dormitories and apartments for 1,240 students, an activity center, a dining hall, an administration building, and services for international students.

Safdie Rabines designed the Robert Payne Conference Center, which is under construction at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD. The firm is also working on plans for a day-care center and an engineering building on the campus.

Safdie said there is a lot of work on UC campuses around the state, and many firms are competing for those projects.

O’Connell of SmithGroup said: “The competition is fierce. We’re seeing East Coast architects coming out for projects as low as $5 million.”

McVay noted: “California is the largest economy in the United States. It makes sense that they’d want to come in and poach some business.”


Under Construction at UCSD

Computer Sciences building, 86,719 square feet.

Architect: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Pittsburgh.

General contractor: Rudolph & Sletten, Foster City.

Cost: $41.2 million.

Pharmaceutical Sciences building, 60,000 square feet.

Architect: Anshen + Allen, Los Angeles.

General contractor: M.A. Mortenson Co., Minneapolis.

Cost: $45.5 million.

Cal IT(2), 128,476 square feet.

Architect: NBBJ, San Francisco.

General contractor: Gilbane Building Co., Providence, R.I.

Cost: $102.5 million.

Rebecca and John Moores UCSD Cancer Center, 158,000 square feet.

Architect: Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership, Los Angeles.

General contractor: McCarthy Building Cos. Inc., St. Louis.

Cost: $104.8 million.

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