Turner Construction Company – Berkeley Way

Turner BerkeleyTurner Construction Company’s experience on large, complex projects will serve it well as it works on the Berkeley Way project with UC Berkeley.

By Eric Slack

Founded in 1902, Turner Construction Company provides building services to clients worldwide. Known for its diligence, resourcefulness and creativity as a partner, Turner has earned recognition for undertaking large, complex projects, fostering innovation, embracing emerging technologies and making a difference for its clients, employees, and communities.

The company started building in California in 1962, and its strong presence in northern California was established in 1968 with the Ordway Building in Oakland. During that same year, Turner opened an office in San Francisco. Its Sacramento office opened in 1984, followed by the opening of it San Jose office in 1987.

“Turner performs work for both public and private clients in numerous market segments including commercial, transportation, healthcare, education, pharmaceutical, justice and sports,” Vice President Grant Griffanti says. “Seventy-five percent of our work comes from repeat clients, which is a key indication of client satisfaction based on our performance. Our teams are always looking for innovative approaches to achieve our clients' goals. We strive to strengthen long-term relationships and provide value-added services to deliver successful projects.”

In Progress

Among the projects that Turner is currently working on is the Berkeley Way project with UC Berkeley. Located at Berkeley Way and Shattuck Avenue, the building will replace Tolman Hall. That was built in 1965 but had been declared seismically unsafe. It will be demolished once the new building opens.Turner Berkeley box

The Berkeley Way project is a 340,000-square-foot building, with the first five floors built-out to house UC Berkeley’s Schools of Psychology and Public Health. The top three floors are shell space that will be leased out by the university.

The university has been looking to change the way it selects their general contractors and how business is conducted after the selection. Turner was chosen for the Berkeley Way project through a best value process that stressed collaboration among team members.

“One of Turner’s core values is teamwork, and our Berkeley Way team really understands the need to join forces with everyone involved on the project to help bring solutions to the project,” Griffanti says. “We started building credibility and trust amongst the team members early in the preconstruction period so that we all understand that decisions are being made in the best interests of the project.”

Construction started on the project in January of 2016, and it is scheduled for substantial completion in December of 2017. The cost of the project will be within the $118 million range.

In addition to Turner, a number of other companies are working with UC Berkeley on the Berkeley Way project. WRNS is the architect, and there are four design-build subcontractors. Southland Industries is the mechanical and plumbing systems contractor, while Red Top Electric is taking care of electrical systems. Additionally, Allied Fire Protection is the fire sprinkler contractor and Alcal Specialty Contracting is handling the curtain wall.

“We believe this is the first time the university has implemented a best value selection process to retain us and the design-build subcontractors,” Griffanti says. “This approach helps control schedule and budget with the different parties.”

Standing Out

Among the noteworthy design and construction elements of the project include the exterior wall. One of the features that will be seen by the public, the exterior wall will be primarily aluminum and glass curtain wall with glass fiber reinforced concrete features. An unseen noteworthy design aspect is that the building will use waste heat from chillers as a hot water source. The building is designed to meet the gold LEED standard.

Although the project is proceeding on course, Turner and its partners know that everyone must be prepared for the unexpected. Unknown site conditions are always the most difficult challenge.

“We have experienced some impacts due to the discovery of unforeseen structures and utilities during excavation,” Griffanti says.

As the project moves forward, Turner is looking forward to delivering a final product that will meet all of UC Berkeley’s goals. The company has built many higher education buildings for campuses in the area, but it has not been on a UC campus for some time.

“We are hopeful that this will be an opportunity to increase our visibility with UC Berkeley as well as to learn what worked best to help improve the best value delivery method,” Griffanti says.

Beyond the Berkeley Way project, Turner knows that it must be able to attract top talent and keep it in the Bay Area in order to continue to demonstrate excellence on similar project opportunities, as well as projects outside the education sector. Although the Bay Area can pose unique challenges for the construction industry due to traffic and the cost of housing and the fact that long commutes are no longer sustainable in the market, the company feels that it is well-positioned to build off of its many years of success in the area.

“Turner has an advantage in this regard because we have four northern California offices and are better able to get people working on projects closer to home,” Griffanti says. “Our salary and benefit packages are amongst the best in the industry, as is our training program, which helps us retain our employees.” 

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