Hensel Phelps Construction Co.

Four of the world’s leading biomedical research institutions will soon collaborate under one roof after Hensel Phelps Construction Co. completes construction on the $82 million Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine (SCRM) in La Jolla, Calif., in November.

Scientists from the Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute, the Salk Institute, the Scripps Research Institute and the University of California, San Diego, formed the SCRM to work side by side to diagnose, treat and cure degenerative illnesses or injuries based on stem cell research. “The Sanford Consortium integrates the collective knowledge of these foremost biomedical research institutions, with the support of surrounding industry and local community, to create a global resource for stem cell research,” the organization says.

According to the SCRM, the individuals who will be working at this facility have a “proven track record for scientific excellence,” including 95 National Academy Science members and 14 Nobel Prize winners.

The four-story, 145,700-square-foot facility will “enable scientists to informally share intellectual capital,” SCRM explains. “As a result, research will proceed faster, smarter and more effectively. In addition to shaping the future of stem cell science, the Sanford Consortium will shape scientific leadership for the region and industry. Top researchers from around the world will work side-by-side with tomorrow’s leaders in a synergistic environment.”

Cutting Edge

SCRM is a cast-in-place structure with four levels above ground and one below. It will feature environmental rooms, laboratory spaces, an imaging suite and a vivarium. An adjoining cafeteria/auditorium facility is composed of structural steel. The exterior is a concrete and composite panel curtainwall system with cantilevered balconies to house the office pods, which will be separated by an exterior corridor. The project also will feature a surface parking lot with approximately 480 spaces.

SCRM will seek LEED Gold certification upon completion. The project will utilize an energy-efficient chilled beam system that will cool the air in the laboratories at a slower pace than traditional HVAC systems to conserve energy. Other green features include a stormwater retention system, a cool roof system, reclaimed water for irrigation, photovoltaic infrastructure and the use of recycled or recyclable materials sourced locally, including Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood products.

Team Players

Designing and constructing a cutting-edge institution of this significance requires the skill of a highly experienced project team. This includes developers Phelps Development – a subsidiary of Hensel Phelps – working with Lankford & Associates of San Diego.; architecture firms Fentress Architects of Denver and Davis Davis Architects of San Diego; and general contractor Hensel Phelps and its vendors and subtrades. Construction began in December 2009.

According to Hensel Phelps Project Manager Jeff Brunswig, Hensel Phelps brings a significant amount of experience to the SCRM project based on its “reputation and experience of doing laboratories of this magnitude” across the United States, such as the Scripps Research Institute – Lab Facility in La Jolla and the University of California at Santa Barbara Nanosystems Institute.

The contractor is known for partnering with other members of a project team to come up with innovative solutions to design and construction challenges, Brunswig says. Even though SCRM is not a design/build project, Hensel Phelps treated it as such. “When we were brought on board, the design was about 60 percent complete,” he recalls. “We acted as a design/assist partner and gave cost estimates. We grabbed hold of it as a design/build system by working directly with the designers on a day-by-day basis.”

Design Changes

The biggest challenge Hensel Phelps has encountered on the project thus far is design changes based on the evolving needs of the end-users. Similar to a hospital project, configurations sometimes had to be changed to accommodate new technology and equipment that was not accounted for during the initial design phase, Brunswig explains.

This is largely because the equipment didn’t exist yet or was in its infancy at the project’s inception. “What you planned a few years ago has to be reconfigured a little bit,” he remarks.

Hensel Phelps is proud of its subcontractors for being flexible and hands-on when it came to addressing last-minute design changes. “One thing that impresses me about the subcontractors in San Diego is that it’s a close-knit group,” Brunswig notes. “They are all willing to work with each other and coordinate without much of a fuss. They are keeping up with the schedule and have bought into being team players, which has helped tremendously.”

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