Growth ushers in new wave of projects

On one end of campus, workers are putting the finishing touches on the new Plant and Environmental Sciences building going up behind Veihmeyer Hall.

On another end, the Center for the Arts by the week is looking more like the performance complex it will soon become.

And close to the center of campus, project managers and planners are in their offices conceptualizing and designing more projects for what's likely the university's largest building wave ever.

Over the next 15 years, the size of buildings, parking garages and other structures on campus will increase from about 10 million to 16 million square feet, according to campus architect Bob Strand. About $800 million worth of capital building projects - paid for by a mix of state, federal and private building funds - are now in some phase of planning or construction.

In scope the projects are impressive, encompassing more than 50 new buildings, utility upgrades and facility renovations.

"These are the largest projects we've ever done on campus since I've been here. Probably ever," Strand said.

Not only will projects be grand in size and purpose, they will also incorporate progressive characteristics that form the backbone of the campus's Long Range Development Plan, conceiving focused research and academic districts on campus; environmentally friendly and energy-efficient buildings; and visible gathering places and entryways.

Facilities like the undergraduate Sciences Laboratory Building are pictured as more than teaching spaces but comfortable, livable places.

Soon the spaces will be filled by the 5,000 additional students and more than 200 new faculty members expected to land on campus over the next decade.

Here are some prime examples of how the face of campus will change over the next few years.

Health Sciences Expansion

The Health Sciences District south of Hutchison Drive and east of La Rue Road will be transformed over the next decade, with seven new building projects now in the works.

"In terms of what difference people are going to notice on the campus, that's a big one," said Rick Keller, director of physical, environmental and capital planning.

Construction on the Genome and Biomedical Sciences Facility should begin within a month, reports Architects and Engineers project manager Joel Swift.

The $95 million building incorporates cutting-edge designs for biomedical research including dozens of labs designed with a modular, flexible layout; a lecture hall; demonstration laboratory; and state-of-the-art utilities and ventilation systems.

The facility is designed with the working habits of a scientific researcher in mind and includes formal meeting rooms, casual break and gathering spaces and a café on the ground floor.

With its height topping off at 100 feet, Swift describes the building as the district's cornerstone. But the pre-cast concrete, metal and glass structure will by no means dominate the area, he said. The genome facility will be grouped together with Tupper Hall and another large research center, called Veterinary Medicine 3A.

"It will be like a city with the taller buildings to the center," Swift said.

Vet Med 3A, one of several new facilities designed to help the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine regain full accreditation, will consolidate the school's major teaching and research laboratories - including those for necropsy, anatomy and orthopedics - into two adjacent buildings. Currently teaching lab space spreads from the health sciences district to Haring Hall, near the center of campus.

"The intent is that (the center) not only meet the functional programmatic aspects of the school, but also to provide a heart to the school that's now split a mile apart," said project manager Gary Dahl.

Dahl is also hoping that Vet Med 3A will be the first building on campus certified "green" by the U.S. Green Building Council. The industry group works to accelerate the adoption of environmentally friendly building standards. Vet Med 3A could attain green status, for example, by using recycled or locally produced materials in its construction, which will begin next year. Work on the $77 million project is expected to be completed by 2006.

Away from the center of the district, several other projects are in the works, including the Center for Companion Animal Health, a human nutrition laboratory for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and an animal holding facility and lecture hall.

Central Academic, Research Buildings

The relocation of the holding area, now on Hutchison Drive near the Surge buildings, will make way for a new Sciences Laboratory Building devoted solely to undergraduate teaching.

Tom Rost, the associate dean of the biological sciences division, describes the teaching focus of the building as unique among all the UC campuses. It will house introductory chemistry labs and all undergraduate biology labs. Biological science majors who enter UC Davis after 2004, when the building will be completed, will do all their lab work in the building, Rost said.

As such, project architects want to make the building a place where students - and faculty and staff - want to spend their time. The building will include two levels of glass-fronted study lounges facing north for energy efficency. A coffee shop is on the ground floor.

"We want a building where people have a sense of ownership," Rost said.

The $58 million lab facility will bring together teaching areas now in Briggs, Storer, Hutchison and Robbins halls. Administrative offices, and teaching and research will come together in the nearly complete Plant and Environmental Sciences Building. Workers are finishing utility work and installing lab equipment, said project manager Gary Dahl.

Like many new buildings on campus, the PES exceeds California energy conservation standards by more than 10 percent by using high-efficiency lights, occupancy sensors and temperature-sensitive air conditioning.

The building will be finished by the end of the year. Projections show that costs will come in at $42 million, more than $3 million under budget.

Student, Community Facilities

Like the Health Sciences District, the northwest corner of the central campus will be a hive of construction activity in the next few years.

Early in the planning stages is an expansion of the Segundo residence halls. A new 300-student dormitory along Russell Boulevard will be completed by the end of 2003. The residence halls' outmoded dining commons will also be replaced that year with the erection of a new modern structure close to the Rec Hall.

Eventually the new buildings and the existing Segundo towers will surround a grassy common area created by the demolition of the old dining hall, said Director of Physical Planning Bob Segar.

Nearby, a new $45 million Activities and Recreation Center, $20 million multi-use stadium and a $5 million aquatics center are expected to be finished by 2004. Known as the Facilities and Campus Enhancements, these structures are being financed mostly by UC Davis students through a tax they voted in in 1999.

Now in the planning stage, the 105,000-square-foot activities center is expected to be connected to the existing Recreation Hall via a bridge. The two-story building will be configured around a courtyard with space for both athletic and social activities, said project manager Alex Achimore.

One portion of the building will only be open to students and staff and faculty members who pay for a membership. It will contain gymnasiums, weight rooms, a climbing wall, indoor track, racquetball/squash courts, dance/aerobics rooms, and a locker room. Another side of the center, open to all, will have meeting rooms, a ballroom and student organization space.

The Hotel Conference Center planned for the south of campus has been put on hold until the university and the city of Davis further assess its economic impact.

But projects like the Center for the Arts are moving ahead on schedule. The laying of the last steel beam on the performance hall in March was a major milestone in the construction process, said project manager Susan Rainier. But she and the campus can look forward to more turning points soon. The $53.5 million center will be completed by late fall of 2002.

Sandstone, similar to the stone used in the south parking garage, is being laid by tile setters this month, Rainier said.

"Everyone is so used to the beams," she said. "This is really going to change the landscape."

Then work will start on an entry quad to the center. That area will include pathways, plantings and an outdoor concert performance space. Children can play in a decorative fountain that also serves to mask highway noise.

Paths from the south parking garage and lots, now enclosed by a temporary chain link fence, will become permanent pathways to the UC Davis Arboretum and Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center

"You will start to picture the center as the new entrance to the university," Rainier said. "That's exciting to me." •

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