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Campus pays homage to its history

image Front elevation, Alamo College District’s Support Campus

SAN ANTONIO - The Alamo Colleges District’s Support Operations campus is one of Skanska USA’s most exciting projects in San Antonio because it has so many unique features, starting with the rich history of the site. During construction, Skanska found artifacts tracing the land’s history back to when it was inhabited by Native Americans, all the way up to the 1960’s – 1970’s, when San Antonio’s beloved Playland Park, located on the property, was at the height of its popularity.

    The campus pays homage to its history through the landscape design, which highlights the portion of the Acequia Madre de Valero that runs through the site. A rock garden marks the underground path of the Acequia, an ancient tributary water source that is believed to extend all the way to the Alamo.
    In addition to the land’s historical significance, the campus offers users and guests unobstructed views of the iconic San Antonio skyline, including the prominent Tower of the Americas. Users also benefit from being within walking distance to The Pearl, which is the epicenter of the economic revitalization taking place along Broadway. Urban living residential options, upscale retail, chef-driven restaurants, entertainment, museums, Riverwalk access and more are all located within close proximity to the campus.
    From a construction and design standpoint, the glue-laminated timber roof structure made this a distinctive project. Timber is not only a beautiful and sustainable element but incorporating it into this project is a smart practice since the timber can be replanted to replace materials used on the roof structure. Additionally, the use of timber is a growing trend in the built environment, and it’s a great way to achieve carbon neutrality.
    This project entailed the new construction of a 156,000sf, three-story consolidated office building on 12 acres. This new facility houses more than 580 of the Alamo Colleges District’s support staff.  The project includes a new board room that can host up to 300 people, an outdoor auditorium space and cyber café, and includes a rock garden that represents the Acequia Madre de Valero.
    Primary construction materials used included corrugated tilt wall panels, exterior metal panels, glulam beams and decking roof structure and DIRTT modular wall systems. The approximate cost to construct the Alamo Colleges District Support Operations Complex is $55 Million and took the Skanska team 21 short months to complete.
    Consolidating the Alamo Colleges District’s Support Operations into a single campus required robust telecommunications, audio visual and video surveillance systems to enhance engagement and coordination among teams that have not previously worked within the same facility. However, Skanska encountered the unanticipated challenge of installing these systems while also installing the building finishes due to a change in the scope of work.
    Initially, Skanska bid, conducted post bid interviews and provided recommendations for the telecommunications, audio visual and video surveillance systems to expedite the buyout of this equipment based on recommendations from the Alamo Colleges’ low voltage consultant. Upon review of the recommendations, the Alamo Colleges realized the consultant’s recommendations were cost prohibitive. The client first tried to value engineer several items through a process that took several months, and ultimately decided to directly procure the scope of work. By the time this process was completed, Skanska was already installing the building finishes.
    Skanska met with the new vendors and helped them create a flow of activities that would enable the vendors to get into spaces where finishes were not in progress, as well as minimize damages and repairs to spaces that were already completed. Bi-weekly meetings were also conducted with the low voltage vendors to help them prioritize their work ahead of pending finishes and to proactively address any additional issues.
    For more than a decade, Skanska’s had the privilege of working with the Alamo Colleges District on projects to expand and enhance multiple campuses, and it’s been a special honor to deliver on the vision that former Chancellor Dr. Bruce Leslie had for the District Support Operations campus prior to his retirement. “We firmly believe that this consolidated office space will help the Alamo Colleges meet the needs of its students, faculty and staff, while also serving as a valuable asset to the community,” says Project Manager Blake Beran.
    “This particular project strengthened our existing relationships with the Alamo Colleges and helped establish new ones, as Skanska worked closely with Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities John Strybos and Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Dr. Diane Snyder,” adds Senior Superintendent Shane Spry. Skanska also had the opportunity to work with the new Chancellor, Dr. Mike Flores, and the team is excited about his vision for the future of the Alamo Colleges District. Skanska especially enjoyed fostering strong relationships with Ford, Powell & Carson and West East Design Group, the project architects, and is already leveraging their synergy with both design firms on new projects.
    Skanska USA is a full-service general contractor. -cmw

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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net