Butte-Glenn Community College District

The new two-story, 77,000-sq.-ft. Instructional Arts Building is pursuing LEED-NC Gold certification.
The project team adjusted to the changing cost factors to ultimately deliver a project that exceeded owner's expectations.
The facility consists of a music rehearsal room, a black box performing theatre, and 42 specialized instructional spaces.
The project team used a web-based project management system, which created a near "paperless" project.

Instructional Arts Building Project Receives Best Practice Award for HVAC Efficiency, Honorable Mention for Water Quality and Site Water Conservation from California Community College Chancellor’s Office

The newly completed Instructional Arts Building at Butte College in Oroville, CA is an example of what a project team can accomplish in the face of budget constraints, multiple specialized instructional spaces with specific requirements, and a campus sustainability strategy that includes achieving carbon neutrality by 2015.

Team Players

Project: Butte College Instructional Arts Building

Client: Butte-Glenn Community College District

Architect: LPAS

“For the college, this was the most difficult project we’ve ever done—the largest and most complicated building,” said Mike Miller, director of Facilities Planning and Management for Butte-Glenn Community College District. “But sometimes the greatest challenges make the greatest successes. I think this is one of those cases. And, we couldn’t have done it without DPR, no doubt about it.”

Highlighting the success and innovation achieved on this project was:

  • An adaptable, solution-oriented project team that adjusted to changing cost factors to ultimately deliver a project that exceeded owner’s expectations;
  • The delivery of a renewable building targeting LEED®-NC Gold certification despite strict budget constraints; and
  • Implementation of a “paperless” project management system.

The Instructional Arts Building is the fifth project for Butte College on which DPR has served as the construction manager. It is also one of seven total projects DPR has worked on over the last eight years. Like this one, most were competitively bid out using the multiple prime delivery method.

Because of its unique nature, this 77,000-sq.-ft., two-story building was challenging in design and construction. It houses a diverse array of fine and performing arts spaces, ranging from a “black-box” performing arts theatre to music rehearsal rooms, photography labs and much more. “The building has over 42 specialized instructional spaces, each of which was unique with its own specific construction requirements,” Miller said.

During the design phase in 2005, the preconstruction team comprised of DPR, architect, LPAS, and the owner faced a major challenge when the construction market was hit with a period of rapid cost escalation. The price tag for the project, which was to be funded under public bond monies, suddenly spiraled up several million dollars. Facing a deadline to obligate the bond funds, the school district looked to DPR to find solutions that would shave the extra cost to make the project buildable within its original budget.

The team met the challenge. One solution included an “out-of-the-box” approach to construct a new structure approximately 400 feet from the existing arts building rather than within its original footprint as had been planned. This option reduced the need to relocate occupants during construction and ultimately shaved approximately $1.5 million off project costs. Other measures included the development of a series of bid alternates to trim costs further.


When the project actually bid in 2007, the market pendulum had swung once again. This time it brought estimated costs down sharply as a reflection of the changing economic conditions in the region.

“We were able to add back about $1.5 million worth of previously removed scope into the project,” said DPR Project Manager Nick Ertmer. “That included upgrading the target for LEED certification from ‘Certified’ to ‘Gold’ and delivering the project as scheduled in late June.”

The project has won several awards from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office Energy Efficiency Partnership Program, including a Best Practice Award in HVAC Design & Retrofit and New Construction. A solar panel farm on campus also will offset some 17.5 percent of the building’s power on site.


During preconstruction, the DPR-led team looked for solutions to further improve the efficiency and streamline the construction process. They decided to implement virtual electronic collaboration on the job. Through the use of a web-based project management system, the team processed all submittals and RFIs electronically, creating a near “paperless” project. This not only substantially increased efficiency but also significantly decreased the project’s carbon footprint and its impact on the environment.

According to Ertmer, the payoff for going paperless was measurable, making the process faster and more accurate. The process also saved money, estimated at approximately $50,000 in both indirect and direct costs, such as shipping, production, decreased processing time, etc.

Moving to a virtual electronic collaboration environment for the project did involve a learning curve for many of the players, Ertmer noted. DPR stepped up to bring any of the prime contractors or subcontractors who needed assistance into the fold.

“Some of the challenges that we worked through were from a philosophical standpoint. There were some people who were uncomfortable with the idea that they were not going to receive paper submittals or documents in the mail,” Ertmer said. “We worked on a one-on one basis and showed them how to access that information. It was a challenge, but it worked. By the end of the job, virtually all the folks that went into this saying ‘I’m not so sure about this approach’ said, ‘I don’t want to do it any other way.’”