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DPR Breaks Ground on San Francisco State University’s Science & Engineering Innovation Center

DPR starts construction on a new facility to house the College of Science and Engineering.

DPR Construction, San Francisco State University (SF State), and SmithGroup gathered to celebrate the start of construction on SF State’s new Science & Engineering Innovation Center (SEIC).

“At DPR, you ‘Exist to Build Great Things’ and it feels like I know you’re going to do the right thing for us,” said Jason Porth, SF State Vice President of University Enterprises.“I can also tell you that as a campus, we exist to serve our students. So, this is a perfect melding of your purpose and ours coming together. You’re going to be building this building that I know is going to be extraordinary to serve our extraordinary campus.”

Jason Porth, Vice President of University Enterprises addressing the groundbreaking attendees. Courtesy of Barry Fleisher

This design-build project began with a series of collaborative planning sessions with faculty, staff, students and alumni. Construction began with demolition of the 1950s addition to the existing Science Building. This first step ensured student safety and minimized impacts on the campus during this complicated phase of the project. With demolition complete, construction on the new 5-story, 126,000-sq.-ft. SEIC will now begin.

“Our team has been working together over the past two years to build trust and it’s really coming to fruition right now,” said Lewis Liu, DPR Project Manager. “We are breaking ground and building for the next two and a half years. We are producing a facility that everyone will be able to enjoy for a long time.”

The SEIC design-build team celebrating the start of construction. Courtesy of Barry Fleisher

The SEIC will support the instructional and teaching-related research needs of the College of Science and Engineering, which has 7,000 students, and the College of Extended Learning. From day one, the design-build team has rallied around student success as a priority in the design and function of the building.

“Students matter, their persistence matters, and we’re going to put our all into achieving that,” said Rosa Sheng, Vice President, Higher Education Studio Leader for SmithGroup. “Not only the design of the building but the original programming, the visioning, universal access and supporting underserved students in STEM fields, [it] was part of the original vision of this project. This is going to be a premier place where strong learning communities will form and solve the current and future challenges we have in this world.”

The new SEIC represents the future of STEM teaching and will provide a strong hub that highlights science and engineering innovation in teaching with studio-style lecture/lab environments that reinforce applied learning models. The Innovation Center will feature a state-of-the-art 120-seat flexible learning space complemented with undergraduate and graduate teaching/research labs and lab support; large-scale engineering applied project space with smaller scale maker spaces for prototyping and student projects; a student success center along with ample study and collaboration space to support holistic learning that reinforces belonging and persistence. It will also include interdisciplinary faculty workspaces for chemistry and engineering with meeting and seminar rooms and the college’s Dean’s Suite.

The building will be home to the College of Science and Engineering but also welcome students from around campus. Courtesy of SmithGroup

Located on 19th Avenue, San Francisco’s connection to the innovation hotbeds of Silicon Valley and South San Francisco, the SEIC is featured prominently and will serve as a welcoming entrance from the community to the University. The site design strategically addresses many challenges including proximity to neighboring buildings, existing utility easement, and mobility/accessibility requirements from all sides given the location at a prominent threshold at the intersection of campus and a noisy transportation thoroughfare.

During design, DPR planned all construction activities collaboratively with SF State and SmithGroup. The result is the morphing from one continuous project into four distinct phases. This new phased approach aligns with the University’s academic calendar and helps ensure campus resources remain available to accommodate temporarily displaced classes during construction. Following the construction of the SEIC, DPR will retrofit and renovate the existing 54,000-sq.-ft. Science Building. This renovation will celebrate the history of the building and preserve the history of SF State’s innovative spirit.

Meeting the goals of the campus for sustainability, this design will be the first all-electric building on the SF State campus with an ambitious energy-efficient envelope and mechanical design. The SEIC has been designed to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. Sustainability goals include:

  • 100 percent electric building with an active mechanical heat recovery system
  • 25 percent reduction of stormwater runoff from the existing site
  • Water source heat pump to control the temperature inside the building
  • High-reflectivity cool roof
  • High-performance glazing
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures
  • Advanced lighting controls

When the SEIC welcomes students and faculty in January 2024, this highly anticipated facility will serve SF State as a driver of innovation and increased representation in the Bay Area’s science and engineering communities.