High-performing Teams at Century-old UC San Diego Health Campus Redevelopment

This article is included in the Great Things: Issue 10 edition of the DPR Newsletter.

A crane and work truck sit inside an active job site with a residential area directly behind and adjacent to the site.
The project site sits directly adjacent to the nearby Hillcrest community, and DPR had to make strategic road re-alignments to ensure access remained open to both residents, and to the hospital’s emergency room. Photo: Danny Sandler
Revitalization to an Underserved Community

Just north of downtown San Diego, a 100+-year-old healthcare campus sits overlooking Mission Valley, built over decades of different development projects and sitting upon a maze of underground utilities. The DPR team had its work cut out when it began Phase 1 of a multi-phase redevelopment plan of the Hillcrest Campus at the UC San Diego Healthcare System.

The first phase of the redevelopment plan includes the 255,000-sq.-ft McGrath Outpatient Pavilion that provides a new space for a broad range of diagnostic and treatment services in a number of specialty areas, and addresses existing demands for outpatient services.

“The community in and around Hillcrest which has been historically underserved by health and wellness programming will now have access to state-of-the-art medical services that were previously hard to come by in this part of San Diego,” said Ian Pyka, a DPR project executive.

This phase also includes a 1,850 stall parking deck, a central utility plant, modeling and mapping of underground utilities, and planned road re-alignment so Hillcrest community members can still access their neighborhoods and the hospital can remain accessible.

Project Highlights

255,000-sq.-ft. Outpatient Pavilion

1,850 Stall Parking Structure

Major Road Realignments

Fire Protection

Extensive Utility Upgrades and Mapping

Planning and Preparation in Advance

The budget for this project was very strictly controlled with very little room for changes. UC San Diego brought on the designer, Arcadis, in early 2019, and DPR was brought on only a few months later. While not necessarily a strictly design-build approach, DPR worked with Arcadis from almost the beginning of the design phase to make sure that that the design was achievable and remained affordable.

DPR’s escalation plan, a step that occurs during preconstruction of a project and outlines a series of steps that mitigate and plan for any risks or surprises on a project, was praised by the customer and the project team, because the preconstruction team put so much care into making sure all risk was accounted for, trade labor and market conditions were considered, and control of internal factors was closely tracked.

Due to the project’s location in an urban setting and on an active hospital campus that included a 24-hour Level 1 trauma center, plus sitting on top of 60 years of underground utility additions, the complicated site logistics required planning and coordination to ensure not only that construction ran smoothly, but that the nearby homes and living areas remained accessible and were minimally impacted by construction. Using its expertise in preconstruction and virtual design and construction (VDC), DPR created a robust and thorough plan for the budget, site logistics and mapping of the project site, including all underground utilities.

A group of foreman meet together to discuss progress of the jobsite.
The project team’s mission was “One Team.” It achieved that through open, transparent communication between the designer, owner, trade partners and other stakeholders throughout the project’s life to create a cohesive, high-performing team. Photo: Danny Sandler

Access to the emergency room and trauma center had to be kept open, so a complex series of road closures accommodated the movement of different trades and equipment, like concrete trucks and cranes.

“Part of the scope of work involved adding and updating underground utilities,” said DPR VDC engineer Hannah Mahfood.

In addition to the standard modeling of all utilities, the DPR team scanned every utility it placed and utilized that data along with pothole data of existing utilities to compile a more precise 3D map of everything underground.

“With this data, UC San Diego Health can more easily and accurately maintain pipes and utilities and it will also give insight for design and later installation of the future connections for the remaining phases of redevelopment on the campus,” said Mahfood.

"One Team"

The project team also worked closely, and early on, with the customer and healthcare workers on site, taking part in meetings and keeping open and transparent communication from the start. Combined with the early integration of the construction and design teams, this resulted in great teamwork from a very early stage. According to Pyka, the team was working together for two-and-a-half years before construction began.

A construction worker walks by a banner that says “One Team” which was the project team’s mission and motto.
“One Team” is the project team’s mission and motto, and stuck to that mindset throughout the build. Photo: Danny Sandler

“Our mission is ‘One Team.’ It takes time to build trust with any new team that you're working with. On this project, we were purposeful in building a collaborative and inspired team. During design, budgeting, scheduling, logistics, we're also making efforts to build trust and perform together at a high level, which I believe wholeheartedly are paying dividends right now,” said Pyka. “This business is about relationships. It's about people working together. It’s Lean. It's trust. There's a level of trust with the owner, designer and build teams, even with our subcontractors, that is allowing us to move more nimbly and more agile.”

Phase 1 of this project is expected to be completed in 2025. DPR will also break ground on Phase 2, which includes a multi-purpose research and wellness center.

We think you'll like this, too.