Life Sciences Facility at Clemson University Sets New Benchmark for Success

Located in South Carolina, this $50 million, 100,000-sq.-ft. Life Sciences Facility is Clemson University’s first use of CM-at-Risk project delivery. (Photo by Gerlich Photography)
The space supports scientific research, education and training for biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, endocrinology, and proteomics. (Photo by Gerlich Photography)

Built to teach researchers of tomorrow and infused with spirit of problem solving, project showcases growth of biotech in the Southeast, first use of CM-at-Risk for the university

Team Players

Project: Clemson University Life Sciences Facility 4

Customer: Clemson University was ranked the 25th best national public university by U.S. News and World Report. Just as founder Thomas Green Clemson intertwined his life with the state’s economic and educational development, the university’s students and faculty impact lives daily with their research and service.

Architect: Perkins+Will

Project Highlights:

  • The collaborative, interdisciplinary research, training and education space includes 25 laboratories.
  • The project marked Clemson University’s first use of CM-at-Risk project delivery in lieu of hard bid.
  • When the project started again in 2010, DPR re-estimated the job, resulting in cost savings and the use of chilled-beam technology that will net long-term energy savings and contribute to being on track for LEED Gold certification.

Clemson University, along with a forward-thinking project team, created a model for collaboration in both project delivery and building function with its new Life Sciences Facility, which opened in February on the main campus.


As Clemson’s first use of construction manager at risk (CM-at-Risk) project delivery in lieu of hard bid, the project set a new benchmark for success. The university hopes to use the approach more frequently, according to Clemson Project Manager of Capital Projects, Tommi Jones.

“With the office of State Engineer’s approval, we hope to use alternative delivery methods on all of our large, complex projects,” said Jones. “The collaboration with DPR and Perkins+Will ensured open communication that was timely and efficient. We are extremely satisfied with the result. Working with the DPR team was a pleasure since everyone was so professional, knowledgeable and attentive to Clemson’s needs.”


The $50 million, 100,000-sq.-ft. interdisciplinary space is designed for a new era of scientific thinkers. Showcasing the rapid growth of biotech in the Southeast, the new Life Sciences Facility is home to 25 laboratories. The space supports scientific research, education and training for a cross section of fields, including biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, endocrinology, and proteomics. Open research bays and breakout spaces also encourage interconnection. The spirit of problem solving and collaboration resonates within the hallways, research laboratories, classrooms and common areas of the facility; this parallels the open, cohesive design and construction process.


In late 2008, when the project was initially awarded, DPR played an integral role in securing state approval to use CM-at-Risk. Although the project was temporarily put on hold, DPR re-estimated it again in late 2010, which delivered cost savings to the owner due to new market conditions. The delay also resulted in the use of progressive chilled-beam technology that will net significant long-term energy savings, which contributes to the building being on track for LEED® Gold certification.


Strong communication created a high level of trust among all parties involved, according to DPR’s Darryl Strunk. “We really approached this project focused on ‘what’s right’ rather than ‘who’s right,’” said Strunk. “We focused on working through issues with the architect ahead of time, before they ever became problems.”

DPR completed the project on schedule and within budget in January, just in time for the university’s public dedication in February. Tom Scott, dean of the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences, commented, “The facility is not only a new Clemson landmark—it is a symbol of Clemson’s commitment to 21st century scientific progress and discovery.”