The team elevated the LEED level from Gold to Platinum and used lean planning on this design-build project. (Photo by Chip Allen Photography)
Students at this teaching facility study the “living laboratory” building’s design and construction systems. (Photo by Chip Allen Photography)

Shared Governance on Design-Build Project: Several Heads Better than One

With input from several sources, Cosumnes River College takes collaborative team approach to the next level in its first design-build project

Team Players

CUSTOMER: Serving the greater Sacramento region, Los Rios Community College District is a public college district, which includes Cosumnes River College. The district has nearly 80,000 enrolled students.



  • Completed in June, the Winn Center is a 41,500-sq.-ft., $13.5 million signature teaching facility.
  • The Winn Center houses the college’s construction, architecture, pharmacy technology and photography programs.
  • This is the first design-build project on the campus and the second for the district.

The new ultramodern Winn Center for Construction and Architecture at Cosumnes River College illustrates a growing trend among owners who are increasingly seeking project delivery strategies that maximize value and minimize waste.

With “shared governance” encouraging ideas and input from team members and multiple end users, the Los Rios Community College District, which includes Cosumnes River College, opted to use design-build to deliver the new signature facility. It was the district’s first use of design-build for a classroom facility.

Shared Governance

The building process involved everyone from students to the project team members to the end user groups. The team’s highly collaborative, inclusive approach began in the earliest stage, when students participated in a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED®) design competition. They remained involved throughout design and construction.

DPR Project Executive Erik Winje said that managing the wide range of input and expectations was challenging but it also allowed many of the best ideas to rise to the surface.

“Making sure we were listening to all the user groups during design and that those views were in alignment with the program was a challenge at times,” Winje said. “There was a lot of give and take.”

Lean Planning Shines

To boost efficiency and eliminate waste, the team incorporated lean and integrated project delivery (IPD) strategies like target value design and Last Planner®. Early on, the design-build team developed a milestone-alignment plan that developed specific tasks to meet goals. They held weekly meetings to keep the project progressing steadily forward.

“The focus really was always on creating more value by reducing waste and just continually improving the process,” said Winje.

Elevating Sustainability

In keeping with the owner’s goal to improve the building’s long-term efficiency, the team incorporated students’ sustainability ideas. Additionally, the team, with the owner’s help, raised the LEED rating goal from Gold to Platinum, with no budget impacts. 

A few major green features include: maximized natural light in classrooms; photovoltaic panels; real-time energy-use monitoring; an energy-saving enthalpy wheel that facilitates the exchange of heat energy and moisture energy; and an “off-grid” stairwell heated and cooled via solar energy.

Built to Teach

Another goal was to create a living laboratory for students to study the building’s systems.

In addition to the sustainable aspects, some of the building systems designed as a teaching opportunity consist of:

  • exposed structural framing for the ceilings;
  • visible mechanical ductwork and transparent rainwater leaders; and
  • exposed plumbing valves and a heat exchanger.

A Project Worth Repeating

Now the cornerstone of the Cosumnes campus, the Winn Center is a model the college and district hope to replicate in future projects.

“There were a lot of people involved in the design-build process, from our students, faculty and staff to administrators,” said Cosumnes Communications and Public Information Officer Kristie West.  “We looked to the design-build team to bring their solutions to the table and to make all recommendations as we went along. DPR absolutely showed that ability in working with us.”

Read more about the project in the extended case study.