Solution-Oriented Team Delivers BioLegend Campus Expansion Early, Under Budget

Project Overview

Clear communication and innovative problem solving were major factors in the successful delivery of a new biotech campus in San Diego for BioLegend, an award-winning project that completed ahead of schedule and 2% under budget. From a structural steel design approach that saved the owner time and money, to a critical, late-project interior lighting solution, the design and construction team exceeded the owner’s expectations at every juncture.

Working with San Diego architect Delawie, DPR turned over the BioLegend Campus Expansion project in February 2019 after just 19 months of construction – meeting a critical deadline that allowed BioLegend to host a worldwide scientific event at its new campus shortly after opening.

The project converted an existing 7.5-acre, four-parcel plot of land into an 8-acre biotechnology campus. Featuring a design that encourages collaboration with plenty of natural daylight, expansive views and flexible laboratory spaces, the project included lab space, office and amenity space, site improvements, a new seven-story, 700-stall parking garage, a pedestrian bridge, yoga studio and gym, commercial kitchen, 65-ft.-tall structural glass atrium and more.

Engineering News-Record awarded the BioLegend Campus Expansion project its “Best of the Best Projects 2019” award, one of just 20 projects bestowed the honor from a field of 900 highly competitive entries nationwide.

The Challenge

When news broke in mid-2018 that R&D companies were suffering losses related to damages from certain characteristics of LED light fixtures, the BioLegend team knew they faced a critical challenge that would require a quick and effective solution. Already on a fast track schedule, the project needed to finish on time in order to accommodate a long-planned global immunology event that BioLegend was slated to host in May of 2019.

California’s Title 24 Code had led to the replacement of most fluorescent light fixtures with LEDs. But with just five months or so left on the project, changing light fixture types would cost anywhere from $450,000 to $1 million and could add anywhere from two to four months in schedule delays.

The Solutions

To solve the 11th hour lighting challenge and avoid delays, DPR, Hughes Marino (owner’s representative/construction manager), Bergelectric (electrical contractor), Delawie and BioLegend worked closely together to research and brainstorm options for a lighting fix. Potential solutions that were explored included adding colored lens, applying films to the lights already on site, and testing over a dozen different LED and fluorescent light fixtures. Ultimately, the team uncovered the root cause of the issue and determined that dimming the lights was the best solution. They found a fixture with the appropriate characteristics, thereby avoiding major budget and schedule impacts.

Another innovative project solution that yielded major benefits was the decision to use the patented bolted SidePlate connections for the steel moment frames, eliminating the need for full-penetration welded connections as required in high-seismic regions. These connections reduced joint time in the field from a typical two to four hours for welded joints, to just 30 minutes. The system further saved inspection costs, provided safety advantages, and reduced cost in the amount of steel tonnage required (decreasing the project’s steel design by 58 tons compared to a conventional moment frame design).

The Result

The BioLegend Campus Expansion project has been widely recognized for design and construction excellence, receiving ENR’s 2019 “Best of the Best Projects” award and first place award in the 2020 San Diego Business Journal “Commercial Real Estate Awards” in the Industrial category.

The biggest reward for DPR, however, is in creating raving fans of its project owners.

“Throughout the entire process the entire project team acted responsibly and efficiently. Communication was absolutely key, and the BioLegend Executive Team always understood where we were in the process and how issues were being resolved. In my experience, projects very rarely complete on time, let alone under budget, so you can imagine we were elated to watch this massive endeavor unfold in front of us without a hitch.” – William Kullback, Chief Financial Officer, BioLegend

Awards

  • Commercial Real Estate Award: Award of Excellence; Industrial Category
    San Diego Business Journal
  • Best of the Best Projects
    ENR

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