student union exterior lit up at night

Central Arizona College Signal Peak Campus New Student Union and Science Building

Central Arizona College Signal Peak Campus New Student Union and Science Building | Coolidge, Arizona

Central Arizona College (CAC) hired DPR Construction and Architekton to demolish two buildings on its Coolidge campus and replace them with two new, ground-up facilities: the Mel A. Everingham Student Union and a Science Building.



Student Union | This 40,600-sq.-ft., single-story building is a slab on grade with structural steel. Materials include a custom curtain wall, masonry, and an EIFS facade to blend with the aesthetic of the campus. Architekton designed an undulating, angular roofline to tie to the mountainous landscape from the exterior, providing a soaring open feel to the interior public space with the use of architectural metal decking.

The new Student Union houses a full service kitchen and cafeteria, a bookstore, meeting rooms and the campus public safety office. An 8,900-sq.-ft. outdoor seating and landscape area provides space for students to relax between classes and includes AV infrastructure to convert into an outdoor amphitheater to house large events, like graduation.

Science Building | At two-stories and 32,250 sq. ft., the Science Building is both form and function. The design offers poetic nods to the desert through an outdoor garden and a water feature running through the building with roof drainage. The building offers students and faculty a STEM room with 3D printers and robotics, teaching labs, wet and dry labs, prep room and faculty offices. Scope of work also included a 600-sq.-ft. data center relocation, as well.

Custom Prefabrication | This is DPR’s first project in Arizona to utilize Digital Building Componentsa Phoenix-based custom fabrication facility that uses robotic technology to precisely roll aluminum studs and build framing components. The CAC Science Building had all exterior panels fabricated at DBC and delivered sequentially for immediate installation at the project site. This process reduced the exterior skin installation time from four weeks (using traditional methods) down to a day and a half. That’s 92% of time saved!

Utility Challenges | Identifying utility locations on the campus was particularly difficult with no accurate as-built drawings to work from. Additionally, the majority of underground systems were built with asbestos cement pipe, making it impossible to x-ray the site for locations. The team ultimately pot-holed specific areas across the project site to obtain exact-built utility maps for the owner and eliminate the risk of campus utility service interruptions.

Saving the Owner Money | With two additional buildings on campus, the design team was concerned that the Central Plant would need to be expanded, and without evidence from CAC to prove one way or another whether that would be necessary, the plan was to spend $1.4M on the expansion just to be safe. While this approach was logical, the DPR team took the extra step needed to hire a third-party test & balance company, which tested the chilled water usage of the entire campus and compared that to the Central Plant’s capacity. The readings were submitted to the engineer as proof that there was no need for the additional expense. Hiring the test & balance company cost $8,000, but saved CAC $1.4M!

We think you'll like this, too.