DPR Self-Perform Craftsmanship Shines in Showpiece Research Facility for Lundquist Institute

Project Overview

Extensive preplanning, top quality workmanship and a highly collaborative approach by an integrated design and construction team all contributed to a successful outcome on a state-of-the-art biomedical research facility project for the world-renowned Lundquist Institute for Biomedical Innovation.

Designed to be one of the most advanced research buildings in the U.S., the 80,000-sq.-ft., four-story facility is home to Lundquist Institute (formerly the LA Biomedical Research Institute). The Institute and its 100-plus distinguished research groups have contributed many groundbreaking biomedical solutions over the years, from invention of the modern cholesterol test to treatments that boost the survival rate of premature infants. In addition to construction of the research building, the project scope included related demolition, major landscape transformation and utility infrastructure work on the 10.25-acre campus, which is set within the 72-acre Harbor-UCLA Medical Center campus in Torrance, CA.

The architecturally striking facility is a showpiece of DPR’s self-perform concrete craftsmanship and its other self-perform trade capabilities. Altogether, DPR self-perform concrete, drywall and firestopping work on this project totaled approximately 15% of the overall contract value. “From both a functionality and an aesthetic standpoint, the end product was very successful,” said DPR project manager Joe Bilios. “The finish concrete work turned out absolutely beautiful on this job and really set us apart.”

Inside the innovative facility, the ground floor houses a large lobby/gallery space, a 160-person presentation space, concession food services and a campus data center. Other floors include wet and dry labs, office spaces, administrative space and conference rooms as well as a fourth-floor suite for Institute leadership.

DPR served in a design-assist capacity as general contractor, working alongside ZGF Architects, the owner and other key stakeholders. “We had a highly collaborative team in which the designer, contractor and owner were all moving in the same direction,” Bilios said. “Communication was key. Whenever there were issues, we would collaborate and figure out the right solution to move things forward. That really contributed to the overall success of this job.”

The Challenges

The existing site for the new Lundquist Institute for Biomedical Innovation research building contained dilapidated WWII barracks built in the 1940s. When the project team mobilized on the site prepared to begin construction, they encountered a significant challenge: the existing buildings still needed to be demolished and the abatement work completed – items that were not part of DPR’s original contract. There were also still existing power lines in the way of construction that were supposed to have been relocated prior to construction mobilization. All of these obstacles added two additional months to the project schedule.

Another significant challenge occurred as DPR was preparing to undertake the cast-in-place concrete work. The forming system that provided formwork for the job encountered delays in fabrication and delivery, causing another two weeks in delays.

The Solutions

Rather than standing on the sideline clocking time as the owner sought to complete the existing building demolition and abatement work, DPR took a more proactive, solution-oriented approach. The team jumped in to help move the project forward, securing an abatement contractor and taking on the demolition contract. DPR also worked to reroute the existing utilities and to tighten up the schedule where possible in order to mitigate impacts.

To address schedule impacts related to the forming system fabrication delays, DPR re-sequenced certain job items and leveraged their self-perform crews to prefabricate and pre-assemble everything they could on site as they waited for the formwork. They reallocated craft to other work items and re-sequenced the deck pours.

DPR’s self-perform concrete and drywall crews delivered largescale solutions on this project, both from a quality and schedule perspective. Self-perform concrete crews went above and beyond expectations to achieve the highest level of quality possible for the architecturally exposed finished concrete work. They completed approximately eight wall mockups for review (rather than just two or three as originally planned), which were tested for performance, quality and aesthetics to ensure the owner’s and architect’s exact vision was fulfilled.

“These mockups enabled us to establish the expectations on quality and revert back to that throughout all of our concrete pours,” Bilios said. “They set the bar for what we were trying to achieve both aesthetically and performance-wise on this project and had a major impact on quality.”

Using self-perform crews also helped the project avoid manpower issues that were prevalent in other projects in the region, since DPR was staffing from its own self-perform crews which peaked at approximately 40 concrete crews and 30 drywall craft workers on site.

The Result

DPR completed the Lundquist Institute for Biomedical Innovation in January of 2019, within budget and on schedule, delivering a highly successful, top quality project that met or exceeded the owner’s expectations. A second phase of work for Lundquist Institute is expected to get underway in the fall of 2020.


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