McCarthy Begins Construction for LEED Platinum-Designed UCSD Health Sciences Biomedical Lab

Designed by ZGF Architects, the 196,000-square-foot, five-story building is anticipated to be the highest performing, most sustainably designed lab on the UCSD campus and possibly in the country.
By: McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.
UCSD Health Sciences Biomedical Research Facility
UCSD Health Sciences Biomedical Research Facility
April 19, 2011 - PRLog -- McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. ( has begun construction for the new 196,000-square-foot, five-story Health Sciences Biomedical Research Facility located on a 3.3-acre site within the School of Medicine campus at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in La Jolla, Calif. The project team is targeting LEED Platinum Certification.

The new research laboratory will have a function similar to the existing 145,000-square-foot UCSD School of Medicine Leichtag Family Foundation for Biomedical Research Building, which McCarthy completed in spring 2004. The newer facility is part of the ongoing expansion at the campus.

Boone Hellmann, campus architect for UCSD, heads the Facilities Design and Construction office charged with implementing the $105 million project, with James Gillie, senior director of construction services for UCSD, supervising construction and Pnina Goldberg charged with overall project management. Completion is scheduled for August 2013.

“We’re expecting this to be the highest performing and most sustainably designed research lab on the UCSD campus and quite possibly in the country,” said Hellmann. “McCarthy and ZGF have been working closely with us to devise a customized project delivery system to help ensure its success."

Designed by ZGF Architects, LLP, the research building will fit within the modern design context of the academic mall on the School of Medicine campus, with its exterior incorporating a combination of concrete, curtain wall, metal panels, and terra cotta cladding. The facility will encompass wet labs, open lab space, lab support, and administrative support space on five stories above ground, with core lab space and support mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems located in the basement.   

Distinctive design features of the building include dynamic, computer-controlled exterior solar shading systems on the east, west and south facades, representing the most extensive use of this type of shading by any building in the UC system. In response to San Diego County’s water shortage, the building’s design also dictates extensive reuse of water for landscape irrigation, as well as urinal and toilet flushing.  Particular attention also will be given to the build-out of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems to ensure optimum energy efficiency.

"We've had a lot of success teaming with McCarthy on past UC-system projects,” said Joe Collins, AIA, a partner with ZGF and principal architect for the new UCSD education laboratory.  “For this particular facility, the team has gone a step beyond by bringing subcontractors aboard during the initial design phases to help us fashion a seamless, integrated building process.”

According to Bob Betz, project director for McCarthy, the most challenging aspect of construction will be the lab space and the highly MEP-intensive areas of the overhead construction.  Building Information Modeling (BIM) will be utilized extensively to help in the coordination of these spaces.

Another important feature of the building design is the exterior concrete work, for which McCarthy will self perform. The firm previously achieved award-winning success on the poured-in-place concrete at the nearby Student Academic Services Facility, completed by McCarthy in August 2007.

KPFF of Portland and San Diego is the structural engineer for the new UCSD Health Sciences Biomedical Research Facility.  IBE Consulting Engineers, based in Sherman Oaks, is the mechanical and plumbing engineer, and Integrated Engineering Consultants of Los Angeles is the electrical engineer. Spurlock Poirier of San Diego is the landscape architect.  RFD, also of San Diego, is the laboratory-planning consultant.

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About McCarthy:

McCarthy Building Companies, Inc., is the nation's 10th largest domestic general contractor (Engineering News-Record, May 2010) and among the top 10 education builders (Engineering News-Record, October 2006). The firm has been building in the education market for the past 50 years. Committed to the construction of high performance buildings, the company has managed construction or built more than 300 K-12 school projects nationwide totaling more than $2 billion in construction value, and nearly 100 higher education projects on more than 50 campuses. In addition to San Diego, McCarthy has offices in Newport Beach, Sacramento and San Francisco, Calif.; Phoenix; Las Vegas; St. Louis; Dallas; and Atlanta. McCarthy is 100 percent employee owned. More information about the company is available online at
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