The Continuing Education Mesa College Campus (formerly the Clairemont/Linda Vista Campus) serves San Diegans with a variety of curricula including English as a second language, brain-injury redevelopment programs, parent-child courses, and programs for adults age 55 and over. The campus is part of the larger San Diego Community College District (SDCCD), a leader in efficient building. Lean construction principles that maximize value and reduce waste are integrated into all district projects.
Sustainability is a priority for SDCCD. Fourteen College facilities have been LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, and the district hopes to bring that number to forty-one. One way to achieve a LEED rating in the San Diego area is to allow local prevailing winds to cool buildings. SGPA Architecture and Planning did just that, taking advantage of Mesa College’s spot at the top of a hill, seven miles from the Pacific Ocean.
The Continuing Education Mesa College Campus in
San Diego, CA.
The building features classrooms, an art lab, a
parent-child area, and a multipurpose room and
administrative support space.
Natural Ventilation System Requires Careful Coordination
An integral part of the building’s natural ventilation system is intelligently controlled windows of Danish design. Outside air moves through the occupied spaces, into the corridor, and out through the clerestory. The windows can be operated by a wall switch in each classroom or remotely using the Building Management System (BMS). This technology required extensive coordination between trade contractors to ensure that multiple components would work together.
“Quite a few installations were challenging and new to the San Diego Community College District,” said Scott Ellis, SDCCD project manager. “In addition to the passive ventilation system, custom-engineered Renlita doors used in several areas took quite a bit of teamwork because several trades were affected. The PCL team did a great job with regard to coordination. Overall the entire project had very few issues, and was completed within budget and on schedule.”
Mock-Ups Complement Virtual Construction
A sample window motor was installed on an exterior mock-up and then bench tested with the BMS early on. To ensure adequate airflow through the building, the team also mocked up and then air tested the curved corridor metal ceiling panel, which was designed as a “wind scoop.” Based on the information gained, the mechanical engineer used a computer model to determine the optimal window motor sizes.
A physical mock-up can be a useful analog to the Building Information Modeling tools used on many projects today. The mock-up of Mesa College uncovered potential complications with the alignment of exterior finishes. The architect’s intent was for the finish materials—exposed structural tube steel, exterior and interior wall-panel reveal system, window mullions, stainless steel guardrail posts, and tile grout joints—to align using an 8-foot grid system. The mockup showed that when typical construction tolerances were accounted for, the building’s finishes would not align as shown on the computer model. Analyzing the exterior mockup allowed the project team to subtly alter the exterior detailing and resize some windows to solve any incongruities and preserve the intent of the design.