by Sarah Fusco
Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos is expanding to not only increase academic programs, but also increase building capacity for future growth. Currently the 275,000-sq.-ft. Joanne Cole and Roy F. Mitte Complex is under construction on the northwest end of campus. The $33 million, three-section building will house the Art Department, a major portion of the Physics Department and the growing Technology Department.
Ed Reznicek, director for planning, design and construction of the Office of Facilities at SWT, said it’s always a long process to build a new facility at a college. He said the first step is to identify a particular project that the campus wants to build - in this case, the Mitte building.
“ We then go to the system office - the Texas State University System in Austin - and work with chancellor Lamar Urbanovsky,” said Reznicek, who has been at SWT for 12 years. “We then put together the paperwork and take it to our Board of Regents.”
He said that once the Board approves the building, they get an architect to prepare preliminary documents and renderings. The Office of Facilities then puts together a budget with specifications and presents it to the board as the building desired. They receive sealed proposals to choose the best qualified for the job. “We can look at contractors’ history, qualifications, and low bidders (to choose the best contractor),” said Reznicek. He said the whole process takes at least two and a half years before construction ever begins.
The Mitte Complex was initially going to be built on a section of campus that houses a water well belonging to the City of San Marcos. Although SWT was granted permission to build on that location, the Office of Facilities learned that the people who granted permission didn’t have the authority to do so. Shortly prior to construction, the city decided to keep its water well, which required a change of location for the building - and a whole new set of plans.
“We had to completely throw out the plans and redesign the building for a location 200 feet from the original site,” said Reznicek. “The site was different, the configuration of the building was different and we had to reshuffle all the rooms, specifications, elevations and utilities. It increased the architectural engineering records and documents by 75 percent and took another year.”
Construction finally began on the Cole & Mitte Complex in February 2001 and is scheduled for completion in March 2003. Reznicek, an architecture graduate and former 20-year employee of the University of Texas at Austin, said the construction of the complex is “above average in the flow process.”
He said SWT is currently in the design stages of a new health center and in the far future the college will likely demolish some of the older buildings on campus because they don’t have enough ceiling space for all the mechanical and HVAC systems.
SpawGlass Contractors Inc. of Austin serves as the construction manager for the Mitte building project at SWT. As the project moved through its midway point in late January, 115 workers were onsite while later this year at peak construction, that number is expected to swell to about 300.
Roy Brietzke, a graduate of SWT with 20 years of experience with SpawGlass, is project superintendent for the complex. He said the most unique thing about the project is that they are utilizing all different types of construction and materials to build it.
“Typically it’d be either an entirely concrete structure or an entirely steel structure,” said Brietzke. “Here we’ve got it all - a combination of the two and just portions of each. It has every conceivable construction material a building could have.”
Scott Hobza, project manager at the San Marcos site, explained that the complex consists of A, B and C buildings. Building A is the technology and physics building and is a five-story structural concrete building with a structural steel roof and lightweight concrete deck. Building B is partially for technology and physics, as well as for the school’s art department. It consists of all structural steel with concrete slabs for structural decking and will be three stories. Single-story Building C will be for art and uses a combination of concrete tilt-wall panels and structural steel.
By the end of January, Hobza said the concrete structure was finished, Building B’s steel structure was 90 percent complete and Building C was just a concrete slab covered with tilt walls waiting to be erected. The tilt walls will have one of two types of Exterior Insulating Finish Systems: either using the insulation board or the direct-applied method.
The facility will be covered in windows that will use either an aluminum frame or aluminum storefront system. Because it is university construction, approximately 95 percent of the building will the covered in standard brick specified for the campus.
Before the Mitte building, there was a small parking lot and its demolition and removal was part of the SpawGlass contract. Hobza said there were also some sidewalks, but the removal phase was unremarkable. There were some utilities and communications lines on the east side of the building and unexpected waterlines leading to the president’s house, which had to be re-routed.
According to Brietzke, though, one mix-up caused several changes in the plans. “There was some underground electrical duct bank that we knew was there, but it was in a different place, so we actually had to shift the whole building 6 ft. to the north,” he said. “It changed a lot of the site work.”
Hobza said they hit rock barely 4 ft. below ground but that the rocky underground actually helped to stabilize the entire structure. Crews drove piers up to 60 ft. deep in some places for the foundation.
Creating Learning Spaces
College construction requires contractors to build a wide range of finished rooms. For the Mitte building at SWT, SpawGlass will include several laboratories, classrooms, two art galleries in Building B, an auditorium and a clean room for microchip production.
The auditorium will have stadium style seating and a giant projection screen. Lasco Services Inc. of Irving was subcontracted to build the clean room, which will be considered Class 100,000 (with particles half the size of a micron in a cubic foot) because the air quality will be of Class 1000 - not as clean as professional chip manufacturers. According to Roy Wadsworth of Lasco, the classification of air quality is what determines the classification of the clean room itself. Wadsworth explained that the air quality depends upon the filtering equipment and is based on the size of particles in a cubic foot of air inside a clean room. He said the fewer particles there are and the smaller the contaminants, the better classification. A typical household, for instance, is Class 1,000,000 because it has 1 million microns in each cubic foot. Conversely, a NASA research center in Houston (also built by Lasco) has a Class 1 clean room with only one micron per cubic foot. The classification of the clean room planned for SWT will give students an 80 percent success rate of producing working chips.
The clean room will have two different isolation slabs. The slabs will be 10-in.-thick concrete with 2 in. of insulation under it and on each side. “The students can put their seismic instruments on those and any vibration in the building will be absorbed and won’t transfer to that slab,” said Hobza.
Steve Bessler, project designer with Lasco, said the construction of the clean room is very similar to drywall or office partition walls - like cubicles. He said a system is installed to frame walls with aluminum wall panels that will snap in place. The ceiling grid is like a traditional office, but will have a separate air filtration system outside the clean room.
“The air is constantly recycled,” said Bessler. “It’s set for a certain amount of air flow and coverage to meet classification required for that process - similar to traditional architectural construction, but products are considered clean room friendly.” He said the surfaces don’t give off articulates or contaminate materials, which means they don’t flake, give off dust or gases, and the primary source of contamination in clean rooms are the people who use them.
The 5,000-sq.-ft. clean room will have a gowning room - a small room that will connect the main clean room with the rest of the building. Before a student or teacher enters, they must go into the gown room and put on booties, a hair net, and lab coat and pass through a space where air is circulated over them.
“Our systems frame up pretty fast,” said Bessler. “The majority of the work is mechanical - duct work, utilities, power and plumbing. This one we’re building into an existing space - so it’ll be somewhat different.”
The clean room will be in Building A, which will reserve its top floor for future physics and technology expansion.
General Contractor: SpawGlass Construction Co., Austin
Location: San Marcos
Owner: Southwest Texas State University
Architect: HLM Design Inc., Dallas
Structural Engineer: Jaster Quintanilla & Associates Inc., Dallas
Mechanical Engineer: Blum Consulting Engineers, Dallas
Electrical Engineer: Mateo Consulting Engineers, Dallas
Civil Engineer: Halff Associates Inc., Dallas
Consulting Engineer: Wrightson Johnson Haddon & Williams Inc., Dallas