Student Services Center Opens at Miramar College

SAN DIEGO — The grand opening celebration for the new Student Services Center at San Diego Miramar College was held on Sept. 4. The center is a three-story, $39.5 million project encompassing 76,000 gross square feet. Construction on the project began on Jan. 31, 2011 and ended on March 25, 2013. The departments housed in the center began moving in on May 1, 2013.

The building includes the admissions, counseling and financial aid departments, Disability Support Programs and Services, Veteran Affairs, student activities, Extended Opportunities, Programs and Services, a bookstore, cafeteria, espresso bar, convenience store and extensive space for student gatherings and clubs. The building is currently aiming for LEED Silver certification.

Several notable design elements distinguish the services center. The lobby contains a hybrid glass elevator with all the mechanics of the machine contained within the hoist way. The building also has two smoke evacuation zones — one in the light well and one in the lobby — that required the mechanical and fire alarm systems to be checked and coordinated. The exterior stairs, made of concrete, are cantilevered and support themselves.

Another interesting element of design is the building’s new solar water heating system. Solar collectors were installed on the roof to heat water pumped through the building to serve all of the sinks and equipment according to Sam Myovich, project manager from C.W. Driver. The center also has a diesel generator capable of powering all critical systems in the building in case of a power outage.

Various elements of sustainable design characterize the facility, such as a naturally lit atrium that harnesses sunlight into the building’s center and helps ventilate the space, photovoltaic panels that capture energy and provide shade and the use of reclaimed water for flushing toilets and irrigating the landscape. The building team used Building Information Modeling (BIM) to help orient the structure to maximize sunlight and shade efficiency, and the building is 35 percent more efficient than California’s Title 24 energy efficiency code for construction requires.

The team explained that the BIM coordination went very well, even though there were a few challenges in the beginning, the end result was a successful project.

“It started off a little rocky with the underground coordination but we had the entire building’s systems modeled and signed off by February of 2012, well ahead of the work in the field,” said Myovich.

They also mentioned that the commission’s process went very smoothly, with the contractors exceeding expectations by always meeting tight deadlines and ensuring that the mechanical systems in the building were working properly.

The new Student Services Center will have a highly positive impact on student life. The “one-stop shop” for students includes modern technology, a new bookstore and a new cafeteria that has an open and airy food court-style feel with numerous options for students, faculty and staff, according to Ursula Kroemer, bond program manager at Gafcon.

The center allows the large number of student activities on campus to come together in a centralized location. The building is more accessible for students and staff with mobility issues as well, with furniture that accommodates wheel chairs and accessible restrooms. In addition to the numerous resources in the Services Center, a new Welcome Center is being built next door, further helping to centralize all aspects of the student body. “This has been a $1.6 billion investment into the future of education in San Diego, providing for what has often been a radical transformation of our educational and vocational training facilities to rival any four-year university,” they said.

The project team included a dedicated group of members such as NTD Architecture, construction manager C.W. Driver, RBF Consulting as the civil engineer, Michael Wall Engineering and Gafcon Inc.