Mithun Projects Honored for Design-Build Excellence

Date Posted: 08.21.2020

We are pleased to announce that two of Mithun’s higher education projects have received National Awards of Merit from the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA).

The Walstrum Center co-locates manufacturing-related programs and workforce development activities in a signature, state-of-the-art facility that serves as a magnet for students, teachers and industry partners. Located at the main entry to campus, the Walstrum Center is a gateway to the college and applied technology education—putting the college’s mission and programs on display. A focal point of the building is the “5th Lab,” a central atrium and multi-purpose space for group projects, demonstrations, displays and industry events.

The DBIA announcement complimented the Mithun and Mortenson design-build team’s coordinated effort when faced with budget cuts: “After the budget was reduced, the design-build team went to work to preserve the existing programs and innovative design concepts in the project. The result is an open display of advanced manufacturing, and is a model of modern instructional building for advanced manufacturing and technology.”

Working in close partnership, the design-build team used a Target Value Design approach to maximize value on a tight budget. The compact footprint achieves remarkable space efficiency, providing a 15% increase in square footage beyond program requirements. The project was completed three weeks early.

Middle Earth Towers is a new 215,000-square-foot living-learning community for first-year students and campus-serving dining center situated along the university’s central Ring Road. The project leverages critical real estate at the academic core of campus with the introduction of higher density housing and vibrant student amenities that enrich the campus fabric. Mithun’s close design-build collaboration with Hensel Phelps through all phases enabled the project to exceed the university’s LEED Gold mandate and achieve LEED Platinum certification, actively supporting UC Irvine’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2025.

This design-build collaboration between Mithun and Hensel Phelps builds on the team’s prior success at UC Irvine with the completion of Mesa Court Towers, another undergraduate student housing project on campus. Having designed more than 5,000 units of student housing through this design-build partnership, our team has accrued an invaluable body of knowledge through a tested and successful track record of collaboration that benefits the project, the university and students. Additional collaborations include Mesa Nueva, Nuevo West and Nuevo East graduate student housing communities for the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego) and the UC Irvine Verano 8 graduate student housing community, currently in design.

“Design-build is becoming the project delivery method of choice for public owners seeking design excellence for high profile educational facilities,” says Mithun partner Walter Schacht. “The interdependence of procurement, teamwork, design and construction maximizes the potential of an integrated approach that leads to high-performing buildings.”

Mithun is an integrated design practice—incorporating architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, urban design and planning—so it’s a natural extension to collaborate with contractors, engineers and trade partners. The inclusion of diverse disciplines in the process from day one facilitates creativity and innovation in support of client goals and long-term performance.

Along with cost and schedule performance, design-build procurement has exciting potential to advance sustainable operations. Middle Earth Towers leveraged the integration of design disciplines to maximize natural ventilation (100% of residential spaces) and achieve all 19 possible LEED points for energy performance. The Walstrum Center included an energy performance guarantee for a 20% reduction in Energy Use Intensity (EUI) compared to the state energy code. Measurement and verification demonstrated that the building has achieved the goal.

For the 2020 competition, DBIA received a significant number of entries representing a wide diversity of project types. Jurors remarked on the acceleration of design-build innovation, redefining project success far beyond just schedule and budget. These Merit Award winners will now compete for a National Award of Excellence and Project of the Year honors, to be announced on October 29th at DBIA’s virtual Design-Build Conference and Expo Awards Ceremony.