High-Tech Case Study: Tools For Learning

By Anne Cosgrove
Published in the January 2012 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

Loma Linda University’s Centennial Complex anchors the campus to the north. (Photo: McCarthy Building Companies and RMA Photography)

As the 100 year anniversary of Loma Linda University (LLU) approached, administration officials at this Southern California school began planning a new building that would provide its 4,000+ students with updated tools for learning. In 2005, the university had not had a major addition to its building stock in nearly 20 years, so the time was right to introduce a state of the art medical teaching facility on LLU’s 97 acre campus.

In August 2009, the LLU Centennial Complex opened to faculty and students, and the 149,000 square foot facility has quickly become a centerpiece of school activities, academic and otherwise. Says Robert Cole, an LLU project superintendent who directly oversaw the construction, “There is always something going on in the building. We have a reservation system in place for the rooms, and on any given day they are 85% booked.” While the primary function of this facility is educational instruction for students of LLU’s eight schools—Allied Health Professions; Dentistry; Medicine; Nursing; Pharmacy; Public Health; Religion; and Science and Technology—the larger community has also shown interest in the building for seminars and other events.

When planning the Centennial Complex, administration officials and the project management team identified technology infrastructure as crucial to the building’s success. Kenneth Breyer, assistant vice president of construction at the university (who oversees Cole’s department), says, “We have buildings on campus that go back to the 1930s and 40s, and we’ve adapted those over the years to increase technological capabilities. However, this new building gave us the chance to design with intentional capabilities.”

Classrooms of varying sizes are designed for 30, 45, and 60 students. (Photo: McCarthy Building Companies and RMA Photography)

Those intentions came to fruition in a number of ways, including the use of “smart” technology in the 18 classrooms and two amphitheaters. The capabilities characterizing those spaces include wireless Internet access; audiovisual tools that display, record, and archive class instruction; and the ability of students to view an instructor’s display on their own laptops. These tools are also available to off-site students, which provide that population with improved access to information.

There are common areas where students can gather, and the wireless capabilities help to foster group learning. Cole explains, “In certain rooms, students can plug their laptops into a whiteboard and display the contents to their study group. This is another example of the way technology assists in learning—and how students can work with each other to supplement classroom instruction.”

Meanwhile, an anatomy center, a medical simulation center, and a clinical skills education center are equipped with the latest technologies for those space types. For instance, computers in the medical simulation facility control functions of mannequins to mimic healthcare situations; students practice on these “patients” to hone their treatment skills.

The Centennial Complex is a four story building, and the top level was originally planned as shell space for the future. However, ultimately, the entire building was occupied upon completion. The medical simulation center was ultimately located on the east end of that level, while the western section comprises a conference area for up to 550 people.

Commenting on the replanning of the fourth floor, Cole says, “We realized that medical simulation needed more space than originally thought [due to reorganization of other campus spaces], and we conceived of the conference area to provide the School of Medicine a place for all of its students to gather.”

A Chat With Robert Cole

Project Superintendent
Loma Linda University

Robert Cole, Project Superintendent, Loma Linda University

What are your responsibilities at Loma Linda University? I am one of five project superintendents at the university. During construction projects, I act as the owner’s representative. For the Centennial Complex, I oversaw McCarthy [the general contractor] and also interacted with all the subcontractors. The budget was also under my watch. Once assigned to a project, I run it from cradle to grave.

How long have you worked at Loma Linda University? I have worked here for 23 years, with the last 12 years as a project superintendent.

Since the facility’s opening, Cole has remained actively involved in its operation. His oversight is required as certain areas, such as a multimedia center, come online. This center contains audiovisual equipment which is used for presentations in the amphitheaters, while also providing recording studio capabilities. Equipment can be used to document interviews with doctors or other instructional sources.

Meanwhile, relevant technology upgrades are ongoing. Breyer notes that Internet bandwidth on campus is increasing from 100 megabits (Mb) to 500 Mbps (megabits per second). “There have been a lot of changes in available technology and our needs since the building opened,” says Breyer. “We’re also looking at how we might use apps for iPads or smartphones to benefit students and faculty.”

Construction Techniques

Due to the abundance of underground electronic lines and tie-ins for computer workstations in the Centennial Complex, the McCarthy Building Companies team, the general contractor, suggested pouring a sub-slab on the grade portion of theater seating areas. This provided the ability to map underground feeds in the sub-slab and enabled greater forming accuracy, which saved time and money.

Robert Ragland, project director for McCarthy, explains, “The sub-slab became a working surface, and we could create a more detailed layout of the lines that would be put in. This provided the electricians and the plumbers with a working surface; they could measure more accurately working on a hard surface versus soil.”

Time saving strategies were also employed in the construction of the utility tunnel. The tunnel connects to LLU’s central plant and handles chilled water, electricity, and communications infrastructure as well as transporting water for medical instruction. The water used in medical instruction must be handled in a specific manner, and the tunnel project required approvals from the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD).

Architectural finishes in lobbies and hallways include wood paneling, glass handrails, and terrazzo floors. (McCarthy Building Companies and RMA Photography)

OSHPD approval can be a time consuming process, and one focus was to minimize delays in setting up utilities while waiting for approvals. The project team evaluated several options and ultimately decided to install temporary power and water lines from the central plant and existing campus power infrastructure to the new construction. (McCarthy’s Ragland notes, however, that temporary chilled water was not needed at the time due to the seasonal climate.)

“Putting temporary utilities in place allowed for testing, inspections, and balancing the building’s mechanical and electrical systems while waiting for OSHPD approvals,” says Ragland. “When the approvals came in and the tunnel was completed, we were able to switch quickly over to the permanent utilities and do final commissioning. So when students and staff occupied the building in Fall 2009, everything was in permanent condition. The temporary utility strategy allowed the building to be ready on time.”

Each day, more than 1,000 people use LLU’s newest facility. (Photo: McCarthy Building Companies and RMA Photography)


Maintaining Momentum

Cole’s ongoing involvement ensures he is aware of any facility problems that may arise, though he notes they’ve been minimal. “Fortunately, the contractors were very proactive in addressing any issues,” he says. “Considering the size of this project and the complexity of the commissioning process, we’ve had very little problem with operations.”

This article was based on interviews conducted with Breyer, Cole (www.llu.edu), and Ragland (www.mccarthy.com).


Project Information:

Name of Organization: Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center (LLUAHSC). Type of Facility: New. Function of Facility: University. Location: Loma Linda, CA. Square Footage: 149,000. Budget: $86 million. Construction Timetable: 24 months. Facility Owner: Loma Linda University AHSC. In-House Facility Manager/Project Manager: Robert Cole, project superintendent. Architects/Interior Designer: Cannon Design. General Contractor: McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. Electrical Engineer/Lighting Designer: Sparling. Mechanical Engineer: M.A. Engineers, Inc. Structural Engineer: John A. Martin & Associates, Inc. Landscape Architect: Carter; Romanek Landscape Architects, Inc. Laboratory Consultant: Research Facilities Design. Fire/Life Safety/Code: Schirmir Engineers. Civil Engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers.


Product Information:

Seating: American Seating; Steelcase. Access Flooring: Tate. Carpet: Atlas; Bentley; Durkan; Shaw. Ceilings: Armstrong; BASWA; Ceilings Plus; USG. Wallcoverings/Textiles: Knoll. Acoustics/Sound Masking: Novawall (fabric wrapped panels). Movable Walls: Kwik-Wall; Modernfold; Skyfold. Building Management System/Services: Climatec Building Technologies Group. Security System/CCTV: Johnson Controls. Fire Alarms: SimplexGrinnell. Safety Equipment: Daart Engineering (sprinkler system). Lighting Control Products: Electronic Theater Controls, Inc. (lecture hall, classrooms); Lighting Control & Design (interior public spaces, site). Lighting Sensors: Belden; Novitas. Lighting Fixtures/Ballasts: Allscape; Altman; Architectural Area Lighting; Boyd Lighting; Bronzelite; Cooper; Corelite; ETC; Exterieur Vert; Focal Point; Gammalux; GE Lighting; Gexpro General Services & Supply, Inc. (general supplier); Illuminating Experience; Insight; Kurt Versen; Ledalite; Louis Poulson; Lutron; Philips; Prudential; Shaper; Thomas Lighting; Valmont; Winona. HVAC: Amtrol; Bell & Gossett; Carrier; CertainTeed; Danfoss Graham; George Bryant; Greenheck; Guy L. Warden; Haakon; Ingersoll Rand; Owens Corning; Price; Reznor; Trane; Vibro-Acoustics. Power Supply Equipment: Canada Power Products; Square D. Backup Power: Climatec (HVAC controls). Roofing: Tremco. Exit Signs: Emergi-Lite. Other Signage: Vomar Products. Windows/Curtainwalls/Skylights: Metcoe Skylight Specialties; Oldcastle Glass; Vistawall. Window Treatments: MechoShade. Elevators: Mitsubishi Electric.