An aerial image of the UC Irvine campus | Courtesy BNBuilders

$20M in Safety Upgrades Underway at UC Irvine

Carrie Rossenfeld Healthcare & Education

The University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) is continuing a series of fire and life-safety upgrades to its campus and is utilizing BNBuilders (BN) for the $20 million design-build project, which general contractor began working on in late April, a spokesperson for BN reports in a statement. BN has had an ongoing business relationship with the UC system, according to the source.

BN is working with San Diego–based Ferguson Pape Baldwin Architects on the project, which covers upgrades to both the interior and exterior of the campus, the spokesperson says.

Interior changes include fire-suppression systems (alarms and sprinklers) in 16 occupied buildings, the statement says. The two largest of these are Rowland Hall, which was built in 1968 and is approximately 232,000 square feet, and Reines Hall, which was built in 1989 and is approximately 195,000 square feet, according to the source.

The timing on these exterior changes is noteworthy. Some renovations are being completed in occupied labs and around ongoing experiments that cannot be disturbed, says the rep; in these areas, most of the work is taking place between 4 a.m. and 12 noon. Other electrical and lighting improvements are being tackled in corridors and are taking place between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. to minimize impact, according to the statement.

Rick Engineering has been brought in to help with some of the exterior changes, which include increasing the main water line to 12-inch piping to be able to add fire sprinklers and accordingly upgrading the lateral drainage, the statement says, adding that the completion date for all upgrades is January 2020.

BN has a track record with the UC system and has completed several projects for UC Los Angeles, UC San Diego, and UC Irvine that the statement defines as “complex and fast-track.”

Renovations and upgrades to universities, while often delicate, are a way for general contractors and engineering and construction firms to expand their clientele. As SoCal Real Estate reported in May, R.D. Olson Construction, in partnership with ADAY Architects, P2S Engineering Inc., and ABS Group, completed the historic renovation of Reeves Hall at Chapman University, located at 333 North Glassell Street in Orange, California. Home to the Donna Ford Attallah College of Educational Studies, it is one of the original five buildings of the former Orange Union High School that make up Chapman’s historic core surrounding Bert Williams Mall.