Swinerton transforms the learning environment through collaboration, innovation, and sustainable practices.

University of California, Riverside Student Success Center an example of higher education construction by Swinerton

In the dynamic landscape of higher education construction, Swinerton stands at the forefront of innovation. The national construction management and general contracting firm’s performance shines through $2.2 billion worth of diverse projects over the past decade, including research laboratories, academic buildings, and student housing. With a commitment to excellence and sustainable practices, Swinerton has left an indelible mark on college and university campuses earning a reputation as a driving force in the field.   

Currently, higher education institutions nationwide are playing catch-up in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic by renovating and constructing new campus buildings that further their ability to recruit and retain students, enhance learning experiences, and meet sustainability goals. Many of these institutional structures trend toward cutting-edge design elements and sustainable construction practices, increasing the demand for architectural and construction innovation. 

Elevating Learning Environments Through Higher Education Construction

Swinerton embraces these trends with the latest construction technology and methodologies, from advanced building systems that meet functional requirements to environmentally conscious and energy-efficient design features. The firm is not just committed to completing projects but to forging strong collaborations with higher education institutions and design teams. By fostering open lines of communication and maintaining a spirit of partnership, Swinerton ensures that every aspect of the project aligns with the institution’s vision, budget, and timeline. 

One striking example of Swinerton’s dedication to pioneering sustainable higher education spaces is its collaboration with SRG Architects on the Oregon State University-Cascades campus in Bend, OR. Together, the firms developed an innovative prototype of a STEAM facility, Edward J. Ray Hall. This four-story, 50,000-square-foot mass timber structure houses classrooms, laboratories, offices, and maker spaces. The project successfully found complementary benefits between the mechanical system, building envelope, and mass timber structure, allowing all programming needs and laboratories to be incorporated. This solution also fulfilled the university’s goal of a Net Zero-Ready building. 

According to the wood carbon calculator by WoodWorks, the completed structure stores 1,803 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of removing 529 vehicles from the roadway for a year. It would take US and Canadian forests only six minutes to replenish the amount of wood consumed in the project—a powerful testament to mass timber’s inherent value in achieving sustainable construction. 

Jarrod Penttila, Oregon State University-Cascades’ Construction Project Manager, praised Swinerton’s commitment, saying, “Swinerton’s drive in exploring design alternatives while working in strong collaboration with the university and design team helped us achieve the final design solution within a tight schedule and budget constraints while maximizing the university’s goals and priorities.” 

Sustainable Practices in Higher Education Construction

Another notable higher education project is the $51.9 million University of California, Riverside (UCR) Student Success Center design-build partnership with Gensler. UCR has an ambitious goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025, which entails designing and constructing each new building to surpass the California Building Code energy-efficiency standards by at least 20% or meet benchmark-based whole-building energy performance targets. For the Student Success Center, the design-build team aimed to reach an Energy Use Intensity (EUI) of 36 kBtu, necessitating a substantial 60% reduction in energy from the baseline value. The team successfully designed the facility to exceed UCR’s whole-building target through meticulous energy modeling and collaboration, achieving an impressive EUI of 34.  

In addition to energy-efficiency, UCR’s goal for the Student Success Center was to create a visionary and transformational facility that would enhance the student experience—maximizing the use of instructional and student life space. Highlighting the 60,000-square-foot, three-story structure are state-of-the-art general assignment classrooms, four large lecture halls, multipurpose student life spaces, and areas for scholarly tutoring, mentoring, and studying. 

Swinerton is underway on another Student Success Center project at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa in Honolulu, HI. The $57 million ultramodern renovation of a four-story, 115,000-square-foot building on campus aims to achieve the university’s goal of zero carbon emissions by 2035. It also targets LEED® Silver certification by installing a photovoltaic system on the roof to generate renewable power. The university says, “The Student Success Center will be a vibrant hub of student activity that will encourage students to stay on campus, between classes and after hours.”  

With higher education institutions focused on creating energy-efficient and low-impact campuses, Swinerton is committed to ensuring the construction of these facilities is similarly resource-conscious and sustainable. Construction activities affect environmental and health concerns such as greenhouse gas emissions, water availability and quality, soil and air quality, biodiversity, neighborhood development, and cultural diversity. Swinerton continually seeks opportunities to pilot and implement sustainability efforts across its corporate operations and relevant construction projects to minimize these impacts on neighboring environments and communities. The firm leads partnerships with clients and business partners to improve resource efficiency and biodiversity, influence sustainable design, and engage in responsible procurement and market transformation.  

Swinerton’s expertise is a testament to its long-standing presence in the construction industry and commitment to excellence. The firm has shaped the future of higher education buildings with a steadfast focus on safety, quality, and client satisfaction. By embracing collaboration, innovative design, and sustainable construction practices, Swinerton continues to successfully deliver remarkable projects that enhance the learning experience for students and faculty alike.