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Construction is booming at NMSU's Las Cruces locations

Date: 09/28/2010

Keeping a university system as large and varied as New Mexico State University's is a major task, akin to maintaining a small city. NMSU's Office of Facilities Operations and Utilities, the department responsible for construction, is currently managing more than 80 building projects, in some phase of design or construction, on university sites around the state.

The five biggest projects currently underway at NMSU locations, with regards to budget, are listed below.

Chamisa Village Phase II

Chamisa Village Phase II continues the NMSU main campus' growth in student housing. The second phase of the existing Chamisa Village residence center entails construction of four three-story apartment buildings housing 282 beds in 114 units - 87 two-bedroom units and 27 four-bedroom units.

Phase II also incorporates associated site improvements immediately adjacent to the buildings, as well as associated underground utilities and connection to existing utilities and the campus' central plant.
DACC East Mesa Phase VI

David Clarke and Gary Williams, project design architects and LEED-accredited professionals with Las Cruces-based architectural firm Williams Design Group, are developing Dona Ana Community College East Mesa Phase VI, a $12 million project.

"The Phase VI building is envisioned as a sort of a logical extension of the DACC East Mesa campus, with a common vocabulary of materials and massing," Joe Payyapilly, OFS' project manager of capital projects, said. "The Phase VI building will focus on the community's needs and will facilitate public services programs, culinary arts education and general studies. The hospitality and public services programs, as well as general studies, will house classrooms and science, computer, EMS and culinary labs, as well as administration and faculty offices."
The project's construction documents are scheduled for completion by the end of December, with proposals due by mid-February 2011. Building construction is anticipated to last 12-14 months, with completion by fall 2012. Construction is expected to begin in mid-spring of next year 2011.

According to Payyapilly, the Phase VI project covers approximately 41,924 square feet. It will be a two-story facility with an additional, 6,143 square-foot commons area.

The building is designed to achieve a LEED Silver certification. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized green building certification system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, that provides third-party verification that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance in energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

"The concept of design in most systems of this phase is based on energy efficiency and simplicity of maintenance," Payyapilly said. "This facility will also have systems designed to accommodate the needs of handicapped students as well as their faculty and staff. Sustainable measures are incorporated throughout the design."

The plaza and commons-the heart of the East Mesa campus-is defined to be a centrally located gathering area for students and is designed to accommodate multiple uses. Phases VI and VII may be considered a single building, with a large commons separating the building into north and south wings.

Center for the Arts Phase I

The multi-phased Center for the Arts project is designed to consolidate NMSU's arts programs into one centralized location. Phase I entails construction of a three-story academic facility, approximately 59,000 square feet in size, at the southeast corner of the University Avenue and Espina Street intersection.

The building is designed house a performance space with approximately 450 seats, a 74-foot-high fly tower and full theater and dance support areas (rehearsal room, green room, sound and equipment rooms, dressing rooms, costume shop, scene and prop storage, etc.). The structure will also contain public space (lobby, restrooms, box office, etc.), shared classrooms, a home for the theater department, and building support (storage, loading dock, etc.).

"The construction of Phase I is scheduled to be completed and the user groups moved in by the beginning of the 2012 fall semester," said Orasa Vaught, OFS project manager. "The set of construction documents is about 90 percent complete and scheduled for completion in October."

Phase I of construction is divided into three stages: Utilities relocation, complete by November 2010; mass excavation, foundation, underground mechanical, electrical and plumbing, concrete and site utilities, complete by May 2011; and remainder work, complete with user groups moved in, by the beginning of the 2012 fall semester.

This project is also seeking LEED Silver certification.

Barnes & Noble at NMSU Bookstore

The Barnes & Noble at NMSU bookstore is being constructed on the corner of University Avenue and Jordan Street. The 44,998 square-foot building will house both retail and NMSU office spaces. The Barnes & Noble will occupy 30,855 square feet of retail space, including a café area on the first floor. Office spaces, a workroom and storage areas are also included in the Barnes & Noble square footage.

In the northwest corner of the structure, 2,347 square feet of the first floor has been allocated for future retail space. NMSU Parking will relocate to a 2,301 square-foot space on the first floor of the building's southwest corner. NMSU Auxiliary administration will relocate to a 2,808 square-foot space on the second floor of the building's west side. All remaining square footage is comprised of electrical space, mechanical rooms, loading area, public restrooms, elevators, etc.

"The building will have inviting features for everyone," Enrique Espalin, OFS inspection manager, said. "The first-floor café will feature indoor and outdoor seating. Living room spaces on the second floor could accommodate a small class. The structure will also mark a Las Cruces milestone, as it will be the first building in the city equipped with escalators, to be installed in the Barnes & Noble retail area."

The Barnes & Noble at NMSU bookstore project is scheduled for completion in August 2011.

NMSU chilled water system improvements

In the summer of 2008, a thorough analysis and investigation confirmed a significant shortfall in multiple aspects of the university's central chilled water system, used for campus-wide space cooling. It was this investigation that ultimately spurred the initiative to build onto the existing system in order to adequately support campus demand. Due to the current central plant's lack of real estate for expansion, a satellite plant building is under design and is planned for construction at the parking lot between the natatorium and Rentfrow Gymnasium.

The new satellite plant building will initially be constructed to house roughly 5,000 tons of chilled water production capacity in the forms of both traditional water chilling-using a centrifugal vapor compression process-and an ice storage system that can be charged with ice overnight (while electricity is cheap), and discharged during the day without the use of a mechanical compression cycle. The new plant will be constructed with the intent of adding capacity in multiple future phases by means of modular building expansion. In this manner the plant will be able to sustain the central chilled water system for many years into the future expansion of the main Las Cruces campus.

The plant will be accompanied by upgrades to the chilled water distribution system in the form of 8,000 feet of new piping, ranging from 16-36 inches in diameter. The piping will back-feed into the existing distribution system via strategically placed connections at various points in the tunnel system.

The campus electrical distribution system will also warrant an upgrade to support the new satellite plant building. The new facility will add a peak load of roughly three megawatts to the existing load and will be supported by building up an older substation between Chamisa Village and Corbett Center. The university will bring additional power to the campus through this substation facility, to be routed through approximately 2,000 feet of high-voltage distribution to support the satellite plant building.

"The new plant will be a virtual spearhead for the university's vision of sustainable building and is slated to be LEED Silver certified," Davin Wang, OFS mechanical engineering designer, said.

It is currently scheduled to be online and operational by early summer 2012.

Written by Mark Cramer.

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