Tag Archives: CSI

USF Gets the Gold: New CSI Building Receives Gold Certification for Sustainability

From the constant sound of drilling, hammering, and the weird opera music playing throughout the day, it’s pretty apparent that USF will be adding another building to its campus. The John Lo Schiavo, S.J. Center for Science and Innovation will open to students fall of 2013 — but that’s not the most exciting part. This building is designed to achieve the Leadership in Energy and Sustainable Design (LEED) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. This organization began in 1998 and is now used in over 7,000 national projects.

Some key environmental factors of CSI’s design include the use of recycled and renewable building materials, efficient use of natural light and air, solar power collection, non-toxic building materials, water use reduction, and maximal open space just to name a few.

The certification system, which began in 2005, is ranked by a points system that is based on design, construction, and operation based under five categories: water efficiency, sustainable sites, energy and atmosphere, resources and materials, and indoor environmental quality. The highest possible ranking is 100; in order to get Gold certification, the final score must be between 60 and 79 points of those categories.

The highest certification is Platinum, which is extremely difficult to achieve and requires 80 points or higher. Michael E. London, the assistant vice president for facilities management at USF, listed the benefits as “self evident,” stating that this construction will “improve utility conservation, use sustainable materials and methods, and will increase environmental quality.”

Summer Construction to Transform Campus

Students returning to USF in fall of 2013 can expect some changes to main campus, including the completion of the John Lo Schiavo, S.J. Center for Science and Innovation (CSI) building, the renovation of the McLaren Conference Center entrance, the renovation of Phelan Hall bathrooms and addition of dorm rooms, as well as some construction updates on the USF downtown campus.

Members of the Facilities Management and Project Management staff held a town hall meeting on campus last Wednesday to inform students, faculty, and neighbors of the construction work going on this summer, and to hear comments and concerns about those plans.

Project Manager J.J. Thorp led the discussion, stating there would be “tremendous change” on campus occurring in the next few months. The university has allocated nearly $11 million to summer construction, according to Michael London, assistant vice president of facilities management. This does not include funds for the completion of the CSI building.

CSI construction, which began in 2007, is set to finish by Aug. 17, hopefully clearing the requirements for the city’s Street Space Occupancy Permit — a permit allowing an organization to temporarily occupy a portion of public roadway or sidewalking for construction — by mid-July. “What that means is we can move in furniture and get classrooms accommodated for teaching this fall,” said Thorp. The summer months of CSI construction include installation of lab space and equipment for science classes, the addition of an outdoor fireplace near the side door of Parina Lounge, and the long-awaited removal of the big, green wall that currently extends from the cafeteria doors to a few feet before the library atrium.

The second big construction plan this summer is the transformation and renovation of the McLaren entrance hall and Phelan Hall dorm rooms, respectively, said Thorp. Planning for the projects began in 2009. The entrance to McLaren Center will be reconstructed in order to fulfill San Francisco Fire Department regulations for fire exits and safety, and to better accommodate the renovations in Phelan dorm rooms and bathrooms occurring in the same building. The lower level of the dorm, which was the former home to Residence Life offices and radio station KUSF, will be remodeled to create 50-52 new dorm rooms and several bathrooms with new plumbing, according to Thorp. The dorm project is set to be completed before students move in the next fall academic year, hopefully by Aug. 10.

As for McLaren, London stated the “fondly called Denny’s wall” — that is, the long glass wall that protrudes from the border of the conference center on the side across the University Center — will be eliminated and replaced with a new, wider entrance that can be used both to access the center and Phelan Hall dorms. The bottom floor of McLaren, where the old bookstore used to be, will be renovated to become new classroom space, creating about five or six new rooms. The project is set to complete by Oct. 5.

The downtown campus, located at 101 Howard Street, will also be renovated, along with the project to demolish and rebuild the temporary modular buildings of Underhill Building on Lone Mountain, where ROTC currently trains.

Main concerns voiced mostly by staff members included questions on the effect construction would have on surrounding neighborhoods and prospective students, as well as the what the consequences for not completing construction before the start of the next academic year would be.

“Construction, by definition, is noisy and dirty,” said Thorp. However, community relations staff Patrick Custer and Elizabeth Miles are doing their best to keep surrounding neighborhoods calm and quiet throughout construction, by keeping construction traffic as far away and contained from the University Terrace neighborhood as possible. The Terrace is the several residential blocks located between main campus and Lone Mountain.

As for the issue of scaring off prospective students with all the construction work, Thorp suggested students could “take a look at all the great work we’re doing! Or just come back in the fall.” Project coordinator Kristy Vivas agreed to the idea of taking small groups of faculty and staff on hard hat tours of construction in order to better describe the end results to prospective and curious students. Other options to view the construction include the overlook on UC 4th floor, or if created, a possible virtual online tour.

Junior business administration student, Wesley Baker, is excited for the CSI building to be completed. “That’ll be the main spot on campus,” said Baker. “It’s really futuristic architecture. It’s inspiring. Have you seen the article? It dips underground.” Baker is referring to an exposed lower level floor to the new CSI building.

Another concern, whether or not the construction will end on time, is a question without answer at the moment. “The university is talking to the city about a lot of different things right now,” said Thorp, cautioning the meeting attendees, “so if there are any wrinkles, this all could be in jeopardy.” If all goes well, next year’s campus will be on a new map.

“What happens at the end will be worth the disruption this summer,” said Thorp, confidently.

CSI Construction on Time, As Usual

For those of us who are returning to USF in Fall of 2013, a new addition to our tight-knit campus awaits: the CSI building. Whether you’re a science major or simply filling your cores, chances are you’ll be frequenting the officially named John Lo Schiavo Center for Science and Innovation.

After almost two years of construction, the building is finally nearing completion. “We are currently on schedule to open for classes in fall of 2013,” said Kristy Vivas, project manager.

As for the most current updates, Vivas reported that the sheetrock is now being mudded and painted. Sheetrock is the paneling used for drywall, meaning that the inside of the building is well underway along with the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing infrastructures. The casework—the cabinets and shelving—have been delivered and are waiting to be installed.

Chemistry majors will be happy to know that the fume hoods have been delivered, as well, so those harmful chemicals will have a home until they are ready to be studied in the new laboratories. Vivas added that the big, looming tower crane on campus is schedule to be off campus by spring break.

UTA Meeting Details CSI Construction and Traffic Update

As construction for the Center for Science and Innovation Building (CSI) is entering its second phase, the next order of business for USF is traffic collision surrounding pedestrian traffic and speeding collisions.

Alice Carnes, a member of the University Terrace Association (UTA), spoke about both projects at a UTA meeting on Monday, Feb. 28. She said the key to making the construction a success is communication.

CSI Construction Update

Cahill Construction has detailed plans that will unfold in the coming months, which has reassured the USF community and UTA residents that every aspect of the project is under control.

Ten parking spots will be reserved for trucks outside of Harney Plaza to avoid traffic congestion on Golden Gate Avenue and neighboring streets. One truck will be allowed at a time to the site.

An estimated 1,000 trucks will visit the site in the span of three months, said Cahill Construction representative John Levine.

According to Cahill representative Jeff Robertson, the CSI building will be completed in two years. During spring break, Cahill will take over the lower parking lot next to the Harney Center and University buildings.

For the remainder of the spring semester, fences will be placed around the construction site and working with underground detection tanks.

Cahill ensures their workers will not infiltrate the USF Campus or terrace neighborhoods. Workers will have their own food service truck, entry way, and designated smoking site within the construction site. A shuttle to and from the old Mervyn’s parking lot on Geary Boulevard & Masonic Avenue is still under negotiation.

At the start of summer break, Cahill will immediately begin major demolition and excavation removing 20,000 yards of material from the campus. The building’s exterior will be completed by the end of 2012. Mechanical systems and landscaping will be finished by its expected completion in May 2013.

The construction site hours will be from 8am to 4:30pm with deliveries made between 7am and 8am.

Traffic Calming

A survey distributed to the university shows the two top concerns in area are parking and pedestrian safety, both issues that go hand-in-hand according to Evan Ross, a representative from Fehr & Peers (F&P), a transportation consultant company working on traffic calming for the university.

Survey results show that in a day the highest reported driving speed at Golden Gate Avenue is 65mph. In addition, 11,000 cars run down Turk Boulevard and 4,200 cars at Golden Gate Avenue daily.

With 100 spaces available around and 14 homes on each University Terrace block, it is evident that parking is the number one concern for the university community.

Fehr & Peers (F&P), a transportation consultant company, along with Urban Design Plus, presented four different drafts on how to reconstruct streets surrounding University Terrace. F&P proposals included defining parking lines, reducing parking times, widening sidewalks, and implementing limited access to the terraces to only pedestrians and bike riders.

Master Plan Manager Elizabeth Miles said, “The goal is to come to consensus this spring. Members of the University community, of the UTA and the City & County of San Francisco are part of the decision making process.”

The university has a $1.2 million mitigation fund for this project, however, the estimates range from $83,000 to $2.75 million. Miles said, “The University’s commitment to this process is $1.2million and effectively serves as a budget cap until other sources of funds are identified.”

Mira Ringler, UTA board member, said tremendous progress has been made as phase two goes underway and by addressing all aspects of the projects, it is important that everyone work together.

University Terrace is “the jelly between the bread slices” of USF, said Ringler, and by talking to more people about these issues there will be a compromise.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta

News Editor: Ericka Montes

CSI Summer Planning: USF and Neighbors Reach Agreement

Walking inside the Harney Science Center, it is noticeably outdated compared to the more contemporary-looking buildings like Kalmanovitz Hall and the recently renovated University Center. Built in 1966, Harney Science Center’s timeworn tools and design clearly call for change. After years of planning, the University of San Francisco’s 50-60 million dollar project for new science facilities is finally underway. Boasting the latest equipment and laboratories to replace the almost half-century old amenities, plans for the Center for Science and Innovation (CSI) has created anticipation among the University community.

Originally, the Center was to be built on Golden Gate Avenue. Taking into account the noise and construction that would bother the community, the school proactively decided to relocate the building onto campus grounds where the Harney building now stands.

While the change in location satisfied many, USF’s neighbors were not initially on board with the project—they were concerned with the negative effects of the new building so close to their homes. City officials took the opposition very seriously, and slowed down the progress of CSI.

While the community currently faces issues with improper parking, and noise and littering, the Center was believed to only worsen the situation.

The USF’s campus layout already poses problems with the surrounding neighborhood. “This is unusual how our university has a residential neighborhood right in the middle of campus,” said Gary McDonald, associate vice president of the University’s Public Affairs and Communications. “Having a college campus divided by residential neighborhood almost necessarily creates problems.”

Therefore, the San Francisco planning commission began a hearing over the summer. The University Terrace Association (UTA), a group of about 70 residents living in the areas between Golden Gate Avenue to Turk Street and Masonic Street to Parker Street, banded together to show their approval of the new science building. A long agenda kept the planning committee and neighborhood association members  late until evening hours. Although neighbors could have gone home, they decided to stay to demonstrate their support for the school. “At 9:30 at night, they spoke on our behalf in front of city officials,” Brown said. “At the meeting, not a single person voiced opposition of the project, and this was a meeting that was open to the entire city of San Francisco.”

In order to ensure complete advocacy at the San Francisco planning commission hearing, USF wanted to have an official written agreement between the school and the neighborhood associations. Although the agreement had been reached days before the actual meeting date, some final signatures had to be acquired from individuals who were not available beforehand.

In the written consensus between USF and the UTA, neighborhood associations will be more involved with the master planning of the University’s development. Improving traffic safety and parking have also been addressed for further discussion. Though the school cannot directly handle problems regarding improper parking, students are reminded to be courteous citizens.

Another part of the agreement included changing the operation hours of the University Center’s loading dock, located right across several homes on Golden Gate Avenue. Large delivery trucks create noise disturbances during early morning hours. The University has agreed to change delivery hours as well as to improve the dock’s facilities to better accommodate the flow of truck traffic.

With the Center for Science and Innovation, USF and the UTA came together and addressed various problems.“I think the community gets a sense that the school is trying to be a good neighbor. That’s why they agreed to let the project go through,” said McDonald. “Most of the neighbors want us to have a top notch university. It is all just a matter of getting together, talking and resolving our problems.”

Brown, who is also CSI’s associate dean of planning, has seen great response from the community. He has received e-mails from neighbors who are “pro-science” and embrace the University’s growth.

For more than 25 years, Community Relations Director Glenn Loomis has been working with those living around USF. Loomis’ duties include handling complains from the public. He works closest with the UTA. Advocates and opponents are normally stirred up at the idea of change, but Loomis said that USF is generally on good terms with the community. In regards to those against some of the campus revisions, Loomis said, “We’ve moved from being opponents to collaborating to make positive changes in the neighborhood.”

Although another main concern was the escalation in student enrollment, McDonald said  enrollment will not increase. According to McDonald, “We need 21st century labs. The goal is not to grow the science program. The goal is to improve the quality of the science program.” Regardless of a new science center, student enrollment will be staggered by admission rates, as with any university, and CSI’s classroom capacities.

Physics and astronomy professor Brandon Brown stresses that USF’s small class sizes are not at risk with the new building. “The number of students per lab space will not increase at all in the new building,” he said.

“This new building project has coalesced some issues and now we’re figuring out ways we can work better together,” said Loomis. As for the CSI, nearly half of the funds have been raised. Students and staff are steps closer to acquiring the much-needed cutting edge, top-notch science facilities. The CSI’s breaking ground ceremony date is set for Dec. 10.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Burke McSwain

News Editor: Ericka Montes