Mertes Center for the Arts, Las Positas CC

Livermore, CA
Chabot – Las Positas Community College District
Parsons Brinckerhoff
$40 Million

The Barbara Francisco Mertes Center of the Arts project provided an excellent cross section of the types of complex issues and challenges that test a CM’s ability to collaborate and resolve complex issues to achieve a successful project. The project brought together a multitude of stakeholders—the college staff, students, instructors, M&O staff, Information Technology, campus security, City of Livermore--Water Department and Fire Department, Division of the State Architect, campus neighbors, 80 subcontractors, and as many as 200 trades people on site at the height of construction. In order to complete the Center for the Arts project prior to the fall semester of 2010 it had to be coordinated with other projects on campus and in the program. The hydronic piping had to be cleaned and flushed to tie into the newly completed Central Plant.  The fire alarm and security cameras, emergency parking lot phones and solar powered parking ticket machines had to be coordinated and tied into the new security system and tested.  The outflow of the three bio-basins had to be coordinated with the construction of a concrete outfall structure constructed under another contract. The 1,500-seat outdoor Amphitheater required an eighteen foot excavation for the construction of a stage, ADA ramps for accessibility and tiered grass seating areas.


The CM’s leadership was demonstrated in its ability to manage a project and gain the trust and respect of the user group, design team and construction team was a creative challenge.  The direction from the Vice Chancellor of Facilities was to not spend money on every request by the user group, maintenance and operations (M&O), the Architect or the Contractor but to manage the project for the benefit of the Program with long term value in mind. The project that was managed by the CM had arrogance among the participants that the project was bid at $12.5 million under the original estimate and there was money to burn.   The CM’s approach was to maintain control of the project’s change orders and the decision making process. The user group exhibited an entitlement attitude, the architect would politic with the user group to get architectural betterments and enhancements to the project and the M&O staff was passionate and determined to get what they deemed as necessary functional elements that were not included in the design because the M&O staff was not engaged during the design phase. Therefore, leadership by influence and example is the approach that was taken.

Throughout its involvement in the project Parsons Brinckerhoff has done an outstanding job of balancing all aspects of the construction management role, and has gone well beyond the defined role to build a collegial team for the successful outcome of the project. At times when it became apparent that there were gaps in communication and coordination among various team partners, Parsons Brinckerhoff always stepped up its efforts to assure the project was on the critical path to completion and the start of classes in September.  Without hesitation we can state that Parsons Brinckerhoff was a significant contributor to meeting and exceeding the project objectives of cost, time, scope, function, safety and quality.

Jeff M. Kingston


Chabot – Las Positas Community College District