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McCarthy completes construction of JCVI, La Jolla

McCarthy Building Companies Inc. reported it completed construction of the new J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) located on a 1.75-acre site at 4120 Torrey Pines Road on the University of California, San Diego campus.

KPFF Consulting Engineers served as the structural and civil engineer; Integral Group was the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineer; Jacobs Consultancy was the laboratory planner; Andropogon Associates and David Reed were the landscape architects; SC Engineers designed the building controls; David Nelson & Associates was the lighting design consultant; and Sustainable SoCal served as the construction manager.

Designed by Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects (ZGF), the three-story, 45,000-square-foot building is a tribute to its coastal location with its long, slender shape. Exposed architectural concrete panels, Spanish cedar wood siding, a wood-framed window curtain wall and storefront system, metal panels, and an expansive photovoltaic array give the building its signature identity.

The building has been built to earn LEED Platinum certification.

“Our new facility was built not only to advance genomic research, but to showcase how science can be compatible with the best of environmentally sustainable practices,” said J. Craig Venter, Ph.D, JCVI founder and CEO. “Construction completion of this remarkable building signifies the fulfillment of a long-time dream to return to the UCSD campus where I began my research career and collaborate with other scientists in the region to find solutions to our most pressing social issues.”

JCVI La Jolla currently has about 90 employees but is designed to house approximately 125 scientists and staff. The JCVI teams are focused on a variety of genomic research areas including continued work in synthetic biology; sampling and analysis of the world’s oceans, fresh water and soils to better understand the microbes living in these environments; and new analysis on the human genome in the hopes of discovering new insights into disease prevention and treatment. The location of the facility, on land leased from UCSD, was chosen for its proximity to and potential for collaboration with the many renowned academic research centers in the La Jolla area.

The new JCVI facility comprises a three-story, 28,600-square-foot office wing and a single-story, 12,605-square-foot laboratory wing.

Being net-zero for electrical energy, the building will produce as much electricity on-site as it consumes annually. This is made possible by integrating numerous energy efficiency measures throughout the building systems and using advanced building technologies such as a Lutron lighting control system that senses when and how much light is needed by occupants at any given time of day. The building also incorporates operable windows.

On-site renewable energy is generated through the photovoltaic roof. The project team also pursued water conservation, and rainwater and condensation will be collected and stored in giant underground cisterns with a total capacity of 90,000 gallons. The water will then be filtered and used for operation of cooling towers, toilet flushing and site irrigation. About two-thirds of the building’s water use will be supplied by rainwater.

“Target value design played the most critical role in the overall planning and coordination of this project,” said Craig Swenson, McCarthy project director. “McCarthy was brought in early to perform preconstruction with the goal of significantly lowering the initial estimated construction costs while still allowing the client to achieve LEED Platinum status. This target value design approach enabled us to maintain the integrity of the highly sustainable design while also making the budget work for the client.”

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