It's not easy expanding a campus in tough budgetary times, but planners at California State University, San Marcos have had success over the past few years.
Those successes include a new student union and future health center.
"Obviously, money is the biggest challenge," said Brad Fenton, director of planning, design and construction for CSUSM. "Especially with the budget the way it is, we can't make decisions now. We don't have a crystal ball, and the one we do have seems to be cloudy."
Otherwise, Fenton's take on construction projects under way is, "So far, so good."
Because plans for a full-scale athletic building are not feasible due to budget concerns, the university is looking at smaller facilities or other avenues, such as enlarging the existing gym facilities, Fenton said.
Specific to the California State University system, state college athletics depend on private donations or alumni funding, based on California law.
There is better news for the student union, which is now under construction, if only in the in foundation stage.
Work started in February, with the planned opening in January 2014.
Everything is going as expected, and "everybody is excited about it," Fenton said.
When completed, the student union will connect upper and lower campus levels with conference rooms, food services, lounges, retail space, meeting rooms, student union and student organizations offices, and recreational areas. That work would be the project's first phase.
The second phase will add more food services, conference rooms and student organization offices to accommodate a larger student population, Fenton said in a previous Daily Transcript article.
PCL Construction is the contractor, while Hornberger & Worstell is the architect.
Last fall, classes were first held in the new Social and Behavioral Sciences Building.
The $40 million, 106,509-square-foot facility was completed in May 2011, and houses lecture and lab space, including graduate research space, conference rooms and 125 faculty offices.
"Everyone is moved in," Fenton said. "Usually, when I don’t hear anything, that's a good sign."
Next up for CSUSM's expansion is a new Health and Counseling Services facility, projected to cost $9.5 million, with the construction portion costing $7.5 million out of that amount.
At 19,000 square feet, it will be located opposite the Student Union Building on Chavez Circle.
It will have "contemplation gardens," and feature access for the disabled to Chavez Circle.
CSUSM is in the process of awarding the design build phase. For now, the SHCS is leasing space across the street.
Like the Student Union Building, the health center will be LEED Gold and is scheduled for completion in November 2014.
Dr. Karen Nicholson, director of SH&CS, said the new building will be back in "the heart of campus," across from the residence halls and close to parking, and feature more space to meet student health needs.
"We've had to try and make (current space) work over the years, so this is our time to craft a health center, one that serves student needs and also be a place where staff can function well," Nicholson said.
She added administration is seeking staff input on the center to create one that will foster a continued team spirit.
"We're excited about the project," Nicholson said. "This isn't something they teach you in medical school, how to build a clinic."
The contractor is C.W. Driver, while S.D. HMC Architects of San Diego is handling architecture.
Fenton also said CSUSM is in the planning stages to move school nursing onto campus, into an existing building, and is considering University Hall.
CSUSM is also expanding in eco-friendly ways by installing a fuel cell, through a power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric to generate electricity on campus.
The fuel cell will provide emergency power and provide waste heat which would boil water, thereby saving energy, Fenton said, adding CSUSM hopes to have it going by the end of 2014.