Ashland Youth Center – Clark & Sullivan Construction – NTD Architecture
The youths of Alameda County spoke up in 2005, joining concerned adults in addressing the disparaging lack of services and activities available in the East Bay community of Ashland-Cherryland, Calif. Alameda County officials, architects, engineers and a group of teenagers voluntarily worked together to identify key services and activities that could be consolidated under one roof to provide the community with much-needed recreational, social, health and economic opportunities.
The resulting Ashland Youth Center opened in late 2012 and provides much more than just a space for arts and crafts. Through extensive charrettes with local youths, non-profits, the school district, county officials and the design team, Ashland Youth Center was devised to provide a safe space for community members to make the most of community resources under one LEED Platinum-certified roof.
Alameda County tapped Nevada-based Clark & Sullivan Construction (C&S) and Auburn-based NTD Architecture to oversee the project in a design-bid-build capacity. Additionally, Mack5 of Emeryville and Richmond, Calif., served as the project’s construction manager. The Alameda County Community Redevelopment Agency (ACCRA) and the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency spearheaded the $25 million project’s development and funding. The groups also took special effort to ensure local youths remained involved and engaged throughout the project’s development.
“One of the major challenges on the project was the sheer number of end-users that will ultimately occupy the building,” admits Ted Foor, area manager at C&S and project manager for the Ashland Youth Center project. “In the end, I think we spoke to 12 total end-user groups so that each group could point out what they wanted to see in the space.”
The extensive collaboration period lasted more than two months, allowing each end-user group to identify and prioritize individual concerns. This ensured that C&S and RossDrulisCusenbery Architecture of Sonoma, Calif., could tweak the design, guaranteeing the end result reflects the community’s vision as a whole.
Engaging the Community
Ultimately, the group’s input resulted in a 31,500-square foot building that anchors a larger 13.5-acre community complex named the Jack Holland Sr. Park. The complex houses a multiuse gym, new track and field facilities and a public park complete with a skate park, play structures and plenty of lawn space. The youth center itself provides multipurpose rooms for youth-oriented programming, including job-training, mentoring, guidance and educational programs. The building also provides space for a health services clinic, a café, a day care center, a library, multimedia center, a dance and aerobics room and space for arts and crafts.
Simultaneously, C&S and the project’s various arms collaborated closely to ensure the building would also set a high bar for sustainable construction. To start, the building itself sits on a brownfield site contaminated from years of use as a bulk fuel storage facility and a used-car sales lot. The Hayward Area Recreation and Park District (HARD) partnered with ACCRA to acquire the site in 2008 and moved to commence soil remediation and excavation work in 2009 with the help of the California State Water Resources Control Board.
Unfortunately, the extent of the contamination was much greater than expected. “We ran into some hydrocarbon contamination very early on, so we called in the geologists, hazardous waste consultants and environmental consultants to develop a game plan for the project to move forward,” recalls Foor. “By keeping communication really tight between all of the groups involved, we were able to get the ugly news out on the table early and solve problems together.” C&S’s clear communication and proactive project management style helped minimize the resulting delay and construction broke ground just a couple months later than expected in January 2011.
Ready for Anything
The extensive consultation process with the center’s end users provided C&S and the various subcontractors on the project with extra time to shore up the building’s sustainability score on the LEED rating system. “There were some budgetary concerns early on and we knew we would have to work very closely with the mechanical, electrical and HVAC subcontractors to come up with some innovative ideas to achieve platinum certification within our budget,” admits Foor.
As a result, C&S limited its subcontractor selection to those with experience specifically in both design-build construction and LEED-certified construction. Doing so ensured the project’s team remained flexible enough to continually tweak and adjust a design to work within the project’s various parameters as those parameters shifted throughout the design process.
The resulting design combines a vegetative roof with porcelain tiles and long lengths of energy-efficient glass windows to form a checkerboard pattern facade that floods the interior with daylight and gives the two-story building a grander sense of scale. The building surrounds a central courtyard and provides flexible spaces that transition easily between indoors and outdoors to allow users to extend the dance studio, for example, into an impromptu performance space with outdoor seating simply by sliding open a set of folding doors.
The flexible design ultimately attracted the attention of the Redwood Empire Chapter of the American Institute of Architecture (AIA), which awarded the project with its 2010 Citation Award. True to the center’s open-minded mission, C&S also set up a webcam to detail the progress of these modular developments to keep the public informed and engaged until the center officially opened for business in December 2012.
Next up for C&S will be some more design-build work at the Peralta Community College in Oakland, Calif., building Merritt College’s new Science and Allied Health Building, as well as the establishment of a new office in Laramie, Wyo. Wherever the team wanders in the coming years, the team’s reputation for proactive, flexible project management will ensure Clark & Sullivan Construction delivers on the promise of commitment, quality and customer satisfaction. Ashland Youth Center will not be the least feat.
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