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Project facts


DPR Construction




Chico, CA




May 2018–October 2020




  • Electrical
  • Design-Build
  • Prefab
  • BIM
  • Title 24 Testing & Compliance

Construction of a new LEED Silver, four story, 110,200-square-foot science building at CSU Chico, including active-learning classrooms, graduate research studios, a dean’s suite, faculty offices, administrative, and support areas. Project phases included:

• Preconstruction (Design) and mobilization
• Project-wide tying into existing campus utilities, switchgear, etc.
• Increment one and two permitting (see below)

Because of a lengthy permitting process, the job was split up into two increments, allowing utility work to begin while design continued instead of waiting for a complete package.

• Increment one involved below grade work: slab ground installation, utility demo, grading and drainage, site underground work, utility layout, ground improvement, and structural concrete foundations.
• Increment two dealt with above grade work: including structural steel, exterior electrical yard, and interior electrical work for Floors 1–4 and the roof.

Royal’s scope included design and installation of complete systems and infrastructure for power, lighting and lighting control, and fire alarms. We installed back boxes, raceways, and cable trays for low voltage systems (telecom, security, audio and visual). Since critical science experiments required a constant source of power, several locations throughout the building included emergency outlets (for example, power for refrigerators).Royal also installed backup generators for emergency lighting and power.

Because of the design of the MEP systems, the overhead spaces for this project were particularly complex and congested. This challenge was compounded by the need for every lab room to have its own panel board to support the circuits required for science equipment. Since the ceiling space was already congested, it was difficult to route branch feeders from the center of the building to the south wing in order to feed all of the panels.

The VDC teams from all of the MEP contractors worked together to resolve conflicts and optimize each of their own overhead systems so that electrical, piping, and ductwork systems worked together. With all the trades working on the design collaboratively, the team was not only able to produce precise models, but also had the opportunity to plan the most efficient order for each installation enabling everyone to be productive. For example, we determined that Royal’s main area of work would be on the first floor of the north side, therefore the mechanical subcontractor started their work on the south side.

With the aid of the Trimble Total Robotic Stations and prefabrication, our team prepared items in house allowing for precise, efficient and successful installation. Prefab was provided with dimensionally accurate data from the 3D model to fabricate hangers and conduit bends for the project prior to their need in the field. Installers were then armed with 2D drawings created from the coordinated 3D model and point layout files to ensure a streamlined workflow with other trades and smooth installation of prefabricated materials. Utilizing robotic layout and prefabrication on this project, BIM and the field worked closely together to create an effective jobsite installation.

An accurate coordinated model helped Royal crews plan panel board installations in the rooms. This brought clarity to electricians, who could visually see the location of everything occupying space — from ducts, sprinklers and plumbing to the panels —while they were physically in the room. Since our VDC team had already coordinated the major pieces in the ceiling, the electricians simply needed to perform installations in the locations where our shop drawings (developed from the model) indicated. Having a digital representation of the physical space was a quicker way to process information instead of relying just on 2D sheet of paper. 

The complex voltage, plumping and ventilation systems necessary for the labs, studios and classrooms presented some unique challenges. The key to success with these was an atmosphere of collaboration and teamwork, which were essential to resolving potential conflicts. Everyone came together to design and install the complex systems necessary for this innovative building.

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