The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) wanted a new front door, with a wow factor, to welcome visitors and prospective students to its campus. Their original project included a four-level parking garage and a glass-front welcome center. Though, Vaughn Construction was originally short listed for the project, we came in second to another contractor. That contractor provided their preconstruction services for the new building while also demolishing the existing three-level garage that was on site. When their proposed GMP began to exceed the budget by 53%, UHD became concerned and contacted Vaughn to assume control of the project.
We relied on our current market pricing knowledge and our long-standing relationships with the design team, UHD, and our trade contractors, to evaluate the proposed GMP and realign the project with their budget. We found multiple less expensive alternatives for interior and exterior finishes, infrastructure, and structural elements. The most major change involved a proposed fourth sub-parking level to the new building. Through our budget and scope review, UHD determined they could meet their current and future needs with only three parking levels in the building. We worked with the design team to eliminate the sub-parking level, realign the first parking level closer to the existing grade, and develop an interior parking ramp to get from the new parking level elevation at grade to the existing adjacent parking garage. This change alone saved approximately $1.5 million in the budget.
Once the project was underway, UHD decided to pursue options for changing the look of the building exterior without extending the schedule. We held a meeting with the entire team to discuss alternatives for the exterior skin. We worked with the design team to provide a preliminary design and proposed budget within a week of the meeting. The team decided to use the same building materials that had already been ordered, change the brick design and brick a few columns. UHD also wanted to build out approximately 25,000 SF of shell space not previously in the plans. The university was able to cover the costs of both of these scope changes with funds recovered from our budget recovery process and still remain within budget.
The university gained a four-story, 252-space garage with a 36,856 SF welcome center at its topmost level. The garage is connected to the third floors of the One Main and Academic buildings via a short skywalk, creating a seamless transition between the buildings. The gated facility serves faculty, staff and visitors, providing easy access to the new Welcome Center on the third level. The building’s structure can support an additional level for future expansion.
The welcome center provides new space for admissions, disabilities services, veteran affairs, and a 135-seat testing center which also serves as an orientation space and starting point for campus tours. The new welcome center is the main entry to the campus, with ample support and ease of access, and provides a welcoming atmosphere for visitors, prospective students, and their families.