Nov 20, 2019
Digital rendering of the New Student Union. (Courtesy Fresno State)

Design-build team chosen for New Student Union, construction set for spring 2020

Fresno State has moved a step closer to breaking ground on construction of the New Student Union (NSU), as the university has announced its selection of the design-build team.

McCarthy Building Companies and Harley Ellis Devereaux (HED) will be the design-build team tasked with the estimated $60 million project of designing and constructing the NSU, according to a university news release.

“We are very excited to be working with the McCarthy | Harley Ellis Devereaux design-build team on this project. The New Student Union will be a signature building and transformative space for our students, that creates a sense of belonging and provides opportunities for connection,” Dr. Frank R. Lamas, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, said in the release.

The design-build team was selected following a competitive CSU procurement process, which included a two-step public works process. That process included a Request for Qualifications followed by a Request for Proposal/Design Competition, the release stated.

“They [McCarthy and HED] had not only the best quality but the best quantity, the best bang for our dollar,” said Associate Vice President for Facilities Management Tinnah Medina. “They provided us the biggest building.”

The team chosen has built more than 240 projects, including 10 student unions for the CSU system, and according to the release, are recognized as industry leaders with significant experience in the design, construction and delivery of student-centered facilities throughout California and the CSU system.  

HED will be the architectural firm for the project, which will work under the general contractor, McCarthy. Both firms are locally established and nationally renowned with local offices in the Central Valley, according to the release.

Construction of the NSU will commence following approval of the CSU Board of Trustees in July, according to Medina. She said that she is confident the design and build plans will receive approval from the board.

“I’m very familiar with the process,” Medina said. “This team and this design is a really great design.”

The release stated that the NSU design includes approximately 80,000 gross square feet, and will feature a campus living room, new dining options, a multipurpose ballroom, space for student clubs and organizations, offices for Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) and Student Involvement as well as various other spaces for programs and services.

In keeping with the university’s aim for improving sustainability practices on campus, the NSU is expected to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold-equivalent standards by using solar panels and other energy efficient methods, the release stated.

“Every design decision that goes into this building will have a lens of sustainability kind of importance,” Medina said. “The way we pick out mechanical units, solar on the windows, solar panels, energy efficiencies throughout building systems.”

The exterior site design will incorporate the Amphitheatre south of the Speech Arts Building, and will include an outdoor event plaza for various activities. The location of the building will be east of the Student Center and south of the Kennel Bookstore, and will require the demolition of the Keats Building as well as the existing Amphitheatre, according to the release.

Digital rendering of the New Student Union. (Courtesy Fresno State)

The current University Student Union was built to accommodate 10,000 students. The university’s current student population is now more than 25,000. However, the USU will continue to house programs and services in addition to the NSU, according to the release.

The construction of the NSU was approved by a student referendum in March 2018 by two-thirds of the student voting population, the release stated. The referendum included a $149 per semester student fee increase. The fee increase will not take effect until the NSU is opened.

According to the release, studies have shown that student unions improve retention rates and student success by providing students with a central hub for activities and engagement between classes.

Construction on the NSU is scheduled to start in the spring of 2020 with the target completion set for fall of 2021, the release stated.

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