The ‘problem solvers’ earn an ‘A’ from the University of La Verne

September 21, 2016––Chip West, assistant vice president of capital planning and facilities management at the University of La Verne, thinks Bomel Construction is one classy builder.

“Once we got out of the ground, it was boom, boom, boom, boom. We were shocked at how quickly it was going, and there were no issues,” he beamed.

West was referring to the August completion of the university’s 940-stall, design-build parking structure––the newest of four components in the college’s master plan. Next in line are a new residence hall, academic building and the closure of two campus streets.

Bomel and International Parking Design started construction last October on the five-level garage, which has eliminated the campus-parking crunch. Construction began after the bulk of summer 2016 was dedicated to relocating 8-inch chiller lines and upgrading to 15-inch sewer lines. Once that phase was over, the university secured a temporary parking lot at the nearby Los Angeles County Fairplex––a sprawling facility that hosts the L.A. County Fair, NHRA events and RV shows––to replace the surface parking lot uprooted by the new parking structure.

Bomel Construction, widely regarded as the dean of parking structure construction in Southern California and a builder of multi-level garages at public and private universities and colleges, drew high praise even before winning the contract last year.

“They were problem solvers. They hadn’t been awarded the job and they were looking at ways to problem solve outside of what we had asked them to do,” said West, who has worked in higher education for more than 15 years and earned a Ph.D. four years ago from nearby Claremont Graduate University.

The new parking structure’s entrances are accessible via a driveway off D Street to the east. Arrow Highway is just to the south. The university’s athletic complex is to the west; South Quad is to the north.

The 125-year-old university has about 20 surface parking lots, ranging from 10 spaces to 400. La Verne’s main campus, between Bonita Avenue on the north and Arrow Highway on the south, is 38.4 acres. The newer Campus West, south of Arrow Highway, is 57.2 acres. The university hosts about 5,500 students on its main campus.

Incorporated in 1906, the city of La Verne is bordered by San Dimas, Pomona, Claremont and the San Gabriel Mountains. It has a population of 31,063, according to the 2010 United States Census Bureau.

Before the debut of the 500-foot-long by 128-foot-wide parking structure, too many drivers were milling about between the lots. Some arrived at the 10-space lot only to find it full and then continued to a 20-space lot, only to find that at capacity, too. Moreover, many students parked on city streets and in front of shops, restaurants and other small businesses. That is certainly not the case these days.

“The students and the community have said this is the first opening of our school in the last two decades when no one has complained about parking,” West said a week after the garage opened. “The centralized location is easy to get in and out of. We had no parking issues at all during the first two weeks of the semester.”

West and his construction team had about 100 university departments to please, but once construction began, the project ran smoothly due to a high-degree of timely collaboration.

“They were team players all the way,” Babcock said about the university’s construction staff. “Anything they needed, we provided, and anything we needed, they provided. Working with the university guys––like Chip and Larry Pirkle (assistant director of capital planning), was a great experience. They were just good owners to work with.”

Unfortunately, “good” could not be used to describe the natural resources on the site. Due to a footprint foundation of deep clay and sand, the project called for 524 Geopiers at an average depth of 20 feet.

“It would have cost more to over-excavate and re-compact with proper fill material,” Babcock said. “Using Geopiers gives us a better soil-bearing capacity, allowing us to reduce the size of the foundations to help compensate for some of the extra cost.”

He praised Bomel’s project superintendent for doing an exceptional job from start to finish.

“Dan Landini was awesome,” Babcock said. “This was the first time I worked with him as a super and he is definitely one of the best. He plans ahead, reaches his goals and is fast.”

Landini joined Bomel eight years ago. He has 23 years of experience in the construction industry. The outstanding La Verne team also included critical contributions from Doug Smith, the formwork superintendent. He has been with Bomel for 29 years.

The $14.5-million parking structure’s brick veneer on half of the east side and on about 20 feet of the north and south sides matches the Vista La Verne residence hall, which opened in 2012. A total of 18 eye-catching banners, each measuring 4-feet-wide by 10-feet, 2-inches tall, dress up two sides of the garage, which has two entrances and exits on the north side.

Additionally, Bomel built and installed a fully functioning photovoltaic system on the garage’s roof. A 250-foot-long trellis system running down the center of the garage’s top level supports the PV panels. Provisions allowing for expansion were also put in place.

In addition to Bomel Construction and IPD, the design-build team includes Bomel’s Architectural & Site Concrete Division, International Parking Design and structural engineer Culp & Tanner.

West said the design and construction process from start to finish was “tremendously professional.” He was very impressed with the level of quality that the design and construction team brought to the table.

“We had a great experience with the group we had,” West recalled. “They were problem solvers. They regarded us as part of the team and had a team mindset, so they anticipated problems before they came up and were great about brainstorming with us and moving forward.

“In the end our community got a beautiful, functional structure that really transforms the way people will experience our campus for years and years to come.”

About Bomel Construction Co.: Established in 1970, Anaheim Hills, Calif.-based Bomel Construction is widely regarded as the dean of parking structure construction in the West. The family-owned business generated $135 million in total revenue in 2014. Its other current high-profile projects include Del Amo Fashion Center (1,950 stalls), Cal Poly Pomona (1,800) and Plaza San Clemente (1,167), with several additional parking structures set to begin construction this year. Bomel Construction, a design-build concrete contractor, has completed major parking structures for developers and owners of many of the largest shopping malls, casinos, stadiums, high-rise office buildings, colleges and universities throughout the West. Bomel has regional offices in Carlsbad, Calif., and Las Vegas.

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