University of Southern California chooses Bomel Construction for new design-build parking structure at University Park campus

The six-level garage, tightly sandwiched by the Shrine Auditorium and a high-rise apartment complex, will be completed in just 12 months. Construction is set to start in the summer. USC’s senior project manager said Bomel’s expertise “knocked our socks off.”

June 22, 2015––Rick Sendele recently explained why the University of Southern California chose Bomel Construction to erect a complicated 1,300-stall parking structure at its University Park campus, a few miles south of downtown Los Angeles.

“Derral McGinnis [Bomel Construction’s vice president of business development and pre-construction] did a PowerPoint showing exactly how Bomel would be building and staging everything within the property line,” said Sendele, senior project manager, capital construction development, at USC. “Basically, during the interview process, they built the parking structure for us in PowerPoint. Nobody else did that. It knocked our socks off. It was great.”

Widely regarded within Southern California as the dean of parking structure construction, Bomel will break ground later this summer on the six-level, design-build garage, the contractor’s first project for the university. It will be erected on an open-air, 250-space parking lot between the heavily traveled Jefferson Boulevard to the south and 32nd Street to the north. To the west is the Shrine Auditorium; the high-rise Gateway Apartments complex will be the garage’s eastern neighbor. Both the Shrine and the apartments are less than 10 feet from the 570-foot by 125-foot footprint of the new garage.

Picking the best bidder

Bomel has a handful of winning strategies in its arsenal, Sendele said, including the ability to avoid closing off any streets or sidewalks, which greatly influenced USC decision makers.“

All the other candidates or bidders proposed that they were going to have to shut down a sidewalk or two during construction, but Bomel’s site management proposal did not include shutting down any sidewalks,” said Sendele, whose construction career spans four decades. “All of their work will be conducted within the property line, including the site trailer.”

The parking structure will provide spaces for students, workers and visitors of University Village, a 1.25-million-square-foot residential and retail center under construction immediately to the west of the Shrine. The $650-million complex will include a cluster of five-story residence halls housing up to 2,700 students, a grocery store, drugstore, fitness center, Trojan Town store, restaurants and outdoor dining and gathering spaces. Completion is scheduled for summer 2017.

Crafty constructors

Getting the large parking structure finished in just 12 months will keep construction crews hopping. “It’s quite an ambitious schedule,” understated Kasey Shay, the Bomel senior project manager overseeing this endeavor.

To shave off three months from a normal schedule for a project of this size and complexity, Bomel Construction will leverage four decades of impeccable parking structure planning, design and scheduling to complete the $20.3-million garage safely and on time.

Incredibly, the extremely tight urban construction site has at least one positive asset.“

The structure is long enough to be able to split it into two buildings, with an expansion joint in the middle,” said Shay, a 16-year construction veteran who is also managing three other complex parking structure projects for the Anaheim Hills-based design-build contractor.

Bomel will begin building the southern half of the structure first, which should be relatively painless since crews will have the empty northern half of the lot on which to work and position equipment.

The garage’s northern half, however, is where Bomel’s expertise earnestly comes into play. In addition to the constraints caused by the tight proximity of surrounding structures, the northern side’s west bay will make structural allowances for the Shrine’s active loading dock.

“We will have a two-story high clearance on the ground floor of the west bay,” Shay explained, “which allows for trucks to navigate the narrow alley to load and unload materials.”

It’s familiar territory for Shay and his crews. Bomel’s recently completed parking structure at the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance is also adjacent to a heavily traveled loading dock, accessible through the first level of the 1,950-stall garage.

The most challenging aspect of the USC project, the eighth parking structure to be erected at the University Park campus, might very well be the unusual placement of concrete pumps for north-side construction activity. Shay compared the strategy for the garage’s north side to what Bomel has deployed when pumping concrete at many high-rise buildings throughout the West.

“We’ll have pumps inside the decks,” he said of north side operations. “A pump will have to extend out from within the decks and then twist up because we’re so close to the Shrine.

“We are seriously considering using slick lines, which are tubes ascending the sides of the building. It will be a very unusual and tough part of this entire project, but we have teams of experienced professionals to successfully tackle and complete this phase of work.”

‘Good looking’ garage

Building a structure on the USC campus means incorporating the university’s signature campus Gothic design, a blend of red brick, Gothic arches and articulations.

“The garage will have it all. It’s going to be a really good looking parking structure,” Sendele said.

Red brick and pre-cast arches––expressed in pairs and one- or three-stories tall––are on the ends. The same elements also wrap around the corners of both the north and south sides of the structure. Pre-cast concrete footings at the base of brick-clad columns and horizontal banding will adorn the ends and corners on the north and south sides.

But here’s another twist: The brickwork and arches are essentially an additional mini-structure unto itself, positioned just a few inches in front of the garage’s exterior walls. Yes, more tough times ahead for Bomel.

“The garage will be a moving structure,” Shay explained. “It shrinks, it swells, it moves, but we have a brick wall attached to it. It’s quite a challenge. The pre-cast portion is challenging as well.”

Teaming with Bomel on the project is Irvine-based architect Parking Design Solutions. The company president/CEO is pleased to be partnering with Bomel. “They have project managers, executives and superintendents who have been working at Bomel for 10, 20, 25 years, which is rare. It’s a pleasure working with such a knowledgeable team,” Gilbert Ruvalcaba said.

Sendele agreed that the Bomel-Parking Design Solutions bond is a powerful one. Working together for two decades “makes a big difference for their chemistry,” he said.

USC has dubbed the garage the USC-Shrine Parking Structure. The university will allocate about 250 stalls for use by the auditorium. About 800 stalls will be for USC Village and the balance for USC parking at large.

This will be the eighth parking structure on the University Park campus.

Sendele said the brand new Bomel-USC relationship is off to a splendid start. “Bomel’s doing a great job.”

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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