Recent construction at Augusta State University (ASU) in Augusta, Ga., presented the design team with a real challenge: Create a new activities center with all the technology and modern amenities students want, but make it fit seamlessly with both the historic character of the campus and more recent architecture. Not exactly an easy feat. Some of the university's buildings were originally part of a federal arsenal built in 1827, others were constructed in the 1970s, and several more were built within the past 10 years.

To help the operation run smoothly, a team approach called “Construction Management (CM) at Risk” was used to execute the project.

The general manager and construction manager – R.W. Allen & Associates – was hired soon after the architects were selected to participate in the design process from an early stage.

“It was imperative for the design team to consult with contractors on actual cost considerations, like changes in materials, so the project didn't go over budget right off the bat,” said John Martin, senior project manager at R.W. Allen. In this case, the CM at Risk arrangement resulted in a more accurate cost projection, and greatly reduced the number of change orders on the job. Martin estimated that this approach generally reduces change orders to around 1% or 2%. In a “lowest bidder” process, they typically range between 5% and 10%.

The team's finished product was the $11.1 million Jaguar Student Activities Center (JSAC), a 48,000-sq-ft structure named for the school's mascot. The building was one of the last steps in ASU's 10-year, $95 million plan to build new educational facilities, student dorms, and renovate historic buildings. It was also a long-awaited replacement for the previous student center, which was off the beaten path and did not attract many visitors.

In order to fit the desired construction schedule, space constraints, and work around other building activities in the area, the design team decided to join the JSAC with the campus'existing Reese Library. Naturally, the new addition needed to compliment the more modern library building, constructed in 1976.

Blending old and new

Because the 1970s library and the more historically-inspired new student center were stylistically very different, it was important to create continuity with similar building materials. “All of the historic arsenal buildings on campus are brick with stone lintels,” explained Rob Mauldin, AIA, vice president of 2KM Architects, the project's architect of record. “We wanted to maintain a consistent context of materials to help the modern building blend and become an integral part of the campus.”

“We met this challenge, in part, by matching the library's red brick and cream-colored precast concrete, and by creating continuity with horizontal banding,” said Joe Greco, AIA, principal of Lord, Aeck & Sargent, design architect. Fortunately, the exterior brick of the library had been replaced in 1997, so the color was relatively easy to reproduce.

Boral Bricks was hired early in the design process to get a head start on contacting clay suppliers and search its inventory to ensure an exact match. The new building's mortar was also mixed with the same color sand that had been used during the library renovation, and Miller Precast matched the cast stone lintel color as closely as possible. Finally, both existing and new buildings were cleaned when the construction was completed, to allow similar aging to occur.