Firms selected to help lead two ACC projects


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Higher education coming to LeanderAustin Community College’s 100-acre lot at the corner of Hero Way and Toll 183A in Leander is slated for a new campus, which is expected to open in summer 2018 and offer general education classes.Photo by Lyndsey Taylor/Community Impact Newspaper
Higher education coming to Leander

Austin Community College on Nov. 2 made progress on two projects approved by voters one year ago.

ACC by summer 2018 plans to open a $60 million campus on a 100-acre property in Leander’s transit-oriented district. An evaluation team picked three potential construction managers among eight submissions before board members unanimously selected American Constructors, an Austin building company that previously helped develop the ACC South Austin campus.

Support for American Constructors was initially split among trustees, with board Chairman Victor Villarreal arguing the company would work well with Pfluger Associates, the architect firm picked in July to help design the new campus. The two groups are already collaborating on Leander ISD’s Tom Glenn High School, a $150 million project expected to open by August 2016.

“I understand this is a high school facility, buy the synergy between an architect and a construction firm already working together about a mile away from our land is important,” Villarreal said.

Trustee Nan McRaven initially supported another finalist, SpawGlass, a firm that helped develop the first phase of the ACC Round Rock campus as well as the expansion at the ACC Cypress Creek campus in Cedar Park. However, McRaven withdrew her motion upon learning how much both firms may charge in various fees, with SpawGlass estimated to cost about a half-million dollars more, according to ACC staff. That fee difference is partially why American Constructors received the highest score from evaluators, said Neil Vickers, ACC executive vice president of finance and administration.

“With that information, I’ll also be supporting [American Constructors],” McRaven said. “That’s the kind of information I need going forward. It’s my fiduciary responsibility to support the lowest and best bid—although lower does not necessarily mean the best.”

Rio Grande Campus

Board trustees could not unanimously agree on an architect and design team for the ACC Rio Grande campusrenovations. After hearing presentations from three finalists during its October meeting, the board on Nov. 2 picked Austin-based Studio8 Architects to help lead the $49 million restoration project.

Studio8 received the highest staff evaluation scores among the three finalists and was one of 12 submissions overall. Trustee Mark Williams said he chose to rely on staff recommendations rather than the October firm presentations when casting his support for Studio8.

“Studio8 may have been third of the three presentations, but I also need to recognize that was 8 minutes and not 8 hours of time,” Williams said, alluding to the extensive process used by staff to evaluate finalists.

Trustee Allan Kaplan said he did not recall ACC ever working with Studio8 and instead supported Stantec Architecture for the historical rehabilitation project, which requires temporarily shutting down the campus after the spring 2017 semester.

“Like trustee Williams said, I thought [Studio8 was] third, and I thought first and second clearly were Stantec and Page [Southerland Page],” Kaplan said.

Only McRaven chose to side with Kaplan, resulting in a 6-2 vote to hire Studio8. The board will still need to select a construction management team for the project during a later meeting.

Trustee Jeffrey Richard recused himself from both votes to avoid a conflict of interest.

 

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