USF – Phelan McLaren Hall Student Center & Conference Facility, San Francisco

142,000 sq ft renovation and densification of an 8-story, 500-bed student dorm facility served by a new student center. Our scope also included the renovation of a conference center (McLaren Hall) and a number of suites of academic offices. This T-shaped building required a complete seismic retrofit and MEP restacking including the elevators. It also involved major exterior elevation and accessibility upgrades. One of the biggest challenges that we met was the complex phasing of the works that took place over four years with five separate construction periods when the building was not occupied.

Separating the different streams of movement into and through the building that had evolved over time through piecemeal adaptation was identified early on as an issue. The provision of new, separate entries for the three primary functions addressed this concern. Locating the required shear walls on the exterior of the building was another key move that allowed this work to be slotted into the five limited construction periods and avoid enormous disruption to the occupants. The Student Center was viewed as a large living room for the occupants. It was located in a former basement that housed MEP equipment and had no natural light. The surrounding ground was excavated and sculpted to allow the installation of large glazed openings that fed natural light into these crucial social spaces.