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Punishing deadline can’t derail this prison health facility [2014 Building Team Awards]

A massive scope, tough schedule, and technical complexity fail to daunt the Building Team for a huge California correctional project.

July 14, 2014 |
The Building Team for the California Health Care Facility, Stockton, only had ab

Tight schedules and near-impossible deadlines are nothing new in the AEC world. But the Building Team for the California Health Care Facility in Stockton, Calif., faced especially alarming consequences for failure.

 In 2006, a federally appointed receivership ordered the state of California and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to provide a 1,722-bed housing and healthcare facility for inmate-patients with long-term medical, acute medical, and intermediate mental health needs. A court-imposed deadline of January 2014 was set, with no room for an extension.

Failure to meet this deadline could result in imprisonment for some responsible parties. Following legal and economic hurdles, the project’s second phase began in June 2011 with the selection of a joint venture of Clark Construction Group and McCarthy Building Cos., in design partnership with HDR. (Phase one, including utilities, roadwork, grading, a central plant, and an electric perimeter fence, was begun a few months earlier by HOK and a Hensel Phelps-Granite joint venture.)


Project summary

Housing and Healthcare Facility Stockton (HHF Stockton) Bid Package 2

California Health Care Facility, Stockton


Submitting firm: McCarthy Building Cos.

Owner/developer: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Architect, MEP: HDR

Structural: Crosby Group

CM: Vanir Construction Management

GC: Clark/McCarthy, a Joint Venture


Project size: 1.2 million sf

Construction cost: $528 million

Construction period: October 2011 to July 2013

Delivery method: Design-build

With a 742-day delivery schedule, the phase two team spent five months designing a 31-building complex for the 100-acre site. At 1.2 million sf, the program included 23 inmate housing buildings, a central kitchen, an administration building, a plant maintenance operation and facility maintenance building, four apartment-style units for overnight family visitations, and a shared services facility. 

During the design phase, drafting was performed within a 3D Revit model, which was linked to the team’s Primavera cost-loaded critical path method schedule, creating a 5D model that incorporated the added dimensions of time and cost. The design had to address more than 4,000 criteria documents, with approval required from more than 30 stakeholders. Building codes for both correctional and healthcare facilities had to be considered. Licensing and permitting took place alongside the design process to solve potential problems before they arose.

The team then had 19 months to build the complex. A task force was created to keep all parties—the owner, facilities personnel, design-builders, and outside consultants—organized. With more than 1,200 workers completing $2 million of work each day, the task force ensured that the project stayed on track. All construction documents were added to a digital plan room, accessible via kiosks as well as at an on-site field office. 

Economic development for the depressed region was a high priority for the client. Both the design-build team and the Department of Corrections organized outreach events offering employment opportunities. Of the 4,118 workers employed through the outreach program, more than 2,000 lived within a 50-mile radius of the project. 

Ultimately, the facility was completed on time. Judges commented on the way the Building Team worked together to meet deadlines, and praised the complex’s clear wayfinding elements and ample daylighting. 

“The Stockton healthcare facility takes an approach that is unlike other prison healthcare facilities by enhancing the healing environment through the use of natural light,” says judge Susan Heinking, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP O+M, Director of Sustainabilty and VP at VOA Associates. “This design not only improves the quality of the environment to heal in, but also improves the quality of the environment for the healthcare provider.”

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