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Pacific Rim completes 300 NLA project, opens door to region’s first green cafeteria

By JoAnn DeJesus and Traci Madison

The Pacific Rim Region has had its share of challenges when it comes to major repair and alteration projects. Nowhere is that more apparent than with the 300 North Los Angeles (NLA) Street prospectus project...a pursuit that was 20 years in the making.

“The 300 North Los Angeles prospectus project is a story of perseverance, commitment, and strategic innovation,” said Regional Administrator Ruth Cox at a recent building celebration.

When the federal building at 300 NLA first opened its doors in 1965, it was state-of-the-art and served its tenants well. But after almost 30 years of occupancy, GSA recognized the need to address physical deterioration and functional obsolescence issues. After the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, the need for seismic and life safety upgrades became even more critical. Region 9 aggressively pursued funding for almost a decade with little success.

“We were, in essence, trapped in a situation where we had a fully occupied building with tenants who didn’t want to move and no clear solution for renovating the property,” said Cox.

2003 was a major turning point for the project. R9’s team re-evaluated its strategy and pursued two simultaneous goals: providing a sound and feasible technical solution, while solving the puzzle of swing space renovation. It was also the year funding was finally approved.

Determined to accomplish this work and minimize the government’s risk exposure, the project team repackaged and prioritized the work requirements and procured five separate smaller construction projects to obtain competitive bids. They managed the work and kept the project on schedule and on budget without using a construction management firm. The team also skillfully directed swing space moves for all the tenants and effectively managed expectations by ensuring clear and frequent communications along the way.

The prospectus project was comprised of a number of significant components including a seismic retrofit; elevator modernization; hazardous material control; stair pressurization; replacement of the original ceiling and lighting systems; new paint and flooring; and a much needed West Pavilion entry way that provides energy efficiency, improved access for the disabled, and security enhancements. The region also received $14 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to upgrade the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system.

The project was completed while the building remained fully occupied and open to the public. Another significant accomplishment was that all renovation work was performed for less than $120 per square foot, a figure that’s half the average cost for comparable projects.

The prospectus project with its major swing space component opened the door for another significant building modification, the region’s first "green” cafeteria. One of many sustainable projects funded by the Recovery Act, the new cafeteria offers a facility that’s fully code compliant, properly sized for the new tenant mix, and is consistent with the rest of the building’s interior.

With key features such as the use of daylighting, energy and water conservation strategies, and sustainable furnishings and finishes, the cafeteria is on target to achieve LEED® Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Day-to-day operations will also reflect GSA’s commitment to energy efficiency and environmental stewardship with the use of energy star appliances, and both recycling and composting programs.

On November 18, 2013, the Pacific Rim Region celebrated the completion of the building’s upgrades and the official opening of the green cafeteria. More than 70 federal employees, tenants and community members attended the event and were provided an opportunity to tour the facility. Regional Administrator Cox served as Master of Ceremonies with guest speakers from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, City of Los Angeles, Interactive Resources, and Cannon Design.

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