Firms selected to help lead two ACC projects

Austin Community Collegeu2019s 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.

Austin Community Collegeu2019s 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.

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 campus renovations. 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.

By Joe Lanane
Joe Lanane’s career is rooted in community journalism, having worked for a variety of Midwest-area publications before landing south of the Mason-Dixon line in 2011 as the Stillwater News-Press news editor. He arrived at Community Impact Newspaper in 2012, gaining experience as editor of the company’s second-oldest publication in Leander/Cedar Park. He eventually became Central Austin editor, covering City Hall and the urban core of the city. Lanane leveraged that experience to become Austin managing editor in 2016. He managed eight Central Texas editions from Georgetown to San Marcos. Working from company headquarters, Lanane also became heavily involved in enacting corporate-wide editorial improvements. In 2017, Lanane was promoted to executive editor, overseeing editorial operations throughout the company. The Illinois native received his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and his journalism master’s degree from Ball State University.


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