Founded in 1987, the Conservation Corps of Long Beach in Long Beach, Calif., is a nonprofit whose mission is to educate and develop basic work skills and ethics, as well as promote environmental conservation, self esteem and teamwork for at-risk youth in the Long Beach area. As CCLB’s programs grew, so did its need for space and improved facilities. The group has contracts with local property owners and nearby cities to collect recyclables and do recycling. These activities had been done out of the Corps’ headquarters, which wasn’t designed for that use, so it was decided to expand into a new space to house the organization’s recycling efforts.
With limited funds, CCLB’s board of directors looked to retrofit. “When we started the project, there was an existing metal A-frame building on the site and our idea was to use that building for office space and build a new facility for the larger equipment they needed,” recalls Alan Pullman, principal with Long Beach-based Studio One Eleven and also a member of the CCLB board. “The problem was that the existing building wasn’t in very good shape. It had many unpermitted expansions and additions, and the site contained an abandoned oil well that limited our flexibility for new construction. Our only option was to demolish the building and build a new building.”
The original concept was for a concrete block building with wood roofs. “We thought that would be the most cost-effective way of building a building,” Pullman says. “But as we did our analysis, we found we could get a pre-engineered metal building at a comparable cost with significant time savings.”
A pre-engineered metal building from Memphis, Tenn.-based Varco Pruden Buildings allowed the design team the speed, economy and flexibility it needed. “We wanted to customize the metal building because the city has some standards in this area for architectural quality and they wanted to see a more civic façade than you see on a typical pre-engineered metal building,” Pullman explains. “We wanted to do something a little different and were able to work with the fabricator to come up with something we think works within the system. It’s very cost effective, but still an interesting take on a standard metal building.”
“The process for designing a metal building is unique,” says Peter Chang, project manager with Studio One Eleven. “You have to make your design work with the pre-designed components from the fabricator. Once we learned which portions we design and which portions they already thought of, it was fairly easy.”
According to Pullman, the building is essentially a long shed. CCLB keeps its equipment in the back while the front of the building was designed to house offices, a training room, staff gathering areas and a conference room. “That part was more like an office component, so we wanted it to feel different for two reasons,” he says. “One, we wanted to give the staff a feeling they were in a nice office environment. And two, if CCLB ever wants to sell the property in the future, they would have something very much in the marketplace of structures with front offices and a back warehouse, which is is common in this particular area.”
Designed in harmony with the pre-engineered metal building, the building has an upscale, sustainable feeling, both in look and operation. “We put in operable windows, trellises for sun control and clad it in cedar siding to give it a warmer, more naturalistic appearance,” Pullman says. “These elements blend with the metal components of the project.”
Several other sustainable attributes were designed into the building, including integrated ventilation through the ridge vents. A cool metal roof tops the building and drought-resistant landscaping is used on the site. Occupancy sensors, as well as skylights and translucent sky panels maximize daylighting and minimize the lighting load. The fact that it is a metal building using materials that are both recyclable and high in recycled content is particularly appropriate for a building designed for recycling.
The Education Center opened in November 2010 and has earned rave reviews from the community and CCLB staff. “It’s a pleasant, functional workspace and they’ve been able to expand their recycling facilities,” Pullman says. “We enjoyed the process and learned that pre-engineered metal buildings are a really interesting building type. If they have a reputation for being something less than attractive, I personally don’t believe it. The proof is in the pudding with this building.”
“To a certain degree, there’s no reason most projects can’t take a pre-engineered metal building and do this kind of work as long as you understand the kit of parts,” Chang says. “We just assembled that kit of parts in a non-traditional way and I think doing that helped us to meet our design standards, as well as the requirements of the client and the city.”