Austin Community College Highland South Parking Garage

Austin, TX

ACC Highland South Parking Garage

Austin Community College Highland South Parking Garage

What was once a struggling shopping mall in Austin has now been transformed into Austin Community College (ACC) Highland. With unparalleled sustainability and adaptive re-purposing, ACC Highland is now the college’s largest campus. 

With parking at a premium on the expanding campus, SpawGlass, as construction manager-at-risk, and design partner BGK Architects were brought on board to deliver a 2,385-space parking garage on just 3 acres.

A nod to ACC District’s dedication to environmental protection, the excavation for the foundation of the garage included a 1-million-gallon underground cistern for rainwater harvesting. This included digging 15 feet down to reach the depth of the cistern, excavating a further 2 feet to then fill it back in, and installing underground pipes to carry rainwater from the rooftops of all adjacent buildings through a series of filters into the cistern and then irrigation lines to distribute the harvested rainwater across the site’s landscaping and a nearby park. The garage was then built on top of the cistern with access hatches providing the only indication that anything lies beneath its first level.

Throughout construction, the project team utilized 4D scheduling, the combination of a traditional schedule with 3D image modeling to create a sequence that simulates the planned construction. 4D scheduling helped the team pre-plan the pour sequence of the building frame and coordinate it with the formwork, rebar and post-tension activities. When the location of the expansion joints complicated the structure, 4D scheduling allowed the team to effectively communicate the challenges and opportunities.

In 23 months, throughout rain, cold, the scorching heat of two Texas summers and the pandemic, more than 4.8 million pounds of rebar, 300,000 feet of conduit and 1.7 million feet of post-tension cables were placed; and more than 35,000 cubic yards of concrete were poured. The 60-pour elevated deck cycle met the original baseline durations of 22 weeks for Phase I and 30 weeks for Phase II, an impressive achievement that speaks volumes for the team’s use of lean practices and collaboration with consultants and subcontractors.

“The two phases ran concurrently, separated into the northern and southern sections at the expansion joint,” said Senior Project Manager James Harden. “For three months, the jobsite had tower cranes erected on both sections of the garage to perform work simultaneously and meet the milestones of the schedule.” To ensure the timeliness of completion and guarantee the availability of resources for both phases of the project, our team pre-planned with the formwork contractor and managed all of the labor trades daily.

Ultimately, the ACC Highland South Parking Garage serves as more than just a structure for parked vehicles. While the utility of the garage is evident, the sustainable features and artistically designed exterior are a testament to the concept that a structure can exist to do more than serve a functional purpose. 

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