Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Excellent Management of a Complex Project

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a federally funded research and development facility managed by the California Institute of Technology for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The project consisted of demolition of buildings 261, 278, 283, and 311; mass excavation and fill; landscaping and site improvements; and the construction of a six-story plus basement office building. The new 190,000 square foot building is comprised of offices, meeting rooms and support facilities for approximately 600 people. There is also a separate 400-seat auditorium as well as a 200-seat conference room that can be divided in half.

Leveraging Innovative Thinking to Save Money

Through the use of Vanir’s patented online Constructability Review program, Vanir’s project team was able to show JPL its innovative thinking at the outset of the project during the Pre-Construction phase. The Constructability Review program is a collaborative tool providing real-time communication enabling the architect and engineers to quickly respond to any necessary changes. A three-day back check review session was conducted with the project team and all comments were verified and incorporated. The construction dollars saved due to such an exercise were ten times the cost of the constructability review.

Employing Sustainable Practices

Obtaining LEED Gold certification was one of the main goals that JPL wanted to achieve and was one of the project team’s primary endeavors. The project attained LEED Gold Certification under the LEED NCv2.2 Rating. Factors contributing to the rating included a living vegetated and white roof to help deflect the sun’s rays and heat; drought-tolerant and native plant materials that use 72 percent less water than a typical Southern California landscape design; energy conservation measures including improved wall and roof insulation, efficient chillers and boilers, installed shading devices, and a lowered lighting power density. Additionally, More than 75 percent of the waste generated during the construction was diverted from the landfill and instead sent to a local recycling facility.


Pasadena, CA


NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

Design Team

(Design-Build) Architect: LPA, Inc. Contractor: Swinerton Builders

Construction Cost

$65 million


July 2009


- 2010 AGC Marvin M. Black - Excellence in Partnering Award Western Council of Construction Consumers (WCCC) Outstanding Award