The Opus Group was awarded the Design-Build Excellence Award and Best Project Award for the University of St. Thomas Anderson Student Center by the Upper Midwest Region Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA).  The award is an addition to the list of accolades earned by Opus, which includes the same distinction for Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex in 2011.

Project submissions were evaluated primarily on the success in achieving the owner’s project goals and success in implementing design-build best practices, according to DBIA.

Jeff Mertens, Opus project manager for the facility, submitted the award application and noted why it was significant that this project was a “design-build.” “The design-build process is often chosen because of lower costs and speed of schedule,” he said. “It’s a more comprehensive approach to construction and allows for more collaboration and efficiency.”

Before construction began, St. Thomas challenged the Opus design-build team to save three percent of the project’s overall construction budget. The team was able to provide a savings of $2.7 million or more than four percent, which resulted in the addition of the underground parking structure.

Another noteworthy innovation was the ability of Opus crews to operate within the restricted property site area – positioned between the existing football stadium, lower quad and historic Summit Avenue. “We were able to pull this off in a tight space,” said Mertens.

Mertens also noted that during the 20 months of construction, which included 260,000 labor hours, there was only one lost-time accident. According to a judge’s score sheet, “Regarding safety, they did a tremendous job with their performance based on the total number of hours worked.”

“This type of recognition says something about Opus as a leader among their peers,” said Mary Ann Ryan, associate vice president for student affairs. “We’re blessed to have them involved.”

The Anderson Student Center was built with the help of a $60 million gift to the Opening Doors campaign from St. Thomas trustee Lee Anderson and his wife, Penny. The building is named in their honor.