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MVE Institutional Inc.

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Since its establishment seven years ago, MVE Institutional (MVEI) Inc. has carved out a niche designing student housing, educational, civic and public projects. The company’s base is now expanding to include large-scale housing and administrative projects in the military sector.

The Irvine, Calif.-based architecture and planning firm is teaming with general contractors on design-build projects at Wheeler Army Airfield in Hawaii and Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, Calif. MVEI also continues its work on educational facilities, with a large student housing project at the University of Cali­fornia, Irvine headlining a busy portfolio.

In addition to its main headquarters in Irvine, MVEI also operates offices in Oakland and San Diego, Calif., and Honolulu, Hawaii, giving the firm a strong presence in the western United States, says Founding Partner Ernesto “Ernie” Vasquez , who formed the company with Principal Robert Simons in 2003.

MVEI is also looking at opportunities for growth in the military sector in places such as Guam – where a major military base relocation is scheduled during the next few years – and the Southeast, where the company has formed a joint venture with architecture and engineering firm Rosser International of Atlanta. “We’re pursuing opportunities at military bases in mar­ketplaces worldwide including the South­ern United States, Asia and the South Pacific,” Vasquez adds. 

Military Projects

MVEI has teamed with contractor Turner Con­struction to build two large bachelor enlisted quarters (BEQ) campuses at Camp Pendleton in California. Construction costs for both campuses are estimated at a combined $200 million. Construction started last summer on the BEQ projects which will house more than 2,000 Marines. 

Each campus will also feature recreational and training facilities, administrative offices and other support services, as well as multi-purpose community areas. MVE Institutional is drawing on its experience in student housing in its designs for the BEQs, Vasquez says. 

“Our goal is not only to provide housing for our enlisted men and women, but to create a community that addresses their practical needs while allowing them the opportunity to engage one another on a professional and social level,” he adds.

The first phase of the project is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2011.

MVEI is also teaming with Kiewit Building Group of Omaha, Neb., on a $60 million BEQ barracks complex at Wheeler Army Airfield to house roughly 200 soldiers. Construction started this year and is scheduled to end in 2012.

Helping the Underserved

MVE Institutional and PCL Construction, Inc. have teamed to reposition and create a new replacement for the existing two-story Verona student housing facility on the University of California, Irvine campus. The $100 million project involves transitioning the existing building into a four-story, 2,500-bed facility, Vasquez says. 

The project is now underway and construction is expected to conclude next year. Other major MVEI-designed institutional projects that are scheduled to be completed in 2011 include the $45 million police headquarters for the Port of Los Angeles, as well as a number of K-12 schools for the Los Angeles Unified School District and a performing arts theatre for the Oxnard Community College District.

Many of MVEI’s educational projects are located in disadvantaged communities. “A big part of our personal goal and philosophy is working to improve underserved communities,” Vasquez says. “I grew up in East L.A.; my background gave me the understanding of the importance of education and the need for quality public facilities.

“As architects, our goal is to serve our clients while creating learning environments where our students can thrive,” he adds. 

MVE also strives to serve the community through projects aimed at providing housing for low-income families and seniors. The company is currently working with construction partners on senior and affordable housing opportunities in California, Hawaii and the Southwestern United States, Vasquez says.

Focus Areas

MVE Institutional’s involvement on its projects does not end with preliminary designs and renderings. The company retains close relations with contractors throughout the cons­truction process. “We collaborate with builders as partners, as opposed to just providing a drafting service,” Vasquez says. 

The company’s partners and clients alike have benefited from its embrace of building information modeling (BIM) five years ago. “The technology allows our design and engineering team to give clients more complete presentations and updates from a project’s beginning to its end, keeping clients more engaged and allowing them the ability to closely manage costs,” Vasquez adds. 

Another major area of focus for MVE Insti­tutional is sustainable design. The Port of Los Angeles Police Headquarters project is seeking LEED Gold certification, while many of the company’s other projects are designed to meet LEED or other sustainable program standards such as California High Performance Schools (CHPS) certification, Vasquez says. 

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