News & Updates

Northern California Project of the Year Finalist: Gateway at Millbrae Stadium

October 16, 2023

Gateway at Millbrae Station, Millbrae, Calif.


Submitted by: Blach Construction

Owner: Republic Urban Properties

Partner Developer/Owner: The CORE Cos.

Lead Design Firm: Studio T-Square

General Contractor: Blach Construction/Cahill Contractors Joint Venture

Civil Engineer/Landscape Architect: HMH Civil Engineers

Structural Engineer: DCI Engineers; KPFF Consulting Engineers

Mechanical Design-Build Subcontractors: Air Systems An EMCOR Company; Bay City Mechanical; Pragmatic Inc.; Silicon Valley Mechanical

Electrical Design-Build Subcontractors: Belden; Design Electric; MDE Electric; H.A Bowen Electric Inc.

Plumbing Design-Build Subcontractors: Egan Plumbing; J.W. McClenahan Co.; W.L. Hickey Sons Inc.; JMC Consulting Engineers Inc.

Subcontractors: Berkeley Cement; Capitol Glass Co.; Daley's Drywall & Taping Inc.; Joseph J Albanese Inc.; Largo Concrete; Pacific Structures Inc.; RLH Fire Protection; US Glass & Aluminium Inc.; USGA Inc.; Westates Mechanical Corp.

More than a decade in the making, the 950,000-sq-ft Gateway at Millbrae Station (GMS) is one of the largest transit oriented developments in the U.S. Created through a public-private partnership, the development now connects a live/work/play community to the San Francisco Bay Area and San Francisco International Airport through Millbrae Station.

Previously a 9-acre parking lot, the site was transformed across five phases: two apartment buildings, a hotel, an office building and retail, restaurant and public spaces. A single joint-venture entity completed the multiphase development after three years in April 2023.

GMS “broke ground in January 2020 and was immediately besieged by pandemic-related challenges,” says James Woodbury, vice president at Blach Construction. “The team’s proactive and collective use of the latest technological tools enabled them to tackle these and many other challenges over the course of construction.”

Those included BIM and 3D modeling of the structures and MEP systems, which identified and resolved conflicts early. Laser scanning tools provided accurate as-built documentation of building elements, podium concrete slab evenness in particular. Meanwhile, preplacement data provided rebar and post-tensioned cable layout verification, MEP penetration coordination, structural embed layout and post-placement analysis.

With tight tolerances in the prefabricated structural system, laser scanning was also instrumental in analyzing plumbness and ongoing quality control. Drones created 3D walkthroughs, progress photos and videos of the entire project. The contractor self-performed the digital design-build system as well, conducting rigorous certification training for everyone involved.

GMS is the first project on the West Coast to utilize a seismically superior, prefabricated light gauge metal frame building system that required a sequential assembly, had fast installation and required little staging area. Crews used the system on the hotel and two apartment buildings. A highly efficient, unitized glazing system also offered faster installation and significant construction cost and schedule savings while increasing energy efficiency.

To cleanse and treat parts of the project located in bay mud with a low water table, a full-time water hygienist came on board. The team also worked with Millbrae to export and import tons of soil, in addition to removing a more than 150-year-old undocumented well, hazardous soil and piping.

Crews worked with PG&E to flag the 115-KW high-voltage lines that not only run parallel to two GMS buildings but also supply power to San Francisco, creating signage, visual precaution and education programs to ensure everyone who entered or worked on the site understood the clearance requirements and extreme hazard.

Topping out in just four months, the market-rate apartment building also featured a state-of-the-art automated parking system. The space-saving mechanical lift maximized the real estate available for housing and parking, and this builder-led design solution yielded a greater return on investment for overall land use.

“It truly took a village to bring Gateway at Millbrae Station across the finish line,” says Arash Baradaran, vice president at Cahill Contractors. “The success of the project was a reflection of the collaboration between all of the team members.”

Photo courtesy of Huntington Hotel Group
Photo courtesy of CBRE