Construction hurdle face-off
The construction team tackled several major challenges head-on while navigating the AMC project. First, sheet flooring could not be installed in the building as a whole on its scheduled start date. “The flooring manufacturer's testing indicated the concrete slab moisture content was too high. We had to find a sealer that would allow us to install the floor and maintain the warranty. We found a product, but we still had to bead blast the floor and then add, in most cases, two coats of the product. This time was not in our project schedule. We overcame the delay by increasing manpower, going to extended hours, and developing a re-sequenced fragmented schedule,” Sucec says.
That construction dilemma was quickly followed up with an encore hurdle thanks to Mother Nature. “We also experienced two separate wind/rain storms that forced rainwater into the building from the temporary roof. The second storm also damaged the permanent roofing system. Both storms resulted in rainwater entering the building from the roof and flowing down into the building for five floors. We had to remove painted drywall, finished casework, and finished flooring; determine the extent of the damage; initiate a mold mitigation process; validate that all damaged material was replaced; and rebuild all the affected interior area. Given the hospital's extreme sensitivity to mold, the testing and inspection were extraordinarily complex. We again accomplished this with additional manpower and extended hours,” Sucec says.
No need to break the bank
Kraus and Sucec agree that the budget was the most challenging aspect of the AMC project. “We [architect and contractor] talked early and often-from design through final construction,” Kraus says. “As with most projects, we had a considerable hurdle to [value engineer] nearly $30 million out of the project to control costs. Not only did we meet together, but we met with subcontractors as well to review the design, refine details, and improve pricing. In many cases, by focusing on good communication, we were able to adjust the design together, making informed decisions.”
That mantra resonated on the design side of the project as well. “When terra cotta pricing first came in, the typical VE options quickly arose of possibly looking at brick or precast,” Kraus says. “However, when we met with the subs and were able to overlay both the schedule, as well as the cost of the total wall system, we realized that by making the panel sizes of the terra cotta one foot longer, we could greatly save labor through fewer pieces to hang and greatly reduce the price. By communicating together, we learned that the lighter system requires less steel, and shallower footings also improve costs. The lesson is communication. Great design doesn't have to break the bank, all parties need to be flexible and nimble to search for the best solutions to the challenge.” HBI
For more information on University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center, visit www.uhhospitals.org. Healthcare Building Ideas 2011 Winter;8(1):28-38