Clark Construction Meets Aggressive Schedule for Collaborative A. James Clark Hall
Creating additional research and academic space for the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering and Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices, Clark Construction Group expects to complete the $153 million A. James Clark Hall before the next school year on the university's College Park campus.
"Our researchers are hard at work on biomedical projects that are staggering in their potential impact - a cure for multiple sclerosis, a cancer vaccine, a magnetic pain reduction system and many others," said University of Maryland President Wallace Loh, at a November 2014 groundbreaking. "When complete, this new building will give them the space and facilities to finish the job."
The 184,000-square-foot building is part of a bioengineering center designed by Ballinger of Philadelphia. Clark Construction of Bethesda, Maryland, and Ballinger recently collaborated to deliver the George Washington University's new 700,000-square-foot Science and Engineering Hall.
Clark Construction completed the University of Maryland's Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building and its Fischell addition, which currently houses the Department of Bioengineering. But the department has grown quickly and the new building will add classrooms and long-awaited collaborative working spaces. The current construction is taking place on a former parking lot just north of the Kim building.
"This is one of the largest projects we have undertaken and it has an aggressive schedule of two years," says Bill Olen, Executive Director of the University of Maryland Service Center. The project is on track for a June 2017 finish.
The university envisions Clark Hall serving as a collective hub for new partnerships that will support research and biomedical innovation. Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said at the building's ceremonial groundbreaking that the facility will help keep Maryland at the forefront of biomedical technologies and foster collaboration with the National Institutes of Health.
University System of Maryland Chancellor Emeritus William E. Kirwan anticipates that the building will help attract faculty and students to the school. The university also reported that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the greatest growth of any job category will occur in biomedical engineering through 2020.
The increase in enrollment and research dollars convinced the university to invest in the new building, Olen says.
Ballinger designed the building to achieve LEED Silver certification. Clark Hall, named for long-time Clark Construction Group head and University of Maryland graduate and benefactor A. James Clark, will contain accessible teaching spaces where students can work in teams in flexible, open laboratories and specialized core labs to support an evolving research program dedicated to enhancing human health.
Designing the Hall
Clark Hall, a concrete-frame building, sits on a deep concrete caisson foundation, reaching to depths of 135 feet with concrete slabs supported by compacted area piles for some vibration-sensitive equipment. The building rises from street level, with two floors of mechanical and six of occupied spaces.
An interesting aspect of the construction was the necessity of coordinating with the Maryland Aviation Authority and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), due to the proximity of the nation's oldest continually operating airport in College Park. The crane placement and building itself had to consider the airport functions.
"We had to make sure it fit within the flight path," Olen says. "We are a half-mile from the end of the runway. Not a lot of campuses have to deal with the FAA."
Because the building sits on a 100-year flood plain, it is built without a basement, where traditionally, the university places mechanical and electrical equipment, Olen explains. Therefore, in this building, the university has placed the mechanical room on the first floor and encased it in glass, so it is visible from the street. The building features a two-story atrium space and a two-story flexible open laboratory space on the first level, with polished concrete and windows. A crane beam runs out the center of the lab and has hydraulic doors to bring in big pieces of equipment.
"It's real techy," Owen says. "The whole first floor research space is visible from the street. It creates an opportunity for interaction and to look in and out."
Rising from the Ground
The additional stories house 7,332 square feet of flexible classrooms, optical laser laboratories, imaging laboratories, and electromagnetic and radio frequency-interference shielded spaces for sensitive equipment. Students and faculty will be able to view molecular pathogens, and demonstrate how nano-carriers can deliver medications to a specific tumor site. Laser devices and magnetic resonance imagers will enable closer examination of cross-sections of the body and brain.
"There is a lot of specialized MEP work and coordination involved," says Garret Wellman, Clark's Superintendent responsible for interior construction. Clark has taken a team approach and is using BIM to make sure the building's complex series of utilities and systems are properly coordinated.
"BIM helps identify clashes at each level before work begins," Wellman says. "This extensive planning allows me to focus on MEP rough-in coordination and resolving any additional issues that arise in the field."
The mechanical/plumbing subcontractor is prefabricating racks of piping with tempered water, natural gas, compressed air, vacuum and lab water.
"It saves time to install large racks of piping rather than each individual pipe one piece at a time, and it's much safer to assemble the racks in the controlled environment in their shop," Wellman says.
Building a Connected Team
Everyday, Clark personnel conduct a morning huddle to discuss the day's activities and any issues those activities might produce, and how to safely complete each activity. Additionally, the team meets weekly for a six-week "look a head" to solve issue proactively, Wellman says.
Clark Construction is using The Last Planner system to promote conversation and teamwork amongst the subcontractors for planning and scheduling. This management tool, which Clark has used on multiple projects across the country, has proven critical to developing and achieving ambitious construction schedules.
One challenge was the tight space in the center of a bustling campus. Clark Construction developed a site-utilization plan using BIM to plan temporary facilities and logistics that did not affect traffic or students. The temporary loading dock and hoist area is located in the center of the job site, so deliveries can be taken on each side of the site simultaneously.
"We have done the best with logistics," Wellman says. "Our exterior superintendent, who is responsible for this, has excelled at executing our site-utilization plan and coordinating deliveries with the team."
Clark is using Bluebeam software and taking the latest drawings for the building into the field on iPads.
The top floor research space has its own HVAC system and a back-up generator in case of outages. Additional ductwork was required in these spaces for increased air circulation in those spaces, Wellman explains.
The other floors used a chilled-beam system for cooling. The benefits of a chilled-beam system are derived from the energy savings and the less space taken up as compared to a typical HVAC system.
"Chilled-beam systems are a more efficient way to cool and offer cost savings," Wellman says.
The building exterior is clad with curtain wall with aluminum baguette sunshades, masonry, cast-stone accents and metal-wall panels. The curtain wall system required significant coordination between the architect and construction manager, Olen says.
"It was close to a design assist on the curtain wall," Olen says. "The curtain wall is completed, and we are just about closed in."
Lean processes and collaboration has created a successful environment, ready to deliver the project on time.
"The atmosphere my team has created here has promoted the safety and collaboration needed to deliver a world-class project," Wellman says. "We also have a great team of subcontractors that are pushing this project along."