University of Michigan George Granger Brown Memorial Laboratories Receive Major Renovation
Completely revamping the George Granger Brown Memorial Laboratories building at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Granger Construction Co. in Lansing applied the latest technology and proven construction techniques to ensure the renovated building would serve students and faculty for years to come.
The approximately 220,000-square-foot GG Brown, constructed in 1958, houses the chemical, civil, materials sciences, and mechanical engineering departments. The departments continued to occupy the building during the renovation.
The State of Michigan provided $30 million in funding, and the university funded the balance with investment proceeds, College of Engineering resources, and Office of the Provost resources.
Integrated Design Solutions of Troy, Michigan, designed the renovation and a 62,500-square-foot addition to the laboratory building. That $46 million addition contains research laboratories and faculty and graduate student offices, as well as spaces that increased researchers' ability to use ultra-high-resolution measurements at molecular and atomic scales.
"The goal for the renovation was to mimic the addition and bring the rest of the building up to that aesthetic," says Paul Roller, Project Manager with Granger.
The university hired Granger Construction as a construction manager to provide the planning and move-management services in addition to standard construction services. Granger, founded in 1959, has successfully completed many projects for the university, including a North Campus Chiller Plant Expansion and the Vera B. Baits Houses II Renewal project. Granger is also working on the $168 million, 280,000-square-foot Stephen M. Ross Athletic Campus Athletics South Competition and Performance Project at the university.
Replacing Aging Infrastructure
Granger began this $47 million laboratory renovation project in July 2014 and is set to finish it in September 2016. It was about 80 percent complete in March 2016.
The company is upgrading the entire building's fire detection, alarm and emergency power systems. Throughout the majority of the building, it has undertaken a deep infrastructural renewal, updating heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical, plumbing, roof, windows and interior finishes.
"The majority of the work on this project, maybe 75 percent of it, was replacing aging infrastructure, mechanical systems, both forced air and piping systems, a new electrical substation, and reorganizing the existing electrical infrastructure," Roller says. "Being a laboratory building, it's a complicated mess of piping and duct work."
The renovation will also create approximately 25,000 square feet of new academic and instructional spaces.
"A significant chunk of the work was to reconfigure and create new instructional lab spaces for mechanical engineering, undergraduate primarily classroom, lab and collaboration space," Roller says.
To help figure out the existing piping and ductwork, Granger employed laser scanning of the above-ceiling conditions prior to construction.
"It aided in the design to try to figure out what piping was going to stay vs. removed and what needed to be moved to accommodate the new work," Roller says.
Laser scanning is a technique that produces a digital representation of the positions and dimensions of objects behind a wall or ceiling. The software turns that data into a point cloud image. Multiple scans taken from different angles can be brought together to produce a complete image. That information can be imported into a CAD or building information modeling program.
The original building had 16 small air-handling units scattered throughout the building, and the new design has four rooftop-mounted units and two new lab exhaust fans.
"That changes the ductwork distribution for the entire building," Roller says. "How you remove what's there and replace it with new is a challenge."
Additionally, Granger had to build a rooftop structure to support the four new air-handler units, but the existing steel building columns could not support the loads.
"We had to reinforce the columns through three layers of the building," Roller said. "We reinforced by welding steel plate or two additional steel tubes onto the existing wide-flange columns."
Some of the spaces were occupied, so those people had to be moved to allow for the reinforcement to take place. Granger built wooden sheds, with wood trusses, and created an enclosure, so crews could remove the roof and install the steel. The rooftop mechanical unit installation took place in October 2014 and June 2015, when the weather was less severe. Granger got the rooftop steel ready during the summer and winter prior to the crane lifts for the units.
A Greener Lab
The renovated lab is designed for energy efficiency, which will allow for an estimated 38 percent energy savings compared with an energy code compliant building. Granger added insulation in the roof assemblies and installed a high-efficiency HVAC system, with occupancy sensors to turn off the heating or cooling when spaces are unoccupied. Air to the labs is preheated with the North Campus Chilled Water Loop.
Features include a high-performance glazing system for improved thermal performance and energy-efficient light fixtures that turn off when the room is not occupied. A light-colored roof decreases the heat island effect. Water consumption is reduced with dual-flush toilets, low-flow urinals, and low-flow sinks.
Granger also followed sustainable building practices, such as recycling materials and using FSC-certified wood and low-VOC adhesives, sealants, paints and flooring. The university reused furniture and equipment in several areas.
Working in an Occupied Building
One of the prime challenges was completing the renovation while the building remained occupied. Several research labs could not be shut down for a long period of time. The project was split into 10 phases of construction, with several subphases.
Granger representatives met with building occupants, the college and architect to develop a phasing plan that met everyone's needs most of the time.
"We were utilizing swing space, mostly within the existing building, to accommodate people while renovating their space," Roller explains. "The challenge is to keep the occupied areas functional while we remove duct work and controls in the area where we are working."
This frequently required temporary work to keep the HVAC system supplying air to the occupied spaces. Granger planned for that in advance, but often had to come up with solutions once construction began.
"I'm proud of how the team worked together with the user groups, the College of Engineering, and the architect to develop a plan with a chance of succeeding and continuing to work with them throughout the course of construction," Roller says.