Brasfield & Gorrie Expedites Construction of 30-Story Bridgestone Headquarters
$200M Bridgestone Tower Targets LEED Gold and Achieves Safety Goals on Tight Site
Bridgestone Americas, Inc., recently added some sheet music to the skyline of Music City.
The company’s new $200 million, 30-story Nashville, Tennessee, headquarters features an all-glass façade with four planes that extend beyond the building and roof line. “It looks like something that sits on a conductor’s stand,” said Randy Rabon, Senior Director of Development for Highwoods Properties, Inc., of Raleigh, North Carolina, the project’s developer. “The way the glass lines come across with the fins on the north and south elevations really does lend itself to be thought of as a set of sheet music.”
Bridgestone Tower, opened in December 2017, now ranks as the fifth-tallest building in Nashville and houses more than 1,700 employees. With Bridgestone wanting to bring all their key business units together in one building, the project operated on an aggressive schedule. The tight site in the heart of downtown next to the Country Music Hall of Fame and other landmarks offered its own obstacles. Despite the challenges, however, General Contractor Brasfield & Gorrie of Nashville, Tennessee, finished the project on schedule with a sparkling safety record and a target of LEED Gold certification.
Glass and a Vertical Campus
Brasfield & Gorrie began construction in December 2014. Replacing the parking lot that previously occupied the site, the cast-in-place concrete tower features 502,209 square feet of office and lobby space, with 15 floors of parking.
Architect Perkins+Will of Atlanta developed the glass façade design concept, implemented with a four-sided, structurally glazed, unitized curtain wall system. “Each individual piece of glass was constructed as a unit in the glass subcontractor’s production plant, in a controlled environment,” said David Gordon, Brasfield & Gorrie Division Manager. “All gaskets, critical caulk joints, and structural sealants were performed in the security of the indoors. The units were then loaded onto a truck and shipped to the jobsite, lifted into place, then fastened both together and to the structure. Once the units were in place, those portions of the exterior skin were essentially dried in with no other field work necessary.”
Although that process required a longer production lead time, “Once the units arrived onsite, the amount of labor required to install the glass system was drastically less,” Gordon said. “That meant the weather presented less of an issue with trying to reach an aggressive dry in of the building.”
Bridgestone employees now occupy the building’s top 14 floors, giving them elevated views through the glass exterior. “If you walk around that building on the office floors, you can see all of downtown Nashville,” Rabon said.
Below the office floors and atop the lobby and parking levels, the building’s 14th and 15th floors feature a large cafeteria, fitness center, and other amenities for employees. An outdoor terrace on the northwest corner offers practical function and a design element, appearing almost like a cut-out in the glass exterior. “It’s actually two floors high,” Rabon said. “There’s a park on the opposite corner so you can look out toward northwest Nashville with unobstructed views. It’s just gorgeous.”
Perkins+Will designed the building’s core, shell, and workspaces as a vertical campus, linked by a central stair. “All the floors are open; hard-wall offices were restricted mostly to the core,” Rabon said. “Everything was done to take advantage of the natural daylight.”
To top it off, the roofing system utilized several Firestone Building Products solutions: the UltraPly TPO Roofing System reduces the roof’s surface temperature and provides ozone and chemical resistance to ensure long-term performance; ISO 95+ GLlightweight, easy-to-handle insulation adds high energy efficiency; X-Tred furnishes a slip-resistant, self-draining walkway pad; and ISOGARD HD Cover Board gives high thermal performance with resistance to extreme weather conditions.
Bridgestone branding infuses the entire building. “When you walk in the front door, you see all makes and sizes of tires hanging,” Rabon said. “Some of the design team called them ‘tire charms,’ like a charm bracelet. Further down to the right is a Formula One racecar. On the parking levels, you don’t remember your floor level so much as you remember the vehicle type and tire represented by that floor.”
30 Stories in 32 Months
The project’s aggressive schedule required precise planning. “Starting construction in December with a 32-month overall schedule, we had to span three winters – with 26 of those months either in mass excavation or pouring concrete on the structure,” Gordon said. “We had to make sure we had a solid plan of how to be most efficient when the weather worked with us and how to best prepare when we were in the throes of storms.”
Brasfield & Gorrie managed the schedule based on milestones rather than a detailed Gantt chart. “Our team developed an extremely detailed schedule that was nearly 100 pages long at the peak of the project,” Gordon explained. “Handing that out to 30 to 35 subcontractors and their lead supervision would have been cumbersome, so we decided as a team to manage the schedule internally. We shared the major milestones with the entire subcontracting team on a weekly basis in order for us all to be aligned. Communicating often and early was a key factor of success.”
Technology also streamlined the process. The design team used Building Information Modeling (BIM) software Autodesk Revit to produce construction documents and supplemental materials. Revit files were shared with the construction team and used to create shop drawings for formwork, exterior glazing, mechanical systems, and electrical systems. In addition, BIM clash detection protocol coordinated overhead systems such as HVAC ductwork, plumbing piping, fire protection piping, and light fixtures to minimize issues during installation.
With Brasfield & Gorrie self-performing the field engineering, concrete structure, temporary waterproofing, temporary safety, and other tasks totaling more than 200,000 man-hours, they maintained control over cost, schedule, quality, and safety. “Our ability to self-perform work was a key factor in our successful completion of this project,” Gordon said.
Safely Building Curb to Curb
In addition to the aggressive schedule, “Another challenge was the fact that we were building curb to curb in an urban core setting on a very high-profile block,” Gordon said. “To the west was the Omni Hotel and the Country Music Hall of Fame. To the east was a fully occupied mid-rise condominium. To the north was the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, where Nashville’s Symphony performs on a regular basis.”
Since the project covered an entire city block with no staging room outside the building footprint, Brasfield & Gorrie installed screened safety fencing with gates at all four corners to provide easy access for deliveries.
Keeping workers safe on the tight site demanded constant vigilance. “Every time an overhead load was moved, someone with a whistle followed the load to protect the other workers,” Rabon related. “Brasfield & Gorrie provided safety officers and a very tight safety protocol. Every worker underwent extensive safety training, and every meeting literally started with the word safety and a discussion about that.”
Those efforts paid off. “The workplace was incredibly intense, but with a lot of planning Brasfield & Gorrie did a masterful job,” Rabon said. “We achieved an incredible safety record – no lost-time accidents up until the very last year when one person fell off a small ladder and hurt his elbow.”
Targeting LEED Gold Inside and Out
From the start, the project aimed for LEED Gold certification. “The Bridgestone Tower is targeting points for sustainable sites, including credits for brownfield redevelopment, public transportation access, storm water design, and heat island effect,” Gordon said.
In addition, “Low-flow plumbing fixtures were used exclusively throughout the building to achieve a 30 percent reduction in potable water,” he said. “The high-performance building systems – including low-e curtain wall glazing, high-efficiency HVAC equipment, and LED lighting – combine to optimize energy performance, outperforming the baseline building by 16 percent. Both fundamental and enhanced commissioning were utilized to ensure system performance complied with the design intent.”
Brasfield & Gorrie’s team exceeded project goals in construction waste management, recycled content, and regional materials. To protect Bridgestone employees who now occupy the building, “We used low-emitting materials and implemented a construction indoor air quality management plan,” Gordon said.
Key Project Personnel
- Owner/Developer – Highwoods Properties, Inc., Raleigh, North Carolina
- Tenant – Bridgestone Americas, Inc., Nashville, Tennessee
- Developer Consultant – Giarrtana Nashville, LLC, Nashville, Tennessee
- General Contractor – Brasfield & Gorrie, Nashville, Tennessee
- Designer for Core/Shell – Perkins+Will, Atlanta, Georgia
- Designer for Tenant Improvements – Perkins+Will, Chicago, Illinois
- Owner’s Representative – CBRE, Nashville, Tennessee
- Structural Engineer – Uzun+Case, Atlanta, Georgia
- Civil Engineer – Barge Design Solutions, Nashville, Tennessee
- MEP Engineer – Integral Group, Richmond, Virginia
- Geotechnical Engineer – PSI, Nashville, Tennessee
- LEED Consultant – GreenSTUDIO, Nashville, Tennessee
- The 30-story Bridgestone Tower includes:
- 305,000 square feet of glass exterior, equal to 3 million iPhone screens
- 50,000 cubic yards of concrete, enough to fill a 20-mile road
- 5,000 tons of rebar, the same weight as 665 African elephants
- Four million linear feet of electrical wiring, enough to connect Nashville with New York City
- 10,790 linear feet of fiber optic cable, enough to span 30 football fields
- 1.5 million linear feet of low-voltage copper cable, enough to lap Talladega Superspeedway 108 times