Many of our projects involve working in, around, above, or below occupied facilities. This scenario involves not only creative techniques to tie in to the existing building, but also increased communication with your staff to coordinate construction activity around critical—and unplanned—operations.
One such project was the addition and renovation of St. Elizabeth Boardman Health Center, which involved the following general scope items:
- Two-story addition above existing surgery suites
- Six-story, 184,000 SF tower addition above the existing lobby and surgery suites
- Various renovations to the existing structure
Because of the construction above the existing surgery units, extra coordination with the surgeons dictated when we needed to halt our work for a planned—or unplanned—surgery. Below are some specific obstacles to overcome.
One of those obstacles was presented by the existing OR’s steel columns, which were designed to accommodate a one-story addition; however, this project added two stories. Our team developed a plan to reinforce the steel columns without any interruptions to the surgery schedules. To accomplish this, our team built a plan to–over the course of eight weekends–systematically tackle the steel columns, two or three per weekend.
- Friday night: tear out the drywall.
- Saturday morning: weld stiffening plates and angles to the columns.
- Saturday night: fireproof the columns.
- Sunday: patch up the drywall, paint and clean up.
The team would begin work after the last surgery Friday night and leave the operating room spotless by Sunday night, showing no signs of our presence.
Maintaining Existing Roof during Construction
The existing OR roof needed to remain in place during the two-story vertical expansion. Over a three-week period, our project team built temporary roof curbs over each column that needed to expand vertically. This allowed us the flexibility to open up the roof when the weather cooperated, remove the curb cap and make the appropriate structural connections. The roof then was temporarily flashed back around the added columns. After the vertical expansion was built and dried-in, the existing OR floor roof was then removed to make way for the interior build-out of the NICU floor (1st story of the two-story addition).
As the finishing work of the two floors commenced, our project team continued to coordinate work around the surgery schedules because the finished project did not allow as much insulation above the OR to minimize noise and vibration from certain construction activity (i.e., rolling around drywall on carts). At times, it was necessary to cease construction immediately to accommodate planned/unplanned surgeries.
Connecting the Old to the New
Connecting all floors horizontally to the existing building also provided several challenges. One was keeping the building dry. To address this, we left the existing façade intact and only opened it up at each beam connection. Once the building was dried-in, we then demolished the existing exterior walls/façade. Another challenge was matching existing elevations at the floor level without removing the whole façade. Strategically located as-built elevations were taken to allow us to build the new structure and make field modifications prior to removing the façade.
Despite these impediments, we persevered. With our core value of being reliable in mind, we found new ways to accomplish these tasks and stayed true to our promise of finishing on time, even if it meant working overtime and on weekends. At the end of it all, we were proud of our determination and what we had created with all the cards stacked against us.