Photos of the Week
Courtesy of DPR Construction
New, highly efficient air handling systems arrived last week and are being installed atop the third floor podium roof. The large units will ensure the proper ventilation that meets the strict requirements for health care applications. As part of the project’s effort for green building, the system will improve energy efficiency while meeting the heavy demands for a hospital running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
By Digby Christian, Project Team Leader
FIATECH is an industry consortium within the building industry. Its primary mission is to get all the “players” involved in capital projects to adopt new ways of thinking and new technologies to deliver higher value for the funders and end-users of construction projects.
Here is why our team won the award…
As most of our readers know, California’s deadline for retrofitting or building earthquake-proof hospitals from scratch is 2013, less than four years from now. The hospital project in its current form was validated as viable in August 2007, and design work was authorized to start in October of that year, leaving us just over five years to have the building be ready and open for business. Typically, in California, it takes at least seven years for a project of this magnitude.
So the team had to throw out all historical concepts of how design is done and come together as a wide-ranging, multi-company team involving the owner, the designers and the builders, and transform the design and construction process to drive two years out of the schedule. The team is now on track to achieve just that and did it primarily by redesigning the design process in a rigorous and unrelenting fashion, so that it no longer bears any real resemblance to tradition!
If you are familiar with the classic design process, you’ll know that it’s typically abbreviated as “SD-DD-CD”: Schematic Design (broad concepts typically discussed and agreed to by the owner and the architect exclusively); Design Development (often a General Contractor might have some involvement in this); and Construction Drawings (some trades might be brought on board to inform how these are put together). Then, the work goes out to the building community and those companies develop what are known as Shop Drawings. These drawings show in detail how every little and large item in the building will be fabricated, i.e., the structural elements, including steel, metal, glass, concrete, etc.
On the SMCCV project, all of the people who typically are brought in at the end are already on board, and most of them have been on board since August 2007. By the time this project completes its approval process through the County and State we will already be at the Shop Drawing stage. The building is being designed for fabrication now, while the design approval process is underway.
While this concept has been discussed for the last few years within the industry, and parts of the above have been implemented on other projects, no project has implemented this concept as broadly and as deeply as the SMCCV project; certainly not on a project this large and this complex. It is one of the reasons our project won the FIATECH award!
The other primary reason we won the award is because of how thoroughly the building has been designed in three dimensions (as opposed to the typical two dimensional paper drawings we are used to seeing). There are many very attractive shots of 3D design that you can find on websites, and in trade magazines but you can’t tell if the designs are any good—all you know is they look “cool.” But on the SMCCV project, we bring the entire team together at least every two weeks to work through the coordination effort. It’s painstaking and difficult, but utterly critical to a successful outcome in a shorter timeframe.
What is not often understood outside the industry, and to some extent even within the industry, is that different design disciplines use different software, and they can’t see each other’s work in real time while they are designing. Each company has to either import a converted file of each other’s work or send both files to a third package, such as Autodesk Navisworks, to see both designs at the same time. So it’s all too easy to have a poorly coordinated, unbuildable, three dimensional design—no different in fact than having a poorly coordinated, unbuildable, two dimensional design.
In addition, we have focused the team on the larger goal of designing for fabrication rather than the industry convention of designing to produce the construction documentation, which is then coordinated by the construction team. The team’s goal to design for fabrication means we are swimming against the tide. We are allowing our companies to each use their own best-in-class software and then developing a process that allows a high level of coordination and constructability to ensure that what is being designed is actually what we will build.
The above might seem dry and technical; however, by a) having a multi-company team involving all the construction trades from day one; b) throwing out the baggage of a poor design process and starting from scratch to build a better one; and c) having a goal of designing for fabrication will allow us to build a new hospital on schedule, within budget, and without any last minute compromises on the finished product.
On the Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley project, we are breaking new ground ahead of any other project in the country in the way such projects are handled. That, in essence is the reason why the team that is building your hospital won the 2008 FIATECH CETI Award.
In addition to the Sutter Health project team, I want to personally thank The Devenney Group, DPR Construction, Capital Engineering, The Engineering Enterprise, TMAD Taylor & Gaines, GHAFARI Associates, J W McClenahan, Morrow Meadows, Superior Air Handling, MPS Project Management, Navigant Consulting, Greenwood & Moore Engineering, Herrick Steel, Otis Elevators, Strategic Project Solutions, Royal Glass, Clark Pacific, Candela, Sparling, and numerous other specialty trade vendors for making it possible to receive this award—and to meet our 2013 deadline!
For all you construction buffs, or for anyone who is interested, check out FIATECH at http://www.fiatech.org/.
I welcome your questions and comments!
By Andrew Flanigan, Senior Planner/Designer with Devenney Group
One of our other main goals is to design a high performance, sustainable and truly green medical center. In fact we’re going for LEED Certification, which is the recognized standard worldwide for measuring building sustainability.
Progress towards this goal has been made through the integrated team process, which ensures that we are working together to achieve our desired certification level and build the new hospital in the spirit of LEED. Extensive team meetings focus on introducing the core LEED team and determining which credits were available and applicable to our project. As we move forward, the appropriate team member is extensively researching each credit, and the challenges and benefits are being discussed and worked through.
Some of the exciting goals we have identified as necessary to act as a role model in sustainability are listed below:
- Producing an active education program to showcase these efforts to the visitors of the hospital, while also highlighting the importance of sustainability in their lives.
- Reducing construction waste dramatically by diverting the debris away from landfills through reuse and recycling.
- Reducing water usage throughout the hospital with low flow plumbing fixtures.
- Optimizing energy performance before the building is even built with the use of a virtual energy model.
- Protecting our occupants from toxic chemical emissions by using Low VOC materials and having an indoor air quality management plan to improve air quality before the occupants even enter the building.
- Using a green roof and other strategies to reduce heat island effect.
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns by commenting on this post. We’ll be glad to respond within a few days, and we look forward to your comments.