School of Dentistry’s recent construction and renovation was a logistical symphony orchestrated during 21 months of construction.

The $45 million project included 20,700 square feet of new construction and about 211,000 square feet of renovation.

The fact that the building was fully occupied throughout construction was probably the most challenging part of the project, said Steve Stragand, senior project executive with Messer Construction, the general contractor.

Some 34 different time schedules were planned to accommodate faculty, students and patients. “There were big logistical, sequencing issues. It’s really hard to explain how difficult that is.”

Architects and contractors worked nights and some odd hours to accommodate staff, students and patients who filled the building five days a week and sensitive laboratory research that continued around the clock. They also confined themselves to working in 10,000- to 12,000-square-foot phases during the day.

“The mechanical and electrical infrastructure had to be updated while the building remained operational 24/7,” said Tom Hammer, associate and senior project manager of Louisville-based Luckett & Farley Architects, Engineers and Construction Managers, Inc.,

the project architects. “It was like a Houdini act to pull this off.” A new fourth-floor mechanical penthouse was added to the building to house new systems.

Stragand added that “the toughest part was keeping people cool or warm, keeping the temperature correct and keeping power constant.”

Messer ran two shifts and additional split shifts to accommodate 24-hour construction, Stragand said, adding that there was an average of 90 to 100 workers on the project each day including all shifts.

Overcoming challenges, using new technology

Melissa Atkinson, assistant dean for administration at the dental school, said people,file cabinets and desks had to be moved in phases one after the other to make way for construction, which is expected to be completed in late August.

“We’d close off this one space and everyone would scurry over here and work for a while,” Atkinson said. “Then we’d open up a space over here, and everyone would scurry there. The fact that we were able to keep everything going was a miracle.”

“It was like being in rush hour traffic — start, stop, start, stop, start, stop,” Hammer said.

In addition, the space-constrained construction site presented challenges. One lane of Muhammad Ali Boulevard had to be closed during construction, and building materials had to be brought in a little at a time because there was no room on site to store them.

“The site logistics were very tight as with any project downtown,” Stragand said. “We had an agreement with subcontractors that they couldn’t bring any more supplies on site than they could use in a week.”

Contractors also had to use special high-tech equipment to renovate the 40-year-old building.

“We could not cut any reinforcing steel in the structure so we had to use ground penetrating radar to scan the slab to find out where the reinforced steel was,” Stragand said. This enabled workers to drill holes in cement floors for wiring and piping while avoiding the steel beams.

Stragand said contractors also used infrared thermal imaging scanners to locate moisture on the aging roof.

New look for main entrance

From a design standpoint, perhaps the most significant change is the new and expansive main entrance on the building’s east side. It opens into a large reception and lobby area with windows and a décor that includes a warm palette of wood and glass.

A canopied, drive-through overhang on the exterior of the new main entrance protects people from the weather.

The former entrance was on the building’s west side facing Preston Street, a one-way thoroughfare. In order to be dropped off at that entrance, a passenger had to open the passenger-side door into oncoming traffic and step into the street. The new entrance, which will be accessed via a loop that enters off of Preston, is safer and more convenient,Atkinson said.

The project includes more than 200 new dental chairs within individual operatory units as well as dedicated waiting areas. Décor includes honey-colored wood panels, cherrycolored wood accents, brushed chrome, stone and beige, brown and green-flecked seating.

The units are equipped with chair-side electronic patient records and digital X-rays, eliminating the need for paper and file folders. “It’s great here. The school is beautiful,” said Wendy Spencer, a U of L dental assistant.

The environmentally friendly project is expected to achieve at least silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, Hammer said.

Other upgrades include a much larger central sterilization area in the basement, four renovated lecture halls that will seat more than 120 people each and five new conference rooms, Atkinson said.

The expanded space will enable U of L to increase the size of its dental school entering class from 80 to 120 students, according to Julie Helflin, health communications specialist. The first 120-member class will graduate in 2014, she said.

Atkinson said tuition generated by increased class size will help cover the cost of construction.

Project was boost to subcontractors during a slow period

Local and regional contractors got welcome business at the U of L School of Dentistry.

Among them were McCammish Manufacturing Co. of Winchester, Ky., which supplied laminate casework and wall panels.

“It’s been a big part of our business,” said Mark McCammish, president and CEO. The company’s contract was in the $800,000 range, so it was a substantial part of the firm’s annual sales, which are in the $3 million to $4 million a year range, he said. “It’s meant we’ve been able to keep some people on and have not had to have layoffs.”

Hussung Mechanical Contractors Inc. of Louisville did HVAC and plumbing work such as piping, duct work and temperature controls. “It came at a good time,” said Shawn Bray, project manager for Hussung. Bray said the dental school project represented about $11 million in revenue for Hussung over the life of the project.

Kingdom Enterprises, a Louisville-based painting and construction cleaning company, painted the interior of the building in ivory with accent walls of khaki green, brown, smoke gray and a clay-colored sienna. Kingdom also cleaned the construction site.

Willie Buckner, project manager for Kingdom Enterprise, said he did not know the total value of Kingdom’s contract but the current phase represented $60,000 in revenue.

Ready Electric Co. Inc. provided electrical wiring, switchboards and electrical service to the site. Haynes Perry, project manager for Ready, estimated that the Louisville-based company installed more than 500,000 feet of new wiring, more than 4,000 light fixtures and 3,000 outlet boxes.

Perry said the value of Ready’s contract was between $4 million and $6 million over the life of the project.

“It was very, very complicated because there were several phases,” Perry said. “It was a very challenging job.”

School of Dentistry

    • Description: Construction, renovation of the dental school on the University of Louisville’s Health Sciences Campus
    • New construction: 20,700 square feet
    • Renovation: About 211,000 square feet
    • Project cost: $45.2 million
    • Architect: Luckett & Farley Architects, Engineers and Construction Managers Inc. of
    • Louisville Construction manager: Messer Construction Co.

What it took

    • Drywall: 12,000 sheets or 400,000 square feet
    • Acoustical ceilings: 175,000 square feet or 4½ acres
    • Metal stud framing: 332,000 linear feet or 63 miles
    • Flooring: 130,000 square feet
    • Piping: 43,000 linear feet
    • Ductwork: 250,000 pounds or 125 tons
    • Man hours: 255,000


reprinted with permission from Business First


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