October 26, 2020
Vivex Biologics Center for Vivexcellence employee breakroom, complete with Vivex’s unique: Vivex Green!
Vivex Biologics Center for Vivexcellence employee breakroom, complete with Vivex’s unique: Vivex Green! Photo courtesy of Clark Grant Photography

DPR’s work on the VIVEX Biologics, Inc. interior expansion in the City of Opa-locka, Florida offers a key example of how the right plan and solid technical building skills can convert a commercial space into a productive life sciences and pharmaceutical R&D environment.

“This project was unique from the beginning because the outside box of the warehouse could not support all of the MEP components and all of the live loads,” said Ryan Colleran, a project manager at DPR Construction. DPR’s preconstruction and self-perform work teams collaborated with SDS Engineering to come up with a solution that would support the existing roof structure of the 40 feet high and 77,000-sq.-ft. high-bay warehouse space without the need for additional steel. “We decided to have a cold-formed system (CFS) erected by our drywall crew. A cold-formed system is a box within a box and that gave us a lot of flexibility,” said Colleran.

Sterile in-wall mounted washer unit located inside the Instrument Cleaning Room.
Sterile in-wall mounted washer unit located inside the Instrument Cleaning Room. Photo courtesy of Clark Grant Photography

The 40,200-sq.-ft. cold-formed overhead structure was designed by the project team by using the new load-bearing walls and the existing exterior concrete tilt-up wall panels. This process allowed all the new MEP systems and ceiling components to be supported independently of the original structure. “Based on the strength of that system, that will also allow us to put in a second floor in the future if we desire,” said VIVEX Vice President of Operations Tim Maye.

Additionally, the CFS solution saved time in the schedule and created a convenient way to access the new MEP and ceiling systems based on its location just above the new ceilings. “The CFS system was a cost reducer for the customer as well. By using the CFS system, the client would not need to touch or reinforce the existing roof structure,” said Colleran.

Instrument Cleaning room equipped with washers, tech wash sinks and pass thru cabinets.
Instrument Cleaning room equipped with washers, tech wash sinks and pass thru cabinets. Photo courtesy of Clark Grant Photography

The project team utilized as much self-perform work as they possibly could, from drywall, framing, and concrete. “We were able to pour all of our concrete pads and exterior work. We also utilized our specialties group,” said Colleran. The project team was able to make all penetrations and maintain the structural integrity through the CFS work by incorporating header details and even tube steel to span large openings that their light-gauge metal could not span. “One hundred percent of this facility was modeled by VDC. Our preconstruction team connected with our VDC team early in the process to model all of the components related to constructing this cold-formed system.”

Raising the 40-foot-long CFS structure columns also presented a challenge when it came time to raise them to a vertical position.

“We decided to use a pulley system,” said Miguel Boschetti, a DPR MEP project superintendent. “Not only did we do it safely, but we were also able to save a lot of time. When we first started on this operation, we were taking about 10 minutes per column. Once we started implementing our pulley system, we cut that time to about one minute per column,” said Boschetti.

Tigerflow Water Treatment Skid located in the Mechanical Room for (2) 420 ton Air-Cooled Screen Chillers.
Tigerflow Water Treatment Skid located in the Mechanical Room for (2) 420 ton Air-Cooled Screen Chillers. Photo courtesy of Clark Grant Photography

Although the CFS covers more than 50% of the entire project, no changes were made to the original design by the architect and engineer. “After we built the system, we were able to finish it with our acoustical ceiling tile and drywall, so aesthetically you won't even see the system. So, it's very pleasing on the eyes,” said Colleran.

A couple of our many equipment platform mounted air handling units serving both office and clean room spaces.
A couple of our many equipment platform mounted air handling units serving both office and clean room spaces. Fun Fact: Total clean room air distribution is about quadruple that of the office space. Photo courtesy of Clark Grant Photography

Located in an existing warehouse space in South Florida, the VIVEX project includes clean room, research & development, freezer storage as well as miscellaneous office and administrative support spaces.

“We're all very excited here about getting into the new place and it looks fantastic. DPR has done an excellent job. And when someone from DPR said, okay, we're going to do this by such and such a date - they would do that,” said Maye.