Two Owners, Two Architects, Two Contractors

Prefabrication and assembly of the complex exterior copper skin panels on the ground, which were then hoisted into place, improved productivity by 20 percent. (Photo by Bill Timmerman)
By accommodating two end users, the HSEB unites both ends of the state while addressing a growing need for educating healthcare professionals to mitigate a physician shortage, nationwide. (Photo by Bill Timmerman)

From the outset, the team delivering the 268,000-sq.-ft. Arizona Board of Regents’ Health Sciences Education Building (HSEB) project on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus was focused on finding the most inventive solutions to overcome enormous challenges in constructing this noteworthy project.

Team Players

Project: Health Sciences Education Building

Customers: Incorporated in 1881, the City of Phoenix ranks as one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation. The Arizona Board of Regents is the governing board for the state’s public universities.

Architects: CO Architects and Ayers Saint Gross

JV Partner: Sundt Construction, Inc.

Project Highlights:

  • The new, six-story, 268,000-sq.-ft. HSEB, seeking LEED-NC Gold certification, includes administrative offices, lecture halls, classrooms, a clinical skills suite, a simulation suite and laboratories.
  • In addition to the approximately $103 million HSEB project, a national grant will allow the team to build a separate laboratory research building, to be completed in May 2013.
  • The team overcame enormous challenges including: major scope change and reprogramming early on (due to 2008’s economic crisis); highly ambitious, complex architectural design; and critically tight budget and schedule.

The July completion of the HSEB followed a string of successful projects, constructed by DPR, on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus since 2000. Though located in downtown Phoenix, the new six-story HSEB, which is seeking LEED®-NC Gold certification, has significance to the entire state. By accommodating two end users—the University of Arizona College of Medicine from the south and Northern Arizona University Physical Therapy School from the north—it unites both ends of the state while addressing a growing need for educating healthcare professionals to mitigate a critical physician shortage, nationwide. In addition to two end-users, the project included: two owners, the City of Phoenix and Arizona Board of Regents; two architects, design and executive architect, CO Architects, and associate architect and master planner, Ayers Saint Gross; and DPR and Sundt Construction, Inc. in a joint venture.

Chief among the major team challenges was an extremely complex and unique design incorporating nearly 2,500 custom copper metal panels to emulate the cross-section of the Grand Canyon, a signature statement of the Arizona landscape. Striking in its aesthetic, the design, fabricated by Kovach Building Enclosures, proved particularly difficult to execute from a construction standpoint, according to Peter Berg of DPR.

“Nobody knew exactly how we were going to achieve the desired look,” Berg said. “We spent nine months working out all of the details in a design-assist fashion with CO Architects, an early selection of subcontractors, and our envelope consultant, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, for the exterior skin.” That collaboration was essential to ensure that the skin met the design architect’s vision (without any possible leaking) within the ultra-fast-paced schedule, without incurring budget stress.

The project team’s commitment to lean construction and world-class quality was critical to success. The team developed numerous innovative construction-management and project-delivery programs, which reduced costly rework and waste, including:

  • laser scanning that provided an incredibly detailed, cast-in-place concrete as-built model, which, when superimposed over the virtual Revit® model, allowed the team to resolve issues of competing tolerances in a virtual environment prior to fabrication and installation, thus eliminating rework;
  • placing building information modeling (BIM) carts in the field and allowing trades full access to the BIM model, which improved real-time field coordination;
  • using Bluebeam software-capable, wirelessly networked tablet computers to create a real-time visual rolling completion list system, which dramatically reduced the time each team member spent chasing down and resolving quality issues;
  • extensive use of virtual 3-D mockups, which were reviewed with customers to ensure that the finished product met end user needs and was built right the first time; and
  • prefabrication and assembly of the complex exterior copper skin panels on the ground, which were then hoisted into place, improved productivity by 20 percent, reduced installation time from 20 days to three, and eliminated the need for expensive and logistically-challenging scaffolding.

“The driver behind all of this is the idea that open collaboration is going to make us all better,” Berg commented. “The hallmark of this project was a really talented team that was constantly motivated by solution and possibility rather than blame and limitation.”

Director, Planning Design & Construction at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, University of Arizona, Gary Bagnoche, described the team’s performance as “absolutely seamless” and noted that the project’s success is evident from the positive response of the building’s end users.

“They are very happy to be teaching medical students in this cutting-edge facility,” Bagnoche commented. “What they didn’t see is the professionalism and craftsmanship that put this award-winning building together. We have had several visitors tour the facility from other institutions, and it is apparent—the bar has been raised.”