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Florida International University Academic Health Center 4

Florida International University Academic Health Center 4 | Miami, Florida

Cutting-Edge Academic Health Center Project Advances FIU’s Status as Leading Research University

Teamwork, quality and innovation were major factors in the successful delivery of the Florida International University (FIU) Academic Health Center 4 project. Helping FIU fulfill its mission to be a “Worlds Ahead” university and to advance its reputation as a leading research university, the project ranked as the most high-tech project ever delivered for the university when it was completed on FIU’s Miami campus in 2013. It was the first project on the FIU campus to fully incorporate and leverage building information modeling (BIM).

The 137,000-sq.-ft., six-story cast-in-place concrete-framed lab and classroom complex includes classrooms, common areas and built-out wet and dry lab space. The facility provided FIU with its first vivarium, a 10,000-sq.-ft. transgenic space, biosafety level 2 labs, flexible research space, study rooms for graduate students, and offices and faculty/student gathering spaces designed to promote collaborative work.

The Challenges

DPR had just 547 calendar days to complete the Academic Health Center 4 project – an end date that never changed despite an estimated 117 inches of rainfall over 18 months. The project team lost 10 work days in the first six weeks alone. Compounding the extremely wet weather was geography. The project’s location just above sea level enhanced the challenge of digging and pouring concrete footers in such a saturated environment.

Additionally, constructing the project in the middle of the main FIU campus, just 50 feet from another active construction project that was being built concurrently, delivered significant coordination and logistical challenges.

Exterior shot of FIU Academic Health Center.

Constructing the project in the middle of the main FIU campus, just 50 feet from another active construction project that was being built concurrently, delivered significant coordination and logistical challenges.

the Solutions

The team devised a host of innovative cost- and schedule-saving solutions to deliver a project that was among the most high-tech facilities ever delivered for FIU.

For starters, DPR leveraged BIM not just for MEP coordination and clash detection but also to improve field processes. Offsite prefabrication was another key solution. The decision to pre-glaze the 120 architectural precast panels that make up the building’s exterior skin at an offsite manufacturing facility netting substantial savings. “Float” time between fabrication and installation of the panels was used to pre-install the 1,020 punched windows into the panels, shaving seven weeks off the dry-in critical path – translating into a schedule savings of about $343,000. An additional estimated $64,000 in labor and equipment savings that was realized by installing the windows at the precaster’s yard had the added benefit of enhancing quality control and promoting safer installation.

Another inventive approach involved the epoxy flooring installation. A plan was devised to install the first two coats of epoxy prior to closing in the building and framing walls – a solution that DPR estimated shaved approximately 13 days off the critical path.

Interior of a lecture hall, classroom.
Interior of an FIU facility room.
the Result

The project achieved its goals for schedule, cost and quality, finishing on time and on budget. The strong existing partnership between DPR and Perkins + Will, who had designed and built over 40 projects together before this FIU job got underway in 2011, contributed to the successful outcome.

Exterior evening shot of the FIU campus.

The project achieved its goals for schedule, cost and quality, finishing on time and on budget.

"The strength of the project team stems from a team approach and constant communication. The team performed with a high level of professionalism and a proactive attitude in problem-solving."

Oscar Irigoyen

Senior Project Manager | FIU