The project faced a month in weather-related delays which needed to be mitigated. Trade worker deficiencies in the region and tight access on the project site in the newly expanded Midtown and Main Street corridor in downtown Houston presented further challenges.
In addition, delivering a hybrid structural steel and prefabricated CFMF project in a region where it had never been done before was a unique challenge that DPR, the designer and the owner embraced.
The recenter project demonstrated the value and efficiency derived from DPR’s pairing of VDC with digital prefabrication, tapping the resources of Digital Building Components (DBC). The team engaged DBC early in the design process to optimize the design for its digital fabrication software. On the production line, the software sends everything to the production machines to do the bulk of work.
The project’s unique hybrid design and construction solution combined a two-story steel podium with three floors of the DBC-prefabricated light-gauge steel wall system. This innovative method successfully reduced costs and shortened the construction schedule by approximately three months, allowing installation that was at least four times faster than it otherwise would have been – and helping the project make up time from weather delays.
An 8-person crew installed about 2,300 sq. ft. per day – completing 30,000 sq. ft. of structure, framing and sheathing in a mere 13 days, compared to what would have taken up to 60 workers on site an estimated 3.5 months to construct using a conventional steel, concrete or wood system. In contrast, the two-story steel podium structure forming the first two floors required 16 weeks to perform the same scopes.
The prefabricated system not only saved on schedule, but also solved local trade resource deficiencies, since it was manufactured and fabricated offsite. It avoided trade stacking and further complicating the site’s access issues. Finally, it resulted in zero safety incidents, cutting three months off any potential incidents.
Originally designed using conventional steel construction, the recenter team’s decision to pursue prefabrication on the project was driven by scheduling considerations. DPR’s design and owner partners were impressed with the rapid pace of construction and the positive results, which included schedule savings, safety, quality, and a budget that came in at the same cost as conventional steel.