KCI Technologies Inc.: P-109 Child Development Center Renovation/Addition
Engineering firm: KCI Technologies Inc.
2014 MEP Giants rank: 66
Project: P-109 Child Development Center Renovation/Addition
Address: Bethesda, Md., U.S.
Building type: Government building/military facility
Project type: New construction
Engineering services: Automation/controls, electrical/power, fire/life safety, HVAC/mechanical, lighting, energy/sustainability, plumbing/piping, and other
Project timeline: 10/1/2012 to 6/1/2014
MEP/FP budget: $675,000
Among the nation’s largest military medical facilities, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center provides care for active duty service personnel, returning war heroes, veterans, and our nation’s leaders. In their quest to offer the optimum care for those who give so much of themselves to our nation, their staff of 8,500 require some support of their own. The Naval Support Activity Bethesda commissioned a design-build team to expand existing on-site child care facilities by constructing a new 34,291-sq-ft child development center (CDC) and a 5,262-sq-ft continuous child care facility (CCCF). Together, the two new buildings will support more than 300 children, 20 of whom can receive care 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. KCI Technologies Inc. served as engineer of record, providing mechanical, electrical, fire protection, structural, site/civil, and geotechnical engineering, and surveying services for the new construction. Building features include radiant heat flooring, administrative support spaces, a reception area, offices, training room, staff support, break room, storage area, facility support, kitchen with a loading area, janitor’s closet, laundry area, mechanical room, telecommunication, electrical closets, and a closed-circuit TV room. Fire protection, HVAC, mechanical, electrical, telecommunication, and security systems were installed. The facilities were designed to meet the requirements of LEED Silver certification as well as anti-terrorism/force protection standards. With an aggressive schedule in place, the team’s first challenge came when the original mechanical contractor withdrew from the project post-award, requiring the entire team to scramble to finalize the construction team. Engineers then had to overcome a series of logistical obstacles to meet acoustic and equipment access requirements, while initiating a relationship with a company unfamiliar with the project. To meet the schedule, construction of both buildings occurred simultaneously, creating challenges in timing and connectivity between the electrical service from the existing facility to the new buildings.
For each major challenge, solutions centered around one specific concept—teamwork. At the beginning of the project, losing the team’s mechanical contractor created an immediate vacuum that was quickly filled with a new firm. The team rallied around the new firm to increase coordination and regular communication. Even though the new firm was coming directly off another CDC project, the systems required at Bethesda were vastly different and the company was new to both the construction and design team. Engineers and contractor personnel worked closely together to convey the requirements of the request for proposal (RFP), rapidly educating the contractor on mandatory versus contractor preference items. All team members quickly understood that playing catchup also created a moving target in terms of schedule. Design staff maximized the use of BIM to help with coordination and visualization. Construction requirements created unique applications, often causing units to be fit in tight spaces because of siting. Logistical obstacles related to site features, like roads and parking, along with acoustic and maintenance provisions, led engineers to create a mechanical second floor inside the pitched roof the CDC to house the dedicated outside air systems (DOAS) that provided each room with ventilation air. The one-story building was never intended for a second or mezzanine level, and structural accommodations had to be made. In addition, units throughout the building had to be placed to overcome potentially unacceptable noise levels in each classroom. To maximize efficiency and affix the moving target within the proposed schedule, contractors staggered construction with approximately 4 months lagging between buildings. As crews finished work in the CDC, they moved on to the CCCF. One final challenge involved the critical time and connection of the new facilities that were to draw power from the existing CDC next door, which could not accommodate outages during regular business hours. The new transformer was built adjacent to the existing one, and contractor personnel connected the new buildings over the course of a weekend.