Case Studies

Construction Enterprises & Contractors Inc.: Refreshing Green River Community College’s Campus

  • Written by: Construction Enterprises & Contractors Inc.: Refreshing Green River Community College's Campus
  • Produced by: Construction Enterprises & Contractors Inc.: Refreshing Green River Community College's Campus
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Campus planning is a long-term game, so having a big picture-minded general contractor to assist can make all the difference. This is one of the many reasons why Construction Enterprises & Contractors Inc. (CE&C) was contracted for the renovation of Cedar Hall at Green River Community College (GRCC). The renovation will transform the campus’ science, math and technology building into a multidisciplinary learning environment, designed and equipped for students in the 21st century.

The dramatically refreshed building – designed by S.M. Stemper Architects and a subcontractor consultant team – will be thoroughly upgraded to meet increasingly stringent structural codes, fire safety codes, sustainable design concepts and energy-efficiency goals. These upgrades will ensure students get the very best education in the very best, and the safest, setting.

“This project is very near and dear to the CE&C team and to the GRCC,” says Matt Robbins, project manager at CE&C. “We have completed a number of projects for GRCC over the years, working hand-in-hand with the facilities department. Since this was the building that department used to occupy, it is a privilege and honor to work on this particular project for them.” The facilities department has since relocated to a newly constructed maintenance facility – also built by CE&C – leaving the basement level of Cedar Hall free for the renovation.

In fact, the company’s relationship with GRCC stretches back to the 1990s when CE&C was brought on to oversee the conversion of one of the college’s purchased properties into the then home of the GRCC Foundation Center. “Relationships are the foundation of our business,” says Matt. “The fact that we can continue to be asked back by our clients speaks volumes about our company and we really value those relationships.”

The company has been able to solidify a number of relationships since it was founded in 1948. Since that time the state of Washington-based company has gradually become one of the most active full-service general contractors on the West Coast thanks to its multitasking team of 20 professionals.

The team at CE&C maintains a strategy that working together to support the project’s superintendent as the center of the company’s operational wheel is its key to success. Steve Johnsen, project superintendent on the Cedar Hall renovation, is proud to have provided the company with over 32 years of hard work and continued success.

Cedar Hall was once known as the science, math and technology hall that housed the five respective departments at GRCC’s main campus in Auburn, Wash. The building was originally constructed in 1974; however, over the course of almost 40 years building codes have changed and programs have expanded or contracted, resulting in the original space no longer being equipped to handle the needs of today’s students and faculty. Luckily for all, this is where the team at CE&C steps in to construction what GRCC, project stakeholders and the team at S.M. Stemper Architect designed.

Style and Substance

The renovations will not only create a more unified and cohesive learning space, but a large part of the project’s funding will go toward ensuring the building is structurally stable and accessible. “The structural steel component is very complex,” says Matt. “The college will actually be bringing in a third party to perform ground penetrating radar testing of the structure and determine the underlying conditions so we can adjoin our steel directly to the existing concrete walls.”

After selective demolition in the building, crews will set to work replacing the existing HVAC, plumbing and power systems, which have already exceeded the estimated useful life cycles. The inefficient, outdated systems will be replaced with state-of-the-art equipment, and technology infrastructure will be greatly expanded as well.

The college will also carry out a handful of highly necessary energy-efficiency upgrades, like replacing single-pane windows to double-pane insulated windows and replacing existing thermal insulation throughout the building to save on heating and cooling costs. Cedar Hall is targeted to achieve LEED Silver certification, as sustainability is a core principle of GRCC’s master-planning approach as well as one of S.M. Stemper Architect’s core competencies. In addition, the state building code requires all public buildings designed after 2005 meet a minimum of LEED Silver standards.

The existing spaces will be reorganized to provide a floor plan that meets the latest compliance codes of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). The original structure was built before ADA-compliance codes were mandatory, so entryways and pathways will be regraded and reorganized to ensure compliance.

Crews will also install a brand new fire suppression sprinkler system throughout the building, as only 30 percent of the building’s first floor had a sprinkler system installed previously.

“This project is unique in that our contract has been broken down to include a 90-day preconstruction period, which will help keep the project on schedule and help eliminate what seems to be the inevitable surprises in a complex renovation,” says Matt.

Prepared to Succeed

Preconstruction began in December 2011 to the 54,000-square foot building, which is on track for completion in 2013. Even so, the CE&C team isn’t going to take any chances and preparation began very early on to fight scheduling setbacks. “I consider myself more of a public servant than just a project manager, because I see the impact these projects have on the community,” reflects Matt.

The hidden advantage of the 90-day preconstruction period was that it gave the CE&C team more time to prequalify every eligible subcontractor and supplier for the project. The extra time not only ensured CE&C could assemble a team of experienced contractors, but it provided enough time for CE&C to verify that the lowest bid submitted was complete.

“When you have 600 or more subcontractors bidding on a project with a general contractor to fill 60 or so disciplines, it’s a formidable challenge to put together a comprehensive bid as each subcontractor excludes various items,” laughs Matt. “Thankfully, I have been teamed up with some of the most experienced people in the field and a very effective office staff, and that all helps CE&C as a team make sure we’re always pushing forward.”

Matt extends the primary success of this project to the architectural staff and owners: Sam Ball, Mike Bingisser, Steve Johnsen, Jerry Osborn, Julie Nakahara and Dustin Chapin. “Having strong partners each effective in their individual responsibilities is absolutely critical in a building project,” says Matt.

Cedar Hall is on schedule to become just one of many success stories CE&C will build in its history, given the company’s expertise and involved, highly personalized approach. When students and faculty move back in to the facility it has prepared, Construction Enterprises & Contractors Inc. will take pride in knowing that Cedar Hall at Green River Community College sets a new standard for energy efficiency, safety and education-oriented design.

Published on: March 9, 2013

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