East Tennessee State University Parking Garage: A Cooperatively Engineered Value-added Expansion
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When East Tennessee State University (ETSU) decided to go ahead with a $23 million expansion of old parking facilities in spring 2012, the institution knew it could count on one company in particular to complete the sizable job on time and on budget. Rentenbach Constructors (Rentenbach), a Tennessee-based contracting company, has worked with ETSU on several projects, earning the university’s trust and respect and reputation for quality work.
In July 2009 as the construction manager at risk, Rentenbach completed a $30 million residence hall expansion for ETSU. W.B. Rasnick, associate vice president of facilities management for ETSU, is confident in the team at Rentenbach’s ability. “The bid selection process was competitive, but Rentenbach provided an excellent proposal,” Rasnick recalls. “The project was completed on time and on budget, saving the university significant dollars of lost revenue. The company’s project management team was excellence and always had good communication.”
Brian Stinson, four-year project engineer for Rentenbach, details that the parking garage expansion, which began in mid-July 2012, was held to the same high standards as the residence hall project. “At Rentenbach, we uphold our commitment to quality work that’s done on time,” Stinson stresses. “We know how important it is to turn the final product over to the owner so they can get to work on making revenue.”
Rentenbach has many years of commercial and institutional construction experience after over 67 years in business. In 1946 T.J. Rentenbach, co-founder of Rentenbach, set out to build a company grounded in integrity. “When the competence and integrity of the professional engineer are blended with the proficiency of a talented craftsman, construction excellence is achieved,” he says. Since then, Rentenbach has sought to uphold this commitment by exceeding client expectations.
Solving the Parking Headache
The four-story, 1,200-space parking lot is located in Johnson City, Tenn., at the corner of ETSU’s John Robert Bell Drive and West State Franklin Road. The new parking facility replaces ETSU’s previous outdated, inefficient 200-space facility. Rentenbach has faced some challenges trying to build on a tight site while ETSU remains open to students. “Not only did we run into a tremendous amount of undercutting work because of unsuitable soil, we’ve also had to deal with a small area for lay down,” shares Stinson. “The site was tough logistically because we had to haul in soil and other materials without room to store them. It’s going to be even more challenging when we start the masonry phase. Plus, we had to work around a major communications duct bank that fed the ETSU campus, and two hospitals.”
In order to make room for the new lot, ETSU must relocate the current tennis courts near Warf-Pickel Hall to next to the Summers-Taylor Stadium, which serves as the school’s soccer field. “The site consists of a multilevel parking garage with food service additions on the east side,” explains Stinson. “There are also two-story office facilities on the west side; these are all independent structures.” The first floor of the new garage will house the campus parking office, and the second floor will be home to public safety administration, which will move from the east end of campus.
A high level of coordination was needed between Rentenbach and ETSU to manage the occupied area. “We had to be strategic about getting owner approval to close down roads,” explains Stinson. “We had to take the subcontractors into consideration, as well especially when it potentially could take a week or more for the owner to give us approval.”
Communication between local and out-of-state subcontractors and ETSU was critical to the overall project goals. Rentenbach also made a strong effort to work with the school to create a manageable budget for the expansion.
“We’re currently in the precast stage,” reveals Stinson. “Some underground plumbing and electrical is also in the works and we have our concrete subcontractors building a retaining wall.” Stinson is confident that with continued coordination, Rentenbach will be able to deliver the project in time for the beginning of fall semester 2013.
Value Engineering for ETSU
According to an article published in the Johnson City Press, acquiring the extra funding for the expansion wasn’t as easy as anticipated and required ETSU to work with Rentenbach for affordable solutions.
As quoted in the Johnson City Press’ article, David Collins, vice president of finance and administration at ETSU, says the lot will be paid for using student-imposed parking fees. “We’ve had to increase the fees from $25 per semester to $50 per semester,” he details. “It seems like a lot, but this expansion will really solve our current parking headaches.”
Collins admits that over the past few years the school has received reasonable deals on construction projects. “We’re working with Rentenbach to do some value engineering, allowing us to reduce costs that could be applied to things like redoing a road for construction routes,” he says. “For example, Rentenbach has worked with us to use different glass or other less expensive materials, single signs rather than multiple, and in reducing the planned food service area size for the garage.”
The officials at ETSU trusted the team at Rentenbach to deliver the university another project on time and on budget. Stinson and his skilled subcontractors continue to further Rentenbach Constructors’ reputation, adding a valuable parking garage that East Tennessee State University will reap the benefits for years to come.
For more information about Rentenbach Constructors, please visit: www.rentenbach.com.
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