Breathing New Life into the Mason Building
Glass paneled conference rooms. Twenty-first century digital displays. Cutting-edge laboratories. As you walk through the lobby, hallways and classrooms of the renovated Jesse W. Mason School of Civil and Environmental Engineering Building, the sights that greet you are on par with a world-class engineering program at one of the nation’s top universities. But, it took some polishing to reveal this building’s brilliance.
For nearly five decades, the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Mason Building served as the heartbeat of its civil and environmental engineering program, housing the school’s main office, administrative and faculty offices, classrooms as well as instructional and research labs. But with time, the 1960s era building no longer made the grade. It needed a major boost to reflect the caliber of one of the top engineering programs in the world, and that boost came from a Balfour Beatty team that was personally, professionally and passionately committed to transforming this piece of campus history.
In fact, this project was especially near and dear to our hearts, with countless employees and project team members having made enduring memories in the Mason Building as students. But before Balfour Beatty could help build Georgia Tech’s future, we were first tasked with tearing down some of its past. After an extensive hazardous materials abatement to the five-story building and appended two-story laboratory, the owner substantially enhanced the project scope by 51% thanks to additional funding from the Institute and philanthropic alumni donations. With a fixed completion date set for the beginning of the 2013-2014 academic year, our team had just 14 months to complete the renovation. For some contractors, this enlarged scope could have caused hiccups and delays. But Balfour Beatty, working in partnership with architects Cooper Carry and Perkins+Will, proved more than ready for the challenge.
As change orders rolled in from the additional funding, the project team remained adaptable and nimble, delivering the additional elements without impacting the fast-track schedule. But it was more than Balfour Beatty’s higher education expertise and knowledge of the marketplace that enabled the team to succeed in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. By leveraging BIM and innovative digital documents technologies, Balfour Beatty was able to ensure all subcontractors were working from the same set of updated documents, thereby saving valuable time and manpower on an aggressive schedule. Further, the project team prioritized aligning end-user programmatic needs with institutional priorities and design aspirations, achieving the integrated outcome Georgia Tech sought for this campus beacon. Ultimately, the Mason Building renovation was completed on time, with glowing approval from staff and students alike.
“The team continually amazed me with their constant and ongoing knowledge of each and every project issue and their willingness to adapt to the numerous and challenging project demands. They were the perfect choice for our project team,” praised Liz Punch, manager of construction administration for Georgia Tech Facilities Management.
Today, the Jesse W. Mason Civil Engineering Building is a modern and inviting learning environment where students collaborate and thrive. Modern features—from plug-and-play computer workstations to group project rooms accessed via ID swipe system—have Yellow Jacket students and faculty alike abuzz with excitement. When one of Balfour Beatty’s interns boasts about the Mason Building’s state-of-the-art laboratories, when our alumni roam the tech-savvy lobby at recruiting events or when our VDC team teaches students in one of the new classrooms, we feel tremendous pride in preserving the history and securing the future of this cherished education edifice.