Top Notch Value for Top Shelf Science Program at UNC Chapel Hill
Thanks to Balfour Beatty, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s science facilities are as renowned as the ones that house their more publicized pastime – basketball. Balfour Beatty was the CM at-Risk for the University’s Physical Science Complex, a three-phase, $189-million, 516,000-square-foot master plan designed to meet the needs of students and faculty for 100 years.
Scheduling the 10-year UNC Science Complex project was a challenging yet rewarding process. UNC Chapel Hill’s Chemistry department is world renowned. Housed in Venable Hall, originally constructed in 1928, and in Kenan Hall (1975), the facilities were sorely in need of replacement. With no “surge” space available, new facilities had to be constructed prior to demolition, and researchers needed to be relocated without interfering with experiments currently underway. With the NC Higher Education Bond Issue, the replacement of Venable Hall was the highest priority, statewide, and UNC Chapel Hill received the largest new construction funding in state history. In order to replace Venable and modernize parts of Kenan, a phased approach was utilized. UNC Science Complex, Phase I, envisioned the construction of Chapman Hall and Wilson Dey Hall, as well as associated infrastructure improvements, to move approximately 75% of the chemistry research scientists from Venable Hall and from portions of Kenan Labs. Once completed, work turned to the UNC Science Complex, Phase II. This project included major site utility relocations, construction of an addition to the School of Computer Science, renovations to three floors of Kenan Hall, and complex laboratory fitouts within the recently completed Chapman Hall.
At the same time, Venable Hall was decommissioned and prepared for demolition in phases. With approximately 35% of the occupants remaining in the building and scheduled to move into the areas of Kenan Hall currently under Phase II renovation, the Venable Hall decommissioning and demolition project began. By partitioning off defined parts of the building and providing code required egress, HVAC, and life safety, work began on abatement and mercury removal of this continuously occupied 83-year-old laboratory building. The schedule required that this works completion coincide with the completion of the Kenan Lab Renovation project. With decommissioning and the Kenan renovation complete, the remaining occupants were relocated to Kenan. Work began on the demolition of Venable Hall. Once completed, work began on the construction of the New Physical Science Building, which occupied the old Venable site. The New Physical Science Building was completed in September of 2010. Once researchers and faculty were moved in, work began on renovations of the spaces they moved from, in Chapman Hall and Phillips Hall, allowing expansion of the Physics and Astronomy departments.
The construction management team also provided extensive value analysis for the project. Due to our early involvement with the project's design, we were able to incorporate a number of proposed items into the schematic drawings that were accepted in the final design development drawings. We proposed 144 value analysis items that totaled $7,321,106. UNC then accepted 29 items that had a combined value of $2,475,537.
For example, there is an area of the new Chapman Hall basement that we refer to as the “Heel.” It is an approximately 4,800 square foot area that was originally slated to be backfilled and the floor above to be a slab on grade. Our project team immediately saw flaws in this design and took action. Following the GMP and bidding process and after we were under construction, Balfour Beatty in conjunction with the architect re-designed this area to be an open unconditioned space with a suspended slab above. We suggested installing a block wall in lieu of a concrete wall to block off this space. After owner occupancy, this space could potentially become a usable one for the owner. Later, Balfour Beatty upfitted this space, and it now serves as a state-of-the-art wave tank research facility for the Marine Science Department. The result was that for a less than $10,000 expenditure, this space was transformed into a usable space valued at $210/SF, which equates to over a $1M value to UNC.
Today, the quality of the project is a reflection of the pride and tradition already evident on campus, providing world-class research facilities that will continue to draw students and faculty alike to the University for decades to come.