On the first day of this year’s Autodesk University Conference, AEC Excellence Awards were handed out to the infrastructure design, building design, and construction projects that utilized technology in innovative ways to evolve and redefine the design and construction process.
The annual AEC Excellence Awards have been recognizing the companies and individuals that are changing the AEC game and breaking the boundaries of construction and design for six years.
This year, winners were chosen in nine categories from among 256 submissions that represented 40 different countries. The winner in the Medium Construction Project category was Skanska, the multinational construction and development company, for their work on the University of Virginia Health System (UVA) University Hospital expansion.
Although an expansion of an existing building may seem like a smaller project than constructing a new one, it brings its own challenges and unique concerns that Skanska had to address. The company’s ability to utilize digital design solutions to work around an operating medical facility earned them the AEC Excellence Award.
We recently sat down with John Calvin, a Project Executive at Skanska, to learn more about the unique challenges of this project and how digital design solutions helped the company overcome them.
GovDesignHub (GDH): Can you tell our readers a little bit about Skanska? What type of work does the company do? What kinds of facilities and buildings does the company construct?
John Calvin: Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S. We serve a broad range of clients including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, education, sports, data centers, government, aviation and commercial.
In Virginia, we have a number of projects currently underway in the healthcare and higher education sectors. For example, in addition to the UVA Health System University Hospital expansion in Charlottesville, Skanska has constructed the Children’s Hospital of Richmond Pavilion, an 11-story, 640,000-square foot building that provides outpatient pediatric services to the Richmond community.
We also constructed the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute on the Virginia Tech Carilion Health Sciences and Technology Campus in Roanoke, a four-story, 152,850-square-foot building comprised of a medical school, research institute and 52,000 square feet of lower level structured parking. We are constructing the neighboring Virginia Tech Carilion Biomedical Research Addition, a 140,000-square-foot building.
Skanska has also constructed the Norman H. and Elsie Stossel Upchurch University Center, a three-story, 84,000-square-foot state-of-the-art student center at Longwood University in Farmville, Va.; and two facilities at James Madison University in Harrisonburg: the new D-Hall dining hall, opened in August 2018; and the East Tower, completed in 2016.
GDH: Why was Skanska chosen for the UVA Hospital Expansion? What does the company deliver or offer that others don’t?
John Calvin: Skanska USA has extensive healthcare experience and a well-established reputation for successful projects in Virginia. The company also had a safety and logistics plan that could help meet the unique needs and challenges of this program.
[With the UVA Health System University Hospital expansion,] the top priority for the project team was to ensure the safety of patients, faculty, staff, construction workers and visitors during construction. This entailed planning for walkways, parking lots and barring construction zones in addition to maintaining cleanliness within the construction area and surrounding facilities. Another project goal was to ensure the project schedule would be met, within budget, while also ensuring high quality of workmanship in the new construction.
This project provided unique challenges necessitating state-of-the-art technologies. The project team used Autodesk tools for the planning, documentation and construction to address these challenges. The biggest challenge was to minimize the impact in the existing facility, including ground level entrances for ambulance and ambulatory Emergency Department patients and coordination with the Level 1 Trauma Life Flight team. For perspective, a tower crane operated for 22 months within 30 feet of the rooftop hospital helipad.
GDH: It would seem that building a new hospital would be different than expanding on one. There are patients in the facility and sensitive medical procedures being done within the buildings. What particular challenges arose from having to do construction on what was an operating hospital?
John Calvin: There are many critical and sensitive aspects to constructing a new 440,000-square-foot hospital attached to an existing hospital that is operating. This involved carefully planning the preparation of the site for the start of construction, carefully planning road closures and utility infrastructure routing and shutdowns and maintaining the logistics of keeping an operating emergency department drop-off, ambulance and ambulatory entrances.
This is a fluid and dynamic operation that requires regular changes to facilitate ambulance drop-off and maintain an ambulatory entrance while various aspects of construction occur in and around this area.
Our building will tie in to the existing building on 12 levels, as well as at other entrances throughout the existing hospital. New construction to the existing building tie-in is challenging. The team needs to avoid impacting patient care, which makes timing and coordination of these tie-ins critical. Implementing the infection control and interim life safety aspects is a logistical challenge, as it takes careful planning and experience.
Each [of the building tie-ins] has to be carefully and selectively demolished to not damage the existing surroundings any more than needed. We then have to do a temporary air, water, noise and infection control effort so that patients within the existing hospital are not impacted by our break-through.
There is also an interim life safety aspect to ensure we are not creating a dead-end corridor or stairwell for emergency egress. Very often our break through tie-ins are within measurable feet of a patient, emergency corridor or critical MEP system.
Ultimately, ensuring staff, patient, visitor and contractor safety in and around the job site, including safe pedestrian access, is crucial. All emergency exits must be open and unencumbered. There are also different safety considerations for inside the construction fence and outside the construction fence.
GDH: What about this particular hospital created unique challenges and concerns that the design and build teams had to overcome?
John Calvin: One of the largest challenges with this facility is maintaining open roadways in and around the existing hospital and construction site.
Two tower cranes would be operating in proximity to a railroad track as well as within 30 feet of a Level 1 Trauma life flight helipad that has 24/7/365 flight operations.
Also, new construction would be tied into existing construction on over 12 different levels and multiple elevations. This means that we need to tie into existing infrastructure and MEP systems. We also need to put in place interim and permanent life safety systems.
GDH: How did advanced digital design solutions – like BIM solutions – help overcome these challenges?
John Calvin: The project architects, Perkins+Will, Skanska and subcontractor teams are using AutoCAD, Navisworks and Revit for design, coordination, planning and fabrication. The teams use Navisworks for 3D trade coordination to assure constructability of the building in a safe and efficient manner. 4D animations serve as a critical communication tool between owners, designers, project managers, superintendents and foremen to organize workflow and maintain safe working conditions with the existing healthcare facility and traffic. The project team uses BIM 360 Glue as the platform to share and communicate 3D coordinated models.
Sharing the same 3D coordinated models allows for faster decision making which results in time saved. Combining laser scans with modeling simplifies MEP system routing, especially when tying into the existing building. The team elected to use Autodesk programs because they are user friendly for all members of the construction team and provide detailed information about the status of the project.
GDH: What role did BIM play in preconstruction? How did the use of BIM in this planning phase benefit the customer and the Skanska team?
John Calvin: Using BIM and an IPD Lite approach during preconstruction enabled the project to fast track $109 million in construction phasing and trade packages, advancing the schedule by numerous months from a traditional design-bid-build approach.
Other technology tools that we are implementing at the UVA Health System University Hospital Expansion improve our communications, productivity, efficiency, first cost, life cycle cost, constructability, productivity, schedule and quality.
For example, Autodesk technology improves communication, coordination, issues resolution, design, fabrication, and scheduling. Safety and budget considerations also benefit from this collaborative approach. The collaboration of BIM technology brings the contractor, designer and owner teams together, fostering strong relationships to achieve aligned goals.
GDH: What would you say were the three largest benefits of utilizing BIM technologies on this project?
John Calvin: The three largest benefits were collaboration, group visualization and laser scanning.
BIM promotes collaboration between owner, users, designers, subcontractors and the construction manager from preconstruction through close out. They foster a “team” environment where the construction manager, designer and subcontractors leverage each other’s expertise to utilize technology and push the boundaries.
They create the ability for immersive user group visualization of both construction and what the building will look like upon completion, thanks to interactive technologies such as laser scanning, virtual reality, 3D and 4D modeling.
Finally, interior laser scanning of the existing facility enabled us to design and build around existing items. Laser scans enabled new construction without impacting existing hospital infrastructure, preventing costly errors and shut downs.
For example, laser scans of a difficult-to-access mechanical shaft showed there was sufficient clearance to run MRI quench vents in this shaft. The original design was to construct an outside masonry shaft on the exterior of the building, with an estimated cost of $200,000. The ability to laser scan, pull it into ReCap and then bring in MEP modeling software determined quench vents could be routed through existing shaft eliminating over $200,000 in construction costs.
GDH: Were there any interesting BIM lessons learned or best practices established during this project that you’d be willing to share with our readers
John Calvin: The project team uses 4D modeling and scheduling from Navisworks, 3D trade coordination processes from Navisworks and continuous model management through BIM 360 Glue to achieve project goals. 4D visual modeling and scheduling are used to optimize the schedule based on reviews of multiple installation sequences.
With the 4D model and schedules available in design, the structural engineers determined the original sequence of steel and shear tower work would require significant bracing, costing over $1 million. The team re-sequenced the steel and concrete construction to eliminate the bracing costs.
4D analysis of tower crane placement enabled the team to carefully maximize crane picks, radius, weight and construction sequencing when constrained by railroad right away, primary road arteries and level 1 trauma flight helipad.
3D trade coordination techniques were essential to the planning for the latest medical equipment that would be installed in the new expansion. The team collaborated with the medical equipment vendors to ensure utilities were installed in the correct locations meeting the desires of the owner. By utilizing BIM 360 Glue, Skanska was able to provide information in “real time” to the field staff to guarantee they had the latest information.
The UVA Health System University Hospital Expansion project team epitomizes Skanska values – care for life, act ethically and transparently, be better together and commit to our customers. With zero lost work days in 1.5 million manhours, the UVA Health System University Hospital Expansion team is the epitome of the value of safety and health for all.
The team members united to ensure safety for all patients, caregivers and construction teams. Through continuous technology use, the project team built a culture of collaboration to achieve continuous improvement. At every turn, the UVA Health System University Hospital Expansion project team made invisible the lines between organizations – instead choosing to unify the full team to achieve a successful project for University of Virginia Health System.
Architect renderings courtesy of UVA.