UW expansion stays on track despite big change in plans
By ROB ROBINSON
Midway through the first phase of the University of Washington Medical Center’s expansion project, UWMC made a series of changes to better serve its patients, including the addition of a highly technical bone marrow transplant unit.
Without creative thinking and collaboration, this sort of change could have significantly affected the project schedule. Instead, the project team — UW Capital Projects, Skanska, NBBJ and its consultants, MacDonald-Miller and Cochran — carried out a new-to-Washington design-assist solution to deliver the added scope.
The process allows for input from the contractor and subcontractors as well as early collaboration with the design team during the design phase. It provided the UWMC with a design and construction time line that was condensed by 10 weeks for the addition of the bone marrow transplant unit. Most important, it saved nearly $2 million.
Work began in April of 2009 and was originally slated for completion next January. But by the end of 2009, the added scope, which consisted of three more shell-and-core floors, had pushed the time line out by five months.
In the spring of 2010, hospital administrators saw the need to reconfigure the patient care program within the building, swapping out a fifth-floor, 32-bed inpatient care unit in favor of a 30-bed eighth-floor adult acute care surgical oncology/bone marrow transplant unit.
This complex inpatient cancer therapy unit required a lengthy and thorough programming and design period, but UWMC needed it done quickly. This is where the design-assist approach became instrumental.
Contractors know that on traditional projects the core team initiates months of programming and design work to determine the client’s needs. The process leads to the development of final design and construction documents.
Once the documents are complete the work is put out to bid and subcontractors are secured. This is followed by several weeks of building-information modeling (BIM) and mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) coordination to ensure all of the systems fit into the allotted space.
On complicated projects such as a bone marrow transplant unit, BIM and MEP coordination can take seven to 10 weeks. Once MEP coordination is complete, material fabrication takes place and construction may begin. The entire process can take up to 12 months from the start of design to the start of construction.
At UWMC, there were additional challenges with the design and coordination of the MEP systems related to the oncology and the bone marrow transplant unit.
Bone marrow transplant patients are immune-suppressed and require isolation with a constant flow of ultra-clean air. Since the addition of the bone marrow transplant unit came after UWMC’s core and shell had already been designed, the team had to ensure the MEP systems required for this complex facility fit within the limited ceiling space and within the new steel structure.
Rob Robinson is a Skanska project executive overseeing the construction of University of Washington Medical Center’s expansion project. He has more than 22 years of health care and GC/CM experience.
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