UConn Health Academic Building Addition
As a subcontractor for Skanska USA Building, Andron Construction performed the Rough Carpentry, Light Gauge Metal Framing, Interior Partitions and Drywall, Doors and Frames, and Specialties work on the $30M academic building renovation and addition. The centerpiece of the new space is an academic rotunda, designed to support learning and investigation in an innovative and collaborative learning environment.
Located in Farmington, Connecticut, UConn Health—the branch of the University of Connecticut that oversees academic education in medicine, advanced biomedical research, and clinical care—is an integrated academic medical center dedicated to its mission of “helping people achieve and maintain healthy lives and restoring wellness/health to maximum attainable levels.”
Scope of Work
To enhance the recent growth in all three areas of its mission: academics, research, and clinical care, the academic building addition serves to integrate two academic institutions—the Schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine, as well as provide spaces for new and progressive teaching Practices.
The new Academic Building addition is a unique space that accommodates 3 learning zones. This multi-disciplinary learning center features a large rotunda space designed for interactive, team-based learning, equipped with advanced projection and acoustic technologies. The entire A/V system is housed in a circular unit that is suspended from the ceiling. Andron Carpentry
engineered the structural ceiling and connections, and designed the interior fit of the acoustical components, partitions, A/V Assembly, and the integration of lighting, monitors, and projectors.
The mechanical systems had to come together: heating, cooling, and ventilation ran through the space and the support system. The temperature of the equipment needed to be maintained, as well as the temperature of the space. The structural components had to carry the weight not only of the elaborate millwork, but also the A/V equipment. Calculations needed to be made for the screens, which are not flat. Andron Carpentry researched the optimal distance from projector to screen, of screen from height of ceiling.
Andron Carpentry was required to coordinate all of this. We met with key subs and vendors, along with the architect. We used BIM to properly coordinate the entire system. We developed a system coordinator to help the architect communicate with everyone. We built the structural assembly for the millwork and the A/V equipment. We used sophisticated kinetics isolators, to prevent the equipment from vibrating with the HVAC systems. This is not a fixed connection. It floats! This beautiful custom-designed “starburst” element is a focal point of the space.
Challenge One: Compliance
The project required advanced coordination, as it included delegated design components. Additionally, the owner determined to build to the high standards of FM Global. FM Global provides guidance and sets worldwide standards for contractors, builders and manufacturers to ensure the highest levels of safety and durability. These standards are meant to protect the investments of owners like UConn Health and are far stricter than the current structural code.
Solution: In response to the FM Global requirements, Andron Carpentry engaged our own structural engineers and coordinated with the engineer of record. We designed the light gauge metal framing, designed to enhance the structural capacity of the barrel assembly. Andron Carpentry was able to absorb and manage this change within the confines of the construction schedule.
Skanska USA relied on Andron Carpentry to ensure UConn Health campus operations continued as usual. With a small footprint and limit of disturbance on an occupied campus and adjacent to occupied spaces, other considerations were at the forefront. Constant vehicle management was needed: appropriate signage and rerouting of traffic; environmental quality was monitored: negative air, dust, testing days; conditional impact was negotiated: drilling was allowed only at certain times. Andron Carpentry was instrumental in these areas.
Challenge Two: Multiple Construction Projects
UConn Health is a vibrant hospital campus, fully occupied and operational, with multiple construction projects happening at all times. It was critical that we worked together with multiple agencies and entities.
Solution: Andron Carpentry worked very closely with Skanska USA to secure and facilitate all construction activities. Skanska USA relied on Andron Carpentry to understand their needs and to follow through with the appropriate action. Our diligence was rewarded with a designation of the “go-to” subcontractor on the job site.
The UConn Health campus has multiple construction projects happening at all times, and enforces strict safety codes. Andron’s usual diligence with safe work practices has produced an excellent record of low incidents and low loss of time. Our attention to safety is evidenced by our 0.76 EMR and by our record during the past 70 months of over 672,000 hours worked with zero lost days or reportable incidents to Andron workers.
At UConn Health, Andron Carpentry managed compliance, as well as interaction with the inspection agents. As Skanska USA’s subcontractor, we coordinated with myriad agencies and entities to ensure construction moved Forward.
Challenge Three: LEED Gold Certification
As a world-class biomedical research university, we needed to ensure the addition exemplified innovation and achieved LEED Gold certification.
Solution: Andron Carpentry contributed greatly to this “classroom of the future.” Our innovative solutions to the design of the central A/V component are central to the success of this interactive learning environment. The roof support is made up mostly of bar joists, which needed to be reinforced, as they were not strong enough to support the weight of a suspended ceiling. Andron Carpentry stiffened the bar joists using light gauge metal framing, and designed the reinforcement to completely support the central barrel assembly from the roof structure.
The UConn Health Academic Building addition is certified LEED Gold. High scores were earned for Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, and Innovation; perfect scores were earned for Development Density and Community Connectivity, Alternative Transportation-Public Transportation Access, and Water Efficient Landscaping.
To assist in meeting the LEED-Gold standards set forth by the owner and the architect, Andron Carpentry monitored compliance requirements and streamlined the process. To facilitate the LEED certification, product data and LEED items were identified early and tracked during the submittal process. Andron Carpentry contributed to the LEED effort through material purchasing, construction waste management, and post-consumer recycling operations.
Challenge Four: Resolving Unexpected Issues
Like many construction projects, there were unforeseen issues that required attention to keep the project on time and within budget. There were several changes in the job determined by unforeseen issues that threatened the financial goals of the UConn Health project: hazardous material abatement proved to be more extensive than planned; the ceiling required additional support and structure; the Multi-Disciplinary Learning Center Communication Protocol required additional resources.
Solution: Andron Carpentry answered many of these issues with phasing adjustments, which went well beyond what was called for in the bid docs. We designed and organized additional sub-phases. Macro-phasing (whole-wing blocks) as well as micro-phasing (2-room blocks) were employed to keep the schedule on target.
Andron Carpentry helped to minimize the monetary risk. Value engineering included working smart, working hard, and adding value to the project. Working closely with Skanska USA, with enhanced designs and with adherence to the FM Global standards, we enabled UConn Health to save money on their insurance costs.
Challenge Five: Serving the Community
The UConn Health Academic Center is part of the UConn system, part of the economic engine of Connecticut. Part of the UConn mission is to distribute knowledge and innovation across the state.
Solution: Andron Carpentry worked within the daily operations spaces of the hospital. Through Skanska USA, we worked closely not only with the University, but all of the individual administrators.
The Academic Building addition was undertaken as an effort to better serve the students, the hospital, and the community. It is a clear benefit to the state of Connecticut to host such a prominent institution. Andron Carpentry was a vital team member for this important project.
Challenge Six: Meeting Difficult Challenges
Every project has its own challenges, and the academic building addition was no different. We were faced with unique challenges that we needed to overcome to ensure project success.
Solution: The decision to adhere to FM Global standards was a big change to the job and had a big impact. Andron Carpentry was instrumental in making that a success. While working on an occupied campus can be challenging, Andron is especially adept at ensuring the continuation of smooth daily operations.
As a dual-use facility—university plus hospital—UConn Health proved to be another challenge. Andron Carpentry managed the project program changes and the project schedule changes while working in this occupied space with minimal impact.
Challenge Seven: Adapting to Surroundings
As part of the LEED Gold certification effort, all purchases had to be LEED-certified. We needed to ensure the highest standards to meet the criteria for certification.
Solution: According to the requirements of the Forestry Steward Council of America, we purchased pre-cut lumber to minimize waste. We engaged in post-consumer recycling operations. We contained unique hazards, such as the abatement of additional asbestos. We participated in a construction material waste management program: all trash was sorted into proper containers for recycling and removal. Participation in this program minimized waste of the entire project.
As is our usual practice, all Andron on-site personnel had OSHA-30 certification. The project safety standards were very high, and all new developing safety requirements were at the forefront of a new safety program. Andron contributed to and adopted many of the techniques, as part of our corporate safety program. One of Skanska USA’s participating programs was “Stretch and Flex” every morning. We attended to fall protection, securing the roof with six-foot knee walls.
Award Winning Design
Merit Award / Specialty: Interiors
2020 Build Connecticut Awards
AGC of Connecticut