How adaptation breeds creativity during pandemic construction


The construction of a new building in San Diego at the height of the pandemic shows how challenges can be turned into opportunities.

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing labor shortages, escalating material prices, and reduced demand for traditional office workplaces, the completion of a new commercial office building has become a priority. great success. One such example is a next-gen office in a part of downtown San Diego that hasn’t seen a new commercial product in over 25 years.

Photo credit: Dave Pino photography

The six-story, 90,000-square-foot project at 450 B. Street, combined with the developer’s existing 20-story tower at 451 A Street, completes “Twenty by Six,” a creative office center designed to deliver the essentials. for employee health, productivity and quality of life. Built during the pandemic, the project offers a key to how COVID-19 transformed office design, as well as a case study on how innovative, solution-based construction can adapt to current challenges of urban development in the midst of the pandemic.

Adaptation # 1: Demolition & Precision

From day one, the work of the project team was made for this. During the pre-construction phase, the project team executed a complex demolition plan for a two-story branch bank structure and a plaza-level terrace in a bustling city center. As no vibration could pass to the adjacent LeBeau Tower during demolition, the crew had to saw along the grid line at the sidewalk to separate the two structures. In order to reduce the impact on tenants of neighboring buildings during the construction phase, a tower crane was erected and materials were placed on site with a just-in-time delivery method. Banking facilities, offices and other amenities were to remain open, forcing teams to operate during off-peak hours and make other concessions to limit disruption to daily life.

Underground there were additional challenges. The underground car park was to remain open to the public. At the same time, the team dug a 40-foot-by-60-foot shaft for a new elevator core, in addition to causing height and space limitations. The job site and the equipment used would require the precision of a surgical operation to ensure safety and optimize productivity. A remote controlled demolition was used, successfully demolishing 7,600 tonnes of concrete and saving $ 50,000 in labor and equipment costs. The savings in time and money were significant, but when it comes to demolition, safety is the number one priority. Robotics ensured the safety of the public and crews during this difficult operation.

Additionally, the new 90,000 square foot structural steel building sits above the three-story underground parking lot, which has received extensive structural and earthquake-resistant upgrades using fiberglass reinforced polymer (FRP). ) while remaining in service during all phases of construction. Significant structural reinforcement and seismic improvements to be built above a three-story underground parking lot won the 2021 Award for Innovative Structural Technologies from the Structural Engineers Association of San Diego.

Adaptation # 2: A Global Pandemic

The pandemic brought with it a series of opportunities and challenges that the team had to overcome, including a shortage of materials and labor. In March 2020, the entire supply chain was shut down, resulting in serious supply delays that still impact materials today. Escalating prices in all areas and especially long delivery times affected niche types of products, such as roof insulation and steel decks. To mitigate this challenge, the team conducted an in-depth analysis of product types and suppliers and was able to find the best alternatives with lower costs and shorter delivery times.

In terms of manpower, when the pandemic first hit, many projects were put on hold, creating an influx of available entrepreneurs. As projects came back online, there was a shortage of manpower, creating competition, especially for those with business expertise. The team drew on its history and long-term relationships with local specialty contractors to identify the talent available to meet our needs. Specialty contractors should be seen as partners and an extension of the project team, and the project team should be committed to helping them succeed and reach their full potential. Details should be communicated thoroughly well in advance, carefully planning the work and managing expectations. This dynamic will foster a spirit of camaraderie, trust and respect.

Possibility of breed adaptation

The flexibility of the team was just as important as the flexibility of the project design. The pandemic has intensified competition in the commercial office market as developers compete with employees’ desire to work from home. For “Twenty By Six”, the vision was to take the best of the “home” environment and elevate it to a dynamic experience that prioritizes health and wellness, flexibility and community.

To achieve these goals, the team was tasked with mixing indoor and outdoor environments. This has resulted in offices fitted with balconies, each floor having windows that open and the installation of floor-to-ceiling windows that provide natural light deep inside. A pocket park on the ground floor includes a fireplace lounge, private meeting spaces and a shell for a future café that will promote community gathering.

Built to achieve LEED Silver certification, the project includes energy efficient lighting, HVAC systems and water conservation systems, in addition to being primarily made of steel, the most recycled material in the world.

The team adapted to a series of challenges and developed a unique and functional building, both outside and inside. The result is a destination that will appeal to both renters and visitors, many of whom may not have been interested in the area before.

Andy Feth is a project manager at CW Driver Companies.

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