Originally posted Monday, 13 September 2010

Silver Award

The University of Texas at Arlington—Engineering Lab Building Expansion

The University of Texas at Arlington’s Engineering Lab Building Expansion (ELB) project, overseen by the University of Texas System Office of Facilities Planning and Construction (OFPC), was completed in just over two years.

The ELB included renovating two existing research floors (48,820 gsf) and the addition of a new laboratory research floor (27,327 gsf). The new third floor provides additional teaching and research labs, lab support spaces, and offices to the College of Engineering, Materials Science Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science and Engineering, Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering and Bioengineering departments.

The design phase of the project was complicated by two factors. First, laboratory and office space had to be provided for five academic departments (Materials Science, Electrical, Computer Science, Industrial and Manufacturing Systems and Bioengineering) with needs including graduate student office spaces, wet labs, a motion capture lab, and a materials characterization suite that could accommodate several high-resolution electron microscopes. Second, the building infrastructure did not meet current code requirements or that of the new laboratories. OFPC personnel were instrumental in facilitating discussions between the building users and the architects and design engineers to accomplish a design that met user needs and budget constraints.

The construction phase of the project was complicated by two factors as well. First, construction had to be completed in one year. Second, the work had to be completed while faculty and staff members and students occupied the building and continued their research, teaching, and support duties. The coordination efforts provided by OFPC enabled the project to be completed on time and with minimal interruption to the occupants.

Two particular events are noteworthy. First, when upgrading the electrical service to the building, it was evident that the building power would be shut down for several days. OFPC communicated extensively with the building occupants to ensure that sensitive research was not disrupted. Numerous meetings were conducted to inform, coordinate, and finalize this work.

Second, the Chairperson and his staff that occupied the ELB were relocated for six months within the building. The original office space was scheduled for renovation, so a classroom renovation was completed early for use by the administrative staff during the renovations. The original space was then fast tracked for completion so the Chair and his staff could move back to their offices a month prior to substantial completion of the project.

“The Office of Facilities Planning and Construction and the University of Texas at Arlington did a terrific job of leading the team of multiple designers, coordinating with the campus operations and managing the contractor in a professional and proactive manner that left every member of the team feeling proud and honored to work on this showcase project,” said Seth Ackland, Operations Manager for Hensel Phelps Construction.

“The Office of Facilities Planning and Construction contributed to the overall success of the project by managing the end users expectations and being a resource to our large multi-discipline design team and the construction management team,” said Alfred Vidaurri, Principal with Freese and Nichols. “Their strong personal commitment, experience and depth of knowledge were noteworthy as the Owner successfully guided a complex project from programming thru construction.”