portrait, rachelwicks@blackspectacles.com


Jim Viviano of 5G Studio takes us through all phases of Gateway Center II.  He’ll talk about the structural system and materials used, as well as MEP and budgeting considerations. Additionally he will show an example of a RFI, and discuss submittals and revisions.

Practical Applications

It's a four story office building, 51,000 square feet, about 180 parking spaces on a small little one acre site in a development that is already been developed earlier with a hotel, some office buildings, and some other really important projects as our neighbors.

There's really only one front door to the project, so we had to be creative about how we were going to approach where the building was going to sit on the site. This is the civil site plan, and this is showing this hatched area is an easement that there's already a storm sewer in there, and we couldn't move it. It's already servicing the hotel, and the office buildings, and other projects that are part of the development, so we had to work around that, and because of the way it cuts into the site, the property line is here, but we really couldn't build anything very close to the property line because of the easement, so that really forced us to making that become the front door to the project, and it really wanted to be anyway because of the tram system, and then because of the relationship over to the hotel.

But then below that, where the parking garage is, there's a requirement by the City of College Park that the parking be screened from the street, so we had to come up with some way of screening that but we also wanted the garage to be open air so that we didn't have to mechanically ventilate it, so we came up with a perforated metal panel system for the garage that both allows the air to move through it, it allows light, but it's about a 20% screen so that, even though you can see through it, it's hard if you're standing outside the garage to be able to see in and see the cars. So it met the requirement of being able to screen the garage from the street, but it also allowed for the parking to be open air, without us having to mechanically ventilate it.

And that really pushed the STC rating of the glass and the exterior wall up to a range where it should be very acceptable for this type of use for an office building. If we were doing a hotel or we were doing a residential building, the STC rating would probably even have to be higher, because people are now trying to sleep. Office buildings, most people aren't sleeping in an office building.

So this is the first floor of the parking and, but it also is the first floor where the main entrance is so what you're seeing here is the main lobby, building service, office, main electric room, trash room, mail room, a service vestibule and then two elevators and the two elevators up here are, one is a passenger and then this one here is like passenger/service elevator so it actually has two doors, front and back which the back door opens up off the service vestibule and then the front door opens up to the main tenant lobby. And the interesting thing about this is that we didn't want to have to put in a third elevator because it would've really, the building would've been over elevated. So we ended up just doing the double elevator, the one that could service both.

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So, all of a sudden you do the math, it tells you how many occupants you're gonna have on that floor, that then tells you what your travel distance is, your maximum travel distances are, your separations between your stairs, the widths of the stairs, so that you know that you can safely get all of the occupants on those floors into the stairways, out down the stairs, and then to safety away from the building in case of an emergency.

We did a-all of the mechanical on the rooftop of this building, because it was just a two story office building, so instead of having mechanical units on each floor, where you would occupy more usable space, we chose to put that up on the roof and then just do large shafts, to then bring the air down to those other floors. And so that's what you see here. The advantage to that is, from a design standpoint, is that it allowed for more usable space, which is rentable for the developer.

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These views that we created started to show us that not only could you not see the mechanical units, you couldn't even see the screen wall we were trying to put around them. So, it was an easy decision at that point to remove the screening around the mechanical units and save that 60 to 70,000 dollars and put it back in the project in other places.

And so part of that was working with the contractor early on in the project, so we did some initial studies, we did quite a few designs and different footprints and different looks of the building, and once the contractors got involved, they were able to kind of help us refine what materials, what shapes, what things we were gonna do, what things we were not gonna be able to do because of a budget consideration. We did all of that in schematic design, which ends up being about 25% of our fee, of our total fee, and it's really important that we go through that fast and very quickly, and that we have somebody on board that can help determine some of those costs because, as architects and the clients, we don't wanna put our clients at risk either, that we don't wanna go down this path of designing something that you get into permit or the project goes out to bid and you're so far over budget that now you're havin' to go back, redesign everything, and it's just a really painful process. So one of the nice things that we did was being able to have somebody on board and do a lot of that cost analysis up front.

There's substitutions, there's long lead times on some light fixtures, and I think, as architects, we tend to think about building structure, and finishes, and all of those things, and then the lighting sometimes lags behind, but it's really important to get the lighting, to start thinking about the lighting, start talking to the electrical engineers, the lighting designers, all of those people, in order to get that information quickly, because it does require a long period of time for the fixtures to be ordered, manufactured, there's lead times, there's shipment delays, back orders, all those things that really affect a project and affect the project opening on time. And sometimes, you have to, at the last minute, make a substitution to grab a fixture that is off the shelf, that can be put in place for the building to be built and opened in time. And we've had some of those challenges on this project.

The mechanical system is a system that everything is placed up on the roof and then we're ducting down into the floors below so we were able to save floor area, like I said earlier, without having to put that on the floor of the office. What this is showing is that there is a shaft which brings down the main trunk of conditioned air and then that's distributed out to VAV boxes, which then distribute that air to smaller zones across the floor. I believe this is four different zones for this particular floor and that's based on there will be multiple tenants on this floor so there will be walls separating one tenant from the next so those VAV boxes are placed there to be able to supply those individual tenants.

So being able to go to steel structure with the concrete really sped up the construction time and helped the contractor both shorten the construction schedule and save a little money on the project as well.

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And what that meant was that there are some areas where there was concern that the bearing capacity of the soil was going to be too weak for the foundation system that we and our structural engineer was proposing. Which in this drawing you see is just a spread footing. The soils in Georgia are, there's a lot of clay in them.

And one of the things that we do that these are on show, is that we'll develop details, we'll develop wall sections based on what we believe to be true with the structural design or the mechanical design, plumbing design or whatever, and then we send those drawings to our consultants and then we'll have reviews with them where they'll review our drawings, we'll review theirs and we'll kind of eventually meet in the middle somewhere, where their information and our information starts to get developed and turn into what is really the final construction documents of the project. That process usually starts where we start sharing documents and start talking about all of those systems and the design development phase, and then it really goes through design development and then really heavy into the construction document phase where all of those details are really developed fully to the point where the project can be permitted and then built from those drawings and this shows a lot of the red lines here are from our structural engineer where they were looking at our details, they marked them up because of the way they wanted to see it get built and then we came back and then we modified our details to reflect their comments. And we do that with our water-proofing consultants also, where they'll look at our, a whole set of documents and they'll say, you need to make sure that your water-proofing is going full-wall here, terminates here, and things like that, they'll mark up the drawings, they'll send 'em to us and then we'll incorporate their comments into our drawings.

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It gets reviewed first by the contractor, they make whatever notes they want to make, or things they see, and then they send it to us, and then we look at it, we send it on to our structural engineer and the structural engineer really does most of the heavy lifting on this type of shop drawing because it's all of the stuff that they've designed for the project, all of the structural steel, and details, and connections, and all of those things. So the next page shows that they actually take, and the subcontractor that's doing all of the steel fabricating for the project, they build a BIM model, a 3D model, with all of the structural components, and all of the connections, and all of those things, and it all goes into this, and it ends up being in this case, about a 400 page document of all of the steel components, all the details and everything, that all have to be checked against the design and against our drawings. It's normally, you're looking at sizes, you're looking at lengths, and confirming in heights, and confirming that all of the steel conforms to the design that we've put in place, and that it's all gonna fit, and it's gonna be appropriate.

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When we cut that hole through that metal panel and put a duct through there, an exhaust duct through there, how do you want us to trim out that opening of where that duct goes through? So, this is the drawing that we produced. It's a section, it shows the exhaust shaft penetrating this perforated, corrugated metal panel, and so, we came back and we said, okay, we want you to add these metal angles, these steel angles, paint them to match the metal panel around the opening, and then that will then protect and secure that metal panel and the hood of the duct work as it comes through the wall.

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When we're checking the shop drawings, and working with our consultants on looking at the shop drawings, there are concerns and we did uncover an issue with the elevators and one of the beams on this project, and it was noticed that the elevator shaft was drawn a certain size because of the elevator but when we got the shop drawings back for the elevators, we realized that there was about a half inch discrepancy of what was needed for the elevator and where we had a beam that was cutting through. So there had to be some last minute scrambles of making sure that A, we could make the elevator work in the space that we had provided, but in fact we couldn't, we had to move the beam so we had to go back and work with the fabricator to see if we could move the beam about a half inch, or an inch I guess, to make sure that we had that clearance. They had to go back and talk to their detailers and so it was about a three, four day process but eventually everybody agreed that we could move the beam about an inch, and it didn't affect any of the elevators or any of those things.

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And part of that is also, what they do is this weekly report, weekly progress report, and on this project, since we started construction, they mobilized back in April, I believe it was, and we're mid-May, they've been working for about a month and a half now, and they're making great progress, they've had great weather. They've got all the site excavated, they've put in all their foundations, and these photographs show that they're starting to go vertical with all of the concrete retaining walls, and the concrete columns. They've got most of their rebar in and they've started putting in the reinforcing steel and gravel for all of the on-grade-slab at level one.

Things like clash detection is really helpful, it allows us to be able to see those conflicts and those problems in a 3D model where you can still change it, you can still make adjustments. Rather than six months later when they're actually out there in the field trying to build something and then now a duct and a beam don't really work together anymore. So it's a super powerful tool, all of our staff are all trained in BIM.

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So, the clouds really help everyone on the team understand, okay the drawings used to look like this, but now as of whatever date is in that delta, there were changes made to that drawings. And these are the changes in those clouds. If we do it again for another revision, all of those clouds disappear, we live the triangle so that we know that there was a cloud, there was a revision there on time, but then new clouds appear on those drawings for whatever that next revision or that addendum is.

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