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Project Focus: Duke Medical Pavilion

Editor’s Note: Every year, the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry receives many fantastic project nominations for its Excellence in Construction Quality Award, but not all can win. This month we introduce you to one of the entries in our 2014 competition. The challenges of the Duke Medical Pavilion in North Carolina were met by AWCI member Precision Walls, Inc., the company that submitted the nomination on behalf of themselves and other AWCI members who participated on the project.
AWCI’s Excellence in Construction Quality Award honors all the AWCI members—contractors, manufacturers and suppliers/distributors—who participate on a quality project. In this project, the participating AWCI manufacturers and suppliers were Hilti, National Gypsum, Fry Reglet, ClarkDietrich Building Systems and Allied Building Products Corp./Interior Distributors.

Precision Walls, Inc. was selected by KBR Building Group to perform numerous scopes of work on the Duke Medical Pavilion project in Durham, N.C. They included interior and exterior light gauge framing, gypsum board products with related finishing, waterproofing, fireproofing, gypsum sheathing, thermal and sound barrier insulation, wood backing and blocking, wall protection and stucco. Precision Walls’ teams installed 3,150,335 square feet of various gypsum board products, 1,209,399 square feet of insulation, 12,507 tubes of fire caulk, 1,627,422 lineal feet of metal studs, 79,810 square feet of wall protection, 1,971 corner guards and 18,499 lineal feet of crash and hand rail. This project began in September 2009 and was completed on schedule in August 2013, even after nearly doubling in size.

With a budget of $596 million, the nine-level, 608,000 square-foot new Duke University Medical Pavilion is a state-of-the art surgical and critical care facility designed specifically with the needs and comfort of patients and their loved ones in mind. The facility features 160 spacious patient rooms, 44 pre-operation bays, 18 total operating rooms, seven nuclear medicine rooms, four MRIs, two CT scan rooms, family zones, natural light wells, a large complex of conference and training rooms and a state-of-the-art full imaging suite within the OR floor. The new patient amenity spaces include large comfortable waiting areas, a café, interfaith chapel and gift shop. Architecturally, the building’s design parallels the glass and steel style of the Duke University Cancer Center. The pavilion’s eight stories are decked out with floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the interior with sunlight. The project was designed to achieve LEED Silver certification and includes green roof space, use of sustainable building materials and energy efficient building systems.

There were numerous challenges with this enormous and highly technical project. Site conditions, schedule, design changes and budget constraints all combined to make this project one that was a true test of a subcontractor’s abilities. The aggressive schedule to meet the July 2013 opening date had “zero float.” The mobilization of more than 150 drywall mechanics (framers, hangers and finishers) and the coordination of large quantities of materials were challenging due to simultaneous construction of these two large facilities, Duke University Medical Pavilion and Duke University Cancer Center. Precision Walls’ proactive approach in overcoming hidden conditions inherent in construction projects along with 27 major plan volume revisions, almost 3,000 Requests for Information and close to 700 change order pricing requests allowed this AWCI member to stay on schedule. The ability of the Precision Walls team to look ahead and develop a plan to maintain the proper workflow while juggling design changes, work stoppages and conflicts that could have greatly impacted their ability to maintain the schedule, were overcome by effective communication and implementing lean solutions to keep the project moving forward.

Precision Walls, Inc. worked 464,745 man-hours on the Duke Medical Pavilion project without experiencing a loss time accident. The company’s four full-time safety representatives assigned to this project were responsible for implementing safe work procedures and ensuring employees’ compliance with the company’s safety policies at all times.

Precision Walls implements lean construction initiatives on its projects to maximize value and minimize waste. As a result, they are working safer, smarter and faster. One of the initiatives implemented on this project was the policy that “no trash hits the floor” and the use of customized trash carts. Other lean practices applied were the use of systematic gang box organization, material buckets and a Conex with everything labeled to enable everyone to retrieve equipment quickly. During the course of construction, the Precision Walls team consisted of 14 foremen and four quality control coordinators on-site full-time to ensure all work areas were kept in an orderly fashion and systems were installed within the established tolerances. This initiative eliminated unnecessary tasks, kept excess materials off of the job site, created a safer work environment and accelerated the workflow of the project.

“This was a large, complicated, multi-phased project for us. It took a lot of planning and focus to keep up with the design changes and schedule all while keeping costs within budget. I was especially proud of our onsite team in how they handled safety and quality on such a large scale job,” said Brian Allen, president of Precision Walls, Inc.

While there are many factors contributing to the overall success of this project, the main factors were the Precision Walls team, their lean initiatives and their determined spirit to succeed. Because of these factors, Precision Walls delivered a world class facility while providing a significant impact to both safety and performance on this project.

Consistently recognized as one of the top 10 wall and ceilings contractors in the United States, Precision Walls, Inc. has been partnering with companies throughout the Southeast for almost 50 years to provide solutions to construction projects of all types. Based in Cary, N.C., the company’s award-winning commercial construction company specializes in commercial drywall, as well as acoustical ceilings, wall panels, insulation systems, demountable walls, moveable and operable partitions, light gauge framing, metal trusses, exterior insulation and finish systems, air/moisture barriers, stucco/plaster and cultured stone. Precision Walls has several offices in North Carolina (Greensboro, Charlotte, Greenville, Raleigh and Wilmington), South Carolina (Charleston, Columbia and Greenville) and Tennessee (Nashville). The company also offers interior and exterior construction services to Virginia, West Virginia and Georgia.

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