In order to meet the fast-track schedule, the project was broken down into four packages. This phasing strategy enabled construction to commence eight months after design began, and played an important role in the project’s on-time completion. With funding for the university’s research hinged on the building’s opening date, there was little room for extending the project schedule.
Ensuring the budget for this cutting-edge research facility required additional expertise and innovation. Working with the design team, McCarthy presented more than 200 value-management alternates across all engineering disciplines, allowing Georgia Tech the greatest amount of options with the least impact to overall function, quality and design intent.
Target Value Design, a lean process, was also used to ensure the project’s budget throughout preconstruction and construction phases, ultimately maximizing the program and providing the best final cost for Georgia Tech.
Although the emergence of the buried riverbed during excavation complicated construction, the team turned this precious water resource into a sustainable design asset by incorporating a unique water-harvesting component. To permanently extract the groundwater, the EBB foundation was fitted with a dewatering system that pumps the groundwater to a 10,000-gallon cistern on the northwest corner of the building. This water is primarily harvested for gray water use, with overflow feeding a water feature and a wetland pond on the site.
A second 14,200-gallon cistern on the building’s northeast corner collects run-off from the wetlands, the building’s east-side roof drains and the north-elevation storm drains. The water is then pumped to a cistern at the nanotechnology building, where it is used for campus-wide irrigation.
During the design and planning stages, energy modeling was performed to calculate the building envelope with precision accuracy. As a result of these studies, the laboratories feature high-efficiency fume hoods, automatic sash closers and energy-efficient lighting control systems to conserve energy. Additional energy efficient features include photovoltaic panels, exterior sunshades, expansive low-e glazing in lab and circulation areas, and 365 chilled beams strategically positioned in labs, service corridors and other areas where excess heat may be generated. Requiring chilled water piping for the beams, as well as conventional ductwork, further congested the labs' crowded overhead areas. To eliminate conflicts and coordinate this area, the team used Building Information Modeling (BIM) before construction began.
As a quality control measure, field mock-ups of the laboratory spaces, graduate student areas, monumental stairs, exterior skin, and various other complex areas were constructed. The exterior skin mock-up delivered the most value, revealing important opportunities for improvement in areas such as the sunscreens and window screens. Performing these changes during the mock-up process was significantly less expensive than changing them during construction. It also allowed the team to test the integrity of the exterior system for air and water infiltration, making it a critical component of the quality plan.