Horizon Engineering Associates, LLP (HEA) was hired to provide building enclosure commissioning services for a multi-million-dollar new surgical pavilion project. Now complete, the new two-story, 82,000 sf building houses 14 operating suites, all with a focus on high-quality clinical care and patient experience. It also features private pre- and post-operative spaces, new signage, convenient drop-off and parking areas, exterior courtyards and a multi-story bridge that connects the facility to the existing hospital. The project allowed the client to move into their next generation of campus evolution and enabled to combine advanced technology with compassionate care to create a unique healing environment.
Q/A with Franklin Cedillo - Building Enclosure Associate
What has been the biggest challenge faced during this project and how has HEA been able to navigate through any problems faced due to this challenge?
One of the benefits of building enclosure commissioning is that it provides an opportunity for a third party to review the construction documents during the design phase to offer insight on the adequacy of the drawings and specifications. We often identify a variety of issues in the contract documents such as inconsistencies, ambiguities, problems with constructability, or sometimes lack of important transition details. In the best-case scenario, our comments are picked up by the design team early in the design process and all issues are resolved in the final construction documents. However, when this doesn’t happen, we typically find that these unresolved issues cause complications during construction such as delays resulting from the need to issue RFIs, or the need to remediate deficiencies in installation.
On this particular project, some of the issues we had pointed out during the design phase had still not been addressed at the start of construction. For example, it became clear during a pre-construction meeting that the roof membrane base flashing at the parapets, which had not been clearly called out on the roof details, was not in any of the contractor’s scope of work. We again brought attention to that problem during the pre-construction meeting. The general contractor had to negotiate a last-minute solution for assigning this work to the contractor.
Some unresolved issues also manifested themselves during the construction phase. For example, while performing our site visits, we observed that the horizontal expansion joints in the weather barrier were not installed as intended. This was due to a misinterpretation of the construction details which lacked information and contained ambiguities. We called out the issues we observed with this installation in our field report, and the design team followed our recommendation to issue additional guidance and clarifications on how to install these joints properly.
What lessons have been learned during this project that you believe can be applied to future projects to make them even more successful?
I would say that it is critical for us to start our involvement as early on in the design process as possible. This allows the design team to incorporate our comments and recommendations in the contract documents before it is too late to make changes.
Anything about this project that makes it stand out to you as different/unique from any other projects you’ve previously worked on?
During the construction phase, our client elected to extend our scope of work to include additional site visits. The observations we noted during our site visits had significant impacts on how some transition details were installed. On most projects, our observations are typically limited to verifying and confirming that the building enclosure systems are installed adequately, but the relatively high number of field-related issues in this project meant that an increased presence on site was deemed beneficial to the success of the project.
What do you think the success of this project shows about the qualities of HEA?
Collaboration and expertise are two of our core values that we are committed to. During this project, we were able to communicate the issues we noted during construction in a clear manner to the general contractor and to the design team. We worked with all parties in a collaborative approach to help find ways to resolve these issues. These are the qualities that allow us to ensure the success of the projects we work on and to have a positive impact.