Texas Southern University Library Learning Center Site Visit

After a fascinating office visit at Exxon, the GLCM group kicked off Houston trip’s first site visit at Texas Southern University Library Learning Center. This 137,000-square-foot building will include space for the university’s online and distance education programs, administrative offices, a board room, and offices for student support services. Turner Construction Co. is the general contractor for this project and they have a guaranteed maximum price type of contract with the institution. This owner had chosen to use public bids for this project while Turner had lump sum contracts with their subcontractors. We started off with a meeting in the conference room which is usually used by Turner construction staff to discuss safety, schedule especially six week lookahead, pull planning and milestones.

Turner’s Project manager, Mr. Mike Mass, explained to all the students regarding the building and the challenges faced by their team during construction.

This building has five-storey, a penthouse for mechanical equipment and a tunnel underneath which is tied to the central plant. One of the challenges faced by the team was to remove the existing waterproofing in the tunnel and provide new waterproofing after connecting new steam lines for this structure. The original cost for this building was $43 million and the current estimated cost for completion is $46 million. Construction started in December 2017 and is set to be completed by end of May 2019. One of the most unique aspects of the building is the six different exterior facades which includes traditional brick cladding, porcelain cladding, metal panels, and metal soffits. Since the soil below is clay and has less bearing capacity, the structural engineer decided to use 273 auger cast piles at 90 feet below elevation for foundation. The building has 25000 square feet of dynamic glass at all exterior elevations and a massive atrium in the interiors for skylights, as shown in the picture below.

The project manager emphasized on the importance of safety in all Turner sites. This specific project has had 225,000 man-hours of construction activities without any safety incident. As a matter of fact, the management team hands out $5 safety tokens to all construction workers who encourage safety in their daily activities. Some other safety considerations include pre-shift safety huddles at 7am, maintaining cutting stations and cleaning stations around the site and consistently maintaining a constraint log around the lifecycle of the project. A major logistical challenge was keeping the parking lot open for the adjacent law academic building located 15 ft away. This turned out to be a political challenge since there was a lot of pressure from the law school to keep the parking lot open during construction. As a result, Turner had to use a remote laydown area. Turner highly focuses on using lean construction practices such as pull planning for efficient coordination between trades. For this project, Turner has used 20 pull plans till now and plans to use 3 more pull plans till end of the project. All the contractors have even created BIM models with LOD 400 for coordination and clash detection.

All the students had a great learning experience at this project site and we would like to thank Turner Construction Co. for hosting us. Special thanks to Chelsea Wong for setting up this site visit as she will be working full time at Turner Construction Co. this summer!

Blog by Akash Jain