Preconstruction Efforts. Engaged nearly a year prior to construction, the Aerzen USA expansion project required a collaborative effort between Warfel and the architect to meet the goals of the owner, while overcoming the many budget, schedule and logistical challenges this expansion presented. Four overarching goals guided the team: 1) Add to the original building with minimal disruption to the daily operations of both the office and warehouse staff 2) Re-purpose the existing office area to meet the new programming needs 3) Create dining and common areas to encourage collaboration between the office and warehouse staff, and 4) Implement sustainable elements to the same LEED Gold standards as the original construction.
To help make the most of their budget, Warfel, as CM, provided cost estimates, value management recommendations, and life cycle cost analyses throughout each phase of design. Cost detail sheets were offered at each level of pricing so that Aerzen could easily determine how and why the estimate was modified. Much of the preconstruction process was also determining how the actual work would be sequenced to promote schedule and logistical efficiencies. The small site required a great deal of stormwater management elements and a geothermal well field, so managing the logistics of the earthwork with the building construction was critical.
Site Challenges. The primary challenging aspect of the project from a construction standpoint was the project-long logistical constraints which essentially drove the progress of the work. The only areas of non-structure construction within the confines of the project site were: 8 geothermal wells, 2 bioretention basins and 4 R-Tank underground stormwater storage systems. Navigating equipment and coordinating all the work in such a way as not to compromise the integrity of each element was quite a feat. The 450+ deep geothermal wells were drilled first. Located only feet away, the excavation for the two bioretention basins had to be carefully coordinated with the geothermal field so as not to damage the recently installed wells or underground piping to the building. Finally, the 2 R-Tank system basins could be installed. These came last, since heavy construction equipment would damage the units. To further complicate things, the original parking lot was pervious. No construction equipment or heavy trucks could traverse the existing lot. This left very little access and meant that all major building work had to occur from the north end of the site, which, as you can see was minimal, leaving little room for laydown, equipment turn-around, and crane access The final two R-Tanks were located in this strip. All structural work had to be completely done before these final tanks were installed since completing these left no access to the expansion on either side of the building. In addition to all of these site challenges and to meet the initial LEED certification requirements, the addition was designed with many green and sustainable elements, such as Earthtubes for fresh air requiring underground installation. This underground piping had to be coordinated with the earthwork and expanded geothermal system. It was also imperative to coordinate these tubes with the building foundations, underfloor utilities, and close proximity to the R-Tanks.
Architectural Challenges. Because of the unique anthroposophic design elements (organic shapes and no right angles) of both the original building and the addition, the structural, MEP, and architectural elements were challenging, particularly at the tie-in locations. Our Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) department created visuals to show the building MEP and structural tie-ins,
helping the field crew plan appropriately for the work, eliminating costly and time consuming rework. On the interior, matching existing timber frame PSL beams was difficult because over time these beams experience color changes. Our team utilized different products and application processes and finally came up with a clear coat finish with some sanding that created a match in finishes that the owner approved. Because so many different architectural elements came in to play, much of the lighting design was tackled in the field. Coordinating the hundreds of lighting fixtures with the wood ceilings, mechanical equipment, sprinkler runs, etc, and beams was done as team effort. Requiring a good deal of patience, in many instances our field staff would
hold fixtures up to different spots to determine what was most visually appealing and appropriate for the space. Of course the Owner made the final call, but our team took on this time-consuming challenge to help them with the process.
Schedule Challenges. The highlight for employees was the new kitchen/ bistro area which was designed with some unique elements, including contemporary lighting, appliances, and a European aluminum door and window system which was integral to the aluminum curtain wall system, An extremely long-lead item, Warfel nearly finished this area of the expansion, constructing
a temporary wall in case of issues with the already tight delivery. In the end, the door system arrived with enough time to install and meet the schedule, but, we were prepared with plan ‘B’!
Although Warfel was not responsible for the furniture purchasing, it was our responsibility to coordinate directly with the vendor to install the required floor boxes for electric and data needed within the conference rooms, offices and throughout the cubicle spaces. Ultimately, Warfel’s input during preconstruction suggested that the expansion be fully completed before the existing
space was renovated. This idea allowed Aerzen’s staff to temporarily relocate in the addition while the renovations ensued. This approach minimized disruption and displacement, averting costly impact to the budget and schedule. Due to this advanced planning, the staff was able to get into their final spaces faster and with little impact to their day to day work.
Landscaping. As part of the LEED initiatives, the landscape designer planned 17,000 plantings for the site! We worked closely with Landscape Architect Jonathan Alderson to develop a feasible landscape plan that used native species in a natural way, complementing the hardscapes surrounding the building and in the interior courtyard.