Varied craftsmen, skilled managers deliver extraordinary projects
It takes a big, varied collection of outstanding craftspeople along with skilled project managers who know how to harness talent, in order to pull off some projects. At this year’s BC&E Craftsmanship Awards, we honored three such projects with Overall Building Awards.
F.M. Harvey Construction Co., Inc.
Renovation Under $10 Million
When the Atlas Restaurant Group developed the concept for Maximón,
they set out to transport patrons to an authentic Latin American environment. The restaurant, located in the Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore, would include items acquired in Central and South America, beams wrapped in ipe and window shutters made from limba, an expansive palapa bar on the patio and a showpiece bar inside that resembled tree trunks. All doors and jambs would be custom made from white oak and given a distressed, crusted salt finish that required a 13-step process to achieve the desired look.
And then there were elements that were even harder to create.
“There were some aspects of the project that were visionary,” said Kristyn Harvey of F.M. Harvey Construction Co., Inc. “We had a set of drawings for the project, but for those visionary aspects there were no plans. There were concepts… The guys were given words and they created a space that matched those words.”
Those uncommon acts of on-the-job creativity included designing Maximón’s “old Mexican style” walls. A skilled plasterer created half a dozen mock-ups then worked with the owner to determine what size, shape, texture and dispersion of plaster lumps would produce the desired look.
Craftsmen also overcame unexpected challenges mid-project, Harvey said. To create the faceted limba window screens across the harbor-facing side of Maximón, craftsmen had to contend with storefront panels set at numerous different angles. Their solution was to fabricate custom mini, metal I-beams and build 16 custom-sized screens from wood they milled themselves.
Dundalk Elementary School Replacement
North Point Builders of Maryland, LLC
New Construction $25 Million to $50 Million
To complete the new $35 million, 100,000-square-foot Dundalk Elementary, North Point Builders of Maryland, LLC and its subcontractors would have to complete state-of-the-art teaching facilities, a showpiece media center, a multi-purpose gymnasium-cafeteria-auditorium, extensive athletic fields and courts, and a LEED Silver building within 14 months.
Because the building would replace a 100-year-old school in a historic district, the project team would also have to meet several historic preservation requirements. Specifically, craftspeople would have to remove and recondition three elements from the original school – its precast façade, part of a boiler chimney and the proscenium from the school stage – and install those items in the new building. The added challenge was those items had to remain in place until the school year finished on June 18, 2019.
“You are talking about multiple-month projects that start at the end of June and we were working on a building that had to be complete and ready for students by the end of August,” said Jason Miller, Project Manager at North Point Builders.
Drone flights and laser scans helped masons assess the chimney before removing, cleaning and relocating the 1924 bricks and refabricating the complex corbel chimney design. Similarly, craftsmen from Hilgartner Natural Stone Company removed and refinished the iconic precast entryway and installed it in the new school’s curtain wall.
Meanwhile, other craftsmen worked to decipher the makeup of the solid oak proscenium and determine how to dismantle it without damage. Weighing up to 60 pounds per foot, the piece was comprised of layers of sub-framing and ornamental additions. However, wood plugs and layers of stain had covered the century-old, hand-cut nails, making it difficult to determine how the parts were connected. Ultimately, the combination of craftsmanship and technology delivered those historic elements to a modern school.
Mercy Medical Center – Bunting 17 COVID Fit Out
The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
New Construction $10 Million to $25 Million
The COVID-19 outbreak in Maryland presented The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company and its project partners with a different and critical scheduling challenge. In response to the public health emergency, Mercy Medical Center secured an Emergency Certificate of Need to convert the 17th floor of Bunting Tower into a 32-bed patient unit for critical care conditions, including 12 isolation rooms to treat COVID-19 patients.
“Governor Hogan wanted this floor completed by June 1st,” said Emily Gladstone, Project Manager at Whiting-Turner. “We started on March 23rd and were able to achieve our use and occupancy on May 20th, only 59 days after construction started. Typically on a 30,000-square-foot patient floor, it would take six to eight months.”
The project team achieved that dramatic acceleration in part by “going old school.” Lacking the time to develop BIM models, coordinated drawings or updated specs, the team updated 10-year-old specifications from the original Bunting Tower construction. Project architects and engineers remained on call to provide submittal reviews, updated code requirements and other answers within hours. Trade partners and the design team worked together throughout the project to resolve coordination issues and rapidly access alternate materials when strained supply chains couldn’t produce deliveries on schedule. To streamline documentation and as-built records, the team took 360-degree photos daily.
Realizing the vital importance of the project, dedicated tradespeople worked through a peak outbreak, implemented heightened jobsite safety precautions, managed a two-shift, seven-day work schedule, and delivered a facility of such high quality that it is indistinguishable from other patient floors.