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Features - September 2004

Swift Military Action

Clark Construction and LS3P design-build Army barracks project at Fort Jackson

By Bea Quirk and Scott Judy

Bethesda, Md.-based Clark Design/Build LLC wasn't the lowest bidder for the new basic training complex for the U.S. Army's Fort Jackson facility near Columbia, S.C.

But it was the fastest.

The 98-year-old company won the $58 million contract (just $1 million more than the low bid) because it offered the fastest turnaround - two years.

Pete Cafaro, project manager for Clark Construction, general contractor for the project, said the job was helped because subcontractors were involved early in the process. He also credited a good scheduling process.

"The job has been a true joy," said Cafaro, who is based in Clark's regional headquarters in Tampa.

Willie Murphy, associate principal and project manager with Charleston, S.C.-based architect LS3P, agreed, crediting the design-build delivery method.

"This project is a stellar example of a design-build effort," he said. "It just went very smoothly."

Based on a similar Army facility in Missouri, the project was not complicated or complex, but it was huge. Fort Jackson is the Army's largest and most active initial training center, and the facility requirements reflected that.

Located on a 55-acre site just outside Columbia, bordered by Interstate 77 and Route 20, the 400,000-sq.-ft. project includes five barracks buildings, a 30,000-sq.-ft. dining facility that can feed up to 1,800 recruits at a time, a battalion headquarters and a central energy plant.

Each of the barracks measures roughly 65,000 sq. ft. All are built of structural-steel frames, masonry and brick exterior façades and standing-seam metal roofs. In addition to housing, the buildings include classrooms, offices and storage areas.

The 22,000-sq.-ft. battalion headquarters is similar to the barracks and also includes classrooms and training facilities.

A central quadrangle serves as the primary focal point for the campus, and a Parade of Valor will be designated in this area to recognize Medal of Honor winners who have graduated from Fort Jackson. A battalion track, exercise area and marching walkways are also included in the complex's site development.

Sitework includes a new network of underground utility services that connect to both the new central energy plant and existing base facilities.

The project was awarded in November 2002. That's when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers presented LS3P with the project requirements, such as the number of recruits it would serve and the functional purposes it would meet. It took 10 months for the design to get final approval.

LS3P's Murphy said meeting these owner requirements - established by Fort Jackson's installation design guide - was the first and ultimately biggest hurdle.

"We were required to take a standard package of buildings and site-adapt them to Fort Jackson, and then implement quite a few specific requirements that Fort Jackson had," he said. Some of Fort Jackson's specific requirements regarded roof lines, exterior finishes and interior finishes.

One relatively new criteria is the military's force-protection/anti-terrorism requirements for its structures to withstand progressive collapse.

"That had significant impact on the structural-steel framing systems for the barracks buildings," Murphy said. "It had to be analyzed so that if a column in any of the building framing was lost, you would not have a massive collapse of the facility. Various structural analyses were run on that."

Cafaro said the Army typically requires the design be 100 percent completed and approved before any sitework can begin. But Clark convinced the Army that it made sense to begin demolishing the site's existing structure in April 2003. In addition to tearing down the World War II-era sports complex already there, Clark balanced the site for construction. That included creating a 15- to 18-ft. build-up in some places and cutting 26 ft. in others.

About 55,000 yds. of fill and unusable soils also had to be transported offsite.

Although actual construction began in June 2003 - seven months into the design process - Clark Construction and its subcontractors were already busy at work. Clark chose them at the start of the project, and they were all contractors it had worked with before.

As the architects were designing the facility - and even before the Army got to see any plans - designers presented cut sheets to all the contractors, who then provided feedback to the architects. There were even face-to-face meetings between the architects and the subs. This ongoing feedback and input continued throughout the design process.

Once construction began, scheduling was a key to staying on top of things, Cafaro said. There was an in-house scheduler, but the relationships forged in the design process also contributed to the fast-track process, he added.

A software program, Primavera P3, enabled Clark to stay current with detailed progress reports and helped make the monthly billings highly accurate.

This was a big help in maintaining control of the schedule and also helped create a nearly paperless project, Cafaro said. "There's probably been no more than a couple dozen letters that have gone out during the whole process - that's incredible," he added.

"The Corps of Engineers had access to everything we had - we truly worked as one team. Their 10 onsite staffers interface with us on a regular basis."

This project marked LS3P's first design-build effort, and Murphy was definitely pleased with the results. He credited communication and past relationships between the primary parties as the main reasons for success. LS3P has worked with the Savannah district of USACE for about 15 years, and previously worked with Clark Construction - including many of the people staffing this project - on a Navy project about 10 years ago.

The project has gone as well as it has, he said, "Primarily because of our knowledge of the Corps of Engineers and our relationship with the Savannah district, Clark's ability to put the right people together and man the project properly and establish a good relationship with the Corps - and just a good team effort on the part of all people involved. The communication, even down to the sub level, has been extremely good and efficient."

The collaboration between Clark and LS3P from the start of the project minimized potential problems. And if any issues did come up, Murphy said, "The design-build approach made it easy to work those issues out."

Cafaro also credited the partnerships among all the players that began in the earliest stages of design work as the major reason the Corps had only requested $300,000 in change orders as of July.

The Fort Jackson facility is being built as part of the Corps of Engineers' Sustainable Project Rating Tool, or SPiRiT, program, which focuses on making buildings energy-efficient and encourages recycling and reduced energy consumption. The project incorporated sustainable design features such as limited site disturbance, water and energy conservation measures, daylighting, indoor air-quality monitoring and a reflective roof.

The asphalt and concrete from the demolished structures were recycled, and the trees that were cut down were converted to mulch.

Clark and LS3P will have a chance to follow up on their collective success at Fort Jackson. In May, the team won a $73.6 million, emergency funded contract for the design, total site development and construction of a modular barracks campus, battalion headquarters and other facilities at Fort Stewart, Ga. This project has to be completed within 142 days. Also, in March, Clark won a design-build contract for a $30 million barracks project at Fort Benning, Ga.



Owner: Fulton County Department of Public Works
Contractor: Western Summit Constructors, Denver
Engineer: Parsons, Pasadena, Calif.
Operator: American Water, Marlton, N.J.

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