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MBA Evening of Excellence

Renovation Under $10M Category Features Two Very Challenging Projects

The winning projects in this year’s Building Excellence Awards will be announced on Thursday, February 25 at the Construction Industry Evening of Excellence. To some it seems as though every category goes to projects built by Mascaro Construction, Jendoco and PJ Dick. This perception, while incorrect, is somewhat justified since these firms are the only ones who display double digits in Crystals at their office. But the truth is that the MBA membership is full of contractors that are renowned for satisfying clients with quality construction. In relations to the Building Excellence Awards, two of the lesser known firms battle it out in the category of Renovation Under $10 Million with Facility Support Services (FSS) and Uhl Construction. This is the first FSS project to compete in the awards program, while Uhl submits a project every few years and they won a Crystal a few years ago.

FSS is competing in the awards program for its work on the University of Pittsburgh David Lawrence Hall Renovations and Upgrades. David Lawrence Hall is the largest classroom building on the University of Pittsburgh’s main campus in Oakland. In order to create a more efficient learning environment, Pitt decided to embark on a significant renovation project. The project consisted of the renovation of approximately 25,910 SF and provided for a newly updated lobby to include the latest technological amenities, two auditoriums with capacities for 332 and 571 students, a newly added second floor mezzanine for the creation of three new classrooms, storage spaces, upgrade of stairwells and restrooms. The large existing auditorium was divided into two separate auditoriums, the Forbes Avenue façade, storefront-style entrance and vestibule was upgraded.

Since this Pitt project was located in a tight urban setting with limited laydown areas, work was extended to an overnight shift to minimize disruption of building occupants. To facilitate material and equipment deliveries, an opening was created in the side of the existing auditorium. The limestone façade was removed from the bottom of the building to the roof, and a 25 FT wide by 40 FT high opening was created. Barn-style doors were hung, each weighing 750 LBs, for safety and to protect the project site from the elements.

Uhl Construction is in the MBA awards with its work on the Clarion University Becht Hall. The overall project consists of converting and renovating the 107 year old dormitory building into offices, classrooms, a campus health center, and other student activity space to support the Clarion University Student Success Center. The renovation highlights comprise: the demolition of existing steel, cast iron, wood, and masonry interior structure, including a section of the roof which was demolished. The existing exterior masonry wall assembly, stair closures and roof structures remains in place, but has been modified in some areas. A new interior steel frame with concrete floors and new foundations have been installed with this conversion as well a complete new interior (plumbing, electrical, sprinkler-fire protection system, new IT and communication system, etc.).

Becht Hall complies with the U.S. Green Building Council LEED prerequisites and credits needed for the project to obtain LEED Silver Certification. This project characterizes how to effectively reduce the amount of energy and water being utilized within a building as well as how to improve the quality of the indoor air environment, thus creating new standards for occupant health.

Both projects were extremely challenging and required the constructor to bring solutions to keep the project on track for completion. A few weeks ago the MBA issued a survey, the Building Excellence Awards Challenge, and for this category over hundred votes have been received and the latest polling numbers are: Clarion University Becht Hall – 41%; Pitt Lawrence Hall – 38%; and tie both projects win a Crystal – 21%. We’ll find out at the Evening of Excellence what happens with this category.