Four landmark projects make public debut this month

Four major Skanska projects have officially opened to the public this month: Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge, Mass.; Fulton Street Transit Center in New York City; Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del.; and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s San Carlos Center near San Francisco. Together, these projects represent extraordinary craftsmanship, advances in building processes and technology, mastering extremely tough site conditions and our teams’ ingenuity and hard work. Below are highlights from each project:

Untangling Lower Manhattan’s subways

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Fulton Street Transit Center in New York City

Our work on the Fulton Street Transit Center, which we began nine years ago, organized and improved a knot of nine subway lines dating back to the early 1900s. While several contractors were involved with this transit hub, which is envisioned as Lower Manhattan’s version of Grand Central Terminal, Skanska’s assignments were among the most complex.

Through five contracts totaling $428 million, our work included building a block-long underground concourse connecting the Fulton Street Transit Center site to the World Trade Center Transportation Hub we’re still constructing; building the Fulton Street Transit Center foundation, which included carefully constructing an 80-foot deep secant pile wall to avoid the settlement of an adjacent 1890s-era building; gutting and rebuilding the complex’s A/C line subway station with a new structural frame and improved vertical circulation through adding new elevators, escalators and stairs; and installing finishes at two other stations in the complex.

With all this work, our team had to largely maintain the flow of traffic on the streets above and adjacent subway lines. In some cases, this meant supporting existing stations and track while we excavated below. Such work could only be done during weekend outages, which lasted two years. Every Monday, those stations had to be returned to service by 5 a.m.

“That was quite a challenge,” said Norm Hirsch, project manager. “But we got it done – we didn’t miss an opening.”

To read a New York Times article on the center’s opening, click here

Showcasing extreme craftsmanship at Harvard

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Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge, Mass.

The Harvard Art Museums project consolidated Harvard University’s three museums into a single facility designed by world-renowned architect Renzo Piano. The undertaking had two major elements: demolishing and then rebuilding 70 percent of the 204,000-square-foot interior of the original 1927 building, and constructing a 154,000-square-foot, five-story addition.

Precise work was a hallmark of this project. For instance, our team  erected 700 tons of temporary steel to brace the existing structure’s exterior walls, and later threaded permanent steel into place in that same space. Thanks in part to a BIM model, there were few conflicts. Additionally, they achieved a three-quarter-inch reveal between the bottom of the drywall and the top of the concrete floor in the galleries, which was only possible through nearly perfect steel and concrete placement. Most uniquely, our team had to painstakingly move two huge frescoes, one a 10-foot by 12-foot work of art weighing 15 tons, given that it was an integral part of a load-bearing masonry wall. (Click here to watch a video of this process.)

“We did a lot of things here that people will never do again in their careers,” said Claude LeBlanc, field operations director. “Many things were done that that no one will ever see.”

Faced with a ballooning number of requests for information and design updates early in the project, our team innovated the use of a Bluebeam Revu-based PDF document management system. Even more, they electronically linked the drawings to associated RFIs and other information, making it even easier to find the right data. Exploring another way to improve how we build, LED-based luminaires were used for nearly all temporary lighting, saving more than $300,000 in energy costs.

Click here to read a Boston Globe story on the museums’ expansion, and click here to see a time lapse video of construction.

Sharing the joy of construction with young patients

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Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del.

Multi-system prefabrication and lean processes were key to our success in expanding the Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children. Skanska established an off-site facility in which we assembled 144 each of bathroom pods, patient room headwalls and medical staff work stations. Additionally, we assembled 160 overhead MEP racks. All this was done to compress the schedule while reducing waste and ensuring high levels of quality and safety. In another advancement, our team utilized pull planning to most efficiently build the 450,000-square-foot expansion’s five-story atrium. Also, we used a single provider to perform all above-ceiling MEP coordination to speed this work while ensuring consistency.

But perhaps the most rewarding part of this project was engaging young patients during construction. This expansion is located adjacent to the existing facility, which has balconies that overlooked the construction site – our team saw those balconies as an opportunity to give the kids reasons to smile. Sometimes our team had children lead them in Stretch and Flex from those balconies. During the earthwork phase, through the use of a mock blasting box and some subtle project radio commands, children thought they were causing the earth to heave. Our team became an integral part of hospital life, even creating a construction-themed coloring book and outfitting a wheelchair like a Cat bulldozer for a Halloween parade.

“Helping these kids has touched the hearts of even the most hardened construction workers,” said Marty Corrado, prefabrication manager.

An integrated approach to construction

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San Carlos Center medical clinic near San Francisco

The 192,000-square-foot San Carlos Center medical clinic was Skanska’s first project to truly use integrated project delivery, which emphasizes heavy collaboration among project stakeholders, and it also extensively used lean construction practices. Having the project’s key stakeholders – including the client, Skanska, the designers and trade partners – operate out of a common Big Room office helped accelerate and improve decision making, said Project Executive Raul Rosales.

Besides how we built this project, the building itself is also notable because of its high-quality finishes. These include a canopy made of reclaimed redwood, a lobby with Pakistan limestone flooring and a wall of three-inch thick stacked Douglas fir, and, for an especially unique effect, large images of the local landscape digitized onto plywood. This medical center is part of the Sutter Health system.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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