New Office Showcases ABC’s Role in the Construction Industry Through Design, Materials and Technology

Last spring, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) put plans in motion to move its National office from Arlington, Va., to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

“Moving to Capitol Hill placed ABC in a strategic position to advocate for the merit shop philosophy and safety in the construction industry, as well as for developing a skilled workforce,” ABC President and CEO Mike Bellaman says. “There is no better place for us to be than two blocks from the Capitol and one block from the Department of Labor.”

                       

The 19,830-square-foot office takes up one and a half floors in a 10-story, recently renovated building originally constructed in the 1960s. Because it was a construction management at-risk project, ABC brought the project team on board early in the process.  General contractor HITT Contracting, Falls Church, Va., worked alongside OTJ Architects, Washington, D.C., KGO Project Management, Washington, D.C., and construction project manager GRANIX, Ellicott City, Md.
ABC National's new lobby
The team began meeting last spring during the preconstruction phase. The mechanical/electrical engineer, Greenman – Pedersen, Inc., helped identify potential problems by performing 3-D laser scanning on the structure prior to construction. The scan involved a laser that shoots light beams at all points of the space using at least three anchor points per shot. The process helped provide precise measurements of the space’s nooks and crannies, including the columns, beams, ceiling space, and wall height and distance—which ultimately provided an exact BIM model.

Then, HITT Contracting BIM Manager Andrew Thoma worked with the subcontractors to put their plans into a master BIM model, which soon became a vital tool given the building’s age. The team found the floor and the ceiling were uneven by about 2.25 inches. (The average variance in new buildings is less than 1 inch.) The ceiling, however, was level, which created varying plenum space above it. Clash detection was performed, revealing more than 300 locations where ductwork, lights, sprinklers and piping interfered with each other. The team worked together to eliminate every clash before construction began.

“The limited plenum space in the ceiling was a huge issue throughout the entire project, with trying to fit fixtures and all the other stuff that goes in the ceiling,” says HITT Contracting Project Manager Ronald Navarro. “We were able to work well with our subcontractors and coordinate what was going in and how it was going in early on by using BIM.” BIM model of ABC National's new office

Aug. 19 marked the first day of construction. After a competitive bid process, 13 ABC members were selected as subcontractors, including RL Iron, Gaithersburg Cabinetry and Millwork, Precision Doors & Hardware, Casey Construction Group, Dominion Tile, City Floors, HITT Paint, Allsteel, Modern Door and Equipment Sales, Valley Lighting, Panacea, Inc., American Automatic Sprinkler Company and REW Group, Inc.

HITT Contracting Senior Superintendent Vaughn Ledford geared up to make sure subcontractors worked safely. Before being allowed onsite, all workers and visitors were required to sign in, review a safety checklist and go through a safety orientation with Ledford. Additionally, all ABC staff underwent drug testing before being allowed to enter the building.

Using BIM, layouts were done for the HVAC system, doors, partitions and GPR core drill locations. Partitions were framed and lighting, electrical, ductwork and plumbing systems were roughed in. By mid-September, the framing contractor began hanging drywall. Next came furniture layout and core drilling locations for electrical and plumbing systems. Duct work and a Variable Air Volume (VAV) HVAC system were installed, with the VAV system connected to the piping, duct work, and power and control systems. The ceiling grid was installed and the floors were leveled to install glass partitions.

By the beginning of October, the drywall was finished and the remaining bulkheads were closed in and finished. The walls were painted and the AV, telephone and data wiring were roughed in. The carpets, ceiling tiles, lighting fixtures, aluminum door frames and glass partitions also were installed. By November, carpet, ceiling tiles, millwork and furniture were installed, as well as many of the design elements that make the space unique.
ABC National's new lobby
Anticipating more visits from members of Congress and other organizations due to the office’s central location, Bellaman wanted the space to illustrate ABC’s role in the construction industry. To accomplish that goal, the project team included details such as a wood-slat ceiling, corrugated metal panels, a wall depicting ABC members’ high-quality work, and exposed concrete, ceiling systems and conduit.

“In our previous office, our role in the construction industry wasn’t immediately clear to visitors, so we wanted the new office to better represent us,” Bellaman says. “We also wanted to be sure the new office was an open environment to facilitate teamwork and collaboration, exposed to plenty of natural light,  green principled and respectful of the environment.”
ABC National's new kitchen
Many recycled elements were included, such as materials in the millwork, surface laminate, countertops, mosaic tiles, floor tiles, rubber wall base and furniture. The most notable sustainable element is the carpet, which was produced by Interface and
uses 100 percent recycled content fiber from reclaimed carpets. Additionally, the office includes many regionally manufactured and extracted products, such as metal studs, ceiling systems, insulation, doors and frames.

Ninety percent of all appliances are Energy Star rated, the lighting power density of the space is 10 percent below what is allowed for ASHRAE 90.1-2007 and all water fixtures have at least a 20 percent reduction in water use over set baselines. All adhesives and paint contain low (or no) volatile organic compounds and the carpet is held together with stickers instead of adhesive. Many of the finish pallet materials and the furniture pieces are considered to be low-emitting. The floor plan is open, which allows for maximum natural light and is conducive to a collaborative work environment.

First Potomac, the building owner, is pursuing LEED Platinum certification, and the building is the first in the downtown, Washington, D.C., office market to use a dedicated outside air system with 100 percent fresh make-up air. More than 70 percent of the building’s structural elements were reused and 90 percent of construction waste was recycled instead of going to a landfill.

HITT Contracting finished the project by ABC’s strict Dec. 1 move-in date, and in time for ABC’s Executive Committee meeting and an event with several members of Congress.


Jessica Porter is assistant editor of Construction Executive. For more information, email porter@abc.org, visit www.constructionexec.com or follow @ConstructionMag.