Teams work, safety record wins childrens hospital R&D building

Special to CONTRACTOR CHICAGO Industrial and commercial contracting firm Team Mechanical has started work on a $4.5 million project for Childrens Memorial Hospitals new research facility here. TMI won the negotiated job over five other contenders because it had worked with Childrens Memorial for years, presented some good ideas and had the best safety record, President Rick Bartuska said. With this

Special to CONTRACTOR

CHICAGO — Industrial and commercial contracting firm Team Mechanical has started work on a $4.5 million project for Children’s Memorial Hospital’s new research facility here.

TMI won the negotiated job over five other contenders because it had worked with Children’s Memorial for years, presented some good ideas and had the best safety record, President Rick Bartuska said.

“With this owner and this general contractor, the most important thing is safety,” Bartuska said. TMI’s workers’ compensation modification factor is 0.82, he noted. The firm also runs “every safety program ever thought of,” including monthly drawings if no injuries occur, escalating prizes for going injury-free over long periods, toolbox talks and annual safety awards. The importance of safety is also emphasized to all foremen so that they lead by example.

While Children’s asked all the contractors trying to get the job for value engineering ideas, the hospital didn’t use any of them, Bartuska said; officials were just trying to see who had the best ideas. Environmental Systems Design, a large consulting engineering firm in downtown Chicago, actually designed the project.

The biggest challenge of the project is its location. Children’s Memorial is located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, an upscale and densely populated section of Chicago’s near north side. The addition is being built next to an existing seven-story research facility close to the hospital, on a parking lot and on open space owned by the hospital. An underground parking garage is on the site.

“When the original facility was built, the underground parking garage had columns put in it sized to support this addition,” Bartuska noted.

The lack of a true staging area is going to be one of the biggest problems as work progresses, said Wayne Orlowski, project manager. TMI will have to stick to a strict schedule of moving materials and equipment onto the floors. Bartuska noted that TMI has rented parking garage space nearby because it’s trying to be sensitive to neighborhood concerns about parking and noise.

As part of the project, TMI and its subcontractors are installing a complex, stainless-steel exhaust system to carry carcinogenic and potentially contagious bacteria from research laboratory fume hoods through central sterilization and filtration equipment. After undergoing the purification process, the sterile air is discharged from high-velocity stacks on the roof.

“There is no margin for defects in critical systems of this type,” Bartuska said. “The ventilation system must maintain strict regulation of temperature and humidity to control airborne contaminants and must ensure accuracy and repeatability of research experiments.”

TMI’s work on the project will include new systems and tie-ins with existing systems in the adjacent research building. As part of the contract, TMI will also install in the new research facility piping for cooling and heating, in addition to piping that will facilitate the distribution of laboratory gases and reverse osmosis water used in lab experiments.

The structure, Orlowski explained, is predominantly laboratory space with office space for researchers and their assistants on each floor.

TMI is adding a new Carrier chiller, Orlowski said, and tying it into the existing chilled water system, and installing a new Evapco cooling tower and tying that into the existing condenser water system. The firm is running new risers from existing chilled water mains into the building. Chilled water pumps are Taco.

The firm is adding two new Cleaver-Brooks boilers on the top floor as a standalone system. The vacuum pump system is a standalone as is a deionized water system for animal watering.

TMI is modifying the existing reverse osmosis system, which it knows well because the company installed it five years ago. Orlowski’s crew is changing the membrane to add capacity and running new lines from the existing building, with part of the RO water serving Dri-Steem steam humidifiers in the five new Carrier air handlers in the new building.

TMI’s current contract with Children’s Memorial Hospital is the company’s largest. In a period of 12 months, the new research facility is expected to be operational.