Rawlins Mechanical collaborates, coordinates for Clayton State science building project

Feb. 5, 2015
Some challenges, which were overcome, were typical of educational facility work, such as: Working around the campus’ work schedule and school schedule. One major shut-down for the gas for the tie-in to the new building. Working with Chemdrain piping for the chemistry lab. 

MORROW, GA. — For many builders working in the public sector, budgets over the last decade have been moving targets. Case in point, the new 64,000-sq.ft. science and technology building at Clayton State University.

A rendering of Clayton State's science building.
The project was awarded at $30 million,” Kevin Kuntz, president of the Southeast Division of McCarthy Building Companies said. “Then the recession hit and the project went through multiple iterations, having to shrink to get state funding.”

What was once $30 million shrank to as low as $10 million before rebounding to $18 million. “We worked with them to show how the project could still be viable, no matter the budget,” Kuntz said.

Throughout the entire process, McCarthy Companies kept in close communication with its mechanical systems subcontractor, Rawlins Mechanical Contractors. “We’ve done a few projects with them in the past,” Mike Pacino, project manager for Rawlins said, “and I feel we’ve exceeded their expectations on those jobs.”

The Clayton State project meant working closely with McCarthy’s estimation department to make sure the project could be built to within the constraints of the contract.

“We were able to engineer some things ourselves,” Pacino explained, “answer some questions, just from the experience we had. We were able to land right on their number.”

Rawlins Mechanical has been in business about ten years. The company had its start doing dental offices around the Atlanta area before it moved into hospital work. “We do specialized piping,” Pacino said, “industrial piping… hospitals, stadiums, university work.” The company has about 100 employees in the field with another ten back at the office.

The science and technology building will be spread over three stories and house a vivarium, a mechanical penthouse, a mechanical basement and a loading dock. 

The topping-out ceremony for Clayton State University's new science and technology building.

Because Clayton State is a unit of the University System of Georgia, the project had to be built to both LEED Silver standards, and to be certified as a Georgia Peach Green Building. (The Peach program recognizes buildings owned or managed by the State of Georgia that optimize energy performance and also increase demand for materials and furnishings produced in Georgia.)

“Doing LEED work just means you have to pay more attention to detail,” Pacino said. “Make sure we stay within the allowed restrictions.” That meant working with high-efficiency commercial water heaters, and with WaterSense-rated, sensor-activated fixtures from Kohler and American Standard.

Other challenges were typical of educational facility work. “We’ve had to work around the campus’ work schedule and school schedule,” Pacino said. “We’ve had to do one major shut-down for the gas already for the tie-in to the new building. So we had to shut the gas off to the entire campus. That happened without any issues.” It has also meant working with state inspectors and various third-party inspectors.

Other challenges were particular to the facility, which includes an extensive chemistry laboratory. “We’re using Chemdrain piping for the acid waste [in the lab],” Pacino said. “This was my first experience using that piping and it went off without a hitch.”

Along with the typical sinks and drains, the chemistry lab also required emergency showers and eyewash stations. “You always need those emergency services in place,” Pacino said, “just in case, God forbid, something happens and somebody gets a chemical on their skin or face.”

Throughout the project, Rawlins has worked closely with the university, its suppliers, and its GC. McCarthy Companies, along with its automated scheduling systems, also does poll scheduling that puts all the subs physically in one room to carve out the time they need.

“You put all the parts and pieces together as a team so that it’s well-coordinated, and everyone’s expectations are well-defined,” Kuntz said. “At the end of the day what’s important is that they all make money. The quality is better, the safety is great and everyone walks away happy. And the next project is already set up to be a success.”

Rawlins Mechanical’s work on the job began just seven months ago. The intended completion date for the project is in early August, in time for the start of classes.

The main structure has already been finished, a milestone that was marked by a topping-out ceremony. Representatives from the university, McCarthy, SLAM, GSFIC, BOR and others all gathered at the site to sign the final beam before it was hoisted into place.

“It’s been a great project to work on,” Pacino said. “It took a while to actually get going… but once everything was greenlighted the whole crew at Rawlins and the whole crew at McCarthy are stepping up and making it work.” 

About the Author

Steve Spaulding | Editor-inChief - CONTRACTOR

Steve Spaulding is Editor-in-Chief for CONTRACTOR Magazine. He has been with the magazine since 1996, and has contributed to Radiant Living, NATE Magazine, and other Endeavor Media properties.

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