When Renovating/Expanding in a Place That Never Closes
Clients whose facilities must continue operating 24/7 while renovation and expansion projects are in progress lay down an ironclad law to construction companies performing the work: Do not disturb! JE Dunn VP/Aviation group manager Iana Steineker asks us to consider one of the company’s recent Hartsfield-Jackson projects: Complete an HVAC system replacement on Concourse T. The project involved removing and replacing ceilings, mechanical systems and electrical upgrades covering 450k SF—affecting 32 Terminal T tenants (concessions, baggage claims, ticketing, executives and others) and thousands of passengers coming and going 'round the clock. The project's success highlights three critical considerations that can help owners and contractors mitigate the effects of workday expansions and upgrades—even ones not confronted by the challenges of 24-hour operations:
- Scouting: Taking the time to thoroughly understand the rhythms of daily life—staff functions and their requirements, peak activity times and locations, pedestrian and vehicular traffic patterns, spaces and how they are used—will provide critical insight for minimizing a project's impact on daily operations. The airport project team learned, for example, that some of its work would take place in restricted areas requiring special security clearances; that its most productive work hours would be 10pm to 5am, and that it would face a shortage of areas to lay down materials and supplies.
- Planning: The project team photographed airport employee work areas at the beginning of shifts, ensuring that any items moved during construction would be properly replaced. Noting the shortage of lay-down space, workers pre-planned which materials and supplies would be brought in nightly. Work was scheduled to wrap up at 4am to allow for cleanup. Still, crews had to be flexible: a delayed flight prevented work in one area from starting until 1am.
- Communicating: Shift-ending subcontractor meetings allowed for exchange of critical information. There were also daily internal hand-off calls between JE Dunn day and night teams. Notes were left on employees' desks, reminding them of construction schedules. Daytime crew members occasionally canvassed airport personnel, on the lookout for any emerging issues related to the project.
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