When the Lake Nona V.A. Medical Center opens its doors in October 2012 the more than 400,000 veterans who live in Florida will no longer be forced to travel long distances to receive care. Already, veterans are exhibiting their support for the Orlando medical center, with one local group actively raising funds to build a memorial on campus. 

The medical center sits on a 67-acre site, and consists of a 134-bed hospital, 118-bed community living center, 60-bed domiciliary and an outpatient clinic, as well as a veterans’ benefits service center.  The 1.2 million-square-foot project is composed of six bid packages, with Brasfield & Gorrie taking the lead on three projects with contract values totaling approximately $350 million. 

Maintaining the momentum of a project of this size is not easy, and coordinating with the work of four general contractors required clear communication and cooperation among all parties involved, Brasfield & Gorrie Division Manager George Paulson notes. 

Although the project’s infrastructure component is complete, there are still three general contractors on site. “It’s been a challenge with three different folks potentially working toward different goals and wanting to be in the same place at the same time,” Paulson says. “But, we’ve set up weekly meetings to help manage the coordination of the project, which has helped everyone stay on track.”

Brasfield and Gorrie broke ground on its portion of the project in October 2010, and the high-tech medical center remains on track for completion in October 2012. “This facility truly covers almost every type of care that a person could possibly need,” Paulson says. “It is a state-of-the-art facility that has been designed to last for decades.”

The medical center features high-end finishes such as acoustical wood panels, high-end millwork and terrazzo interiors. The exterior of the facility features metal panels, precast concrete and a curtainwall system. A seven-story atrium and large skylights in the center of the building provide extensive natural lighting throughout the facility. The entrance of the medical center will feature two reflecting ponds, a fountain and a bridge to welcome visitors.

Working on a project of this size requires a different approach to construction, according to Paulson. The planning stages of a job of this magnitude typically take nearly a year, but the Lake Nona V.A. medical center campus was on a compressed timeline that could present a challenge to even the most skilled contractor.

“When you start a project this big, there’s a time period when you’re putting foundations and the building structure in,” Paulson says. “This allows time to produce submittals, shop drawings and properly coordinate the work. That time period on a project like this would be at least eight to 10 months, but it was condensed into a one-month preconstruction period because the building structure was in place.”

Fortunately, Brasfield and Gorrie was able to draw from a pool of highly trained employees to take the lead on the project to ensure its success. “We had several senior, experienced guys and broke the project up into pieces where each of these folks could handle a separate aspect of the job and attack it from there,” Paulson says. “Instead of having one person herding cattle, we had five or six employees from the management side of the company attack the project up front.”

These project managers report directly to Paulson, who oversees the project on a full-time basis.

Safety First

Safety is at the forefront of concerns on the Lake Nona V.A. Medical Center project, as with any other project of Brasfield and Gorrie, Paulson says. The company employs a staff of five safety experts, and each superintendent and project manager is held responsible for safety on project sites. 

The first order of business for any subcontractor or vendor that is going to work on site is for them to provide all their required safety documents such as their jobsite-specific safety plan.


This culture of safety extends to all subcontractors and vendors, as well. “The first order of business for any subcontractor or vendor that is going to work on site is for them to provide all their required safety documents such as their jobsite-specific safety plan,” Paulson explains.

After the safety plans are approved, subcontractors and vendors undergo a jobsite safety orientation, where they receive a badge that will allow them onto the project site for the duration of the job. “No one is allowed on site without a badge or a specific appointment,” Paulson adds. 

Following the orientation process, subcontractors participate in a series of preconstruction meetings with the Brasfield and Gorrie project team. Each person working on the project carries an OSHA-10 certification, and all supervisors are required to be OSHA-30 certified. 

“Every two weeks, project managers and superintendents walk the job sites together to identify potential safety hazards and come up with solutions to these hazards,” Paulson explains. 

Green Scene

The project is designed to seek LEED Silver certification, and is taking a special interest in ensuring all materials are sourced from local vendors. In addition to efficient mechanical/electrical systems designed to stringent LEED standards, the medical center features a green roof. “The project will also have a garden area on the fourth floor that will become a green roof with vegetation throughout the area,” Paulson says.

Green building is a priority for Brasfield and Gorrie company-wide, and it employs more than 225 LEED-accredited professionals. “We place a priority on sustainable practices by ensuring that it spans our entire business process, from our construction practices to our people and everyday actions,” the company states. “In fact, stewardship of the environment is instilled as one of our core company values.”

In addition to participating in sustainable construction projects, the company extends this philosophy to the community by organizing a variety of service-related events. “We implement regular community litter pick-ups, green lunch-and-learns, business-wide environmentally sustainable practices, corporate recycling programs and similar initiatives,” the company states.

When Brasfield and Gorrie built its Birmingham, Ala., corporate headquarters building in 2009, it was the first LEED-certified corporate office building in Alabama. “As a result of these efforts, our clients, our employees, our projects and our communities benefit from the positive impacts of sustainable design and construction,” Brasfield and Gorrie states.

Maintaining Relationships

Paulson attributes much of the company’s success to its longstanding relationship with suppliers and vendors. These partnerships have served the company well throughout its more than 45 years in business.

“Our relationships with our suppliers and vendors are very good,” Paulson says. “These relationships went a long way throughout each of the three projects, in both procuring the projects and executing them. We have a reputation for treating everyone we deal with – subcontractors, vendors and owners – ‘the right way,’ and this pays dividends in a tough bidding environment.” Brasfield and Gorrie’s key partners include Lake Mechanical Contractors Inc., Smith & Wesson Security Solutions, Quinco Electrical Inc., Sunbelt Metals & Manufacturing Inc. and Aethon Inc.

Strategic Relationships

Brasfield and Gorrie stresses the importance of maintaining positive relationships with employees, as well. With an emphasis on family, every effort is made to ensure employees’ needs are met, the company states. “In turn, Brasfield and Gorrie employees have made the same commitment to the company and to each other,” it states. “This mutual trust has evolved to include new generations of valued employees, quality people with energy and integrity who are continually looking for new ways to initiate efficiency and increase production.”

The company makes it a priority to offer opportunities for personal and professional development for its employees. “To hold and retain top people, Brasfield and Gorrie understands that talented employees and good leaders must also be given opportunities for professional growth and advancement,” the company explains. “That’s why our No. 1 rule is that you are only as good as the people around you.”

The opportunities at Brasfield and Gorrie are extensive, with positions in preconstruction, operations, corporate services and even student internships. The company offers a cooperative education program, allowing students to gain hands-on experience. 

In addition, its corporate services division offers a range of opportunities that span accounting, financial services, employee relations, risk management and other disciplines. “Brasfield and Gorrie’s training department provides a continuous learning environment that helps us fill our ranks with well-rounded, knowledgeable workers,” the company states. 

Making an Impact

In addition to providing professional opportunities for its employees, Brasfield and Gorrie makes it a priority to help them make a difference in the community, as well. “We place a high priority on giving back to the communities that support our business and fosters our families,” the company states. 

Brasfield and Gorrie says it strives to operate as a good corporate citizen. “In every project we undertake, we strive to be a conscientious construction industry and business leader, attuned to the needs of our clients, communities and our own Brasfield and Gorrie family,” the company states. 


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