Turner Construction Co. - Nationwide Children's Hospital

As the country’s second-largest general contractor, Turner Construction operates on a very intimate scale. With more than 5,000 employees intertwined throughout a network of offices – nationally and around the globe – the company provides myriad services, including design/build, logistics, building information modeling, facilities management solutions and lean construction, as well as medical planning and procurement.

With more than 1,200 projects in operation each year, Turner Construction has been able to garnish $8 billion in annual construction volume as a result of its localized business model. According to sources at the company, Turner Construction has perfected the ability to think globally and build locally. As a result, the company offers clients the accessibility and support of a local firm with the stability and resources of a multi-national organization.

Sources at Turner Construction note that the company seeks clients who value diligence, resourcefulness and creativity in a partner. “We’ve excelled at listening to what our customers want and tailoring our construction efforts around being client-driven and creating their satisfaction,” a Turner Construction representative says. “We’re not just building buildings; we’re building relationships with clients.”

A Complex Project

Turner Construction currently is applying its unique expertise on a large-scale project at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The new 238,000-square-foot research facility – referred to as Research Building III (RB3) – is being constructed on the west side of the medical center’s campus.

According to Michael Hall, project manager, engineering services, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, RB3 will allow expansion of existing research centers, while providing the necessary space for recruitment of new principal investigators. “The building is designed to increase collaboration between traditional wet bench and dry lab researchers,” he adds. “We plan to achieve this through strategic placement of shared community facilities and multiple interconnections between floors.” NBBJ is the architect of record and responsible for this unique design.

Because the facility is a research laboratory, there are a number of unique aspects to its design that make it an engineering marvel, as well as a complex construction undertaking. As Hall explains, traditional research laboratories are dark, clustered, back-of-house spaces. However, with the new RB3, the design is more functional. The new building is relatively shallow with substantial exterior and interior glass that allows light to penetrate much of the building’s core.

Designers of the RB3 project had to consider several obstacles when accommodating the current and future needs of researchers. For example, high-performance glazing systems had to be installed to facilitate the desired research results, yet they couldn’t sacrifice energy usage. And, as Hall explains, the typical 100 percent outside-air required for a wet lab operates on a less-than-desirable energy efficiency model. Thus, heat recovery became a major concern for the design team of RB3. “The use of heat pumps and heat recovery wheels has helped to create a more efficient, sustainable building,” Hall notes.

With regard to future needs of the building, Turner and the RB3 design team implemented some clever elements that will prove helpful to Nationwide Children’s Hospital as the campus evolves in the next several decades. “Removable foundation panels were strategically placed to allow tunnel connectivity and sharing of resources,” Hall adds.

Planning for the future was the easy part on the RB3 project. As Hall explains, the technology revolution within pediatric research has been an ongoing struggle for the project designers.

“We are interested in opening a facility with the most current validated technologies, but as updated systems become available, modifications to the building are typically required,” he says. “Design did not cease the day the permit was issued. Instead, we’re expecting the design process to cease before the first dry lab researchers move into the building in May of this year.”

With only a handful of weeks remaining until the first researchers occupy lab space at RB3, the project is nearly complete, and already it is being considered a success. This is undeniably the result of a seamless working partnership between Turner and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. According to sources at Turner Construction, the RB3 project is the eighth successful collaboration between the general contractor and the hospital in a partnership that has span nearly 25 years.

Turner describes the relationship between the two organizations as trusting. The company is client-driven and takes into account the specific needs that come with each project. Over the course of a quarter century, the relationship between the two has become that of friends.

“Nationwide Children’s Hospital is a large, complex organization with high expectations of the contractors who work in our facilities,” Hall adds. “Turner has been willing to adapt to our changing needs and continues to earn the opportunity to bid our projects.”

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