Donley’s – Cleveland Clinic

The experiments conducted by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic have the potential to save lives, so there was no room for experimenting when it came to selecting the team to build its new laboratory building. The Cleveland Clinic selected Cleveland-based Donley’s to serve as the construction manager on the project.

The new 138,000-square-foot facility is located on the corner of East 105th and Carnegie Avenue in Cleveland, and consists of administrative and laboratory space surrounding a central support core. Activities in the three-story building will provide lab support to the main campus, and it will be connected to various buildings on campus by a series of pneumatic tubes used to quickly carry samples and specimens from one lab to another. 

Donley’s has a history with the Cleveland Clinic, says Project Executive Don Dreier. The company has been responsible for the construction of a parking garage and several other projects on campus. “We’ve been working at the clinic for approximately the last 15 years in one form or another,” Dreier says. “Our firm is well aware of the procedures at the clinic and the individuals in charge of the various projects.”

That familiarity has helped lead to a successful project thus far, and Project Manager John Berkebile says the team atmosphere and full cooperation exhibited by the project team have been the primary reasons for its success. “I think it’ll make the transition from the construction manager to the owner a much smoother process,” he says. 

Planning Ahead

A solid team approach has helped Donley’s and the project team meet some of the most significant challenges on the new facility. Many of these challenges were related to the technical complexity of the building, Berkebile says.

For example, the mechanical systems necessary to keep the laboratories functioning were far more complex than they would be in a normal office building. With so many ducts and conduits needing to be threaded through the walls and floors of the building, it took some up-front brainpower to keep everything from getting tangled together. 

The project team turned to the power of BIM software to plan the placement of the systems throughout the building before construction actually began, giving the team the ability to see where everything would go before starting. Decisions could be made at the table with the entire team present, saving time and money that errors would have cost the project. “The clinic is very ahead of the curve when it comes to BIM,” Berkebile says.

With nearly $4 million in mechanical system work being done on the project each month, Dreier says, having BIM in the project team’s arsenal was crucial. 

Coordination also was essential on the curtainwall system that envelops the entire building, Berkebile says. With an extremely aggressive schedule to keep, Donley’s worked closely with its supplier in a design/build model to pre-fabricate 20-foot-by-5-foot panels that were installed in sections. 

Adding to the complexity of the project was the fact that the labs were designed to be expandable. Owner’s representative David Doren says the laboratory space was designed to feature mostly open floor layouts, with vital systems pushed to the ends of the building or to the rooftop. Lab benches are on wheels, and the entire first floor was built at the same height as the campus’ skyway to allow for a connection in the future.

Fully Invested

Building a sustainable facility was an important goal for the Cleveland Clinic, Doren says, and the new lab building has been designed for LEED silver status. Doren notes that the building will be the first on the clinic’s campus to feature a green roof, and permeable pavers in the parking areas will help control runoff. Dreier says other sustainable features on the building include solar panels, regionally sourced building materials and solar shades that reduce the building’s heat gain. 

Ground was broken for the project in July 2010, and the building was expected to be completed at the end of November this year. From beginning to end, a team concept was the biggest motivating force for keeping the project on track, and Dreier says Donley’s couldn’t have been happier with the way the Cleveland Clinic went about it. “The clinic embraces it, we promoted it and through that I think we’ve become a very close and effective team,” he says. 

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