Hensel Phelps – William P. Hobby Airport FIS Terminal expansion project

HOUHOBBY 002 3x5Hensel Phelps builds its reputation based on its performance on projects such as Houston’s Hobby Airport FIS Terminal expansion.

By Eric Slack

From its roots as a small local builder from Greeley, Colo., Hensel Phelps has grown into a premier, full-service facilities solutions provider with locations throughout the United States. Founded in 1937, the company is consistently ranked among Engineering News-Record’s top 30 contractors. It is a multibillion-dollar employee-owned national contractor with a diverse portfolio of successful projects.

Hensel Phelps’ skill set allows the company to plan, build and manage a vast array of domestic and international project types. The company can tackle new construction and renovation of many different projects in a range of market sectors. Among the markets served by Hensel Phelps are aviation and transportation, commercial office, educational, government, healthcare, mission critical, hospitality, justice and public safety, lab and research, museum and library, industrial and multi-residential.

Building a Presence

Capable of delivering projects for both the public and private sectors, Hensel Phelps provides development, construction and facilities management services to support client needs. The company has a truly national footprint, with offices located in Colorado, southern and northern California, Texas, Arizona, Virginia, Florida and Hawaii.

The Plains District office in Colorado has housed the Hensel Phelps corporate headquarters since the company’s beginning. It oversees the mountain states and parts of the central United States while assisting other districts with work procurement, preconstruction services, safety, scheduling, accounting and other support services.

Over time, the company has continually expanded its footprint. For example, Hensel Phelps has been working in California since 1967. Its San Jose office provides preconstruction and construction services in northern California, Oregon and Washington. The company also has been in the San Diego area since 1981, where today it provides services for the greater San Diego and Imperial County areas.

Out of Hensel Phelps’ Austin office, the company’s Southwest District has been taking on public- and private-sector projects throughout Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas since 1972.

From the company’s Western District office in Tucson, Hensel Phelps services projects throughout southern Arizona. The company has had a presence in this market since 1979. Hensel Phelps also has been working in the Virginia-based Mid Atlantic District office, where it serves public, private and governmental clients.

Additionally, its Southeast District office in Orlando focuses on projects throughout the southeastern United States, as well as the Caribbean. Finally, Hensel Phelps’ Pacific District office in Honolulu has served the Pacific region for the past 20 years, overseeing Hawaii, Guam, the Marshall Islands and Asia.

Getting a Hobby

An exciting recent project for Hensel Phelps was Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport Federal Inspection Services (FIS) Terminal expansion. The company’s past performance on successful aviation projects such as the Love Field Modernization project in Dallas provided Hensel Phelps with the opportunity to bid on the Hobby International project.

Hensel Phelps teamed with CBIC Construction & Development on a joint venture to earn the FIS Terminal project contract in Houston. Southwest Airlines was the project’s owner, with Corgan serving as the project architect. The contract was awarded in 2013, with construction scheduled to break ground in spring 2014 and final completion scheduled for fall 2015.

“The owner representative, architect and builder were housed in the same construction office complex, allowing for exemplary communication and coordination efforts,” says Bryan Dydalewicz, project engineer.

With construction costs totaling approximately $124 million, the project consisted of a two-level, 280,000-square-foot terminal with ticket counter, six security lanes, five arrival and departure gates, a federal inspection station with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection station, international baggage claim and an international concourse. Additionally, the project included a new ticketing hall for both domestic and international passengers, a new utility tunnel to house the new international baggage-handling system, and various renovations and build-outs of the existing airport.

Enabling projects included demolishing two existing aircraft hangars and relocating the main airport utilities, including emergency backup power, communication lines, sanitary sewer and water supply. Other enabling projects included relocation of communications facilities, relocation of the Southwest Airlines ticket counter, relocation of the security check point, renovation of an existing baggage claim to convert for additional operations office space, and infilling the existing passenger baggage claim corridor and converting it to Houston Airport System management space.

“The project was constructed while leaving the existing airport fully functional at all times,” Dydalewicz says. “Its substantial completion date of October 15, 2015, was agreed to and never changed, despite the numerous additions and changes to the project, as well as weather implications.” 

A number of noteworthy design, construction and planning elements were key parts of the project. Natural passenger flow was encouraged by using form and structure to reinforce wayfinding. The project included flexible planning for support spaces and respected the existing terminal through form and proportion. Additionally, the project included large open-volume spaces and natural daylight.

The project also set a goal of utilizing three percent City of Houston small business enterprises and 25 percent woman-owned business enterprises and/or minority-owned business enterprises. Both of these goals were exceeded.

Ultimately, all involved on the project understood that every airport project requires a tremendous amount of trust and strong relations between the airport operations team, design team and builder. All members of this project strove to keep that understanding as a focal point throughout every activity performed.

“Imagine if a builder would respect you and your project as if it were their own during construction,” Dydalewicz says. “This would change the way you think about that company as a whole, just from that one project. Maintaining relationships with the existing user of the facility and the project management team can prove to be the best tool for success on projects of this nature. We hope that these efforts will echo through to other potential clients in the years to come.”

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