Hensel Phelps – Navy Federal Credit Union Campus Expansion Phase 1

Hensel PhelpsHensel Phelps recently completed work on the first phase of a major expansion to Navy Federal Credit Union’s Pensacola, Fla., campus.

By Jim Harris

One of the United States’ largest contractors is helping the world’s largest credit union grow even further. Hensel Phelps’ Southeast District on 22 December 2016 finished final turnover for the Phase 1 expansion project of Navy Federal Credit Union’s campus in Pensacola, Fla.

The $195 million phase adds capacity for 2,000 additional employees to the campus, which already employs roughly 5,000 people. The credit union is one of the largest employers in Florida’s Escambia County.Hensel Phelps info box

“They have experienced immense growth in recent years, and they need more working space to support that growth,” Hensel Phelps Project Manager Virna Reynoso says. “We can’t turn around these facilities fast enough.”

Navy Federal Credit Union anticipates employing 10,000 total employees in Pensacola by 2026. The credit union has more than 6.8 million members and $79 billion in assets, and operates 295 branches worldwide. It serves active duty members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as civilian employees, DOD contractors and their families.

Comfort in Mind

The expansion includes a three-story office building, a central energy plant and a five-level, 347,500-square-foot parking deck. The project also encompasses surface parking as well as bridges, roads, walking paths, stormwater retention and other infrastructure.

The office building is a cast in place concrete structure with an architectural precast, metal panel and curtainwall exterior. The building features two wings with a central commons area connecting them. Each wing is 159,632 square feet and can accommodate 1,000 people. The 82,525 square-foot central commons building houses a café, coffee shop, conference rooms, training rooms, small fitness center and recreational room. The building was designed by Associated Space Design, Inc.

Construction began in 2014, and employees began moving into the new building on 13 June 2016, when the first wing and central commons areas were completed. Navy Federal began operations with fully functioning support facilities including the CEP, parking deck, cafe, fitness center and training rooms.

“These buildings are state-of-the-art, world class facilities and that is not surprising. Navy Federal’s pride in their campus is captured in the design and supported by the untiring efforts of a construction team that endured many sacrifices to deliver the much needed facilities,” Reynoso says. “Navy Federal Credit Union has secured rankings in Fortune Magazine as one of the `100 Best Companies to Work For’ for several years in a row. This is evident in the emphasis that Navy Federal places on taking care of their employees so they can take care of their members.”

The office building was designed to meet LEED Silver certification standards and includes extensive use of glass to allow for natural lighting. The building’s interior features several open collaboration spaces where employees can gather, as well as a raised access floor system to maximize the use of space. “The building gives a feeling of openness,” she adds. “Employees in those facilities often comment on how nice they are; the design was based on the employee’s experience, satisfaction and comfort, and I believe those were accomplished.”

Overcoming Challenges

Phase 1 of the Navy Federal Credit Union campus project site sits on areas in close proximity to wetlands, which presented a challenge to the project. “The credit union participated in wetland mitigation measures and placed a portion of the property in a conservation easement, restricting future development,” Reynoso says. “They are a very environmentally responsible owner with strict enforcement of the local regulations and dedicated to preserving the environment in support of their communities.”

Because of the soil conditions in the area, the design called for concrete piles to stabilize parts of the building’s foundation, parking deck and bridges. Heavy rains during construction also necessitated close monitoring of Best Management Practices (BMP) for water pollution control closed to state waters. 

“We were building in close proximity to the wetlands, which required increased caution and awareness,” Reynoso adds. “Removing unsuitable soils was a larger challenge than anticipated, and the weather was very impactful to the operations on the site, Pensacola being one of the rainiest cities in the United States. These challenges had an impact on the schedule, but we were able to overcome them.”

One of the measures followed to facilitate schedule impact mitigation was the phasing of the occupancy. Hensel Phelps understood how important these facilities were to the client and implemented acceleration measures with around the clock operations in support of the phased occupancy.

Navy Federal Credit Union operates the Pensacola Campus on a 24/7 basis. This meant that any electrical, mechanical, or communication tie-ins to the existing campus had to be planned to maintain operations. Throughout the construction process, the construction team maintained business operations with no unscheduled impacts.

The Phase I Expansion was one of the largest projects ever built in the area, presenting challenges in finding the required quantity of qualified labor throughout the construction process. The project team worked very hard to mitigate this impact often bringing outside labor forces to supplement the construction efforts.

Hensel Phelps’ subcontractors played a crucial role in helping to overcome challenges on the project. The company worked with a number of local and regional partners including GATE Precast, Baroco Electric, Nelson Plumbing, The Wallace Group and others.

“We didn’t have strong ties with the local subcontracting community when we came back to do work in the region. but we were still able to come together with local partners and complete the project in spite of the challenges we faced as a team,” Reynoso says. “We established strong relationships with key subcontractors on the project. That contributed to repeat work with those companies for this client. I hope that those relationships prove to be long lasting."

Building Relationships

The expansion project is the first project Hensel Phelps has performed for the credit union, but it will not be the last. “This project team exercised collaboration and teamwork with the Navy Federal staff from the start. This is a relationship and performance based owner. They rewarded our hard work with the award of Phase II. A project double the size of Phase I making the sacrifices made worth the effort. I have personally enjoyed working for this fair and involved client and hope that the Navy Federal-Hensel Phelps’ partnership continues for years to come. “

Phase II is now underway and includes two additional office buildings, an amenities building, as well as two parking decks. Emergency power and chilled water for the new buildings will be supplied by an upgrade of the 40,320 square-foot central energy plant completed during Phase 1.

Hensel Phelps has completed more than 500 office projects valued at more than $18.7 billion during the past 30 years. “Hensel Phelps has extensive experience and success with projects of this size,” Reynoso says.

The company consistently ranks among the Top 30 contractors recognized by Engineering News-Record. Its office experience ranges from government buildings to high-rise office buildings to suburban office parks.

“Our vast experience and attention to detail ensure that all facets of a project come together creating the most advantageous project for all parties,” the company says. “The complexity of space can vary depending on the client; Hensel Phelps understands how to maximize the efficiency of a space while tailoring it to the client's individual needs.”

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