W. S. Bellows Construction Corp. – Texas Children’s Hospital

WS Bellows Texas Childrens HospitalW. S. Bellows’ history with Texas Children’s Hospital serves both parties well on the hospital’s latest expansion project.

By Chris Petersen

One of the hallmarks of a successful contractor is the ability to create strong, long-lasting relationships with clients, and that’s exactly what Houston-based W. S. Bellows Construction Corporation has developed with Texas Children’s Hospital. For more than 27 years, W. S. Bellows has maintained a consistent presence on the hospital’s campus with numerous high-profile projects such as the West Tower and Vertical Expansion, Feigin Center and Vertical Expansion, Clinical Care Center, and most recently, the Pavilion for Women.

W. S. Bellows Vice President Tommy Kubin says the company’s relationship with Texas Children’s is emblematic of Bellows’ high-quality work and the way it conducts business. “We do a lot of repeat work for our clients and it’s a testament to not only our building capabilities but our client service as well” he says. “Everyone remembers the last job you did for them and we always strive to leave a positive lasting impression.”

It’s almost certain that Texas Children’s will continue to have a good impression of W. S. Bellows once it completes its current project for the hospital, a 19-floor expansion of an existing building on the campus of the hospital’s flagship Texas Medical Center facility. In this project, as has been the case in every project W. S. Bellows has completed for the hospital over the last two-and-a-half decades, Kubin says the key to success has been rooted in the strong relationship between the two parties and the unmatched experience Bellows brings to each project.

“I think the consistency with our manpower provides a unique familiarity and trust that Texas Children’s appreciates,” Kubin says. “I worked on the first project we did with them in 1989 and we brought on several other veteran members to this project team.”

Helping to provide that consistency is the fact that this project is a family affair for Kubin. His father, Vice President Charles Kubin, is serving as project executive while his brother, David, is serving as on-site project manager. Despite the challenges presented by the nature of the work and the site, the combination of W. S. Bellows’ experience and its bond with the hospital is helping ensure that things move smoothly.

Needed Space

The new expansion will add approximately 640,000 square feet to an existing six-story building on the Texas Medical Center campus. Among the features of the project will be a new heart center and expansions to the hospital’s critical care, diagnostic, and therapeutic services. Texas Children’s Senior Vice President of Facilities Peter Dawson says the expansion will bring some much-needed elbow room to the facility, which has been undergoing significant transformations over the last 20 years. “There’s been tremendous growth and increase in demand for pediatric critical care services at Texas Children’s Hospital,” Dawson says.

An expansion completed in 2000 added a lot of capacity for pediatric intensive care, surgical facilities and other specialties, but Dawson says that expansion steadily increased the demands for highly specialized pediatric critical care space. “Now it’s 2016, and because of the vast success that was made possible because of the 2000 expansion, a lot of that is now outdated and growth was needed,” he says.

With the campus already built out, there was little room for a new building to be added to the property, so the decision was made to go vertical. The 19-floor expansion will be connected to the main hospital campus by way of an enclosed pedestrian bridge over the street, and Dawson says the expansion has been designed with the future in mind. “Our functional program requires about 500,000 new square feet, and the new project here allows us to deliver about 640,000 square feet, allowing for future growth” he says.

Challenging Work

Building the expansion on top of an existing medical facility that must remain fully operational during construction is by far the biggest challenge W. S. Bellows faces at Texas Children’s, Kubin says. Dawson adds that the project team was locked into the placement of the existing columns and elevator shafts, which made for some design challenges when it came to the core. Compounding those issues has been the fact that the campus is a highly-populated site, making it difficult to find space for staging and the delivery of materials.WS Bellows box

Kubin also characterizes the nature of building a healthcare project of any kind as inherently more challenging than a typical commercial project due to the complex systems incorporated into the design. A critical care facility requires equipment and infrastructure above and beyond the norm, and that requires a level of technical sophistication higher than the average contractor. “It’s not like an office building where you just have ductwork, lights, sprinklers, plumbing, and data lines in the ceiling,” Kubin says.

Despite the complexity and challenges of the project, Kubin says W. S. Bellows’ previous experience with vertical expansions and its clear communication with Texas Children’s are keeping the work on track, and in an accelerated timeframe. The company’s familiarity with the entire campus and the hospital’s personnel has allowed the project team to work through any potential obstacles before they become problems. “It goes back to our expert team and staffing this project with team members who have previous experience on this campus,” Kubin says.

High Expectations

The concise communication among the team, the client relationship with Texas Children’s, and Bellows’ extensive experience make up the strong foundation that will keep the expansion project on track for its scheduled completion in summer 2018. The next major milestone is the topping off of the structure in or around February 2017.

The project team is confident that the rest of the work will continue to proceed smoothly, and neither W. S. Bellows nor Texas Children’s has any reason to doubt it. Kubin ensures a successful project and says “with this being our third vertical expansion with Texas Children’s, we know what they expect and we will deliver.” 

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