Turner Construction – University of Kansas Earth, Energy and Environment Center (EEEC)

Turner EEECPhoto credit Gould Evans and Associates

The University of Kansas’ EEEC project will enhance geology and other scientific research.

By Jim Harris

The University of Kansas’ science program will soon receive a major boost thanks to a state-of-the-art academic and research facility now under construction.

General Contractor Turner Construction started work last September on the university’s $80 million Earth, Energy and Environment Center (EEEC). When it opens in December 2017, the center will offer faculty, staff, students and researchers laboratory and classroom space as well a conference center with collaborative spaces. Groundbreaking was last September.

The 145,000-square-foot complex is designed to serve those pursuing several scientific fields including

geology, physics, and chemistry. “The EEEC will promote the kind of cross-disciplinary research that has the ability to shape our energy- and water- hungry future,” the university says.

A Connected Campus

The EEEC consists of two buildings: Ritchie Hall and Slawson Hall. Both new buildings are adjacent to an existing campus building, Lindley Hall. Pedestrian bridges will interconnect the three buildings.

Structural framing work is now underway on the five-story, 85,000-square-foot Slawson Hall, a concrete structure building located at the southern end of the EEEC site. The building will include a structural steel penthouse at its top.

Foundation work on Ritchie Hall – a four-story, 60,000-square-foot building – recently concluded. The building’s foundation includes a large concrete basement. Structural steel framing work will begin on Ritchie Hall in August, says Josh Jones, a senior project manager with Turner Construction. Turner EEEC box

Both buildings feature exterior curtain wall glazing systems and a custom terra cotta rain screen system. The lower portions of both buildings feature Kansas limestone facades similar to that of Lindley Hall, he adds.

The lead designer on the project is Gould-Evans and Associates. The designer is working in conjunction with several other companies including structural and interior designer Cannon Design; mechanical, electrical and plumbing system designer AEI; civil designer SK Design; site and landscape designer Confluence; and acoustic/Audio-Visual system consultant Arup.

Advancing Research

Once completed, the EEEC will enable the university to greatly advance research and technology related to geology and other fields. “(The facility will allow us) to fully integrate geology, petroleum engineering, exploration and environmental science, field and laboratory and analytic experience and scientific research,” the university says. “We will be able to train the next generation of innovative, ethical industry leaders and achieve a dynamic interface between and university and practitioners.”

Slawson and Ritchie halls will each feature multiple laboratories. Laboratory spaces include new geology field research spaces and supporting laboratories.

The basement of Ritchie Hall will include spectroscopy and microscopy labs. The upper levels of the building will include one large classrooms which can seat up to 160 students, as well as two classrooms on the third floor built for 60 to 80 students. Slawson Hall will include the Beren Conference Center, a two-story space that will include a 150-seat auditorium, a conference room and collaboration lab, a hospitality suite with 10 workstations for visitors and a business center.

Overcoming Challenges

One of the major construction challenges Turner is facing on the project is the site’s proximity to Lindley Hall and other campus buildings. “We’re on the corner of the busiest intersection on campus and wedged onto a site with existing buildings close by,” Jones says, noting there is not much room for material laydown on the site.

“This is almost like building in an urban environment,” he adds. “We’ve worked out a plan with the university regarding student/faculty access and egress around the site and it’s working out very well, but with the amount of people around, it’s challenging to keep everyone happy and safe. Safety is our No. 1 priority.”

The buildings will sit on a site that slopes 60 feet from end to end. The shifting elevation required Turner to use dynamic shoring systems during excavation, Jones notes.

Jones credits the design team as well as geotechnical engineers and other consultants and subcontractors on the project with their assistance in helping Turner overcome these and other challenges.

“Our subcontractors are putting in long hours and helping out with material delivery on a just-in-time basis based on site restrictions,” Jones says. “We have a great group of subs who have bought into our master scheduling and who understand our commitment to the university, which is based on maintaining public safety, constructing a first class, high quality building and delivering the project on time.”

Positive Track Record

As one of the country’s largest construction companies, Turner Construction is no stranger to the University of Kansas campus. Jones says he has personally been involved with 14 projects there since the early 2000s.

Most recently, the company last year completed the Learned Engineering Expansion Phase 2 (LEEP2) project. The project includes an expansion of the campus’ School of Engineering building that is located less than 100 yards away from the EEEC site, Jones notes.

“Our familiarity with the campus was key to our ability to build (the EEEC),” he adds. “Our project team and the design team have a demonstrated record of success at the university. We look forward to fulfilling our commitment and another successful project delivery for the University.” 

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