By Chelsea SmithJuly 20, 2015
SAVANNAH, Ga. - Fort Benning's newly unveiled Martin Army Community Hospital brims with exceptionalism, earning the hospital's area team the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' 2015 Project Delivery Team of the Year for Excellence Award.
The hospital team worked alongside a cast of engineers, designers, craftsmen and healthcare professionals to deliver the paragon - a pioneer as the Army's first design-build hospital. Since opening in November 2014, the hospital's 745,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility improves the area's medical capacity to provide inpatient, outpatient and ancillary services to a military community of more than 90,000 Soldiers, family members and retirees.
The design-build delivery method enabled design and construction activities to adjust according to emerging industry advances. The construction contractor, Turner Construction, and its design team were able to tap into the latest innovations in the healthcare industry. Therefore, the team did not remain beholden to outdated equipment and building designs expectant with traditional design-bid-build delivery methods, said Fort Benning's Area Engineer Alan Bugg.
"Medical technology and procedures change rapidly and the team needed a way to keep pace," said Bugg. "The team selected design-build as the solution. This allowed the award of the construction on schedule but most importantly provided for a more current, up-to-date design. Upon award and through final design, the team was able to incorporate the latest customer requirements and industry standards."
The goliath successor dwarfs the size of the original facility, completed in 1959, and offers a sustainable, patient-centered environment that promotes optimal wellness. The facility is on track to receive gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), said Bugg. LEED Gold certification requires best-in-class building practices that promote sustainable, high-performance green buildings, according to the USGBC's website.
The project also exceeded safety and fiscal milestones during the five-year process. Construction completed with a final price tag of $422 million, nearly $52 million under the budgeted program amount, and with more than 2.6 million man-hours clocked Corps officials reported only two minor accidents, said Bugg.
Despite technical and environmental achievements in its evidenced-based design, Bugg championed the industrious efforts of partner agencies. For example, the Health Facility Planning Agency and engineering firm HOK shared onsite offices and dispensed priceless specialized expertise. Working literally side-by-side fostered open communication and allowed technical experts and decision makers to address issues promptly and maintain the project's momentum. All were committed to delivering a world-class health facility, said Bugg.
"The esprit de corps that developed ... was unrivalled," he said. "This set the stage that led to the successful delivery of a complex project that greatly enhances [the Corps'] image and provides a high level of customer satisfaction."
The structure provides 401,049 square-feet for inpatient care and a separate 344,143 square-foot clinical area for outpatient and wellness services. Among its features are 70 inpatient beds, six operating and oral surgery rooms, an extensive radiology suite, laboratory and pharmacy areas, and a state-of-the-art emergency department with a trauma room, two heat injury bays, exam rooms, and a separate fast-track treatment area.
Rooftop gardens, walking trails and natural palettes bolster the facility's restorative, healing environment for patients, said Renée Ayala, Fort Benning project engineer.
Ayala, who on-boarded in October 2010, said the award acknowledges the team's ability to deliver a complex project efficiently, with cost and energy savings to the public.
"It shows that we can execute complex projects well," she said. "We considered everybody's expectations and roles to work dynamically with other teams and energies. It took multiple divisions and offices to pull this off...and provide [our customers] with a world-class facility in the end."
The Corps conducted five years of planning and collaboration with Turner Construction and its design partner, AECOM, the HFPA and General Dynamics Information Technology to complete the project. Astute planning and advanced technology - such as 3D Building Information Modeling used to improve the efficiency of the design process - ensured timely project delivery.
Additionally, early initial outfitting and transition planning began before the start of construction preemptively reducing the transition period from construction completion to first patient day by six months, said Bugg.
Despite favorable outcomes, construction was fraught by district personnel reductions prompting PDT turnover. Also, contractual disputes delayed the start of construction in late 2009. Amid setbacks and successes alike, Bugg asserts that the hospital PDT always functioned as a learning organization.
"When issues or problems came up, the PDT used this as an opportunity for continual improvement," he said. "Our efficiencies were achieved through focused efforts. The project team effectively communicated and collaborated to ensure that the project was delivered under budget, on time, and with excellent quality. At the end of the day, the focus was always providing a world-class health facility for the Fort Benning Community."
BMACH set the gold standard for future construction projects Army-wide, pioneering new military construction conventions. PDTs across USACE are adopting lessons learned from the award-winning project, said Bugg.
To date, the project has garnered the Associated Builders and Contractors Tennessee's Excellence in Construction 2014 Eagle Award, Associated Builders and Contractors North Alabama's Excellence in Construction Alliant Award, the Engineering News Record Southeast's 2014 Healthcare Project of the Year, the American Concrete Institute Georgia Chapter's Award of Excellence, and the Savannah District's Trainor Award recognizing the outstanding military PDT of the Year for fiscal year 2014.
In August, the team will add to its collection at the USACE 2015 National Awards Ceremony held in Washington, D.C. Since completing the hospital, many members of the PDT at Fort Benning are carrying their experience to new projects, such as building schools for the Department of Defense Education Activity, another customer in the market for exceptional design and construction standards.