When design work on the expansion started, employees in WSP’s Elkridge, Maryland office were still adjusting to the closure of their facility one week prior, and learning to operate in their new remote work environment.
“The biggest challenge with this project was that the design process was almost inverted compared to normal design practice,” Lamdin said. “At the same time, there were new procedures everyone had to learn in order to be productive and safe in a remote environment.”
Fortunately, the entire design and construction team adapted to this new approach rather quickly. Continuous communication remains an important component of the project’s successful progress.
A daily call is held at 4 p.m. with the construction manager, design team, project owner and the Washington County code officials to stay on top of the design process.
“Having the county code officials on the calls has allowed the design team to discuss the proposed design and gain input up front,” Lamdin said. “They understand the critical importance of this project and have been an active participant in some design decisions, which has helped ensure smoother permit submissions and on-site inspections.”
By addressing any concerns in real time, this process allowed for the underground piping design drawings, which had been prepared prior to the structural footing design being completed, to be reviewed and approved with no comments from the county.
WSP has also held daily team huddles via Skype to keep track of progress and tasks. Andrew O’Brien, WSP project manager and Jacek Grabowski, WSP Lead Electrical Engineer, used these huddles to keep his team on track and has been a valuable tool to encourage collaboration within the team.
Another consideration was the changes in supply chains and distribution, which threatened to further slow down progress. Fortunately, identifying this concern at the onset eliminated this as a potential problem.
“Major equipment and equipment with long lead times such as air handling units, exhaust fans, variable air volume boxes, plumbing fixtures, medical grade lighting fixtures, electrical transformers and panelboards were selected, submitted and approved in the first week prior to final load calculations or even a final floor plan was established,” O’Brien said.
Thanks to these initiatives, by April 22, site work was nearly complete, including the footings, foundation and underground piping. Slabs were scheduled to be poured afterward, and structural steel was expected on site the following week.