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Solving Problems the Wohlsen Way

Posted in: News on November 14, 2016

When you’re working on a project, whether by renovating your current facility or building a new one, problems are inevitable. No amount of contingency planning can completely rule out issues. What can help, however, is having a construction manager that knows how to handle the unpredictable. With over 125 years of experience and an extensive team of construction professionals, we’ve experienced our fair share of unforeseeable issues. We’ve also had our fair share of solving them. Recently, Wohlsen had the opportunity to put our skills to good use for our client, the Hamilton Health Center. In 2008, they selected Wohlsen Construction to conduct the renovation of an abandoned press facility and transform it into a modern and accessible community health center.

What is The Hamilton Health Center?

The Hamilton Health Center is a non-profit, Federally Qualified Health Care Provider based in Harrisburg, PA. They wanted to create a new facility located in a densely-populated, low-income neighborhood of the city. This would bring a health center to people who needed it. The new facility would enable Hamilton Health to combine all their individual clinics into one, easily-accessible location. Not only would it be more conveniently located for its patients, but it would allow Hamilton Health Center to offer more services.

Then, in 2008, unforeseen changes caused by the Great Recession created issues before the project’s start. The developer that planned to buy and lease the building to Hamilton Health went out of business, along with the owner representative and the architect. The new health center’s prospects looked grim.

How Did We Solve This?

The new Hamilton Health Center was constructed from an abandoned press facility. Above is a picture of the building prior to being renovated.

The new Hamilton Health Center was constructed from an abandoned press facility. Above is a picture of the building prior to being renovated.

In response, Wohlsen, originally hired only as construction manager, stepped in as the design/builder for the project. The funds for the project were small, but the need for the center was big. Unyielding to the hardships they faced, Hamilton Health and Wohlsen worked to develop a two-phased plan. This allowed the project to continue despite the financial constraints.

Starting the project, however, was not the only issue the team had to overcome. As the project progressed, many unexpected issues arose. The old press facility was located on a contaminated/brownfield site, and as demolition ensued, issues were uncovered. These included unlevel floors, a covered-up section of the building that had caught fire, and a waste dump in the future location of the geothermal wells.

Additionally, the existing building had a high elevation rate difference between the right and left side of the building – a change of 16 inches.  Because we were developing the building for a new use, there were large sections of slabs that had to come out for new walls and plumbing work. In order to accommodate this difference, the team cut out the entire concrete slab from the Phase 2 side of the building and sent it off-site to be recycled. Wohlsen’s craftsmen then poured new concrete slabs and constructed two additional ramps to compensate for the elevation difference.

 

The End Result

In just over a year, the first phase of the renovation was completed, and the Health Center opened to patients.

In just over a year, the first phase of the renovation was completed, and the Health Center opened to patients.

Despite these hardships, the entire project team pulled together to find effective and timely solutions. As a result, the project was completed on-time and on-budget. All parties involved used their varied knowledge to offer effective solutions, strengthening the team’s cohesion and the end result. Decontaminating a previously unusable warehouse and transforming it into a community healthcare center serves the community in many aspects.

On a developmental level, the project takes advantage of an unused space in a densely-populated area. Economically, by using local minority- and women-owned businesses, it strengthened the local economy. The renovation also serves as a catalyst, revitalizing and attracting industry to the Economic Empowerment area of Allison Hills. By introducing 180 jobs and merging Hamilton’s many healthcare clinics into one, this renovation serves the local community directly and immediately.

Wohlsen Construction is proud to have played a role in the construction of this health center. To learn more about the project journey, click here.

 

 

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