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Tight Site Construction, Expansive Solutions

Posted in: News on March 22, 2017

tight site constructionWhether erecting a multi-story tower in an urban environment or conducting renovations on an existing campus, space can come at a premium on construction sites. Tight site construction projects leave little room for material storage, often requiring just-in-time delivery. However, busy roads and neighboring buildings can make deliveries difficult. To maintain the project’s schedule, it’s imperative that the construction manager can effectively coordinate both deliveries and labor. In addition to the logistical issues, tight sites and tall buildings create a more dangerous environment in which to work. In the face of the current wave of downtown redevelopment, you need a construction manager that understands these challenges and can implement creative, customized solutions so your project continues as planned.

Wohlsen is no stranger to the challenges of tight site construction. Over the past few years we have successfully completed several projects by addressing these challenges. Below we’ll look at three projects recently constructed on tight sites and the creative solutions employed to deliver the clients’ buildings as expected.

DoubleTree Hotel – Reading, PA

Tight Site Construction

Aerial image of the DoubleTree Hotel in construction. The church is located at the top of the block, the arena to the right, and the railroad towards the bottom.

Wohlsen served as the construction manager for the new, nine-story hotel in downtown Reading. The hotel’s footprint bordered all four property lines. To the west was an active rail line, presenting a strict right-of-way limitation to crane swing and material storage. To the north and south were two well-traveled streets, a parking garage, and a 10,000-seat arena. Wohlsen worked with the city officials to arrange street closures in order to safely conduct construction activities. The project team collaborated with the arena, organizing work around the center’s events and deliveries. This often required Wohlsen to open the site gates so large vehicles could turn into the loading area. By maintaining effective communication with the community and city officials throughout the project, these challenges did not negatively impact the project’s cost or schedule.

In addition to its high-traffic surroundings, the hotel’s site was adjacent to a historic masonry church. Construction vibration could not impact the long-standing structure. To ensure construction didn’t effect the structural integrity of the church, Wohlsen employed a vibration monitoring service. By recording ambient vibrations, the construction team could ensure they stayed well within the acceptable limits.

Something that might be overlooked in tight site construction is parking area for the subcontractors. Wohlsen negotiated a discounted fee at the adjacent garage which provided parking for the large numbers of skilled labor the job required. Additionally, the garage leased the lower levels for material laydown. By being a considerate and collaborative neighbor and utilizing the surrounding spaces, Wohlsen completed the project on time for the pre-booked hotel and convention center events.

AIM Academy Community Center – Conshohocken, PA

Tight Site Construction

Picture of the AIM Academy campus flanked by an active railroad.

Wohlsen performed preconstruction and construction management services for a new, 22,985-square-foot community center for the AIM Academy charter school. The community center was located on the school’s existing campus. Not only was the campus operational, but it was located on a confined site bordering an active commuter railroad, parking lot, and train station.

Due to the tight site, there was no area for laydown. Vendors delivered products on an as-needed basis so as to not congest the construction site.

However, material deliveries were difficult, as the two roads leading to AIM Academy passed under old bridges. The arched passages had a clearance of 10 feet, making it difficult for construction and delivery vehicles to get to the site. By developing an extensive material and equipment delivery protocol, the building completed on time for the spring commencement ceremony.

Community Education Building – Wilmington, DE

Tight Site Construction

Aerial image of the Community Education Building which spans nearly the entire city block.

Wohlsen provided design/build services for the adaptive reuse of an old office tower into space for several charter schools. Located in downtown Wilmington, the site offered no space for laydown areas; its urban surroundings required unique delivery methods.

A freight elevator transported smaller materials across the 11 floors. However, at just ten feet deep, the elevator alone wouldn’t solve the delivery issue. For larger material deliveries, the roof had a hole cut in it, but this still had limited capabilities.

For the most difficult deliveries, a crane delivered materials to the appropriate floor through the removed windows. However, this was not a simple process. Prior to each implementation of the crane, the following items needed to be in place: permits from the city, a vehicular and pedestrian shutdown on 12th Street, and police officers on site to monitor and direct traffic. This crane method delivered materials over 25 times throughout the course of the project. These creative solutions allowed Wohlsen to complete this project on time for the upcoming school year.

Wohlsen: A Firm with Experience

Despite the challenges encountered on these tight site construction projects, Wohlsen delivered the final product to the client as planned. It’s not our job to pick the site, but it is our job to come up with the best way possible to make your building a reality. Wohlsen has the experience with tight site construction that proves they can do this on your next project.

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