Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
The university dining commons project consisted of an interior renovation of 11,500 square feet of existing lobby, servery, and dining area. This project was deemed a critical first step in a new student life initiative on campus for the University. Contacted by the construction manager in early April with a mandate from the University to have the renovated spaced ready by early August for staff training prior to student arrival, the design team was hired to join a fast-track design/build effort to provide a “wow” factor for the project via consensus building between operations and maintenance staff, President, and donors. A tight construction schedule dictated from a material delivery perspective provided an additional challenge.
Working in conjunction with the owner, construction manager, trade contractors, and two food service consultants, the design team led the fast track design process by creating a Building Information Model (BIM) of the proposed space and met with this team twice a week for a three-week duration. All parties, including trade contractors, contributed to the final design, and material selections were based on established budget parameters and availability of materials.
Originally constructed in 1964 and added on to in 1998, the building lacked fire protection and was out of compliance with current building codes. The project team met with city code officials to propose a design approach to identify solutions for resolving these violations without having to add fire protection and other cost-prohibitive items to the project. The design was accepted utilizing the Michigan Rehabilitation Code for Existing Buildings.
During the design phase, a previous structural modification was identified that had lowered the ceiling in the servery area to an uncomfortable 7 foot, 6 inches of head room. Working closely with the construction manager and the structural steel supplier, the architects and structural engineers modified the existing structure by using current steel inventory already in the supplier’s yard for reduced cost and schedule savings.
A true collaborative effort between the interior designer, the owner’s two food service consultants, and food service staff identified materials and colors for inclusion into casework, signage, and furniture that has “wowed” alumnus and students upon their return. By utilizing BIM for this project, the project team was able to communicate the design intent to the owner and contractor team and completed construction documents in only three weeks.