Prefabrication Speeds Up Construction for Denver Hospital

DENVER — Construction for a 360-bed hospital in downtown Denver is going to be completed almost three months earlier than normal thanks to careful planning and prefabrication.
Minneapolis-based Mortensen began working on the $623 million, 831-square-foot Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital nearly three years ago. The construction company faced a tight 30-month schedule in order to get the hospital open and operational by December 2014. A timeline for a project this big is usually 36 months, but construction is expected to be complete this month.
Designing and assembling components for the hospital off-site prior to delivery and installation was a key driver in meeting the aggressive deadline, according to Maja Rosenquist, vice president and general manager at Mortenson.
“The process of construction continues to evolve,” Rosenquist said in a statement. “We simply couldn’t have achieved the deadline without prefabrication. The results are real and it was, without a doubt, a major contributor to the success of this project. Prefabrication made construction faster, safer and more predictable.”
Mortenson released a white paper in July, documenting its experience with prefabrication. According to the white paper, the construction company discovered significant benefits of prefab, including $4.3 million in indirect cost savings, almost 30,000 hours of reduced required labor, an 18 percent reduction in the overall schedule and reduced site congestion resulting in fewer safety incidents and higher overall quality.
Mortenson concentrated prefabrication efforts in four main areas: patient and administrative bathroom pods, exterior wall panels, multi-trade utility racks and patient-room headwalls.
Prefabricating the bathroom pods for the hospital meant bathroom sizes, locations and finishes needed to be finalized much earlier in the project. Eggrock Modular Solutions, a division of Oldcastle, prefabricated the bathrooms and shipped them to Denver from Massachusetts. The pods were complete with towel bars, mirrors and toilet paper holders.
The construction team also had multi-trade racks (MTRs) prefabricated. Typical MTRs are 25-feet long and 8-feet wide, and they consist of hydronic piping, air duct, cable tray, conduit, pneumatic tubing and drywall. The off-site fabrication was done at a 60,000-square-foot warehouse about four miles from the jobsite. A subcontractor, U.S. Engineering, transported, hoisted and installed the MTRs.
The patient room headwalls were built in the same warehouse as the MTRs. While it didn’t save any time or money, prefabricating the headwalls for 376 units reduced congestion on the jobsite during a busy time of the project.
“Prefabrication allows multiple activities to be performed concurrently, where the same activities were previously required to have start-to-finish relationships on site,” the white paper states. “The just-in-time delivery and rapid installation of prefabricated assemblies translates into substantial schedule gains. Additionally, subcontractors and suppliers can predict and commit to their costs earlier and with more assurance. The result is increased schedule and cost certainty, reducing exposure to overruns. It is now possible to commit to a historically aggressive schedule and budget with more confidence.”