Best Small Project (Under $10 Million)

Laboring over the summer break, the team working on the University of Connecticut's McMahon Dining Hall completed the renovation portion of the project in just 120 days.

The team's task was to modernize and increase the seating capacity of the building, which is more than 50 years old, and create an international-style dining and social hub for faculty and students. In addition to the 15,275-sq-ft renovation, the project included a 5,075-sq-ft entry addition on the first level, bringing the dining hall's seating up to 530 from 374. It also included work on the administrative space on the second level.

The scope of the construction included demolition of the existing storefront and kitchen space; site improvements; foundations; structural steel; roofing; and interior construction including all mechanical, electrical, plumbing, carpeting, millwork, kitchen equipment and finishes.

The tight summer schedule allowed no room for delays. The team worked from February to May to get vendors, materials and laborers lined up and ready to start.

As a safety net for a potential subcontractor default, the planners brought in two contractors to provide necessary materials and labor. Detailed bid packages defined critical schedule requirements, and the team secured early buy-in from trade contractors and set an early release of critical materials.

The team held weekly meetings to comb through project details and come up with a plan to divide the interior renovations into four discrete sections. It also devised carefully developed schedules and a construction plan for each section.

The project is the first on the school's campus to receive LEED-Gold Commercial Interior certification. It includes several sustainable elements, including energy-saving food service appliances, large windows with high ceilings, custom pendant energy-efficient lighting and low-flow water fixtures.

Completed on time for the start of the school year and within budget, the project had "an incredibly tight construction schedule to have so many finished spaces," one ENR New York judge said.

University of Connecticut McMahon Dining Hall Renovation, Storrs, Conn.

Key Players

Owner/Developer University of Connecticut

Construction Manager/General Contractor KBE Building Corp.

Lead Designer Prellwitz/Chillinski Associates

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