Less than one year after the terrorist attack, construction teams defied expectations and met their psychological and physical goal: to have workers reoccupy the damaged section of the Dept of Defense headquarters by the one-year anniversary. In less than 11 months, workers demolished and rebuilt the most severely damaged section, about 400,000 sq ft that they dubbed the Phoenix Project, for the mythological bird that rose from the ashes. At the same time, adjacent areas were cleaned of water and smoke damage. The first Phoenix tenants, about 18 people in the Marine Corps general counsel's office, moved back in Aug. 15. By Sept. 9, approximately 600 military and civilian personnel will be sitting at their desks in the new offices.
|SHAPED UP Program Manager Evey had some doubts, but 400.000 sq ft rose from the ashes in time. (Photo by Michael Goodman for ENR)|
Rebuilding the Pentagon took teamwork, creativity and some ingenuity. The workers also shared a tremendous amount of patriotism, personal pride and emotion-not to mention 20-hour days, six or seven days a week. That emotional tie was evident in the first few days after the attack. Preliminary construction reports estimated it would take three to four years to rebuild the damaged section. But within days, a groundswell of workers began voicing their wish to have offices at the point of impact reoccupied by the one-year anniversary. Walker Lee Evey, the Pentagon Renovation program manager, admits he had some doubts that the goal would be anything more than ceremonial. But if the workers were convinced they could do it in a year, managers had to provide the tools for success, he says.
On Sept. 11, the five-story, 6.5-million-sq-ft Pentagon was in the throes of a top-to-bottom renovation that began in 1993, the first in its 58-year history. In plan, the building is comprised of five concentric pentagons, known as rings. Each ring is a glazed building on the upper three floors. The main interior work had been divided into five wedges, each approximately 1.1 million sq ft. The first section, Wedge One, was just days away from completion when a hijacked American Airlines jet slammed into its northern-most point on the southwest side of the building, penetrating the outer E-ring through to the C-ring and into an adjacent unrenovated area.
|COUNTDOWN Construction crews adoted the "Let's Roll" slogan atop the clock marking time to 9/11/02. (Photo by Michael Goodman for ENR)|
The site was a crime scene for two weeks and, during that time, Evey's construction troops formed teams to assess the damage and plot strategy. Having construction crews already on site made a significant difference, he notes. AMEC Construction Management Inc., the Wedge One contractor, pulled in its entire labor force and assigned 230 workers to the site. Architects and engineers were either on site or quickly brought in. Construction firms offered materials, equipment and manpower, suddenly unified by a common bond. "We made this promise," says Evey. He also made it clear that "we operate as a partnership." Evey says his management style is not to tell people how to do their job, but instead tell them, "this is what I want you to achieve."
One strategic move was to hire KCE Structural Engineers, Washington, D.C., as the construction manager for the Phoenix. The rebuilding was undertaken as a modified design-build project. The original Wedge One construction was design-bid-build. Prior to Sept. 11, officials already had decided that the contract for the remaining wedges would be awarded as one large design-build contract.
"It is rare in our business for the lead consultant to be a structural engineer [but] this was a damaged structure and the dominant work was structural," says Ronald E. Vermillion, AMEC's project executive. KCE principal Allyn E. Kilsheimer often is described as colorful, but "he is extremely adept at onsite decision-making. He doesn't let grass grow under his feet," explains Vermillion. Evey, who gave Kilsheimer great latitude to get the job done, declares him to be a "very conservative structural engineer."
|MORE TO GO Complete renovation of all five wedges will be done in 2010. (Photo courtesy of DOD)|
Kilsheimer brought in a team of professionals with whom he had previously worked. He selected three firms for every discipline, choosing companies with a local presence and national offices to capitalize on their size. Work in each discipline was divided between two of the firms while the third firm served as a peer-review group within that design team. All of these firms "were working together in a way that never happens" on ordinary projects, explains Kilsheimer. Shop drawings were responded to in about two calendar days instead of the typical 14 to 21 business days. And there was an unusually low number (327) of requests for information, which were responded to in hours rather than in days.
"These were handshake deals," says Kilsheimer. To this day, no one has a contract, he adds. "Everyone left their egos in the [Pentagon's] south parking lot," he adds.
Several daily meetings, some as early as 6:00 a.m., allowed key players to discuss progress and identify problems early. Contractors also met with Pentagon construction officials daily. "That's new to get the owner that deeply involved," says AMEC's Vermillion. Everyone on the teamowner, architect, contractor and subcontractorshas to understand what the project goals are, he says. No one can be kept in the dark. "That is something that I [will] carry to the next job," Vermillion says.
These collaborative sessions also helped develop strategies to make the work proceed faster. Kilsheimer, whose firm also was working on another federal construction project, used some of the methods from that project as a starting point to develop a new framing system to limit progressive collapse. The system, which is different from the original Wedge One renovation, is designed to resist certain lateral forces. New support columns have more rebar and less concrete to support the floor above. Pile load tests showed the foundation remained viable, but designers supplemented the existing foundation to enable it to carry increased loads.
|THANKS New Blast resistant windows on the outermost walls were credited with saving lives. (Photo courtesy of DOD)|
There are other security and structural upgrades in the rebuilt wedge that Pentagon officials decline to discuss. But the blast- resistant windows installed in the exterior walls are credited with saving lives and lessening the damage in the renovated section. Crews discovered a message scrawled on some damaged drywall that read: "Thank you for the safety windows + reinforcement! All our people escaped." Since the Phoenix is entirely rebuilt, some improvements were made to the approximately 175 exterior windows, which each weigh about 1,500 lb and cost $10,000.
Evey's background as a procurement and acquisitions expert also helped keep the project ahead of schedule and under budget. Items that demanded long lead times were ordered in bulk and earlier than needed. Specifically, a mass purchase of new elevators, eight of which are in Wedge One, proved to be a savvy decision.
The elevator contractor already was on site and "we didn't have to go out and do another acquisition," he says. Officials also worked early with Bybee Stone Co., Ellettsville, Ind., allowing the fabricator of the limestone facade to work through the winter. The project also boasts an impressive safety record, with only three lost-time incidents in 1.9 million hours, says Vermillion.
"There is no magic bullet," insists Evey, who refuses to take credit for the project's success. "Technology helps, but it all comes down to people."
With this major milestone accomplished, Evey plans to retire from government service on or about Sept. 16 and seek a position in the private sector. He had postponed earlier retirement plans after the attack. He will be succeeded by his deputy, Michael R. Sullivan.
Wedge Renovations are Charging Ahead
As Pentagon officials prepare for two Sept. 11 ceremonies, one honoring those killed in the terrorist attack and another recognizing the achievements of the construction workers who put the damaged building back together, crews continue renovation work on the second wedge of the five above-grade sections undergoing a top-to-bottom overhaul.
Lessons learned during the renovation of Wedge One and its subsequent rebuilding are being applied to this project to improve the efficiency and safety of the building. A mock-up office incorporating the Universal Space Plan (USP) devised by general contractor Hensel Phelps, Greeley, Colo., to rapidly reconfigure new office space without time-consuming and expensive relocation of utilities and data lines has helped future tenants understand how the system works, says Michael R. Sullivan, the Pentagon Renovation Program's deputy program manager (ENR 7/8 p. 10). The system centers around 5-ft, 6-in.-high "smart walls" spaced every 20 ft. The walls are never moved and include all utilities, communications and data wiring. An infill piece can be added on top of the wall to close off an area, creating a private office.
The lab setting has allowed feedback from tenants and also lets construction crews see the benefitsor alleviate the problemsof the complimentary Short Interval Production schedule (SIP). Each specialty trade spends about one week in a 10,000-sq-ft space and completes its work before the next trade moves in. After testing the schedule in the USP lab, workers had to go back in and tear parts out to improve constructability, says Sullivan. There were not problems with the work, but contractors realized there were more efficient ways to proceed, he explains. Simply changing the sequencing of work took the "level of efficiency to a new height," Sullivan says.
That efficiency will be helpful in meeting the shortened construction schedule for the renovation work. Wedge Two has been divided into two phases, the first set for completion in November 2003 and the second in November 2005. Wedge Three is slated to be completed in 2007, Wedge Four in 2009 and Wedge Five in 2010. The original completion date for the entire project was 2014.
Also revolutionizing the work in Wedge Two is a change in the way the Pentagon handles performance specifications. For Wedge One, there were 3,500 pages of specifications. That number was reduced to 16 for Wedge Two. "The government shouldn't tell the contractor how to do its job," insists Sullivan. But he admits that is not an easy thing to do and it requires a "a significant mind shift" on the part of officials who must write performance specs. "It allows the contractor maximum innovation," he adds.
Another lesson learned in the aftermath of Sept. 11 was that emergency exit signs traditionally placed above doorways could not be seen through the smoke and flames by people crawling to safety. Designers chose photoluminescent signs that absorb ambient light and then glow in the dark without the benefit of electricity to mark exit paths and doorways. LUNAplast, manufactured by Luna Technologies International Inc., Kent, Wash., incorporates a proprietary formulation that replaces traditional zinc sulphide. It allows longer visibilityas much as 30 hoursand lower levels of light necessary to "recharge." The material used in the Pentagon has higher fire and smoke ratings than conventional materials, says Luna Technologies President Kimberly Landry.