North Bethesda, Md.

Key Players

Owner LCOR

General Contractor BE&K Building Group (Formerly KBR Building Group)

Plumbing A & H Plumbing

Mechanical Advantage Air Conditioning of VA

Fire Protection American Automatic Sprinkler Co.

Electrical Dynalectric Co.

Concrete Miller & Long Co.

Masonry United Masonry

Earthwork Goldin & Stafford

The 18-story, 311,000-sq-ft tower is the second of four high-rise residential buildings to be constructed at the North Bethesda Center transit-oriented development.

Constructing the building’s signature structural feature—a dramatic sweeping rooftop extending up and over the exterior—proved particularly challenging. While its height is 227 ft above lowest grade, the tower is set back on all sides from a 135,000-sq-ft below-grade parking structure and the property line is nearby.

Special lifting plans and cantilevered scaffold platforms were used so that the roof and other exterior work could be performed safely and without affecting construction activity in adjacent areas.

The project was well underway when the entire exterior color scheme for the project was changed. That required close coordination with multiple subcontractors, suppliers and vendors to quickly secure new components such as window framing, curtain wall, a glass and metal panel storefront system, louvers, railings and light fixtures.

Another in-progress design change altered the tower’s pool and surrounding deck area to incorporate the addition of a “sunshelf” and a trellis/waterfall feature.

The introduction of these two features to the pool area was problematic because the structural “box” for the pool was already in place and could not be changed. A quickly developed system reconfiguration made it possible for the revised piping, lighting and skimmer systems to fit and operate properly within the fixed structure.

The Aurora was intended to incorporate building materials and interior finishes with recycled content that were to be sourced from within a 500-mile radius of the site. However, the project was continually beset by the discovery that specified products had been discontinued.

The most significant example was the closure of a quarry that was to provide granite countertop materials. Limited options were available for the selected color. That led to an exhaustive process to identify a suitable replacement for the granite materials in time to prevent significant delays in the schedule.

Even with these many changes, the Aurora achieved a LEED-Silver rating. Features such as low-flow plumbing fixtures, high-efficiency HVAC systems and special window glazing will reduce annual energy costs by 14%.

Low- and no-VOC adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings and carpet systems will improve indoor air quality.