Rhode Island Veterans Home
Best Project

Owner: Rhode Island Dept. of Administration
General Contractor: Gilbane Building Co.
Lead Design Firm: Brewster Thornton Group Architects
Structural Engineer: Odeh Engineers
Civil Engineer: Pare Corp.
MEP Engineer: BER
Owner’s Representative: Peregrine Group
Subcontractors: H. Carr & Sons; Wood & Wire Fence Co.; Overhead Door Co. of Providence; Regal Floor Covering; Central Nurseries; United Site Services Northeast; Delta Mechanical Contractors; Patrick J. McKenna Roofing; Site Con Corp.; Rossi Electric Co.; Heritage Restoration; K&K Acoustical Ceilings; Nova Wood Products; Roman Tile & Terrazzo; A.A. Asbestos Abatement Co.; East Coast Interiors Corp.; Marguerite Concrete; Northeast Steel Structures; New England Boring Contractors; Wolfe House Movers

To meet an aggressive schedule, the design and construction team on the 254,000-sq-ft Rhode Island Veterans Home project adopted a prefabrication strategy to build six wood-framed resident buildings that house a total of 208 beds. John Gilroy, project executive at Gilbane Building Co., says prefabrication allowed the team to release work faster and simultaneously to multiple trade contractors. “This was one of the largest wood-frame projects in the state of Rhode Island at the time,” Gilroy says. “We couldn’t field-build it and stay on schedule.”

The team prefabricated interior and exterior wall panels. Each prefabricated component was inspected before it left the offsite construction area and upon arrival to the project site. To reinforce proper erection, each panel was notated according to section and foundation placement to ensure correct placement. Roof trusses were prefabricated on site on an angled ramp that simulated a stick-built roof pitch. The method promoted faster build times and higher quality outputs because the trusses were constructed at ground level.

As the structure was wood framed, the foundations supporting the bearing walls and the underground and in-exterior-wall plumbing needed to be resolved early in the project. The construction team used a mock-up to address constructibility concerns and practice the design details. 

An additional two-story, steel-framed commons building houses 16 beds, a dining facility with full kitchen, therapy suites, resident services and administrative space. The facility is the first in the U.S. designed using the Small House Model Design Guide, created by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs Office of Construction & Facilities Management.

Construction of the dental suite required extensive underslab and in-wall coordination for plumbing and power connections, which was needed in advance of the owner’s dental equipment purchase. The therapy pool needed to be placed prior to completion of the structure and envelope. It required early owner selection of the equipment as well as a competitive bid in time to support the delivery lead time.

Gilroy says the project, which was spread across 47 acres, had to be split up so that only two buildings were under construction at a time. “Doing all six at once would have been a logistics nightmare with manpower,” he adds. One judge liked the project’s community impact. “It’s just nice to have a facility for veterans,” the judge said.