Owner CRRC MA Corp.
Lead Design Firm Gannett Fleming Engineers & Architects Inc.
Construction Manager/Design Build Plaza Construction LLC
Civil Engineer VHB
Structural Engineer Gannett Fleming Engineers & Architects Inc.
MEP Engineer Robt. W. Hall Consulting Engineers Inc.
Geotechnical Engineer O’Reilly, Talbot & Okun
Landscape Architect Greylock Design Associates Inc.

CRRC MA Corp. committed in 2015 to build the 204,000-sq-ft assembly facility for Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s next-gen rail cars, although the China-owned firm had yet to land contracts with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. “This facility was designed for day one, plus future growth,” says Joe Tulumello, Gannett Fleming senior vice president.

One of the project’s two substations was designed to support 2,240 linear ft of electrified test track able to accommodate various voltages and rail car types used by U.S. transit systems. Overhead doors and cranes in an 80-ft-long water chamber used to test completed cars’ weather tightness can handle both single- and double-level cars, and heavy diesel motor units. The test track was also designed so overhead catenary lines could be installed later. Overall, the team designed and installed six overhead bridge cranes, from 5 tons to 25 tons, and coordinated industrial engineering for lines to assemble and test the rail cars and for a 3-MW system to operate the outdoor test track.

One judge said building a “fast-track, design build-project in 17 months with foreign manufactured train sets is impressive,” especially considering the project’s “difficult soil conditions.”

Despite finding inadequate soil during design, the team, which did not disclose project cost, said it finished 8% under budget. Rapid impact compaction saved four weeks by consolidating existing fill that had unsuitable weight-bearing capacity.

Alan Sparn, senior vice president at Plaza Construction LLC, says the project had a “unique” review and approval process with strict one-week design deadlines to review and comment on drawings after packages were provided.

Teams of up to 18 CRRC employees traveled from China to New York for two-day design review sessions, facilitated by translators that were “critical to us meeting our design goals on the project,” Sparn says.

ENR's Best of the Best Projects 2018