BUILDING INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS

The Albert Kahn-designed building that once housed Detroit’s first, and last, Cadillac dealership has been redeveloped as the home of Wayne State University’s (WSU) Integrative Biosciences Center (iBio).  A joint venture of Barton Malow/Brinker is overseeing the construction management of this $78 million project.  Designed by Harley Ellis Devereaux, Southfield, the iBio is the largest construction project to ever take place on the Wayne State University campus.  

The iBio will support scientific research programs in the fields of biomedical engineering, systems biology and computational systems biology, as well as in such important areas of human health as cardiovascular and diabetes and metabolism research.   Research laboratories will include wet and dry labs and shared support and core laboratories.  The building will also house private offices and support services, and flexible conferencing facilities that incorporate state-of-the-art technology provisions for presentations and teleconferencing. 

The project will also significantly impact the local economy by revitalizing an entire 2.75-acre city block in its immediate neighborhood and in Midtown Detroit and will create both temporary and permanent jobs.  Estimates show that the facility will result in nearly $40 million in new earnings annually, 98 percent of which will be in metropolitan Detroit.

Challenges are inherent in all construction projects.  Originally constructed in 1927, the former Dalgleish Cadillac Dealership concealed a variety of hidden conditions.  The absence of accurate as-built drawings required the project team to conduct an exhaustive effort to get accurate building measurements, which included field measuring and scanning, in order to best prepare for this major renovation and addition.

Working in a tight urban site without a laydown area is a challenge, as was the record-setting frigid weather over the winter of 2014. Even with unprecedented weather conditions over the cold winter and rainy summer, the project team was able to continue working, closing down the site for only one day due to extreme cold. The use of 480-volt electric heaters and ground thaw systems kept the crew working through the winter months.  Despite challenging weather conditions, the iBio opened on schedule in 2015.

A seamless Barton Malow partnership with L.S. Brinker has also kept the project moving forward. After the recent and successful partnership on the Children's Hospital of Michigan Specialty Center, the Barton Malow/Brinker team teamed up again for the Wayne State iBio project, bringing a unique blend of university and healthcare construction knowledge, local market expertise and experienced staff with proven track records.  “Our team members are in sync when we work together on a project. You can’t tell who works for Barton Malow and who works for L.S. Brinker,” says Dan Lyons, Barton Malow Senior Project Director.

Similar to hospital construction, the iBio's critical need for cleanliness and sterilization requires hospital-grade mechanical and electrical systems. Major lab equipment needed to be installed in the basement of the building, and the Barton Malow project team identified this as an activity that needed to be done early on in the construction process in order for the equipment to fit in the building.

After realizing that certain equipment, such as large sterilizing units and specialized electrical equipment, wouldn’t fit into the building once enclosed, the equipment was procured early and placed in the basement.  The project team has kept the equipment protected from the elements during construction through the use of temporary weather protection systems, water diversion dikes and well points, along with temporary roof conductors and pump systems that were kept in place and maintained until the permanent enclosure was constructed.  

Teresa Miller