By: Angela B. Hurni, CEG CORRESPONDENT
On July 1, 2009, Bartow County civic leaders assembled to break ground on the new Clarence Brown Conference Center in Cartersville, Ga. Currently, the $20-million, LEED Certified facility is approximately 60 percent finished and is on track for an August 2010 completion date. Hogan Construction Group LLC, Norcross, Ga., is the general contractor on the project.
Bartow County and each of its municipalities are jointly funding the conference center through special purpose local option sales tax proceeds, which also is funding a number of other local projects.
Ellen Archer, executive director, Cartersville-Bartow County Convention and Visitors Bureau, stated the center is “one project being funded by a continuation of a tax already in place that was approved by residents in 2008.”
Named after Bartow County Commissioner Clarence Brown, the 45,000-sq.-ft. (4,050 sq m) facility is located on a 20-acre (8 ha) site off GA Highway 20 across from the Cartersville campus of Georgia Highlands College. The center’s design consists of a 12,824 sq-ft (1,154 sq m) ballroom that can be divided into four separate spaces and can accommodate up to 1,400 people. Other features of the conference center include nine classrooms or meeting rooms, a 300-seat lecture hall and an executive boardroom.
The center will house the offices of the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention and Visitors Bureau, who also will be operating the facility. There will be an outdoor pavilion and an amphitheater on the grounds.
When finished, the facility will have the capacity to host up to 17 different functions simultaneously.
The technology throughout the facility consists of integrated videoconferencing, distance learning and classroom extension capabilities, interactive whiteboards, projection systems, and more that will appeal to all types of customers: corporate, academic and more.
Tony Huber, project manager of Hogan Construction Group, explained what has been completed so far on the project: “Curb and gutter had to be 100 percent in place before starting the building. The following items have also been done: clearing, grading, earthwork, utilities, foundation, steel framing, exterior framing and structural CMV.”
Seventy percent of the roofing is finished.
A great deal of equipment has been used on the job site, especially with the 70,000 cu. yd. (53,200 cu m) of dirt that had to be moved. For logging and mulching, the following pieces were used: a Morbark 1300 tub grinder, a Cat 320 CL excavator with shear attachment, and a Cat 963C track loader. Grading and U/G utilities required several bulldozers, including two Cat D8, a Cat D5, and a John Deere 700H and several excavators, including two John Deere 450 LC, a Komatsu PC400, and a Cat 330.
Also used for grading and utility work were five Cat 621 scrapers, two Cat 815 compactors, and one Cat motor grader. Steel erection required the use of a 50-ton (45 t) Grove crane, a 19-ton (17 t) Manitex boom truck and a 6,000 lb. (2,700 kg) Cat forklift.
Right now, workers are busy with the interior framing and brick and EIFS work. The exterior of the conference center incorporates a variety of materials in addition to the brick and EIFS, such as cultured stone, cast stone, architectural concrete and architectural pre-cast concrete. For the architectural precast concrete erection a Link-Belt RTC-8030, 30-ton (27 t) crane is being used. For masonry work, a Gradall Lull 534C forklift is on hand. Also, four JLG aerial boom lifts are readily available for various trades.
Hogan Construction has approximately 37 subcontractors on the job.
“The majority of the work is subbed out with the exception of woodwork, doors and [various] small things,” Huber said. “The owners are keen on having local subcontractors work on projects.”
Separate from the main building, Huber explained, “There is a side phase to this project which is an amphitheater stage. Its concrete work is done and most of the exterior work is completed including the masonry structure, brick work and metal roofing.”
Work being performed inside consists of installing seating, which is 80 percent finished, and painting. Additional tasks left on the amphitheater construction include building a masonry wall behind the stage, finishing up sidewalks and constructing a separate brick bathroom facility.
Lyman Davidson Dooley Inc., an architectural, planning and interior design firm with five offices in the southeast, including an Atlanta office, designed the facility to meet requirements for LEED Certification.
Bartow County is committed to environmental stewardship, so it is important that the conference center meets the standards set forth by the LEED program. Regarding Hogan Construction, Archer exclaimed, “We are really happy with their knowledge of LEED certification. They have been excellent in that regard.”
Even though the job is on schedule, there have been weather-related challenges.
“We have been impacted by rain quite a bit,” explained Huber. “The rain resulted in wet dirt and delays with the foundation and steel work. Additionally, workers were confounded when one of the banks that had been cut started leaking. As a result, a French drain system was added to the contractor’s tasks. The challenging aspects of the job make it more complicated but have not delayed the completion date. We are not improving the schedule, but we are at least maintaining it,” Huber commented.
Even with the rain and the wet dirt, Archer is pleased with the upkeep of the site especially since it is in a high-traffic area.
“There is a high population and a lot of visibility,” she stated. “It is one of the cleanest construction sites I’ve seen.”
When finished, the Clarence Brown Conference Center will have a positive economic impact on Bartow County and each of its municipalities, and it will contribute tax dollars to fund projects in the future.