Blue Devils Cheer for New $36M Duke University Research Facility

Fri May 23, 2003 - Southeast Edition
Giles Lambertson

Duke University’s medical presence in Durham, NC, just keeps growing and a Virginia concrete forming company has helped add the latest generation research facility to the campus.

Dee Shoring Company played a central role, literally, in construction of Duke Hospital’s Center for Models of Human Disease, a multi-story structure on Research Drive.

The company won the subcontract to form an elevator core and two stairwells to serve the building, which contains a basement and four stories. The core and stairwells were formed and poured floor by floor.

The structure contains 129,900 sq. ft. (12,068 sq m) of laboratories and offices.

It is a free-standing structure though it was connected to an existing building on the edge of the site. The joined unit is one part of the extensive Duke Hospital genomics research program.

The hexagonal elevator core and stairwells were formed using EFCO steel form systems, which Dee Shoring calls upon as needed in certain applications. “We own quite a bit of their [EFCO] product and use it in specialized forming situations,” said Clay Haselden, project manager.

Haselden said the company has come to learn that the EFCO system ensures forms will hold their shape well under the pressure of tons of concrete. The hexagon design in this building required their use.

EFCO was started almost 70 years ago as Economy Forms Corporation by a civil engineer, W.A Jennings. With headquarters in Des Moines, IA, the worldwide company produces specialized equipment that is employed in projects as diverse as tunnels, stadiums, parking garages and homebuilding. Ready Mixed Concrete Company of Durham supplied the project, with some 8,000 cu. yds. (6,116 cu m) of concrete poured and formed.

Equipment that pumped and lifted concrete and materials into place on the job represented several manufacturers, according to Wilburn Rutledge, a vice president with general contractor T.A. Loving Construction of Goldsboro.

The $36-million project got under way in June 2001 and the contract runs through July of this year. In recent weeks, a crew neared completion of the project working on a scaffold to place rolls of caulk between concrete panels on the face of the structure and edging the roof. Architect on the job was Lord, Aeck and Sargent of Atlanta.

Work was delayed in the opening months because of typical site problems, such as relocation of underground utilities. Other than that, the major difficulty encountered came from the sky: rain and cold.

“The only thing that kept us on our toes was the weather,” Rutledge said. “We couldn’t deviate from the specs, so we had to let the weather dictate when we would pour.”

Rutledge credited Dee Shoring with being a key ally in ensuring that pours were timely and in accordance with specifications.

“They played an important role in that,” Rutledge said. He added that he was familiar with Dee and was confident in its judgment on the job because of previous successful co-ventures. “We have a great working relationship with Dee.”

Dee knowingly strayed from the straight and narrow on another part of the project — forming a curving wall along a walkway leading to the building from a parking area. The wall ran for about 400 linear ft. (122 m).

“It looked great once they got the rock on it,” Haselden said.

The wall and some corner towers on the building were faced with a brown rock that comes from a university-owned quarry in nearby Hillsborough, said John Robinson, Duke’s project manager. The university has been quarrying the stone, which is granite-like in texture, for its own use for more than 20 years. It is called, appropriately enough, Duke stone.

Dee Shoring Company was started 32 years ago by Ed Ellen, who still heads the company. It is a concrete form specialty contractor that works mostly in the Southeast, though it has completed projects as far west as Texas and up into Maryland. The company has approximately 200 employees but the number “has the potential to increase by year’s end,” Haselden said.

Dee does not work exclusively on college campuses. However, when the economy is relatively slow, it keeps busy thanks to university budgets. Recent projects in Virginia include a building at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University at Blacksburg and a facility for the Institute of Textile Technology at Charlottesville.