Brunoli Gives CCSU Students a $12M Place to Meet

Wed July 30, 2003 - Northeast Edition
Sharon Cohen

In some site work, the construction team comes in, demolishes the existing structures and clears the land in an open area that is free of surrounding facilities and hindrances. A contractor may, for example, clean up acreage for a high school’s new athletic field that is a good distance from classroom areas.

As contractors know, the majority of projects are not normally so cut and dry. In many instances, utilities, pipes and cables lie under the ground and buildings that closely surround a site. The $12-million job that Lawrence Brunoli Inc., of Farmington, CT, recently completed at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) easily falls into this second category. The project consisted of the demolition and renovation of the student center and accompanying parking area.

This past October, Gov. John G. Rowland, Department of Public Works Commissioner T. R. Anson and CCSU President Richard L. Judd stressed the importance of the student union to the college participants. “The student center is more than a building,” said Judd. “It is the most used facility on campus. Traditionally, it has been the central meeting place for the campus community, offering a variety of formal and informal activities. In many ways the student center is not only a building but also a university program, with its major concern being to meet the out-of-classroom needs of students by providing a diversified schedule of activities. It was built to meet the needs of 6,000 students and, with the latest improvements, serves twice that number today.”

Because of the union’s importance to the university, it sits on approximately 6 acres (2.44 ha) of land smack dab in the middle of campus. After parking their cars in the nearby 2-acre (.8 ha) commuter parking lot, students must traverse the land around the building to get to their classroom buildings.

As little as three years ago, the previous student union was surrounded by campus buildings and parking lots, crisscrossed by sidewalks and visited daily by thousands of students. The doors of the center closed in autumn of 1999 as Brunoli began work on the ambitious renovation and expansion to make the facility even more responsive to the variety of student needs. The firm would expand from the then 64,000-sq.-ft. (5,946 sq m) student center by 22,000 sq. ft. (2,044 sq m) to become a new building of some 86,000 sq. ft. (7,990 sq m). The parking lot area with 350 spaces would be repaved and have additional drainage and new lighting. In total, there would be about 1.5 mi. (2.4 km) of new granite, footings, retaining walls dug into a hill, a traffic light, a 1,200-ft.-long (366 m) access road, bridge extension to the nearby parking garage and a 93-ft.-long (28.3 m) siphon manhole.

“This was a multi-tasked project,” explained Vice President Dan Neagle of Lawrence Brunoli Contracting. “We stripped and gutted the union building at the same time that we ground up and repaved the parking lots. We recognized that this was the only way to open in time and to minimize student disruption.”

Brunoli had expected the entire project to be completed in December 2001, so the facility would be ready after the holiday break. As so often happens, some unforeseen glitches moved the completion date to September 2002. Although later than expected, the administration, faculty and students were thrilled when the new school year kicked off with a brand new student center.

The University respected Brunoli’s work enough that it allowed the contracting company to coordinate the complicated logistics of completing the parking lot in smaller increments rather than doing the work in two, one-half sections. The latter would have been a considerable hardship to the commuting students. However this approach meant that Brunoli had to constantly move the chain link fencing and walkways that surrounded the immediate construction areas.

“It was like a cattle shoot,” recalled Neagle. “The placement of the fencing and walkways to surrounding buildings was regularly changed depending on our location in the parking lot. Accessibility was key. We wanted students to be able to quickly get to and from their cars and classrooms.”

Project Manager Peter Gavin, Project Superintendent Paul Rouleau and Larry Brunoli facilitated the changes at the on-site trailer. They had to keep close communication with the university so that students would know where to park and how to meander around the student union. Information was updated regularly on the website and fliers posted around the campus.

The Brunoli team worked closely with the university president on down. The project itself fell under the direction of Dan Moran, associate dean of finance and administration, in the Facilities Department. Dwayne Orlosky, student union director, also was an integral player.

Communication was very important for the workers in the student center as well. They continually spoke with the area utilities to know the exact location of buried cables and piping. “ ’Careful’ was the word of the day,” said Neagle. “We had to be very, very careful of utilities that supported surrounding buildings. If, for example, any leak in the gas line occurred, the huge dome around the nearby tennis courts would begin to deflate.”

Regardless of their thoroughness, the team was not prepared to find asbestos. Brunoli immediately knew that this would bring unwanted delays. The state’s asbestos team had to assess and eliminate the contamination. This unknown factor put the team back several months. The university and the architectural team also made several design changes, which added to the unexpected delays.

To complete its work, Brunoli used its own wide and varied construction equipment, with an emphasis on John Deere and Cat equipment. The student union renovations, walkways, curbing, parking lot, retaining wall, and footings relied on the Deere 310 D backhoe with a Stanley hammer attachment; a Deere 550 bulldozer and a JCB-530 telescoping boom forklift; a Cat 312 excavator; a Cat 926 loader; a Cat TH-83 telehandler/telescoping forklift; Cat D5H and D6H bulldozers; an Akerman HB 14LC backhoe; and Hyster C830B vibratory rollers.

One of the more unique pieces of machinery was the Bobcat Scat Trak skid loader with demo attachments that the company purchased in 2000. This is used for internal demolition work, such as the student union, where there will be excessive fumes, smoke and exhaust. It is fitted with a catalytic exhaust purifier that eliminates toxic emissions.

Although Brunoli did most of the site work itself, it subcontracted some of the more specific jobs. The companies that supported Brunoli included Herb Holden Trucking Inc., of Broadbrook, CT, and Connecticut Waste Processing, of New Britain, for waste removal; Lomac, of East Hartford, and H.O. Penn, of Newington, for routine heavy equipment maintenance; and Blakeslee Prestress, of Branford, for help with the precast concrete bridge extension.

The completed student union, designed by URS Greiner Inc., A-E-S, Rocky Hill and Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, of New York, features a brick and glass exterior, insulated glass skylights, copper roofs at entrance vestibules and a copper-clad drum facade. The Student Center offers facilities for the campus 10,000-sq.-ft. bookstore, credit union, card office, food court, alumni office, student radio station, student newspaper, student government association, student activities/leadership development, game room, mail center, student center offices, meeting rooms and lounges.

Lawrence Brunoli started on his own in 1987 after gaining a wealth of experience working for his father’s firm, Fred Brunoli and Sons in Avon, CT. Brunoli Inc. employs approximately 30 full-timers and bids on site, concrete, carpentry, demolition and some masonry projects. According to Neagle, Brunoli Inc. has a strong portfolio of publicly funded schools, hospitals, correctional facilities and water treatment plants. “We recently completed a $3.5-million signature project at University of Connecticut in Storrs that included an astro-turf athletic field, NCAA/IAAAF certified all-weather track, stadium seating, press box and sports arena lighting.”

Last year, Brunoli Inc. “had the proud distinction of receiving the Administrator’s Award for Excellence from the federal Small Business Administration in Washington, D.C., for our work with the correctional facility in Danbury, CT,” said Neagle, who joined the company 15 years ago. “We were the only contractor on the eastern seaboard to receive such an honor.”

The award took into consideration expertise, management, integrity and communication. “Because we did not personally apply for this distinction, we were very surprised and pleased when it was announced. We had completed the correctional facility six months in advance, which our clients greatly appreciated.”