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Clemson’s Greenhouses Get Green Light from Ellis-Don Construction

Wed July 12, 2000 - Southeast Edition
Diane Jowers

Ellis-Don Construction Inc. is building the Agricultural Biotechnology/Molecular Biology Complex at Clemson University in South Carolina. The company, which is based in Canada and takes on construction projects throughout the world, started the $23-million job in February and will complete it in the fall of 2001. The project includes four greenhouses, which total approximately 3,600 square meters (40,000 sq. ft ); a head house (control facility for the greenhouses) of 1,170 square meters (13,000 sq. ft.); and a main building of 10,350 square meters (115,000 sq. ft.) for a laboratory and office space.

According to Ellis-Don Senior Project Manager Bill Guedel, the exteriors of the laboratory and head building will be of brick veneer. “The four greenhouses are aluminum frame structures with glass. They were manufactured in Ohio by Ludy’s Greenhouses,” he said.

Land Construction Company of Seneca, SC, is doing the masonry work. Other subcontractors on the project include Cullum Mechanical (Charleston and Columbia, SC), H.R. Allen Electrical (Greenville, SC), and C and C Grading (Honea Path, SC) Jack Lostetter, a construction management major at Clemson University, is working on the project part time. “It’s great experience, and I hope to work here full time this summer,” he said.

Guedel works with Clemson Project Manager Doug Kinard and Project Architect J. R. Crowel of HOK (Hellmuth, Obata, and Kassabaum), a Greenville firm. Ellis-Don owns a great deal of equipment, but the company often rents equipment also. “We have 25 to 30 tower cranes, but we’re renting the Linden tower crane that we’re using here from Heede Southeast of Charlotte. Availability, time, and transportation costs are all considered when that type of decision is made,” said Guedel. Other equipment on the job includes dozers, road scrapers, sheep’s foot vibratory rollers, and smooth drum compactors.

Ellis-Don, founded in the early 1950s, offers construction management, design/build, and project management services. The company is headquartered in London, Ontario, Canada, and Geoff Smith is the president. There are branch offices in Halifax, Nova Scotia; Ottawa, Ontario; Mississauga, Ontario; Calgary, Alberta; and Malaysia.

In the United States, Ellis-Don locations are Detroit, MI; Orlando, FL; Seattle, WA; and Atlanta, GA. Atlanta-area Manager Steve Chapman, an Ellis-Don vice president, is responsible for the region that includes the Clemson project.

“This is one of many college construction projects that we have done, and Ellis-Don also does a lot of hospital work. The company does between $800 million and a billion dollars in business per year,” said Guedel. Recent college jobs in the United States include projects at Central Washington University, Saginaw Valley State University, and the University of Michigan. Hospital work in the United States includes the Ambulatory Surgery and Clinical Office Building for Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina and the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, AK.

“Of course, we have other types of projects also. We’ll be starting a courthouse in Hall County, GA, soon, and we constructed the Justice Center in Gastonia, NC. In Charleston, South Carolina, Ellis-Don recently completed an aquarium and a library,” said Guedel.

One of the most unusual projects that Ellis-Don has done is the Blue Water Bridge Approach Span, The Blue Water Bridge is a major Canada-United States border crossing at Port Huron, MI. Ellis-Don’s contract was for construction of a 15-span elevated approach supported by 13 concrete piers built on more than 400 piles. The $17-million job included Ellis-Don’s on-site precasting operation to produce 30 concrete box girders for the project.

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