Crews Continue Important Mission in Bethesda, Md.

Wed November 25, 2009 - Northeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

A Hitachi 500 excavator works at what will be an upgraded facility known as the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and will be a hospital and flagship medical institution for the Army, Air Force and Navy.
A Hitachi 500 excavator works at what will be an upgraded facility known as the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and will be a hospital and flagship medical institution for the Army, Air Force and Navy.
A Hitachi 500 excavator works at what will be an upgraded facility known as the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and will be a hospital and flagship medical institution for the Army, Air Force and Navy. A Case CX330 excavator waits for its next assignment for the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.


In Bethesda, Md., a major expansion and renovation to the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) is currently well under way and moving toward a 2011 completion date.

The upgraded facility will be known as the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and will be a hospital and flagship medical institution for the Army, Air Force and Navy.

The Naval Facilities Engineering Command awarded the $641.4 million design-build contract to Clark/Balfour Beatty, A Joint Venture. The project will be designed and constructed under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program to meet LEED Silver certification.

The design-build project has a current construction cost of $617 million. The contract calls for building a new 560,000-sq.-ft. (52,026 sq m) ambulatory care clinic and a 165,000-sq.-ft. (15,329 sq m) in-patient addition to the existing hospital. Clark/Balfour Beatty also is constructing an eight-story, 944-space patient parking garage and a 700-ft. (214.4 m) long logistics tunnel. In addition, they will perform approximately 450,000 sq. ft. (41,806 sq m) of phased renovations to existing medical facilities.

Funding for the project is federal and is mostly from the BRAC program. The project began in March 2008, and new work is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2010. Renovation will be complete by July 2011, and all work is currently on schedule.

According to Richard Ryan, project executive, Clark/Balfour Beatty, the ambulatory care clinic will be one of the military’s most state-of-the-art facilities for wounded warriors and service veterans. The building will include an amputee center compete with a gait lab to simulate movement and evaluate a patient’s walking motions to better design a custom prosthetic, and a Computer-Assisted Rehab Environment (CAREN) lab, which allows patients to train using their new prosthetics in different virtual worlds. The clinic also will have a full prosthetics department, therapy pool, and climbing wall.

In the clinic’s basement, the project team installed vaults for three Linear Particle Accelerators (LINACs). Used to administer radiation treatments, these LINAC vaults were built with 4- to 8-ft. (1.2 to 2.4 m) thick concrete walls and custom-made lead-shielded doors. The in-patient addition will contain critical care units, angiography and nuclear medicine departments, and 100 percent private patient rooms.

“All new construction at the future WRNMMC is designed to achieve LEED Silver certification,” Ryan said. “The heating, ventilation, and cooling systems incorporate cutting-edge technology such as an enthalpy heat recovery wheel to transfer energy between exhaust air and incoming outside air, as well as energy-efficient water-cooled centrifugal chillers. An intricate storm water management system will reduce runoff by 25 percent.”

According to David Laib, P.E., senior vice president, Balfour Beatty Construction, representing Clark/Balfour Beatty, A Joint Venture, all current NNMC departments and services are remaining operational during construction.

“The project team built a temporary emergency department inside the existing hospital, as well as two temporary spaces to house other departments in transition,” he said. “All renovation work, which is occurring in the heart of the NNMC campus, requires a comprehensive infection control risk assessment to measure and reduce airborne toxins in sensitive areas.”

Since the design/build project is fast-tracked, Laib noted that there are several challenges, which include a tight overall schedule, difficult logistics, and renovation in operating medical facilities.

“Detailed planning is required for renovation at both the macro level for phasing and area-specific to avoid disruption or impacts to any hospital activities,” he said.

Laib said the project is a unique one because the facilities’ primary mission is the medical care of wounded military personnel.

“The importance of this mission has been recognized by all subcontractors on the project, down to the tradesmen,” he said.

Currently, there are about 700 people assigned to the job. That number will likely peak at 800 to 900.

A total of 105,000 cu. yds. (80,278 cu m) of dirt was excavated for the project. Buildings A and B will include 35,000 cu. yds. (26,759 cu m) of cast-in-place concrete, and Building B will include 1,035 tons (939 t) of structural steel. Buildings A and B also will include 125,000 cu. yds. (95,569 cu m) of architectural precast.

The patient parking garage will include 8,647 cu. yds. (6,611 cu m) of poured concrete, which will create 17,508 tons (15,883 t) of structural precast.

The project will include 150,000 linear ft. (45,720 m) of duct work (approximately 28 mi. [45 km]), 100,000 linear ft. (30,480 m) of HVAC piping (approximately 19 mi. [30.6 km]), and 200,000 linear ft. (60,960 m) of plumbing piping (approximately 38 mi. [61 km]).

A Liebherr LR1350/1 crawler crane with a lifting capacity of 350 tons (317.5 t) is being used on the job. The crane stands at just under 400 ft. (121.9 m) tall. Another crane that is in use is a Peiner SK 405 tower crane with a lifting capacity of 40,100 lbs. (18,189 kg) at the crane (four part line), or 13,000 lbs. (5,897 kg) at a reach of 200 ft. (61 m). Additional equipment includes a Hitachi 500 excavator, a Caterpillar 330B excavator, a Case CX330 excavator, a Hitachi Zaxis 350 excavator and a Caterpillar 930G rubber-tired loader.

Major subcontractors include Southland Industries for mechanical and plumbing, MC Dean for electrical, National Fire Protection for sprinklers, Clark Foundations, and Cleveland Construction for drywall.

The design-build team also includes partners HKS of Dallas, architect of record; Wingler Sharpe of Wichita Falls, Tex., architectural renovation and new construction design; Hartman-Cox Architects of Washington, D.C., historic preservation/restoration; Haley & Aldrich of McLean, Va., geotechnical engineering; Dewberry of Fairfax, Va., civil engineering/landscape design; Cagley & Associates of Rockville, Md., structural engineering; and Southland Industries of Dulles, Va., mechanical/plumbing design and construction. CEG