After nearly a decade of use by the School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Tech is completely renovating one of the oldest buildings on its campus. The 78,000-sq.-ft. (7,246 sq m) reconstruction and new build-out project has been contracted to Juneau Construction Company (JCC) at a cost of $6 million.
The John Saylor Coon Building is part of the 12-building area nominated and listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Georgia Institute of Technology Historic District. Because of the building’s significance, the reconstruction and additions to the building needed to be sensitive to both the original design and the adjacent buildings. Certain elements — such as the entranceway, wooden handrails and staircase, decorative cast iron balustrades with newel posts and the numerous “GST” crests (the original name of the Georgia School of Technology) — will be retained and restored.
A veteran at historic preservation projects, Juneau Construction Company was selected during a bid process with the Georgia Institute of Technology. Some of the historic renovation projects completed by JCC include the J. Mack Robinson Building at Oglethorpe University, the Hampton Inn & Suites, and The Brandon Hall School, all in Atlanta, and the Mayfair House in Coconut Grove, FL.
In addition, Juneau has completed secondary education construction that includes the Caldwell Residential Hall on the Georgia Tech campus, an addition to the Food Science Building at the University of Georgia, The Wellness Center at the Medical College of Georgia, and the Robinson Building at Oglethorpe University.
Since the original mechanical engineering building never has been completely renovated, one of the major hurdles for Juneau Construction involves “uncovering of the unexpected.” In this case, the floors are a particular challenge because they are not level. Once uncovered, Juneau found loose concrete around the floor joists. Rather than using a leveling compound, crews needed to remove all the old concrete and pour a new 4-in. (10 cm) lightweight concrete surface before replacing the flooring.
Also, when the original building was constructed in 1912, the need did not exist for the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection and HVAC systems that are required by code for today’s standards. Juneau and the engineering firm are working closely to bring the building into 21st century code while working within the tight ceiling confines of an early 1900s building.
Designed in 1909 by architect Francis Palmer Smith, (also known for his design of Atlanta landmarks, the Rhodes Haverty Building and the Cathedral of St. Philip), the mechanical engineering building was completed in 1912.
Giving Juneau Construction an edge on this project, company President Les Juneau and Vice President of Operations Ron Whalen worked on the renovation of the Rhodes Haverty Building, making them very familiar with the structural design work of the late Francis Smith and the inherent challenges of restoring a historic building.
The old mechanical engineering building is named for Dr. John Saylor Coon, the first professor and head of the Mechanical Engineering School of Technology from 1883-1923. Once completed, the John Saylor Coon Building will become the new home for the psychology department.
Juneau Construction Company is one of the southeast’s fastest growing general contractors, providing construction management, preconstruction and design/building services. Founded in 1997, Juneau Construction has vast expertise in hospitality, education, childcare development, historic preservation, religious, healthcare and multi-family construction.
For more information, call 404/287-6000.