OK Federal Building Nears Finish

Thu July 17, 2003 - West Edition
Emilie Haulenbeek

It’s less than a block from where the Alfred P. Murrah building stood – just catty-corner from the grassy lawns, the tranquil water field and the two towering copper walls that are the Oklahoma Memorial. From its south windows, employees will someday be able to see the memorial that now represents the original federal building. But the building itself is no longer looking that direction. Instead, it looks north – toward the future.

Gary Resetar, project manager for Flintco Constructive Solutions, the general contractor that’s building the new Oklahoma federal building, thinks its proximity was a wise decision.

“While I know it’s tough for a lot of people to face what they have to face, I’m from the direction that you need to move on from things and you need to do the best you can as far as getting closure. “I think it’s good,” he said. “I think it’s showing them we’re not going to be bullied around, we’ll go right back and get on with things."

The project itself is definitely moving along. While officially completion is scheduled for the end of October, Resetar estimates that it will be done in early November 2003. Numerous tenants have already been lined up, including the Small Business Administration, the Office of Veterans Affairs, the Food and Drug Administration and the General Services Administration.

The building’s construction hasn’t been easy. While removing approximately 30,000 tons (27,000 t) of earth, Resetar said the company found three underground fuel tanks that had to be removed, as well as some poor soil that had to be replaced.

The majority of the 30,000 tons is still on site – held aside, Resetar said, to shore up the elevation difference between the road and the building’s south side.

Also on site are approximately 140 workers – 60 of whom are employed by Flintco; the rest work for its subs. Flintco did its own concrete and steel work for the $31-million-plus project, contracting out electric work to Oil Capital, plumbing and mechanic to R&M Mechanical and the glass job to Masonry Arts. Masonry Arts, based in Alabama, has a national reputation and has done glass work for numerous government projects, including the Pentagon. It’s doing the punch-windows and all the glass and glazing for the job.

Though much smaller than the Pentagon, there’s plenty of equipment being used. Two rough-terrain Grove cranes, two extendable Sky Trak 10054 forklifts and several trackhoes, backhoes and dump trucks are rumbling around the project. The Grove cranes come from Flintco’s own stock, while many of the others belong to the subs.

Resetar said one of the project’s challenges has been its unusual design. With an overall elliptical shape and a half-moon-shaped recession making up the entryway, it’s been anything but standard construction.

“It’s a little tougher to lay out. It’s not your typical straight-line situation,” he said. “You’ve got to have a good field engineer do it and double-check your work. If you’re not careful, it just leaves more chance for human error and getting things in the wrong place."

In August, a 240-ton (216 t) crane will arrive on site to place boulders in the fountain – 20-ton (18t) boulders, whose placement will be guided by the artists.

Resetar is quick to acknowledge that the new building isn’t as fancy as some other federal buildings.

“When you’re up close, it looks kind of harsh,” he admitted, then added, “ I don’t think when it’s done it’ll appear that way. I think it will be more comfortable.

“I think you’re going to feel safe when you’re coming in the building and once you get back in the tenant spaces I think people will feel more secure, a little safer.”

The publicity has been a challenge as well.

“It’s what this project is and what it’s replacing. It’s been a very high public relations project – not necessarily inconveniencing us or having to do with us,” he said. “But it’s been in the newspaper a lot; it’s been on the news around here in Oklahoma City a lot. Having a chance to be a part of this particular building and replacing the Murrah building is probably the biggest part for me.”