For 35 years, DeKalb County, GA — a sprawling suburban county, 10 mi. east of Atlanta, with a population of 700,000 — has housed its juvenile court in a 50,000 sq. ft. (4,600 sq m) three-story building, designed primarily as a detention facility.
At its current location, the youths that pass through the doors have a birds-eye view of the DeKalb County Police headquarters, as well as DeKalb County Recorder’s Court at their Camp Circle address.
But now, under the leadership of the Atlanta-based division of Skanska USA Building Inc., the construction of a five-story, 110,000-sq.-ft. (10,200 sq m) juvenile justice center on Memorial Drive will give those same youths an unusual view.
The new center is situated on land right behind the DeKalb County Jail.
DeKalb officials said there was no real intent in selecting a location adjacent to the adult detention center, but when construction is finished, the view of the jail will be obscured, so that the jail will not overshadow the new juvenile court building.
Skanska, which submitted the winning bid of $27 million, continues to work closely with DeKalb County Facilities Management and the Atlanta-based Turner Associates Architects & Planners on this project.
Shortly after construction started, Skanska worked in conjunction with DeKalb County’s Procurement Office to sponsor a Small Business Networking Conference. Attended by more than 150 individuals, the conference enabled Local and Small Business Enterprises (LSBEs) to network for opportunities with DeKalb County, Skanska and its subcontractors.
“To date, these efforts have resulted in over 25 percent of the value of the subcontracts being awarded to LSBEs,” said Skanska Project Executive Matt Jones. “Our efforts to utilize LSBEs will continue for the next several months, as we complete the purchasing of remaining work items.”
Skanska began construction in September 2005, with a goal toward obtaining a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification for new construction.
LEED certification is a voluntary standards and certification program of the U.S. Green Building Council that promotes more environmentally healthy construction and architecture of buildings.
DeKalb County Facilities Management and Turner Associates worked together with Skanska and third party LEED consultants to provide products and services that align with its requirements.
If successful, the new Juvenile Justice Center would be one of the first LEED Silver certified buildings (for construction) in DeKalb County’s history.
“Skanska is very familiar with the LEED certification process, and has a proven track record of teaming with owners and designers to achieve LEED certification for their projects,” Jones said.
Tracking of LEED standards by third-party LEED consultants — who start tracking before the first piece of equipment arrives on-site — continues throughout the construction process. In order to receive the Silver LEED certification, one of the main benchmark goals involves Skanska using building materials comprised of at least 25 percent of recycled content.
Metro Atlanta Demolition Inc. (MAD), working with Skanska subcontractor Gorman Excavation Inc., completed the first phase of construction by demolishing four pre-existing two-story buildings, which were once part of the Memorial Drive Executive Office Park.
Using its own fleet of four 60-ton Volvo excavators, equipped with Extec C10 jaw crushers, MAD crushed a total of 6,420 tons (5,800 t) of concrete, brick, block and granite, as well as 210 tons (190 t) of salvaged metals. All of the material crushed and excavated is recyclable material and is being used on the project.
Along with Gorman Excavation’s work with demolition, rock crushing, initial erosion control and the construction of the building pad, Commerce, GA-based Southern Foundations Inc. has installed 293 auger cast piles.
Underground, Gorman Excavation laid 768 ft. (234 m) of 8-in. water lines, 900 ft. (274 m) of storm pipe, and is currently installing two 9-ft. (2.7 m) storm water treatment devices. The devices filter the silt and sludge from the water — keeping the water clean — and send it to a retaining pond, outside of the construction site.
Installation of the treatment devices, as well as continued construction on this project, has been hampered by the unusually wet conditions.
“The rain has been the biggest challenge … it takes a day or two after a big rain to be able to go down and start digging again,” said Gorman Supervisor Rick Kassee.
And there is a lot of digging going on.
To install the treatment devices, Gorman is using a rented 80-ton Grove crane, along with 345 and 325 Caterpillar track hoes. To grade, dig, move and haul the dirt, Gorman uses Cat 345 and 325 track hoes; Cat 963 loaders; Cat D6, D8 and D5 dozers; along with a D-250 off-road truck to move dirt.
“We had to move out a small amount of unsuitable soil from under the main slab, but mostly we’ve brought in dirt,” said Bruce Gore, owner and president of Gorman. He estimated that more than 10,000 cu. yds. (7,654 cu m) of dirt will be trucked in before construction is finished.
According to Skanska Supervisor Ricky Clayton, 4,000 cu. yds. (3,060 cu m) of unsuitable soil was removed.
Agreeing with Kassee, Clayton said rain continues to be the biggest challenge with completing the project. “This rain has been tough … the weather has been a challenge.”
Even with the wet weather, Jones is proud that his team is right on schedule for this project.
“When we started this project, the weather was great. When we actually started the site work it got wet and it got cold,” he said. “But even with those challenges, I’m proud to say that we’ve been able to stay on schedule.”
Currently, the foundations systems, pile caps, grade beams and the retaining wall for the basement are complete, and the 13 men and women working on this project are in the process of finishing the pile caps and grade beams for the ground floor.
Next, the team will finish the slab-on-grade for the basement and Skanska — working with sub-contractor American Reinforcing Steel Erectors Inc. of Gainesville, GA — will start erecting elevated slabs for the ground floor, also.
Jones estimated that approximately 7,000 cu. yds. (5,350 cu m) of concrete will be poured with the last concrete pour for the actual structure taking place in May or June 2006.
Along with the center itself, which will include six courtrooms, 25 holding cells, the Juvenile Division of the DeKalb County Defender’s office and the DeKalb County Advocacy Center, a new access road will surround the new building.
“The road ties in with the pre-existing parking deck that was built,” said Jones. “It’s going to entail a resignaling project at the intersection of Mountain Drive and Memorial Drive, but the impact on the surrounding traffic should be minimal.”
To make the project run smoothly and on schedule, Skanska continues to work very closely with DeKalb County, and the respect between the two seems mutual.
“Skanska has an excellent track record and is fully qualified and capable of successfully delivering this project,” said David Fisher, director of DeKalb County Facilities Management.
Jones emphasized just how important this project is, not only to DeKalb County, but also for Skanska.
“This project is extremely important to Skanska. It is an excellent example of how Skanska’s performance culture and a public entity like DeKalb County can partner together in pursuit of mutual goals,” said Jones. “Correctional and judicial markets are a major market sector for Skanksa both regionally and nationally, and this project will continue our trend to build quality projects with cutting-edge judicial technology.”
Construction is expected to be complete by March 2007. CEG