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Tarlton Comes Full Circle for Commerce Bank Renovation

Sat February 03, 2001 - Midwest Edition
Megan Nichols

For almost 30 years, Tarlton Corporation, a St. Louis-based general contracting and construction management firm, has completed remodeling projects to the Commerce Bank Headquarters in downtown Clayton, MO. As the financial institution’s needs grew and changed, Tarlton helped the facility keep pace. In fact, it was Tarlton that constructed the original Commerce Bank building at its current location in 1973, and it was Tarlton that recently completed major renovations designed by Mackey Mitchell Associates.

“Mackey Mitchell and Tarlton formed a close team with Commerce from the early inception and planning stages to project completion to meet budgets, keep phases on a tight time frame, reduce the frustration and trauma of living in an on-going construction project, as well as keep the bank branch and departments up and running,” said Judy Franzi, corporate group facilities manager for Commerce Bank.

“One of the most important factors to Commerce Bank was that they be able to continue to provide services to their clients with as little interruption from construction as possible,” added Tracy Hart, Tarlton president.

Tarlton’s project team — consisting of Lee Burford, project director; Matt Boyce, project manager; Joe Scarfino, senior project engineer; and Dan Cunningham and John “Dink” Schaedler, project superintendents — brainstormed for a creative solution. Together, they came up with a tunnel made of heavy wood frame that allowed employees and customers alike to pass through construction. The team’s “tunnel vision” reduced the risk of harm to patrons and disturbance to the site; it also satisfied onlookers’ curiosity. Knowing that people were excited about the changes taking place around them, Tarlton installed small windows in the tunnel that allowed for a view of the major renovations.

“They [Tarlton] did more than go the extra mile — they genuinely partnered and cared about the success of this project. Tarlton’s innovative signage program and unfailing politeness to our customers made the project interesting, instead of annoying, to our customers,” Franzi added.

Comprised of more than 45,000 sq. ft. (4,181sq. m), the renovation was far reaching. The project included converting the lobby from a two-story atrium to one story, which required Tarlton to fill in the atrium with structural steel and concrete metal deck, and changing the second story level from mezzanine to a full floor.

The building’s exterior also received a facelift. Cosmetic upgrades to the drive-through were completed, and the original elevated parking garage and surface lot were improved or enhanced.

In addition, upgrades to all mechanical, electrical and elevator systems were included. Tarlton refitted a new fire alarm system to all 15 floors of the building and replaced mechanical components to all five elevators. An Erickson air crane hoisted new cooling towers and central plant control systems to the top of the building. The equipment addressed the operation’s challenges. Chillers and condensers were only slightly smaller than the opening in the roof, requiring precision in the placement of the units.

The effort also required careful coordination with municipal entities. “Meremac Avenue had to be closed during the picking operation, with the cooperation of the city of Clayton, the Clayton Police Department and the Clayton Fire Department,” Boyce explained.

Teamwork was critical to accomplishing project objectives and meeting Commerce Bank’s needs. “This project was challenging because we had to coordinate tradespersons and subcontractors to perform work during daily banking operations throughout construction,” Boyce added.

Major subcontractors and suppliers included the following: Grant Contracting Co., Peters-Eichler Heating Co., MCI Mechanical Contractors, Benson Electric, Jarrell Plumbing, Guarantee Interiors, Ahern Fire Protection, LaSalle Iron Works, Vee Jay Cement Contracting, T.J. Weis Contracting, Spectrum Coatings, St. Louis Steel Erection, Missouri Valley Glass, Baxter Farms, Wester Waterproofing and Williams Tile Co.

In addition to Mackey Mitchell Alper-Audi, Heidemann & Associates, and Austin Tao & Associates served as design team members.

According to Boyce, “By utilizing pre-construction planning and extensive services in budgeting, scheduling, value enhancement and constructability reviews, Tarlton, Mackey Mitchell, architects and Commerce Bank maintained a successful partnership.”

Working closely with Mackey Mitchell, with which Tarlton has built some of its most successful projects, and working hand-in-hand with the client, Tarlton successfully completed this unique, fast-paced project.

“We completed phases in essentially a 10 and a half month time frame and on budget. We could not have done so without the team’s expertise, experience and cooperation,” Franzi concluded.

Tarlton serves many major St. Louis companies and notable institutions such as Anheuser-Busch, Monsanto Co. and Washington University. Among recent and current Tarlton projects are the Camp Mihaska for the Salvation Army in Bourbon, MO, the Charles F. Knight Executive Education Center for the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University (profiled in the June 10, 2000, CEG edition) and the South City YMCA facility.

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