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White Construction Breaks Ground On $3B Project

Wed February 09, 2022 - West Edition #4
Joe Jancsurak – CEG CORRESPONDENT


White Construction recently broke ground on the Uptown ATX project in Austin, Texas. (L-R) are Kelly Pollet, superintendent; Neal Moon, vice president; Donald Rutledge, project executive; Ryan Hanel, project executive; Kallie Luttrell, project engineer; Trish Walker, contract administrator; and Paul Tucker, superintendent. Not pictured are Rob Baugher, senior vice president; Hank Hundhausen, project executive; Kelly Linton, senior superintendent; Travis Chaney, assistant superintendent; David, Bood, senior project engineer; and Hillary Davis, contract administrator.
(White Construction  LLC photo)
White Construction recently broke ground on the Uptown ATX project in Austin, Texas. (L-R) are Kelly Pollet, superintendent; Neal Moon, vice president; Donald Rutledge, project executive; Ryan Hanel, project executive; Kallie Luttrell, project engineer; Trish Walker, contract administrator; and Paul Tucker, superintendent. Not pictured are Rob Baugher, senior vice president; Hank Hundhausen, project executive; Kelly Linton, senior superintendent; Travis Chaney, assistant superintendent; David, Bood, senior project engineer; and Hillary Davis, contract administrator. (White Construction LLC photo)
White Construction recently broke ground on the Uptown ATX project in Austin, Texas. (L-R) are Kelly Pollet, superintendent; Neal Moon, vice president; Donald Rutledge, project executive; Ryan Hanel, project executive; Kallie Luttrell, project engineer; Trish Walker, contract administrator; and Paul Tucker, superintendent. Not pictured are Rob Baugher, senior vice president; Hank Hundhausen, project executive; Kelly Linton, senior superintendent; Travis Chaney, assistant superintendent; David, Bood, senior project engineer; and Hillary Davis, contract administrator.
(White Construction  LLC photo) An artist rendering shows the completed $3-billion Uptown ATX project.
(SWA/Balsley and Coleman & Associates photo) View of the basement perimeter wall looking north. Below grade construction continues with electrical conduit, as seen running down the center of the image. Subcontractors are seen building a reinforced cage for a pier cap. Aerial view depicting the foundation rebar for the elevator pit.

A massive construction project meant to bring the largest transit-oriented master-planned community to Austin's second downtown is officially under way.

Ground was broken at the end of 2021 on the first phase of the $3 billion, 66 acre project known as Uptown ATX. Crews from White Construction began initial activities on the first phase of the large-scale project, One Uptown, a $328 million mixed-use endeavor.

Following its commencement of construction, the project was heralded as a game-changer by Jerry Sweeney, president and CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust, joint-venture partner with Canyon Partners Real Estate.

Located on the former IBM campus and at the crossroads of three major highways, Sweeney predicted that Uptown ATX "will accelerate the establishment of the area as Austin's second downtown," about 12 mi. north of Austin's downtown.

Bill Redd, executive vice president and regional managing director of Brandywine Realty Trust, explained how Uptown ATX will be accomplished.

"Phase 1, One Uptown, situated on five acres, began in 4Q 2021 and will include 348,000 square feet of Class-A workspace, 341 apartment residences, 15,000 square feet of street-level retail, a six-story parking garage and a public park, with planned delivery in 3Q 2023," Redd said. "Following that, the Chase at Uptown ATX, a multi-family project is slated to commence construction in early 2022, and One and Two Skyrise — 25-story and 19-story office towers — are expected to receive site plan approvals in early 2022. The commencement dates for additional phases are tentative and pending market conditions."

When completed, Uptown ATX will have 7 million sq. ft. of workspace and the multi-family and retail space, as well as a new metro rail station.

Myriad Challenges

Addressing the design and construction challenges of One Uptown is contractor White Construction, who has served the Austin community for 40 years.

"Our length of time here has allowed us to develop excellent relationships with valued clients such as Brandywine Realty Trust," said Rob Baugher, senior vice president.

Commenting on the design challenges, Hank Hundhausen, project executive, noted: "With a project of this scale and complexity, a problem-predicting approach and exceptional communication help alleviate roadblocks."

One Uptown design challenges include:

  • Installation of a complex electrical system at basement level with a backup system on the ground floor;
  • Non-existent utilities for the project requiring that they be brought in from adjacent streets and existing buildings, with depths being deeper than normal;
  • Complex curtain wall system and its strict building tolerances;
  • Garage clearances, with mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering systems feeding the upper floors;
  • Eleven elevators for the office/garage and two for the residences;
  • Complexity of the residential structural foundation systems, adjacent to the garage foundation walls;
  • Structural pinned connection at the garage to the residential level 7 deck;
  • All exterior grading differences.

"Similar to the design phase," Hundhausen continued, "Construction challenges, too, are best alleviated with this same proactive problem-predicting approach. This allows for a seamless transition from design into construction."

Construction challenges include:

  • Three-system layout backcheck, requiring extensive communication to ensure verification of the agreed-upon final locations of permanent structures;
  • Depressed weather zone that required the installation of seven dewatering wells, which have continuously pumped out about 17 gallons per minute;
  • Underground drainage system for the removal of any excess water;
  • Elevator pit that incorporates 10 elevators;
  • Coordination of curtain wall and structure design to ensure the inclusion of the construction sequence in all delegated design work;
  • Cutting in final grades with rock and the inability to make adjustments without specialized equipment, posing challenges.

Manpower for One Uptown "currently requires about 45 men working 60 hours/week," Hundhausen said, noting that this could jump to as many as 400 workers when work begins on other project phases. As for equipment, the list includes mobile and tower cranes, skid steer loaders, rock saws, concrete saws, back hoes, elevated work platforms and scaffolding and personal protective equipment.

Keeping Project On Track

When it comes to meeting construction dates and budgets, Baugher said what happens during "preconstruction" is critical.

"Our strategy called for working closely with Brandywine and the design/architect firms — Page Southerland Page and GFF Architects. From day one we worked closely together to achieve the project's costs, quality and schedule goals.

"Now that construction is under way, we review the schedule weekly with subcontractor input and we review the construction budget monthly to ensure that all costs are tracked with the GMP amount. Simply put, the key for staying on track is open communications." CEG




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