Auburn Mechanical Uses Innovative Techniques to Approach its Largest & Most Complex Project to Date

August 7, 2020

MCAA members are constantly innovating and trying new techniques on their projects. Auburn Mechanical is just one example. The MCA of Western Washington member has been building through the COVID-19 pandemic, using a lean approach and specialty systems to meet the Washington State Convention Center Addition Project’s sustainability goals.

Planning and constructing a massive civic project like Seattle’s Washington State Convention Center Addition (WSSC) is no small feat. After nearly 10 years of design and planning and 2 years of preconstruction, the $1.6 billion project is in the middle of construction. Once complete, the new convention center will include a 150,000-square-foot exhibit hall, 100,000-square-foot flex hall, meeting rooms, a ballroom, an outdoor terrace and three levels of garage parking.

The project, a joint venture between Clark Construction Group and Seattle-based contractor Lease Crutcher Lewis, is the largest project in Auburn Mechanical’s 42-year history. It is also one of the most complex.

A Lean Approach

When Auburn Mechanical was selected as the plumbing contractor for the 570,290-square-foot addition in 2016, team members immediately implemented lean principles, including co-locating with the engineering team to support design, constructability review, and to explore opportunities for pre-fabrication. Auburn Mechanical’s detailers contributed to building the project’s massive federated model, which was completely designed in Revit.

With a plumbing contract worth over $40 million, Auburn Mechanical’s team will have installed 36 miles of plumbing, including six miles of underground piping, on the eight-acre site by the time the project is complete.

Focus on Sustainability

The project, which focuses on sustainability and long-term functionality, involves several specialty systems, including a heat traced and insulated stainless-steel Blucher grease waste piping system. Two 24,000-pound grease interceptors were successfully flown, landed, and installed on site. Additionally, stormwater recycling and reclamation systems will be used for the restroom toilets, reducing water consumption.

A Somewhat Unique Methodology

The convention center is being erected using “billboard construction” methodologies, a technique that is somewhat unique to Seattle-area construction. This technique involves building vertical sections simultaneously instead of floor-by-floor and creates greater efficiencies on sites with limited laydown area.

For their part, Auburn Mechanical is executing layout for systems on the slab-on-metal decks with a fast two-day turnaround between each deck. For added efficiency, Auburn Mechanical’s pre-fabrication shop has built almost 500 toilet and urinal carrier banks and prefabbed additional components to support just-in-time deliveries to the congested site.

Essential Status Requires Exhaustive Safety Protocols

Deemed an essential project at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, construction never stopped as a result of Washington State’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. With over 2,000 construction workers on the project, exhaustive safety protocols were put in place, including custom portable handwash stations designed and fabricated by Auburn Mechanical.

Project Completion Schedule

Construction is scheduled to complete in early 2022, nearly doubling the capacity of the current convention center.

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