A state-of-the-art Veteran Affairs outpatient clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo., serves military veterans with everything from personal care to laboratory and prescription services in its handicapped-accessible facilities. Colorado Springs-based contractor Berwick Electric Co. completed the electrical construction in about a year. Since the building opened in 2014, the EC is under contract to provide follow-up maintenance to the facility. The 96,000-square-foot facility has the capacity to treat up to 1,322 patients at a time.
This project was special for Berwick Electric and fellow contractors because it is dedicated to America’s military veterans and because it would come with some modern amenities most healthcare clinics don’t offer. In addition to radiology, rehabilitation, physical therapy, behavioral health, counseling and related services, the clinic has advanced lighting controls and automated check-in kiosks.
The Pfc. Floyd K. Lindstrom VA Outpatient Clinic was built to replace two older VA clinics in the area and to better serve veterans in Colorado Springs. Colorado native Floyd K. Lindstrom was a soldier who earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War II.
The nearly $24 million project was managed by general contractor Jacobsen Construction, based in Salt Lake City.
The scope of electrical work included lighting and related controls; security, including intrusion detection and duress; data and communication; and fire alarm systems.
Berwick Electric is a nearly century-old, family-run EC providing commercial, residential, industrial and low-voltage services. It launched as an appliance repair shop, invested in electrical services when electric grids were first getting started, and has grown for four generations as a source for electrical and, more recently, low-voltage data communication service installation.
The new clinic is a developer-led, lease-back building, with LEED Silver certification. It is owned by private developer US Federal Properties, Kansas City, Mo., and operated by the VA.
Having a private developer for a VA clinic made this a unique project from the outset. It needed to provide all the cutting-edge solutions for Colorado Springs-area veterans, including a full range of services that could give patients all treatment options under one roof.
Once Jacobsen Construction was awarded the project, the contractors began to design a facility that maintained the owner’s conceptual design and budget and planned to meet or exceed the solicitation for offer (SFO) requirements, said Dusty Roe, project manager, Jacobsen Construction. To meet the SFO schedule, the project was designed, bid and constructed in bid packages.
Jacobsen Construction teamed up with three local MEP contractors: HVAC Solutions for dry-side mechanical work, Pipe Line Specialties for wet-side mechanical work, and Berwick Electric. The subcontractors assisted with design in budgeting and constructability. Building information modeling (BIM) was used to keep design development on schedule, as the early earthwork and construction began.
“Berwick was instrumental with assisting design within budget for electrical as well as comprehensive AV and security systems,” Roe said.
For the involved parties, geography was a challenge. The owner, Jacobsen Construction, architect Hoefer Wysocki Architecture (HWA) and engineering firm ME Group Engineering are all based outside of the Colorado Springs area. Berwick Electric was one of the few local contractors on-site. That meant the project required multiple out-of-town meetings, including one at the Denver VA as well as the architect’s Kansas City office.
Construction started with drawings that were about 75 percent complete, said Mark Norman, project manager, Berwick Electric. That meant there was potential for changes. In fact, there were 72 change orders and 320 requests for information (RFIs) by the time the project was completed.
Early on, Berwick Electric addressed electrical service needs for the project after initial construction.
“We had to upgrade the electrical service after the underground had been installed to the [main distribution panel],” Norman said.
Berwick Electric installed a 3,000 ampere, 277/480-volt electrical service to meet project needs. In addition, the company built in a total of nine electrical rooms.
The building features a three-story-high open atrium, which required builders to include a means for smoke evacuation in case of a fire. Contractors installed four large exhaust fans and associated air intake to allow the system to evacuate smoke if there is a fire or other event that triggers its operation. Berwick Electric also installed an emergency generator for the smoke evacuation system, which can open certain exterior doors for a fresh-air intake path.
To serve veterans’ healthcare needs, the facility includes a radiology suite with three X-ray rooms as well as MRI, CT and mammography equipment, all powered by the service installed by Berwick Electric.
The contractor also installed the site lighting and the entire facility’s lighting control system. This service included a Wattstopper sensor-based lighting system—for which the lighting control drawings consisted of 62 blueprint sheets—provided by lighting distribution company MH Controls and Wattstopper.
Berwick Electric also installed the six kiosk units where visitors could check in when they arrive for an appointment, and then be directed to the appropriate department for their treatment or therapy. The company provided the low-voltage cable and power connection for the kiosks.
Mother Nature also offered a few challenges, most notably some untimely rains, but the crews worked around the difficult weather, Norman said.
Another challenge was keeping all subcontractors properly working around the tight schedule to ensure the project stayed on time. A few delays meant the EC wasn’t able to construct the electrical room walls until mid-January, and the pressure was on to meet the mid-February mechanical commissioning start date. Berwick Electric worked long hours, applying the electricians and equipment needed to keep everyone on schedule. Norman said that “kept the flow going.”
Deploying the right tools also helped keep the project on schedule.
“We managed to dedicate the resources to meet the commissioning scheduled needs,” Norman said.
One resource that helped accomplish this was the Trimble Total Station. This piece of equipment served as an electronic layout tool that is accurate to within 1/16-inch.
“[Using Total Station], we actually drove the layout of the walls for the general contractor based on our rough-in,” Norman said.
Berwick Electric subcontracted some of the low-voltage work to BW Systems, a Colorado Springs-based systems integrator that focuses on access control, surveillance, fire alarm and mass notifications. The company serves a market that includes Department of Defense buildings as well as commercial, educational and medical facilities. (For more on BW Systems, see “Setting Itself Apart.")
The finished Colorado Springs VA Clinic is iconic. Perched on a hill, it offers an open-vista, glass-surrounded atrium that overlooks Pikes Peak rising in the distance. The building features a relaxing design by HWA intended to put patients at ease. It resembles a ski resort more than a healthcare clinic.
Visitors arrive through an atrium and entryway with high ceilings and a 7-foot wall of glass that surrounds a fireplace.
“[One source of pride is] the quality and setting of the facility that our great veterans have to go to in order to address some of their VA service needs,” Norman said.
Berwick Electric started with temporary power in the fall of 2012, major construction in late winter and early spring, and the building was turned over in the spring of 2014.
Roe said he was pleased with the project.
“Berwick performed an outstanding job proving their experience and expertise,” he said. “Berwick’s field-based craftsman[ship] proved vital in working through difficult challenges we faced on-site. Berwick’s contributions to the success of this project for the local VA community was truly irreplaceable.”
The project was completed on time and within budget, thanks in part to the proper staffing of electricians on the job. At peak, Berwick Electric had approximately 45 electricians on-site.
“We had a few challenges with sufficient manpower for a couple of trades but for the most part the local Colorado Springs subcontractor market did an outstanding job,” Roe said. “There was a mutual feeling with craftsman on site that this building was for our veterans and was badly needed in the area.”
Since the clinic went live, Berwick Electric continues to serve as the EC trusted by the building owner to do maintenance when the needs arise.