Moving Arizona Forward: Cannon & Wendt, Sturgeon Electric lead electrical installation at Mayo Clinic

Vertical expansion and flexibility are critical to the Mayo Clinic west building’s future operation. Locating electrical distribution on an upper floor
will allow it be closer to the building’s future center point.

Photo courtesy of Cannon & Wendt
Published On
Jun 15, 2022

To meet the demand of a growing community and deliver state-of-the-art diagnostics and treatment, the Mayo Clinic is doubling the size of its Phoenix area campus with a $648 million expansion. The multifaceted renovation and construction has a five-year scope and consists of multiple contractors dedicated to concurrent projects. Two local electrical contractors in Phoenix—Cannon & Wendt Electric Co. Inc. and Sturgeon Electric Co. Inc.—are leading the electrical installations for two separate projects at the site.

Collectively known as the Arizona Forward Project, the Mayo Clinic expansion will add 1.4 million square feet to the facility’s existing 1.7 million. The projects include a new six-story patient tower, a three-story addition to the existing four-floor Mayo Clinic building, a new three-story building for an expanded emergency department and other services, an expanded patient and infrastructure space, and an additional parking area to accommodate the increased vehicle load.

Mayo west expansion

Cannon & Wendt has been providing all electrical and fire alarm service for make-ready, expansion and renovations to an existing and adjoining building on the west side of the hospital. This includes a new 580,000-square-foot tower that stands six stories above ground and one level below grade. The basement level connects to the existing hospital structure through a concrete tunnel. The west expansion project also includes new emergency department space, clinical functions, imaging, patient rooms and outpatient services.

The project has several phases, said Brad Claussen, project executive for DPR Construction, Redwood City, Calif., which also has a Phoenix location. The first major milestone will open the emergency department and patient services, while following phases will open building connections, then some tenant improvements will occur within the adjacent hospital space.

For projects on both sides of the clinic, it has been all about coordination. Mayo Clinic recognized the need for a collaborative approach to the project and brought on the design and construction team at the beginning of the schematic-design phase. DPR Construction, in turn, selected Cannon & Wendt before any major design decisions had been made.

The project included connecting and integrating into an existing electrical distribution system while minimizing the impact on existing facility operations.

Simple ideas such as the strategic location of gear—to accommodate future overhead expansion—to more complex planning for future vertical expansion were part of the planning. Because the tower is designed for future vertical expansion, the primary electrical distribution is located on the upper level to allow flexibility in the future.

During the planning stages, “We had to consider not only how the system was designed but how it will be maintained and operated,” Claussen said. “So the team prioritized the location of electrical rooms throughout the building and placed them in a way that benefits expansion.”

The design team also considered how important flexibility is in the healthcare environment and laid out the building in a way that finds harmony between spaces such as electrical and clinical rooms.

Cannon & Wendt used colored conduit to identify the different systems.

Photo courtesy of Cannon & Wendt

These electrical accommodations meant construction phasing required the sixth floor to lag significantly behind progress on the lower floors, said Jared Mason, vice president at New York-based engineering firm WSP. And the sixth-floor power distribution required unique power solutions for construction and temporary environmental air.

First, a small (400A, 480V) power source was pulled from the existing hospital to power a tower crane, tunnel boring machine and minimal construction power. Then, Cannon & Wendt provided the permanent 12.47-kilovolt power feed that was routed and terminated on a temporary transformer and 1,600A, 480V three-phase panel. This temporary panel was sized to serve two tower cranes, all the necessary construction power throughout the project and supply fans for several project air handler units, Mason said.

Cannon & Wendt was selected as an integrated project delivery partner for this large expansion in late 2018 and has been actively involved in designing, budgeting, planning and construction since early 2019, said Andrew Beaufeaux, project manager for the contractor.

When the project broke ground in 2019, Cannon & Wendt launched the “make-ready” phases, which consisted of site work, relocating a helipad and construction of a temporary corridor to provide patient and ambulance entrances until the hospital expansion was completed.

Another unusual job for the team was constructing a basement-level tunnel using existing utilities, Beaufeaux said. The 100-yard concrete tunnel winds to avoid existing structures and utilities. The tunnel connects the basement levels of the existing hospital and the expansion.

This “foundations and underground” phase kicked off in 2020 and launched a large scope of prefabrication work.

“We’ve utilized prefabrication for the underground racks, branch panelboards with wire to a box above,” Beaufeaux said.

Brackets with preinstalled boxes and connectors, conduit rack assemblies, transformer racks and trim in a box are all being prefabbed. They used colored conduit to identify the different systems: standard silver for normal power, orange for critical, green for equipment, yellow for life safety, blue for UPS and red for fire alarms.

Altogether, Cannon & Wendt brought 12,470V power from the existing central utility plant, four new 12,470V fault-interrupter switches, four new main-tie-main substations, 10 new automatic transfer switches and multiple switchboards, panelboards and transformers.

The EC also provided renovations to the existing fire command center, new stair pressurization, firefighter phones, emergency responder radio system and provisions for a firefighter elevator when the building expands three floors higher. Phase One of the project is currently scheduled to be complete in late 2022, while future phases are set to extend out to 2024.

By completion, Cannon & Wendt also will have built 27 new electric rooms, four new medium-voltage vacuum switches, four new main-tie-main substations, 10 automatic transfer switches, 33 switchboards, 47 transformers, 142 panels and 98 different LED lighting fixture types.

The electrical challenges “were managed through collaboration, collaboration, collaboration,” Claussen said.

Because of an on-site, shared space, key decision-makers are within earshot through the entire project.

“You can design the perfect building on paper, but there will always be challenges during construction,” he said. “Challenges are managed by finding solutions that work for the entire team and implementing them collaboratively, so every stakeholder is informed of the process.”

Mayo east expansion

Sturgeon Electric led the electrical installation on the east-side clinic project for general contractor McCarthy Building Cos. Inc., St. Louis. Sturgeon Electric serves the western United States with offices in Denver and Phoenix.

The east-side project broke into two phases, said Toby Howard, Sturgeon Electric’s vice president of Arizona commercial and industrial. The first phase, completed in September 2021, consisted of expanding to the existing hospital and included three new operating rooms, 20 new pre- or post-op rooms, a staff lounge and two loading docks.

The second phase, scheduled for completion in March 2022, added three stories to an existing four-story clinic space. Both phases tied into the existing utilities, which also posed unique challenges for an active healthcare facility. Patients rely on lifesaving equipment powered by the electric service.

“When you have lives at stake, you never want to have an unplanned outage, and you never want to have medical equipment going down because of loss of power,” Howard said.

Sturgeon Electric installed temporary work lighting on the already-erected tower crane.

Photo courtesy of Sturgeon Electric

Because the company was tying into existing utilities, there were dozens of shutdowns. Each one required an extensive amount of coordination and planning.

Sturgeon Electric and other members of its team coordinated with the hospital to plan for safe and efficient power outages. Once the power was switched off, crews had a time crunch to get it up and running again. These shutdowns, depending on scope, could last about 12 hours, but they varied widely, Howard said.

Lighting also was complex due to different fixtures. Sturgeon Electric leveraged a twisted ultra-thin steel cable to hang many fixtures. To reduce the amount of material taken up and down the elevator or brought on-site, the contractor implemented a process to uncrate fixtures and other equipment outside. Then they built a rolling scaffold modified with carpet to bring each piece to the necessary floor.

Sturgeon electricians also had to climb to install temporary lighting fixtures onto an already erected tower crane. Because of staggered lead times, the crane went up before the lighting was installed, Howard said, “so we had to install light fixtures on the crane, up 10, 11 or 12 stories.”

There were a lot of safety measures planned into that, he added. Once installed, those lights also provided temporary illumination for workers throughout the project.

All work for the second phase was accomplished through the design/build model. From the beginning, Sturgeon Electric and the other contractors worked with a fully modeled 3D virtual construction.

The ‘big room’

Its collaborative nature served the east-side project well, Howard said.

“We were all together in a single room throughout the design and subsequent planning for the length of the project.”

This took place in an on-site space known as the “big room.” That meant there was no waiting to talk to anybody, “which creates some challenges of its own. It’s different than what people are used to, but it was very collaborative with open communication internally with all our teams,” Howard said.

As in all recent projects, COVID-19 created unexpected problems. Workers were always fully masked on the job, including when temperatures soared well above 100°F. Heat and humidity often fogged up safety glasses, which posed a safety hazard. The solution was anti-fogging sprays and getting electricians out for fresh air.

The need for social distancing meant that tasks requiring two people in the past now had to be done with one. The crews had constructed an exterior elevator to bring workers to the higher floors, but social distancing mandated only four workers could be in the elevator at a time.

“We had to get 60 people up there—only four at a time—and other trades needed to get up there as well,” he said.

This obstacle was resolved by staggering schedules and lunch times.

As construction continued, members of the public waiting for COVID-19 tests queued up nearby. Construction crews were just as vulnerable to infection. Anyone exposed to the virus had to quarantine two weeks.

“We had to battle a lot of attendance challenges because we don’t want people coming in if they have been exposed and have potential of spreading it,” Howard said.

Despite the issues, work remained on time and budget.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our team that was out there. No matter what challenges, they were there working, day in and day out,” Howard said.

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