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Solomon Awards 2018 – First Baptist Church Covington (Building Contractor)

The First Baptist Church Covington (FBCC) project is an addition to an existing vibrant church in Covington, Louisiana. The project is comprised of three buildings totaling 180,133 square feet, with tie-ins to the existing worship center.

The church campus continued to hold services and classes during construction. DonahueFavret Contractors was selected through a qualifications and interview process in Spring 2014. The day after selection, DonahueFavret provided FBCC with the full strength of our pre-construction department and began high-level budgeting and project scheduling services. We then broke down our efforts between logistics, phasing, material selection, project constructability, and systems suggestions. With an out-of-state architect and DonahueFavret the major local team partner to FBCC, we spearheaded the entire preconstruction and design effort by hosting scheduled meetings and following a specific agenda.

We held all consultants to a strict design schedule while constantly providing cost and schedule feedback and solutions throughout this phase. DonahueFavret’s efforts saved FBCC over $3 million that was used as an owner contingency and 100% savings to FBCC, which ultimately allowed the Owner to add the Administration Building to the project, along with adding many site amenities that were originally thought to be unattainable.

Our preconstruction planning fully allowed this result by selecting the right subcontractors for this huge undertaking and holding them accountable each day every step of the way. A groundbreaking ceremony was held January 31, 2016, and DonahueFavret began the significant underground utilities and sitework required while building plans progressed, rather than waiting for construction documents to be completed.

Before mobilization, a team-building meeting with the Owners, subcontractors, design team, and consultants was held to set project guidelines, define communication parameters, and define standards of quality.

The jobsite trailer included big screen monitors for digital blueprints to allow immediate access to the latest changes to contract documents, and our field staff carried iPads.

DonahueFavret utilized GPS-activated layout machines to define and assist subcontractors with their work. Pre-installation meetings were held for many scopes of work. The end user, designers, consultants, and all affected trades would collaborate to ensure complete coordination prior to work commencing.

The first building constructed was the Education Building, which was completed and delivered in 12 months. The building is a 42,583 SF steel-framed, pile-supported structure featuring an expansive curtain wall, stone and brick exterior, and boasts two signatory white structural beams autographed by hundreds of worshippers along with scripture and inspirational notes. It features 32 classrooms, three kids worship areas, a kitchen, and a padded play area. The second building constructed was the 116,244 square foot Worship Center, which features an expansive curtain wall, stucco and stone on the exterior.

A significant milestone was reached when two 96,000-pound, 176-foot-long steel trusses were lifted into place. This massive space features a floor-to-deck height of 50 feet and 2,383 stadium-tiered seats; state-of-the-art audio, video and lighting systems; full stage with movable choir loft; choir room; two green rooms; sound room; and indoor baptistry. This space presented extensive challenges in both conventional construction and scheduling.

Due to the extreme elevation of the Worship Center and the tiered seating arrangement, a massive scaffolding “dancefloor” was utilized for four months to install the multitude of overhead systems. Once removed, all access to the overhead space was eliminated.

Seating for the Worship Center was selected by the owner and manufactured in Mexico. Our Project Manager and owner’s rep conducted a quality/schedule control visit, touring the factory during the actual fabrication of the seats for our jobsite. One month later, the seats arrived – over 1200 boxes! Three different sized chairs in multiple colors are spread throughout the Worship Center. Each chair had to be installed in the proper spot, much like completing a jigsaw puzzle.

A central Commons area links the original building, the Education Building and the Worship Center. The Commons includes a PJ’s Coffee, bookstore, and ministries area, as well as many areas to sit and relax. These expansive spaces are brought together with extensive hardscape and landscaping, with a beautiful outdoor baptismal and courtyards between buildings offering tranquil landscaping with water features and seating for meditation.

The third building constructed was a 21,306 SF Administration Building, with offices and meeting spaces. The Administration Building was an Alternate in the original bid. Once the Education Building was finished and the Owners were confident our project would be delivered under the original budget with the contingency virtually untouched, they greenlighted the Administration Building. Because the Administration Building was a late addition, we had to cut a sizable hole in the newly constructed Worship Center where the two buildings would adjoin.

The A/C for the Administration Building is on the second floor of the Worship Center. This area had to stay watertight while work was being performed. The building was completed just five months after substantial completion of the Worship Center, despite being released so late in the project. The construction of multiple buildings into one single space proved to be most challenging.

Multiple coordination meetings were held early on to ensure that we had the proper expansion materials to let the buildings move and flex as designed.

The design presented not only a structural challenge but a waterproofing one as well. DonahueFavret Contractors and its subcontractors worked closely with the design team to understand the importance of the location of every caulk joint and piece of flashing. All water tests passed with flying colors and building transitions are virtually unnoticeable. Perhaps the most monumental challenge was keeping the existing church and education building fully functional while completing the three phases of construction.

As systems and spaces were connected and turned over, the old spaces were cycled out of use, with virtually no interruption to worship and education services. Throughout construction, FBCC tweaked the scope of the work so the end product would be what they had envisioned for the project. In total, 133 change proposals were accepted, totaling over $4.5 million dollars! Despite all these changes and additions, DonahueFavret Contractors completed the project on schedule and within the Owners’ total budget.

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