First in nation to take advantage of C.H.I.P.I.N. for Vets Act saves taxpayers $30 million
August 5, 2020, Omaha, NE – McCarthy Building Companies has completed construction of the Omaha VA Ambulatory Care Center, a 157,000-square-foot, three-story, outpatient facility for veterans. With nearly 40,000 veterans being treated in Omaha annually, the new facility includes seven primary-care units, an outpatient surgery suite and a specialty medicine unit allowing 400 additional outpatients to visit the clinic each day, as well as a dedicated women’s health clinic area. The new facility will open to patients in August 2020.
Located at 4101 Woolworth Ave., on the VA Medical Center campus, the new facility links to the existing 12-story hospital via a connecting corridor. The existing hospital, which opened in 1950, continues to be used for inpatient hospital stays as well as administrative offices and medical services.
The new $86-million facility was a trailblazing project for the Veterans Administration as the first in the nation to take advantage of the C.H.I.P.I.N. for Vets Act. This federal law passed by Congress in 2016 allows the VA to accept private donations to complete construction projects and requires the builder to use innovative delivery techniques that fall outside federally prescribed specifications and methods. The project will save taxpayers roughly $30 million through a public-private partnership (P3) model that uses donations from the non-profit Veterans Ambulatory Center Development Corporation (VACDC).
McCarthy’s approach included innovative construction delivery methods that enabled this complex, one-of-a-kind project to meet its ambitious budget and schedule expectations, as well as ensure the project would be viewed as a success by the Veterans Administration, veterans and their families, and the surrounding Nebraska region.
Initiatives such as subsurface utility mapping, virtual design and construction and other advanced technology, as well as using a design assist subcontracting approach instead of a hard-bid approach, enabled the complex project to not only meet its budget, but also to be completed more than four months ahead of schedule.
“Breaking from the traditional design-bid-build delivery format allowed for creative solutions, more efficiency and functionality, a shorter timeline and ultimately, greater value for the VA,” said Ryan Sawall, vice president, McCarthy Building Companies, based in the company’s Omaha office. “We were able to take advantage of the technical and economic innovations commonly used in private sector projects, including performance specifications, modern quality assurance and quality construction processes and strategic partnerships.”
Project challenges included a tight timeline, maintaining ongoing communications with multiple partners and stakeholders, upholding VA construction standards, building on challenging topography and avoiding interruption of services to adjacent to the fully operational hospital. The many unusual and one-of-a-kind design elements also required McCarthy’s team to build with the utmost of precision and craftsmanship.
Advanced Virtual Design & Construction (VDC) technology applications throughout the design and construction process facilitated collaboration and enabled the team to maximize budget and schedule efficiencies. Building Information Modeling (BIM) was used to continuously review and compare design updates and adjust the cost model accordingly. Conceptual cost modeling aligned the project’s budget and program early in the design. Laser scanning confirmed as-built conditions with 3D coordination to not only increase layout precision, but also ensure project controls for scopes such as self-perform concrete.
Designed by Leo A. Daly, facility’s design promotes patient-centered environments throughout to focus on the relationship between the physical environment and the patients’ overall experience. The design creates a healing environment that integrates spaces of escape and refuge, positive distractions, access to views and nature and abundance of natural daylight.
Most prominent is the north façade, representing freedom and sacrifice, featuring a 12,000-sq.-ft. folded glass curtain wall (over 50-ft. high and 235-ft. at its widest) designed to resemble an American flag rippling in the wind. Around the corner, the western façade, representing honor, is lined with 9,000-sq.-ft. of differently hued glass panes that evoke ribbon bars awarded to service members.
Building the folded glass curtainwall that changes planes multiple times was particularly challenging. In addition to being a one-of-a-kind build, the design, fabrication and construction also were custom processes, requiring special engineering to meet structural, blast and energy code requirements. By recognizing the unique challenges of the curtainwall early on, McCarthy was able to establish and capture the design requirements and manage expectations.
McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. is the oldest privately held national construction company in the country – with more than 150 years spent collaborating with partners to solve complex building challenges on behalf of its clients. With an unrelenting focus on safety and a comprehensive quality program that span all phases of every project, McCarthy utilizes industry-leading design phase and construction techniques combined with value-add technology to maximize outcomes. Repeatedly honored as a Best Place to Work and Healthiest Employer, McCarthy is ranked the 9th largest domestic builder (Engineering News-Record, May 2020). With approximately 5,000 salaried employees and craft professionals, the firm has offices in St. Louis, Atlanta; Collinsville, Ill.; Kansas City, Kan.; Omaha, Neb.; Phoenix; Las Vegas; Denver; Dallas, Houston; and San Diego, Newport Beach, San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento, Calif. McCarthy is 100 percent employee owned. More information about the company is available online at www.mccarthy.com or by following the company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.