Gold Coast Project of the year

Written on the 11 August 2009

A $20 million aged care facility at Labrador has taken out the Gold Coast Project of the Year at the 2009 Master Builder Awards for commercial development.

Walton Construction’s Labrador Gardens Aged Care Facility entered the awards in the Health Facility over $15 million category. The project is a benchmark development for Blue Care and stands as a successful reference for other Aged Care facilities.

The modern, 128-bed project is presented architecturally in a Queenslander residential vernacular. Large projecting eave lines, exposed framing, awnings, corrugated sheeting and shading screens are major features of the building to allow it to sit comfortably within the surrounding suburban environment.

All sustainable opportunities were explored in the design. This includes rainwater harvesting tanks and plant (situated in the basement) that provide recycled water used as flushing water to all toilets throughout the building and irrigation water to the garden beds.

The primary goal of the landscape design was to create a friendlier and greener pedestrian environment. This was achieved by increasing the open space around the facility and providing extensive ‘green’ areas within and around the perimeter of the facility that are self sustaining.

A 75-vehicle basement car park was also built. The 128 residents have access to a hairdressing salon, library, private dinning room, and quiet sitting/reading room. The new facility also houses nursing and administrative staff for both the new and existing facility.

The project incorporates modern design features of light and airy open spaces but at the same time appeals to elderly residents with the comforts of home and soft furnishings and colours that they are used to.

Large sliding glass doors provide access to upper level terraces and balconies which flow seamlessly off living areas doubling the footprint of accessible activity areas. The large area of glazing to these living areas and the terrace balustrade provide a transparency and lightness to the building and allows interaction across both levels.

The use of skylights and internal green voids open to the elements allow natural light to fill the facility while residents can view greenery from dinning and sitting areas. The internal courtyard is easily accessed from all areas of the facility and allows residents and visitors to comfortably access the outdoors within the safety of the facility. The multi-purpose room in the centre of the courtyard can be used for functions or for families to sit when visiting residents.

Construction manager Frank Didovich, says the project presented an array of challenges of which Walton worked to overcome.

Did the site location and characteristics present unusual restrictions and challenges?
The site presented a number of challenges. The location of the site was within close proximity to neighbours on one side and the existing facility on the two other sides. The roadside had overhead power lines. This presented challenges in terms of site access and movement. To overcome this challenge Walton Construction commissioned its first tower crane to allow for the efficient movement of materials on site.

Excavation of the basement car park and lift pits was below the high water table. As a result dewatering processes had to be employed to complete the excavation. Walton also worked with key consultants to re-engineered the foundation system from board piers to incorporate high level foundations. The re-engineering of the foundation system resulted in a $1.1 million cost saving for the client.

During excavation, liquefied marine mud was found along the western boundary of the site and required removal. The solution was to segregate the liquefied marine mud by installing sheet piles to contain the mud. As liquefied marine mud has a high acid sulphate content, Walton trucked in 60 tonnes of lime to solidify the mud. The mud was then removed and trucked away to a special disposal facility.

This unexpected find impacted the construction program while rectification works were undertaken and was also represented an additional expense. Disruption to the construction program was made up over the end of the project and Walton was able to identify cost savings in other areas to compensate for the unexpected cost.

Was the project delivered on time? If not, what were the delays?
The project was delivered on time to the satisfaction of the client.

What was the contract price?

The contract price was a lump sum price of $20,514,694.00

Was the project delivered on budget? If not, what affected the cost?
The project was delivered under budget however a number of points should be noted. The re-engineering of the foundation system, as mentioned above, represented a saving of approximately $1.1 million. The deletion of the independent units during construction due to lack of sales also represented a cost saving to the client. These cost savings were able to offset the in-ground latent conditions that required the removal of liquefied marine mud, removal of asbestos found in ground, and the inclusion of weep holes in the car park to compensate for the higher than anticipated water table.

The cost saving also allowed for an upgrade to the security system and floor coverings and the inclusion of a temporary car park. Taking into consideration all of the above changes the project was delivered for $20 million, $500,000 under budget.
Were there any aspects of the project that required innovative building solutions?
The decision to remove the independent units during construction due to lack of sales, meant alterations to the structure were required. Precast panels for the list shaft and stairwells were already cast on site prior to the design change. Walton needed to cut down these pre-cast panels to limit the cost to the client.

The deletion of the additional storey mid-construction also required plant platforms to be deleted or re-designed to become smaller in size. The discovery of liquefied marine mud required innovative thinking and saw Walton overcome the problem by introducing sheet piling to segregate the mud, treat the mud with lime and remove it from site.

The ceiling space design failed to combat and contain smoke in the case of a fire. The building was designed to confine fire into six compartments but this wasn’t the case in the ceiling space. As the plaster had already been hung, Walton worked with the fire engineers to come up with an alternative solution. As a result, smoke curtains were installed to combat and contain fire and smoke in the roof space. Smoke curtains were the best option that could be easily installed given that the roof was installed and plaster hung.

Walton Construction uses enhanced planning, construction control and accountability procedures to deliver quality projects to a wide variety of industry sectors.

The company recently completed a number of impressive projects including the Wildlife Warriors Hospital at Australia Zoo; Labrador Gardens Aged Care Facility; the Northshore Riverside Cafe; Vantage Commercial Tower; and Virgin Blue Australia’s Brisbane domestic terminal, all of which have been nominated for Master Builders Awards in the respective categories.

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