fbpx Skip to main content

Project Stories

Build Out of Burdeen’s Jewelry

By News, Project Stories

We’re not building a watch (store)! Oh wait, yes we are!

Summit Design + Build’s Senior Superintendent, Tony Denofrio, shares his first-hand account of what it takes to successfully complete the build-out of a luxury retail store on Michigan Avenue.

Over the years, we have all heard various phrases that seem to convey a similar meaning.  In the construction industry, time is money, so we often hear from above “It doesn’t need to play music!”, or “You’re not building a watch!”, and many others that are not appropriate for this conversation. The point of all this is that an emphasis is placed on production over details, since the former lends itself to faster completion (and better profit margins) whereas the latter implies more manhours than typically allocated in the contract proposal.

In late Fall of 2020, I was tasked with a luxury retail project on Michigan Ave for a repeat client of Summit’s: Burdeen’s Jewelry.  I had been involved with some luxury retail build-outs in the past, but this was my first foray into the world of jewelry stores.  I had a fair bit of knowledge as to what challenges I could be presented with, most notably the conversion to metric from standard, finishes from oversees made prior to the first screw being turned onsite, and the inevitable, uncontrollable schedule delays inherent to our industry.  Now the challenge was to get everyone on the project team to buy into the mantra, “We ARE building a watch (store)”!

Details Considered During Construction

The value of full layout and conflict resolution

Controls and benchmarks

Without having established X & Y Axis control lines, and a Z Axis for elevation above finished floor, there is really no possible way to ensure consistency in maintaining any type of parallel or perpendicular layouts, or maintain clear heights or any other accurate vertical dimensioning. This really came into play here with the millwork that is fabricated offsite and without any field measure. The finish package is designed around the space, and it’s up to the field team on the ground to maintain the critical hold dimensions which will allow the finishes to be installed properly with no gaps or encroachments. These control lines are crucial for all trades to base their work from, as these are the standard to which the conceptual design and execution is based. Any deviations from the control lines will most likely rear their ugly heads when it’s too late (read: increasingly expensive to correct).

Partition layout

Once the control lines and benchmarks are established, a full partition layout is needed to determine if the rough space was accurately measured, and to highlight any discrepancies in the wall layout. Surprisingly, we did not have many issues related to this step in the process, and actually “found” some space that was concealed by a furring wall that was not essential in any way. Once the layout was completed, and the minor issues resolved, the next phase, what I feel is the most critical phase, is the layout of the ceiling, commonly referred to as the Reflected Ceiling Plan (RCP).

Full RCP layout

What do most people do when they walk into a room? They look up. Not sure why, & not sure that I care why, but they do. This is why the layout of the lighting and other ceiling components is critical to almost any design. Nothing looks like more of a miss than seeing a light just slightly off-center in a corridor, or over a table. Those execution fails quicky highlight to people in-the-know that the effort just wasn’t there during the layout and rough-in phase of the project. It’s somewhat unfortunate to say that, especially when you consider that it’s just “assumed” the lights magically fell in line, and dead center to multiple elements across the space. Not many people notice the successes, but everyone comments on the failures. To that point, each light fixture in a boutique such as this has a purpose. A dedicated spot over a glass vitrine. A directional trim recessed fixture highlighting a stone and millwork fireplace. A bespoke ceramic chandelier, suspended by multiple aircraft cables which also has an off-center incoming power feed that when assembled, is intended to fall centered over a massive display table (not coincidentally centered on the fireplace, which is centered between multiple rows of recessed lights, which are equally spaced between linear slot HVAC diffusers…).

So, you get the point. Everything has a center. Once the lighting, which takes ultimate precedence over everything, is laid out, then comes the ancillary RCP layout. Sprinkler heads, which are bound to specific spacing from each other and obstructions to maintain code compliance. Speakers, which are meant to be placed at optimal location for audio quality, yet integrate with the layout to not look forced. Then the fire alarm devices, which also need to be placed smartly and also in compliance. Last but not least, a sea of cameras. This is really the only element on the ceiling where we can exercise function over style, and we are given some leeway in regards to final placement without creating any blind spots. The final factor one needs to consider above and beyond all that I’ve listed here, is the physical space needed ABOVE the ceiling to allow all of this layout to work. It’s easy to draw a 3 ½” diameter circle on the plan for the recessed light trim, but when the housing for that light is the size of a boot box, the coordination that happens above the ceiling is just as important as what happens below it.

Complexities of unusual components integrated into the typical sequence of work

The Vault

Not too often do you need to shoehorn a 30,000lb structure into an 11’x7’ area. Thankfully this does NOT happen on all projects.  When it comes to a vault, I will just say this based on lessons-learned: Communicate to the nth degree all constraints, obstructions, limitations, logistical challenges, and any other potential issue you can imagine to the vendor and installers well in advance to their arrival. Add a factor of 2 to every number the vendor tells you. 20’x20’ laydown area?  Make it the entire site.  1 day delivery?  Easily double that.  We are sending 2 installers.  They need 4.  It’s going to take 4 days.  Make it a month.  OK, let’s move on.

Venetian Plaster (where does it fall in the sequence of tasks?)

When building our overall schedule, I struggled with the Venetian Plaster and where to insert them into the sequence. 2/3rd of the store is plaster walls and ceilings, so it’s not a small scope of work. It’s also highly susceptible to damage, and very finicky to repair. Does it go in before millwork, and run the risk of damage at the corners and ceilings? Does it go in after millwork, but overly complicate the site by cutting off large areas due to scaffolding and the abundance of thin plastic protection covering every non-plastered surface? During the Pre-Installation Meeting with the plastering subcontractor, I asked him what he felt. Hindsight being what it is, I can see now that his response was solely based on making his life much easier and faster, without taking into consideration the time and money it will cost us to have them back making repairs and multiple mobilization costs. If I could turn back the clock (or watch), I would have done the following in this order once drywall taping and sanding was completed: 1) Plaster primer coat. 2) plaster base coat. 3) plaster finish coat only in critical areas that cannot be accessed after millwork, but are visible. 4) millwork install. 5) plaster finish coat and final waxing. This sequence would have eliminated about 20 phone calls, 20 pre-punch observations, 20 emails, and 20 pointed fingers all on the same topic.

Complexities of a facade

Façade: Noun. The face of a building; the principal front that looks onto the street.

The one thing that everyone sees from all angles, near or far, in dark and in the light. Once revealed from behind the construction barricade that segregated the construction activities from public view for weeks on end, it is subject to the most intense scrutiny possible. And rightly so. It’s the Name. It’s the Brand. It’s the Façade.

Facades are always difficult for the following reasons. There are multiple different surfaces; stone, glass, metal panel, glazing assemblies. All of which are set on their own vertical plane. All of them are installed by separate contractors. All of them have to contend with existing conditions of the surrounding building. The substrate needs to be set back to allow proper install allowances; stone clips for the limestone and granite. T-bars and angles for the back painted glass. Fire department connection face plates which are established in the infancy of the project before a wall is even framed. Door swings, aluminum extrusions and posts with shim space needed. Interior finished floor elevations which transition to a sloped vestibule, complete with an inlaid walk off mat on one side and a custom marble tile mosaic on the other, which both meet an existing sidewalk that is pitched in 2 different directions and doesn’t have the slightest hint of being straight in any sense of the word. The façade is literally the MacGyver of the project. Take every different construction material available, plan it out, and put it all together to work as a cohesive assembly. And make it look nice, because everyone with eyes and an opinion will be looking at it for years to come.

What I’ve recounted here may sound commonplace to some, foreign to others, and completely horrible to the rest. “Why on earth would anyone want this job?”, they surely ask themselves. To all those who fall in that camp, I can say that even with all the challenges faced, both expected and unexpected, at the end of the project they all morph into one thing; experience. I don’t recount all the horrible details of how much I was disappointed that X, Y, or Z happened at an inopportune time, or the heated debates often had between two ‘A’ personality types. When it’s all said and done, and the keys are handed over, there is a sense of accomplishment that vastly overshadows most of all other feelings. The struggles faced throughout the course of construction only add to the memories & relationships that will remain with me no matter how many revolutions the hands make over the face of the watch.

The Rise of a Historic St. Petersburg Building

By Florida, Project Stories

The Rise of a Historic St. Petersburg Building

Why Adaptive Reuse?

Adaptive reuse construction is a great way to give new life to historic structures while also providing a sustainable and efficient construction option for building owners and developers. Summit Design + Build’s adaptive reuse project at 2151 Central Ave in St. Petersburg, FL is a great example of how to give new purpose to a nearly 100-year-old, vacant building.

2151 Central Ave is located in a core commercial corridor, just minutes from downtown St. Petersburg, FL. Built in 1926, it was the new owner’s vision to transform the former multifamily building into a mixed-use development. Plans for the new development included a modern renovation with first floor space for perspective retail and/or restaurant tenants and second floor office space with private offices, conference rooms, a break room, bathrooms and a private deck. The second-floor office would be the new home for the owner of the building, The Anderson Group.

The renovation of 2151 Central Avenue in dowtown St. Petersburg Florida is a great example of how to successfully complete a an adaptive reuse construction project.

Preserving History

It was important to The Anderson Group to maintain the character of the building, including its architectural characteristics which were popular in the 1920’s. The architect for the adaptive reuse project, Design Styles Architecture, helped to create a plan that would preserve those characteristics while also incorporating contemporary elements to bring the building into the 21st century. The new modern design would include skylights, which would bring natural light into the building, a new façade, all new windows and more.

Overcoming Adaptive Reuse Challenges

While working on the project, the Summit team had to overcome multiple challenges that often arise with an adaptive reuse project. Working with the existing shell structure and core of the building, many structural elements had to be re-built and reinforced to ensure the structural integrity of the building. The Summit team also installed a new elevator which required additional structural elements on the back of the building, allowing the building to maintain its ADA requirements. New MEP and life systems were also installed, corresponding with the latest building codes for commercial new construction in the area. With any adaptive reuse project, unique challenges are always expected and finding creative solutions is an exciting and rewarding element of these projects.

The adaptive reuse of 2151 Central Ave was completed in Summer 2020. Selecting the adaptive reuse construction method, as opposed to demolishing and re-building from the ground up, allowed the owner to save valuable time.

If you are considering an adaptive reuse project in the South Florida area, reach out to Summit Design + Build’s Florida team of adaptive reuse construction experts. We can help guide you through the adaptive reuse construction process from start to finish.

2151 Central Avenue Before and After Imagery

Apartment Building Vertical Expansion Completed

By News, Project Stories

Summit Completes Vertical Expansion of Apartment Building

General contractor, Summit Design + Build, has completed construction at The Clark, located at 1201 N. Clark in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood. The former four-story office and retail building underwent a major renovation and was converted into luxury apartments. The building also received a vertical addition which added five more stories of luxury apartments including a ninth-floor penthouse and community deck.

Read more at REBusiness Online

Summit Southeast Office Completes Retail Center Remodel

By Florida, Project Stories

Shopping Center General Contracting and Construction Remodel

As the popularity of online shopping continues to grow, it is important to consider shopping center renovation and remodel construction upgrades to stay competitive with the market. Retail shopping centers often consist of a group of retail stores that are usually configured as a strip center, plaza or a closed/open-air mall. Upgrading and renovating a retail shopping center can make a world of difference in capturing the interest of potential shoppers. A shopping center construction project could consist of simple upgrades, renovations, demolitions and even entirely new builds or additions.

The renovation of Palms Plaza retail complex in Tampa, FL is a great example of how to successfully complete a shopping center construction project.

Palms Plaza is a 32,500 sf shopping center at the nexus of South Tampa, located along the prominent Dale Mabry Highway. The retail shopping center is situated on Tampa’s most notable retail corridor and it is adjacent to one of the highest volume Publix stores on Florida’s west coast. Originally built in 1982, Palms Plaza shopping center was purchased in 2018 by developer Clover Investment Properties. Clover Investment Properties engaged Summit Design + Build to complete a major façade remodel to refresh the property. The exterior façade renovation of the one-story retail center included new dumpster enclosures, new decorative perforated metal panels and a fresh coat of paint to enhance the complex’s curb appeal as desired by the client. During the construction process Summit was pleased to work closely with a preferred vendor to bring in additional savings for the client. Summit was also able to provide and include multiple value engineering options for the client throughout the process.

The Palms Plaza project was completed while fully occupied, in one of the busiest shopping centers in South Tampa. The innovative construction management process that was used to overcome these challenges is one of the many benefits of working with a team of construction experts that loves what they do. If you are considering a shopping center construction or retail construction project, reach out to our team of construction experts. We are happy to walk your retail property to provide you with quick design, permit, budget and/or scheduling input.

Before and After

Palms Plaza Imagery

How to Successfully Cut a PT Slab Opening

By Industry Insights, Project Stories

Chicago General Contractor Discusses How to Successfully Cut a PT Slab Opening

A common misconception leads some to believe that the creation of an opening in an existing post-tension (PT) slab is either extremely complex or nearly impossible. In fact, the penetrations of PT slabs are possible when observing proper methods.

PT Slab Opening for Springhill Suites

SpringHill Suites, in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood, is an explicitly unique project that required PT slab openings. The 4-story hotel is being constructed over a 2-story existing garage with the second story garage being a PT slab. Due to the uniqueness of the project, Summit had to construct one elevator shaft and two stairwell shafts without affecting the structural integrity.

The process involved quite a bit of research, value engineering, and expert feedback. With the help of our extremely skilled concrete subcontractors, the slab opening was a success. Below are the steps we took.

Steps Taken to Complete the PT Slab Openings

1. The surveyor marked the location of the stair and elevator shaft’s openings.

2. Concrete Scanning Company, with the help of ground-penetrating radiation (GPR), a geophysical method that uses electromagnetic radiations to image the subsurface, located/approximated the location of PT cables.

3. Catch decks were built at the location of the opening to ensure safety prior to the cutting of the slabs. We demolished a patch of the 2nd-floor concrete to check the existence of the PT cable and fortunately, the scannings were accurate.

4. The slabs were unbounded post-tension (PT) slab which means the post-tension systems are fixed to the structure at the end anchorage but are otherwise free to move independently of concrete being greased and encased in plastic sheathing.

5. We then proceeded towards making the cut, leaving some extra length of PT cable from the edge of the opening. This extra length will be helpful to grab onto later in the procedure and restress the cable. This releases the tension in the existing cable causing it to deflect less than 1 inch (imagine holding a string at both ends and cutting the center).

6. Next, we placed the encapsulated anchor and wedge through the PT cable, drilled holes into the outside edge of the slab, placed reinforcement in the perpendicular direction of the cables, and poured the concrete, leaving us with a cleaned finished edge.

7. Stressing equipment is introduced in the anchor and the PT cable is restressed to the desired tension.

8. The above steps are performed on both ends of the opening where the main PT cables run.

9. The inside of the opening is now completely free of any stress and can be cut like any other slab opening.

10. Normally the grease inside the sheaths slows the release of energy when strands are cut and the wedges do not disengage from the wedge. Nevertheless, the former cannot be guaranteed and necessary precautionary measure needs to be considered so as not to cause any snapping of the PT cables at its ends.

Thanks to Jose and Miguel of Tor Construction, both were the superheroes who executed this job with the highest precision, safety, and most cost-effectively.

Do you have an upcoming construction project that might involve cutting openings in PT Slabs? Let our team of construction experts help!

The Benefits of Cold-Formed Steel Framing

By Project Stories

Summit discusses the benefits of Cold-Formed Steel Framing

After Summit Design + Build’s successful completion and on-time delivery of Edge on Broadway, a 6-story residential building project in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood, it only felt right to pen down our lessons and experiences with a critical component that made an economic and on-time delivery possible – COLD FORM METAL PANELS.

Summit Design + Build, alongside the development team and the project engineers were looking into the most compatible structural system to use for the 6-story residential building project at 6145 N. Broadway. The cold-formed panelized framing system was the perfect solution as it is pre-fabricated, versatile and durable. The weight to strength ratio allowed us to use it for five floors of structural load-bearing and non-load-bearing walls (64,000 square feet) while keeping the supporting structures light. 

Use of this structural system has an indirect cost savings in foundations work as well. The foundations for this building cost less than the contemporary wood or steel structure because it has less weight to hold. Therefore, it is ideal for all kinds of soil conditions.

Cold-Formed Construction Benefits for Key Stakeholders

This system helps to benefit every stakeholder of the project.

Owner Benefits

  • It speeds up construction time, creating an early ROI
  • It cuts down costs in comparison to a typical wood or steel structure. Cold-form wall construction doesn’t require fire stops, sheathing, house wrap, gypsum wallboard or separate steps for insulation and continuous insulation. Since there are fewer steps, cold-form wall construction uses fewer materials and reduces multiple trade requirements.
  • It increases the marketability of a project. A cold-formed panelized framing system eliminates the number of soffits that need to be used. This allows properties to have higher ceilings, creating more spacious and modern rooms which are more marketable to target renters and tenants.

General Contractor Benefits

  • Cold-form steel construction has been around since 1850 but has seen continuous innovation since then. This particular project utilized a TotalJoist system from iSpan Systems. This is a robust system with a simplified installation compared to steel or wood. It allowed the team to keep the speed without sacrificing quality.
  • It doesn’t require the complexity of service-heavy follow-up trades by taking advantage of large pre-cut service and wiring openings.
  • Reduced training time is greatly advantageous for offsetting any unforeseen delays in foundation work. Easy to learn, this framing has a quick transition from learning curve to trained labor. Skills for using wood studs can be transferred to using steel C-section studs. Formed steel single tracks are similar to top and bottom wood plates.
  • The list of tools required to work with cold-form structure is relatively small, including tools such as an adjustable torque screw gun, a hand seamer, clamps and a magnetic level.
  • Construction moves faster since there is little in the way of punching, cutting, or drilling steel onsite. Cold form beams and columns are easy to move and put in place without the need for heavy machinery

Engineer Benefits

  • Cold-formed metal panels are non-combustible with a One-Hour Fire Rating (UL, ULC Rated) and 50 STC Acoustic Rating with a single layer of gypsum.
  • Unmatched clear span vs. I-wood allows for open design and bigger rooms

Why You Should Consider Cold-Formed Steel Framing

Cold-formed steel framing is the perfect framing system to use for a 6-10 story building. Cold-formed steel is a cost-effective, easy to install solution that does not sacrifice on quality. Cold-formed steel is also durable, sustainable and it is one of the most resilient building materials on the market. Do you have an upcoming project that would benefit from Cold-formed steel framing? Contact Summit Design + Build to let us know how we can help.

Cold-Formed Steel Framing Imagery

Overcoming a Site Logistics Challenge

By Project Stories

Springhill Suites Crane Installation

Summit Design + Build LLC is the Construction Manager Agent, overseeing the construction of a new 4-story steel structure that sits atop an existing 2-story cast-in-place concrete parking garage. Once completed, this will be the site of a new 146 guest room, 6-story Springhill Suites by Marriott located in the heart of Chicago’s China Town neighborhood at 2353 S Wentworth Avenue.

The Site Logistics Challenge

The primary site logistics challenge on this project is site access. Construction access is blocked to the North, East, and West due to neighboring buildings, existing tenants, and high voltage power lines. The only access for concrete trucks, cranes, or any deliveries is at the southern end of the building within the cul-de-sac of 24th Street. Unfortunately, due to the long skinny nature of the proposed construction (long in the North/South direction), the southern end was also the least desirable location to use for the steel crane.

The Solution

We identified this unique challenge early on and recognized the need to bring a steel and crane subcontractor on board early to work through a solution; Arcorp Structures and Nichols Crane rose to the occasion. They quickly developed a plan to utilize the largest crane in Nichols’ inventory – a 500-ton crane with a “luffing jib” extension – that would be able to reach the 400-foot length of the building while maintaining the required weight capacities to lift the associated steel loads.

Although this is an elegant solution, it created a rippling effect of other logistical challenges; because of the crane’s extreme reach radius, it is conversely limited by how close to the base of the crane it can pick from. Due to this restraint we are having to sequence the project in effectively two “towers”. The 500-ton crane erected the northern half of the building first and then was swapped out with a smaller crane to erect the southern half of the building.

Another challenge was what to do with the crane when it was not in use or during extreme weather events; the crane is too large to stay lifted overnight. We had to engineer and build the structure not only for it’s final use, but so it was capable of supporting the tip of the crane for a “laid down” condition at the end of each work day. Arcorp had to plan everyday to make sure at the end of that day, they were able to safely lay down the crane. This required great planning and also caused some inefficiencies in building the structure – they could not always choose the quickest methods to build.

Building and Dismantling the Crane

Lastly, we had to work with the city, neighbors, and all surrounding businesses to actually build and dismantle the crane. As featured in one of Summit’s videos, approximately 450’ of 24th Street and the crossing of Wentworth Ave needed to be closed in order to build and erect the crane. This took a substantial coordination effort to notify and get all parties bought in on the day, time frame, and impact of the surrounding community. Ultimately, it took a 12-hour Saturday work day each to erect and then to dismantle the crane.

As of May 1st, 2020, the project is now topped out with the steel structure and the crane has been removed from site. We are in the façade and interior rough in phase of the project and are working through the North tower while trying to catch up with the Southern tower. The anticipated completion and opening of the Springhill Suites by Marriott is quarter 1 of 2021.