Making Space

Sept. 1, 2009

There’s no question that whenever anything happens in New York City, it’s big. Especially construction. And wherever there are projects, there’s the potential for big problems, such as congestion, environmental issues, and lack of temporary workspace.

The temporary space problem is one that my company, Durr Mechanical Construction, experienced earlier this year. We were awarded a contract to build a multibillion-dollar water treatment plant that would service the 8 million-plus New Yorkers living in the Big Apple. One problem: The construction project site only allowed us about 3,000 square feet for a project that required about 4,000 square feet to house our staff.

Given the scale of the project and the number of construction professionals needed onsite, it was obvious that hauling in a couple trailers wouldn’t fit the bill. We needed temporary office space onsite that our team-including the project manager, supporting managers, project engineers, safety officer, general foreman, subcontractor, and secretarial interns-would be using on a daily basis.

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The managerial team wasn’t the only group in need of extra space. Over 70 construction workers would be onsite every day, all requiring access to additional onsite facilities. These included changing rooms, a kitchen, bathrooms, a lounge, drafting rooms, and conference areas.

The spaces needed to have HVAC, lighting, a telephone system, and Internet access. Because the project was expected to take four to five years to complete, comfort and quality were a major consideration. And it all had to fit within 3,000 square feet. On top of the space issue, we needed everything set up fast so we could start the project on time. Big city, big project, big problem.

After several weeks spent researching whether this was even feasible, we found only one company-ModSpace, based in Berwyn, PA-that offered all of the specifications we needed for a high-quality space in such a short timeframe.

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Once we settled with ModSpace, we worked closely with its engineers to coordinate details. It was crucial that every aspect of the installation complied with our project safety requirements, as well as the city’s and OSHA’s rigid safety requirements.

In the end, we specified two 12-foot-by-60-foot offices, one 12-foot-by-56-foot office, six modified storage containers, and two standard storage containers. All were to be provided by their local Long Island, NY, branch, and assembled onsite by ModSpace.
The buildings have two private offices, which are used by our managers, and six additional offices for our workers, include a drafting room, conference room, changing room, and bathroom. Everything came to the site ready to go with heating and air conditioning built in. Additionally, a computer and printing system for the drafting department was prewired for voice, data, and fax.

The trailers and storage containers were transported to the construction site within two weeks of signing the contract. But, as every construction professional knows, sometimes you just can’t out-build Mother Nature. When ModSpace specialists arrived onsite, they discovered the land where the trailers were to be placed was not completely level. Not a problem. They accommodated with modified support members to ensure the structure would withstand even the most severe elements, despite the grading.

The workers’ offices and storage containers were situated on an approximately 3,000-square-foot area, with about 1,000 square feet to spare. ModSpace then installed a predesigned scaffolding bridge over the offices that could safely support the weight of a doublewide and singlewide office trailer. That’s where they placed the remaining two offices.

In addition to the two-story office installation, ModSpace modified storage units to meet the new requirements of this specific project. Modifications included adding doors, lighting, heat, and air conditioning to six steel containers.

From concept to completion, the entire job was finished within 23 days. The result was a working office that exceeded our quality standards from the standpoints of function, comfort, cost, timing, and, most importantly, service.

While we could have leased, we made the decision to purchase the units outright from ModSpace, as we anticipate reusing them on future projects. That’s because our units can be dismantled and transported, a major advantage that makes them as convenient as a trailer and with all the creature comforts of a modern office building.

Thanks to ModSpace’s expertise in space planning and construction in tight space requirements, we were able to hit the ground running with our water treatment plant project. At the time this article is going to print, we’ve been situated in our modular spaces for nearly a year, without a hitch. Modern modular space gave us the power to focus our efforts on what matters most: the project at hand. And any worries about sub-par office accommodations on site? Forget about it.
About the Author

Allan Cronk

Allan Cronk is an Assistant Project Manager for Durr Mechanical Construction.

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