Award of Merit: High-Rise Category
Wheaton Center Apartment Building Exterior Rehabilitation
Submitted by Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.
Wheaton Center, LLC
Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.
Berglund Constuction Company
J.E. Tomes & Associates
Blue Island, Illinois
The Wheaton Center Apartment Building is a 228-unit, 20-story reinforced concrete high-rise with exposed exterior concrete framing and 381 balconies. After 35 years, the exterior exhibited significant concrete deterioration, which required 9500 square feet (882.6 square meters) of column repairs, 8000 square feet (743.2 square meters) of balcony slab/wall repairs, 3000 square feet (278.7 square meters) of interior slab repairs, 115 full balcony replacements, and protective coatings. The $10.5 million rehabilitation was completed in 1 year due to a combination of innovative top-down construction sequencing and efficient logistics.
A lengthy project schedule was unacceptable, as it would adversely affect project financing, apartment leasing, tenant retention, and the overall reputation of the complex. Based on the significant size of the project, residents were moved and full-height pipe scaffolding was employed to allow fast-track construction and top-down sequencing. Multiple trades and a peak labor force of 120 were able to work in close proximity. The benefits were twofold. Firstly, lost rental revenue was minimized with apartment reoccupancy starting only 6 months after mobilization. Secondly, the schedule was reduced by at least 1 year, which resulted in construction cost savings of approximately 25%.
The innovative top-down sequence, using pipe scaffolding that was removed as repairs progressed down the building, provided the means to turn over apartments on the upper floors for leasing within 6 months of the beginning of the project. This resulted in a drastically shortened schedule, significantly reduced construction costs, minimized disruption to the overall apartment complex, and quickly reinstated cash flow from rentals. Outstanding planning, sequencing, logistics, and staffing with a dedication to safety and quality by the contractor, in conjunction with committed teamwork from the owner, property management, and the architect/ engineer, enabled this large and complicated project to be completed on time and within budget. The rehabilitation also dramatically improved the overall aesthetics of the building.