High-tech wire act

Builders of Arthur Andersen Technology Park structure lay cable for the global economy

January 01, 2001 |

Arthur Andersen Worldwide had a problem. It needed more space than was offered at its existing building at Arthur Andersen Technical Park in Sarasota, Fla., and that space for a new regional headquarters needed to be flexible. "At the time we were talking about building the building, we were quickly outgrowing our other facility," remembers Gregg Jones, project manager and a partner with Arthur Andersen. To speed up the process, the leadership of the accounting and consulting firm decided to employ an integrated project-delivery approach and chose Jacksonville, Fla.-based design/build firm The Haskell Co. That meant the 158,000-sq.-ft., three-story facility went up quickly, with the first charette in March 1998 and the move-in in December 1999.

Not only did Haskell provide design and construction services, it also allowed Arthur Andersen a less-risky and capital-intensive method of obtaining a building, as Arthur Andersen sold the nine acres of land to Haskell and then leased the property. Haskell designed and built a speculative building based on Arthur Andersen's solicitation. "That was their solicitation," says Christian Kuhn, Haskell vice president and project design principal (shell and core).

New building echoes old

The building had to be compatible with the existing facility, which Arthur Andersen had purchased. "The challenge was to have the buildings sit side by side and have them look like they belonged together," Kuhn says.

Also important to the client was creating a technology-friendly and flexible building that would allow workers to have as many as three computers running on their desks and the ability to hire and house more workers seasonally. From November to January, the company beefs up its tax software development group to create programs from information the government has given for filing forms. "It's a fairly hectic time for us," says Jones.

The design had to accommodate that larger workforce efficiently and flexibly. For that purpose, Arthur Andersen needed project rooms that could be used both as meeting spaces during the slower periods and as temporary work quarters with eight to 12 connections for the seasonal staff. "There was enough data cable to run continuous from Jacksonville to Sarasota," says James E. Carlson, director of construction for Haskell and senior project manager. "It just looked like spaghetti hanging there; there was just so much of it," he notes.

"We laid 283 miles of cable in that building," says Jones.

The ability to accommodate different sizes of workstations also was important. While Arthur Andersen ultimately purchased 6-ft.-by-8-ft. workstations, the firm wanted to be able to change to 6-ft.-sq. models if needed. The company also asked that the space be designed so that the width and depth would allow workstations in different configurations.

The building is set up in an arc shape, with three rectangular sections linked by core elements, including stairs, elevators, restrooms, copy/storage rooms and equipment rooms. "Actually what we did was design the building starting with the systems furniture," says Kuhn.

While the building was designed from the inside out, the site was created from the big picture in to assure compatibility with possible future development. The building's core elements allowed the three sections-known as "production areas"-to wrap around the edge of the lake. The parking also was developed in the arced shape to reflect the building and lake.

Amenities a draw

Quality of life for the 900 employees housed in the facility was extremely important as well. "We wanted people to be proud of the facility and comfortable in their working environment," Jones notes. That meant designing for the amenities: a workout facility, cafeteria, covered patio and space for visitors, all while maintaining a secure environment. "We were concerned about people having a lot of access to our space," says Jones. To handle such security concerns, workers must go through two doors to get to open space, while visitors have areas where they can sit down and plug in computers. Phone booths were included to allow private calls.

At the high-tech building, reliable power was a necessity. Tropical storms and other events that might threaten the power system must not bring Arthur Andersen down, since the international firm must be available to its customers located in any time zone. "They wanted at least one-third of the building to be up and running 24 hours a day seven days a week regardless of outside circumstances," says Kuhn. To meet the request, that portion of the building is backed up by an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system and generators. An elevator, set of stairs and bathrooms are backed up as well.

While access floors were part of the original request, according to Kuhn, Arthur Andersen discovered that it could get approximately 25,000 more square feet of usable space if it decided against that more expensive option. "Equally usable to them were poke-throughs from the floor below rather than an access floor. That took care of the upper-level floors," says Kuhn. The ground floor, which serves administrative needs, such as human resources, the cafeteria and food service, didn't need the heavy cabling required for the upper floors.

Obtaining adequate trade support, particularly for the drywall, electrical and air-conditioning subcontractors, was a challenge, and Haskell encountered a number of delivery problems for long-lead items, some related to the "Y2K" scare. For example, six months before the new year, everybody was buying up generators because they thought power might fail. Still, says Carlson, "The job ran relatively smoothly."

The 52-ft.-high tilt-up concrete walls were site-cast, and the uniformity of the concrete was difficult to control, according to Kuhn, but created a durable shell. "Of course, as a landlord we have an interest in an envelope that is low maintenance and does not have warranty issues," says Kuhn. The 111/4-in., load-bearing panels also act as shear walls in place of bracing, and have architectural reveals and a 33/4-in. recess for the glass to conceal the panels, creating a solid band of glass. The panels support the floor and roof structures around the perimeter, and wide-flange columns on spread footings provide interior support. On the roof, the mechanical units are set on concrete pads to control noise and vibration and screened from view. The detailing is an elastomeric coating.

A step beyond

Designing and building the new facility was just one step in the process for Haskell. Although unsolicited, Haskell Co. provided Arthur Andersen with a master plan for the entire 22-acre park and showed it how it could organize and best install the infrastructure. After all, with high-tech as the future, planning for that eventuality seems a given to many.

Mid-rise office building design comparison

Trade 1980s 1996 to present

Site parking

3 to 3.3 car stalls per 1,000-sq.-ft. rentable, 30-by-30 bay post-tension concrete superstructure, no expansion

4 stalls per 1,000-sq.-ft. rentable, 60-ft. clear span precast twin T superstructure, vertical or horizontal expansion


30-by-30-ft. post-tension flat slab concrete structure (Must X-ray for floor coring)

30-by-30-by-30-by-46-ft. bays, steel structure composite deck. Very flexible for floor coring, no X-ray required for floor coring

Exterior wall

70- to 100-percent glass, 50- to 60-percent precast, stone. Minimal detail and articulation

40- to 50-percent glass, 50- to 60-percent precast, stone and prefinished aluminum with significant detail and articulation

Office glass

Tinted vision insulated glass

Reflective vision insulated glass

Lobby glass

Clear insulated glass

Low-E clear insulated glass

Mechanical penthouse

Flat roofing (no architectural feature), no wall detailing or architectural articulation

Penthouse roofing and walls integrated with the building architecture

Tenant acoustical ceiling

8-ft. to 9-ft. ceiling height

9-ft. to 10-ft. ceiling height


No security system in base building

Complete key card security system


350-ft.-per-minute, 2,500-pound car capacity with 8-ft. ceiling, capacitor-controlled

500 FPM, 3,500-pound car capacity 91/2-ft. ceilings, microprocessor-controlled.


Heat-pump system 3.5 to 5.0 watts per square foot with no excess capacity (no chillers)

Built-up system 6 to 7 watts per square foot with about 150 tons excess capacity for tenant computer rooms, dual chillers

HVAC controls


Direct digital controls

Fitness center


2,000 square feet with locker facilities


Conventional copper telephone cabling

Fiber-optics system with NETPOP in lower level


3.0 to 4.5 watts per square foot power available

3.5 to 9.0 watts per square foot power available

Back-up power

Back-up generator for building only

Backup generator for building and space for tenant backup generator or ground floor UPS system

Tenant lighting

T12 fluorescent lamps and standard ballasts

T8 lamps and electronic ballasts

Source: Opus North

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