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‘Culture of solutions’ makes this fast-track office project a reality [2013 Building Team Award winner]

‘Culture of solutions’ makes this fast-track office project a reality [2013 Building Team Award winner]

Working together for the first time, a unified Building Team executes a large pharmaceutical office program in just 12 months—while meeting the needs of two demanding clients.

By David Barista, Editor-in-Chief | June 11, 2013
Due to an expiring lease at its previous office, Endo Health Solutions needed it
Due to an expiring lease at its previous office, Endo Health Solutions needed its headquarters to be completed in 12 months. The Building Team, led by L2 Partridge Architects and IMC Construction, was up to the task.
This article first appeared in the BD+C June 2013 issue of BD+C.

Situated on a promontory overlooking a 70-acre quarry lake 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia, the new, five-story corporate headquarters for pharmaceutical solutions provider Endo Health Solutions features the accoutrements typical of modern corporate office buildings. Employees and visitors enter the facility through a striking, double-height glass atrium with a grand staircase and a vibrant, contemporary design aesthetic.

On the ground floor are a large fitness center, bright, inviting conference spaces, specialty training rooms, and an expansive cafeteria with a full kitchen and pizza oven. The upper floors feature open floor plates and generous amounts of interior and exterior glass walls and doors, creating a highly transparent, daylit work environment with impressive views of the lake and surrounding landscape.

The complex, composed of twin 150,000-sf buildings linked by the atrium and a separate parking deck, is constructed of insulated precast concrete panels with a smooth, light sandblast finish for the upper four floors and exposed aggregate on the ground floor—a nod to the old limestone quarry site. The LEED Silver-certified complex even takes advantage of the quarry lake, with a closed-loop geothermal cooling installation at the bottom of the quarry.



Demountable partitions were utilized for the offices to allow Endo (tenant) or Trammell Crow (owner) to easily reconfigure the spaces without affecting the core layout. The size and shape of the offices and cubicles can be molded to fit the needs of the tenant, increasing the appeal of the office building.


Given the complex site, comprehensive program, and sophisticated design and construction solutions, it came as a bit of a surprise to the Building Team Awards judges that the $65 million project was constructed in just 12 months—and for less than $210/sf (in line with the average cost for office buildings in the area, according to RSMeans).

“This is a great example of how to build a high-quality, well-detailed office building very quickly,” said Building Team Awards judge Peter Rumpf, LEED AP, Integrated Construction Manager with Mortenson Construction (www.mortenson.com). “It is clear the team put the needs of the project ahead of the needs of the individual stakeholders. It was a complete thought, start to end.”

The judges cited the team’s thoughtful solutions for meeting the needs of both the tenant (Endo) and the owner/developer (Trammell Crow). Endo desired world-class workspace in a timeframe that would coincide with an expiring office lease agreement. Trammel Crow called on the team to deliver a highly flexible, Class A facility that would price within the typical lease rates for northwest suburban Philadelphia. The pace of the project was astonishing: Endo first contacted Trammell Crow in August 2011, and by late December the facility was fully designed and beginning construction. Twelve months later, Endo and Trammell Crow celebrated the completion of the project.


Amenities include a large fitness center and an expansive cafeteria with a full kitchen and pizza oven. Both were requirements of the tenant. In designing and building these spaces, the Building Team had to balance the needs of the tenant with the price set by the building’s owner, Trammell Crow.


“Given the size and scale of this project, 12 months is exceptionally impressive,” said judge Terry Fielden, LEED AP BD+C, Director of K-12 Education with International Contractors (www.iciinc.com). “Despite being a developer-driven project, it features some innovative approaches that required some in-depth study, financial commitment, and investigation, such as using the lake to help cool the building’s interior spaces.”

The closed-loop geothermal system uses the 90-foot-deep lake, where water temperatures hover at 45°F, as a pre-cooling source to lower the burden on the facility’s mechanical systems. Though more complicated than traditional mechanical approaches—requiring specialized subcontractors for the underwater drilling and equipment installation—the solution proved to be a cost-effective way to cool the space. It’s a prime example of the value-driven decisions made through close collaboration of the Building Team: owner, architect, construction manager, tenant, and municipality.

Construction manager IMC Construction fed real-time cost estimates to the team during early schematic documents work in the preconstruction phase. The firm used BIM coordination of the building envelope, structural steel, concrete, partitions, and finishes for quantitative takeoff and pricing, and to illustrate design options to team members.


Sustainability efforts include the use of an underwater closed-loop geothermal cooling system (shown here during installation), energy-efficient lighting, and a biofiltration swale between the building and parking garage that filters sediment and oils from site runoff.


“We were able to aid L2 Partridge by communicating the design intent to Trammell Crow and Endo and aid in balancing the needs of both parties,” says Ted Jeffries, IMC Construction’s Project Director. “This enabled the team, from the owner to the architect to the township officials and Endo, to have program comprehension very early on in the project. We used on-screen takeoffs to show the clients exactly where and how their money was going to be spent.”

Using the 3D models, IMC was able to preorder and fabricate long-lead items, such as the precast concrete panels, even though documents were schematic. BIM also aided the subcontractors by clearly defining scopes of work and communicating logistic, staging, and phasing of the project, according to Jeffries.

During the construction phase, the team used BIM to coordinate and resolve conflicts across building systems, especially under the slab and in the electric yard. IMC facilitated field construction by providing concise, dimensioned work packages for specific trades. In addition, site superintendents were able to isolate areas of the model to submit with RFIs to the architects to illustrate issues.

“Trammel Crow and Endo, from the beginning, set a culture of solutions for the project,” says Robert Cottone, IMC’s President and CEO. “Often the team would work late into the night solving problems, but with this culture, there was no job description. Everyone had aligned goals and objectives.”


Project summary

Endo Health Solutions
Malvern, Pa.

Submitting firm: IMC Construction (CM)
Owner/developer: Trammell Crow Co.
Architect: L2 Partridge Architects
Structural: MacIntosh Engineering
MEP: Vanderweil Engineers

Size: 312,000 sf, plus 420-car parking deck
Construction cost: $65 million
Construction period: January 2012 to December 2012
Delivery method: CM at risk

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