No Boundaries

The largest project in state history: That was the challenge facing Fletcher Allen Health Care. In association with the University of Vermont (UVM) College of Medicine, Fletcher Allen set out to add 1,200,000 sf to the medical center campus in Burlington. Designed by Tsoi/Kobus, the Renaissance Project, as it is known, encompassed new ambulatory care and medical education centers, a birthing addition, underground parking garage, central plant, and surgery department renovations.

This enterprise raised essential questions: How do you build without a sizable labor force? Alone, Vermont trades could not support the project. To overcome the labor shortage, Barton Malow and joint venture partner Macomber teamed national subcontractors with multiple local companies in structural steel, concrete, electrical, and sheet metal trades. Special programs, including an on site mobile welding school, were used to train and qualify the workforce.

Of particular note was the shortage of carpenters. In concert with the New England Regional Council of Carpenters and United States Immigration Service, carpenters were brought in from Montreal and Quebec. Therefore, French often supplanted English as the primary language on site, requiring interpreters to communicate with our workforce.

How do you build in and around other work – a lot of other work? Many additional projects were underway on the UVM and FAHC campus, adjacent to or even within the borders of the Renaissance Project site. Coordination with local general contractors was key to overall success. They needed access, storage, and even adjustments to the Renaissance Project schedule. Barton Malow and Macomber maintained open communications, assisted in synchronizing movement of these teams on site, and shared labor and material resources. The objective was always to ensure overall achievement of the Fletcher Allen vision.

Literally and figuratively, the work was all about transcending boundaries. Open communication, all-inclusive coordination, and a collaborative spirit supported Fletcher Allen’s goal: creating Vermont’s first truly integrated patient care and academic health science campus.