RK wins 2nd Place Award of Merit for Denver Union Station Project

By: RK Mechanical

RK Mechanical, Inc. won two Award of Excellence trophies at the ABC-EIC awards on October 19th. One was awarded for the new Rooftop at Coors Field and the other was for the work that RK did on the Aspen Art Museum. RK also won a second place Award of Merit trophy for the Denver Union Station project.

The Denver Union Depot, located at 17th and Wynkoop, opened to the public on June 1, 1881. Constructed by the Union Depot and Railroad Company of Colorado, it was the largest building in the West, at the time, at 500 feet long and 65 feet wide. Shortly after opening to the public the Depot was hosting between 60 to 80 trains each day heading to both mining towns and Plains cities.

1894 brought significant changes for the station. A portion had to be rebuilt after an electrical fire. The original Depot center was demolished that same year, due to increasing railroad operations and travel volume. The renovations were completed in 1914 and the Depot was renamed Denver Union Station. The iconic “Travel by Train” signs were added over the exterior clocks – their bright orange glow dubbed a new neighborhood landmark.

The west continued its explosive growth and Denver was no exception. In 2001, Denver Union Station was purchased by an RTD organized consortium, who has since been implementing a master plan, with the intent of creating one of the nation’s largest transportation hubs. Construction began on December 3, 2012 and in July of 2014, on its 100th Anniversary, Denver Union Station reopened to serve the Mile High City – restored and revitalized to meet the modern needs of an ever changing metropolis.

The new elegant and modern Denver Union Station is a mixed-use, transit-oriented hub featuring The Crawford Hotel, a 112-room independent hotel on the upper levels, 22,000 square-feet of ground floor space for up to 10 independent retail and restaurant operations, 12,000 square-feet of public common space, the ‘Great Hall’ and 4,000 square-feet of outdoor plaza space – all created with a faithful and confident nod to the iconic history that has played a vital role in the growth of Colorado and its capital city.

In order to help bring their conceived facility to life, Sage Hospitality Group, Larimer & Associates and Amtrak partnered with Milender White Construction Company for general contracting and Tryba Architects. With a proven track record of successfully completing complex multi-use downtown projects, RK Mechanical, Inc. was selected as mechanical contractor.

As an ASME and AISC certified contractor, RK Mechanical is rooted in tested processes designed to deliver predictable results. Surprise internal audits throughout the duration of the project helped to ensure that the team was doing what they said they would do with the appropriately trained and certified personnel, as well as properly documenting progress along the way. By ensuring clarity of goals and expectations, the RK Mechanical team was able to effectively work with on-site personnel at the mechanical manpower peak without compromise to standards.

Tracking deficiencies while building a hotel can be difficult due to the sheer number of rooms and spaces. Without a system to thoroughly document installation, it’s likely that quality could slip, creating lengthy punchlists. To avoid any unforeseen errors on the Denver Union Station Hotel, RK Mechanical implemented BlueBeam Studio software. The team loaded drawings onto Bluebeam Studio and coordinated walks with small business partners to ensure transparency and open communication. By using Studio, the team was able to do live updates to the drawings so that crews could walk the building and update the drawings at the same time.

In addition to BlueBeam, quality deficiencies were noted and photographed and the pictures were posted directly to the drawings and rooms where the issues occurred. These drawings were then shared with the entire construction team so that crews could stay on the same page and correct outstanding items. This method saved time in documenting progress and keeping the time sensitive punchlist items to a minimum.

There were a number of challenges regarding scheduling on the project that occurred before RK was on-site, including delays on large-scale orders of equipment from factories. These two factors had a ripple effect that stalled the rough-in finish on floors near the end of the project. To combat these unforeseen delays, the project team created weekly plans and schedules that included an extra meeting and walk-through of each floor with all trades. After the meeting and walk-through, the combined crew of trades would put together one week schedules, outlining trade-specific tasks with extremely tight sequencing. Each activity had a ‘sign-off’ that was posted on the floor plan to document that each trade was progressing as planned – this let the subsequent trade know what work was then available to them. Through this process, the team was able to overcome the project delays and stay within the original contract schedule.

Due to the building’s rich history and meaningful presence in Colorado, the transit hub has been a venue worth saving. In light of that, the project team was forced to work with and abide by the historical requirements set in place by the National Park Service (NPS). An agency of the United States federal government, the NPS manages all U.S. national parks, monuments and other conservation and historical properties. During the construction process, the NPS would randomly walk the jobsite and make special requests they deemed necessary to preserve the historical integrity of the building. It was nearly impossible for the construction team to anticipate what the NPS would find, often making their visits disruptive to work flow and schedules. However, while it was a great challenge to meet their high expectations while being mindful of budgetary concerns, RK Mechanical values the role it played in restoring the historic facility.

One of the main difficulties encountered in completing the project was an incorrect existing structural 3D model. The 3D model that was provided to the team for coordination and installation purposes was wrong. This error meant that when the CAD department drew in pipe or duct, it was often in conflict with existing structural beams or columns. To correct this potentially disastrous issue, the team placed two dedicated CAD team members on-site and left a field person at their disposal. The selected field person would run back and forth from the on-site CAD station to various structural elements within the building to verify the location of actual beams and columns. The RK crew was able to correct the structural model so it could be used as a tool to properly coordinate installation on the rest of the project.