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Engineering Excellence — Project of the Year Submissions


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Alaska Business is pleased to feature these synopses of submissions for the Engineering Excellence—Project of the Year awards; the winners will be announced at the Engineering Banquet taking place on February 25 at the Egan Center in Anchorage. 

 

Photo by Lara Swimmer Photography

Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum.

Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff
State Library, Archives, and Museum

AMC Engineers

This new Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum, affectionately referred to as SLAM, officially opened its doors in June 2016.  The facility brings together three separate state entities including the State Library, the State Archives, and the State Museum.  Previously these entities operated independently and were not able to take advantage of their common goal to preserve Alaska’s history.  With the construction of this facility, there is now synergy in their mission and an integrated vision.  
The existing Juneau Library, built in 1964, was demolished to make room for this new 118,000-square-foot, $130 million facility. This unique and technically challenging project is designed to establish, precise control, and monitor three distinct and competing indoor environments, each optimized to specific library, long term archive, and display museum requirements seamlessly under one roof.  
AMC Engineers worked closely with the architects, museum administrators, collections managers, curators, conservators, archivists, and librarians to thoroughly understand the unique factors that influence collections damage.  As a result, specific indoor temperature, relative humidity, airborne pollutant, and lighting characteristics are strictly maintained to effectively manage risk while keeping operating cost and control system complexity at a reasonable level. 
An indoor environmental modelling technique, using a “pressure mapping” design strategy developed by AMC Engineers, was used to effectively “engineer” the overall building exterior envelope and interior partition wall construction to support HVAC system performance benchmark parameters including adjacent zone differential pressure and relative humidity levels.  The facility includes a specialized laboratory suite which provides a safe working environment for the meticulous repair and maintenance of rare books and artifacts.

 

Photo by Kevin G. Smith

Dena’ina Elementary School.

Dena’ina Elementary School

​BBFM Engineers

The Dena’ina Elementary School is located off the Knik-Goose Bay Road in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. It is an approximately 44,000-square-foot facility with classrooms, administrative offices, library, music room, gymnasium, kitchen, and a large center atrium/multi-purpose room. The structure’s vertical system is a two-story steel frame using open web steel joists, wide flange steel beams and girders, and tube steel columns. The lateral system is a series of special steel concentrically braced frames. The foundation is concrete strip and spread footings and contains an 18,000 gallon water tank. The second floor walkway cantilevers into the atrium at the classrooms. At the offsets in the walkway, the floor structure hangs from the high roof. The primary challenge for the building was providing for a cohesive lateral load resisting system. The roof consists of a large high roof over the atrium (about one third of the building footprint) creating a large hole in the low roof. The two separate low roof diaphragms are connected at the two ends and at two intermediate points by drag struts.  The diaphragm at the second floor is the shape of an amorphous U due to the absence of a second floor at the atrium and gymnasium. Adding to the challenge, the diaphragm chords are discontinuous because the floor is offset 8 feet at every other classroom.  The last challenge was two large roof-top ventilation units on the low roof at the second floor level, which required diaphragm duct openings and tall screen walls.

 

Photo by Christi Meyn

Campbell Airstrip Road.

Campbell Airstrip Road Upgrade and Trail Improvements

​CRW Engineering Group

When a roadway corridor has not been significantly improved since 1942, it understandably has some wear and tear. Campbell Airstrip Road in East Anchorage was no exception. Sections of the roadway were crumbling, drainage was poor, sight distance was limited in places, and the lack of a pathway and shoulders on the roadway were challenging for pedestrians and cyclists. In addition, a parking lot in the road’s vicinity had become a gathering spot for illegal activity, further decreasing safety. A community-driven project from the very start, the recently-constructed Campbell Airstrip Road Upgrade and Trail Improvements addressed these issues and added much-needed trail access for the community. 
CRW Engineering Group, the lead consultant under the Municipality of Anchorage’s Project Management and Engineering Department, created a design that reconstructed the degraded roadway, widened shoulders to improve vehicle and active-transportation commuter safety, and constructed drainage ditches to handle the stormwater. It eliminated the parking lot, instead re-directing parking to safer lots more visible from the road.  Those who live north of Tudor, Benny Benson Secondary School students, the UAA and US Ski Teams, area residents, and recreational users can now access Far North Bicentennial Park along a new, detached multi-modal pathway instead of having to be in the roadway for a mile before hooking in to the trail system. The project-area community spearheaded the pathway addition, identifying and securing funding with CRW’s assistance through the Federal Land Access Program Grant.
The project, which was completed under budget, saved money by using roadway excavations to build up the pathway. Focusing on sustainable design, and sensitive to the nearby Alaska Botanical Gardens, it re-used existing excavated organics as topsoil to spread over the hillsides disturbed by construction. This innovative technique avoided introducing invasive species often present in imported topsoil. Re-using the organic material also promoted faster re-growth, as the soil has its original microbes and seeds. The pathway’s alignment avoided unnecessary impacts to historic foxholes used during military exercises decades ago. Working with the State Historic Preservation Organization, a sign was installed along the pathway describing the area’s military history and the use of foxholes.
The design inserted a vegetative buffer between the pathway and road, balancing user concerns about being too close to the road with concerns about being too isolated in the woods. A small section of the trail is attached to the road, allowing woods to shield a snow removal deposit site. A mushing tunnel was extended beneath the widened road and new pathway to provide continuous, separated mushing use in the expansive network of trails in the Park. 
The community has given an overwhelming positive response to the project. The end-users have applauded the improvements, stating that it makes them feel safer in—and out—of their cars.

 

Photo by Renee Whitesell

Seward Marine Terminal Expansion.

Seward Marine Terminal Expansion

​DOWL/PND Engineers

The Seward Marine Terminal Expansion Master Planning Effort was a TIGER grant-funded project led by the Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC) to evaluate existing railroad, passenger, and freight and real estate facilities at its Seward Marine Terminal, and plan for the future growth and development of the facility. The project comprised the development of Passenger Traffic, Freight Traffic and Transportation Connectivity Studies, and a Master Plan to guide future development and investment in the infrastructure, assets, and facilities. In addition to providing a comprehensive inventory of the existing facilities and conditions, the Master Plan considered the future economic outlook for ARRC’s passenger and freight operations on a local, statewide, and global scale to support recommendations for future investment at the facility. Improvement options were recommended to support passenger operations, freight operations, and transportation connectivity, and planning-level cost estimates were developed for future improvements. Projects were then prioritized on the basis of needs and improvements that would generate the greatest return on investment to provide ARRC with a blueprint for planning future investment at the Seward Marine Terminal. Included was extensive public involvement, with more than one hundred face-to-face meetings, charrettes, workshops, and three public open houses. 
The Consultant team was led by PND Engineering (project management and marine engineering) with support by DOWL (deputy project management, transportation planning, statistical analysis, public involvement, civil engineering), Cardno (economic analysis, environmental), E3 (public involvement), Hanson (rail engineering), and Bettisworth North (architecture). The Master Plan balanced multiple interests and set out priorities for the next twenty years to enable ARRC to make decisions, as well as justify funding. All deliverables met MARAD’s and US DOT’s schedule, and the project came in under budget.

 

Photo by Casey Witt

Rehabilitate Runway 16/34.

Rehabilitate Runway 16/34 & Related Improvements, Warren “Bud” Woods Palmer Municipal Airport

​HDL Engineering Consultants

For almost forty years, the pavement on the 6,009-foot Runway 16/34 at Palmer Municipal Airport (PAQ) withstood heavy aircraft operations (Douglas DC-3, DC-4, and DC-6, Lockheed C-130, and others), as well as the harsh Alaska climate.  About fifteen years ago, the Alaska Division of Forestry based its fixed-wing wildland firefighting operations for all of southcentral Alaska at PAQ, adding more frequent use by Convair 580s, DC-6s, and C-130s.  Occasionally, aircraft as large as the Boeing C-17 Globemaster have used this runway.  The pavement’s performance was nothing less than remarkable considering the typical twenty-year design life of pavement, the heavy loads on an only 3 inch pavement thickness, and that pavement maintenance was limited to crack sealing only four times in nearly forty years.  A 2013 pavement condition survey confirmed that it was time to replace the pavement on this critical runway.
In November 2016, Palmer awarded a design contract to HDL Engineering Consultants to rehabilitate the runway pavement, extend and improve the runway safety area beyond both runway ends, and other related minor improvements.  This project was anticipated to cost $7.3 million.  However, through innovation, coordination with FAA, and reuse of onsite materials, HDL was able to assist Palmer to complete a single $7.8 million project that also added 6 acres of paved apron, improved the runway shoulders, updated Runway 10/28 markings, added a compass calibration pad, removed obstacles from critical airport surfaces, and added a heliport.  In all, Palmer completed five years’ worth of projects identified in the airport’s capital improvement plan at a savings of nearly $6 million from original program estimates.  Additional benefits of the sustainable use of resources include reducing materials imported to and exported from the airport, thereby minimizing impacts to the environment and improving traffic safety and congestion.
Operational requirements at the airport, including Forestry’s use of the runway to support wildland firefighting, also added to the complexity of the project.  HDL balanced user needs and developed a construction schedule and sequencing that completed the work with minimal disturbance.

 

Image courtesy of PND Engineers, Inc. 

Juneau Cruise Ship Berths.

Juneau Cruise Ship Berths

​PND Engineers

With the introduction of larger cruise ships into the worldwide market, individual ports have responded by expanding their port facilities. Southeast Alaska is no different. This rugged region is on a popular itinerary for the cruise industry and Alaska’s capital city, Juneau, is the central port-of-call for the Alaska cruise itinerary. To accommodate the frequency of larger ships, Juneau developed and constructed the largest cruise ship berth project in Alaska state history. 
Juneau is located in a steep mountainous region in Alaska’s inside passage. The remote and awe-inspiring scenery which attracts visitors from around the world also presents challenges for design and construction of marine transportation facilities. PND Engineers, Inc. worked closely with the City and Borough of Juneau, the Owner, to develop creative and viable project alternatives to accommodate the unique site conditions of the downtown Juneau waterfront area. The selected concept consisted of two independent, floating concrete pontoons that accommodate passenger transfers from the vessels through the 25-foot tide cycle.  The south pontoon measured 300 feet long by 50 feet wide and the north 400 feet by 50 feet wide. The combined length of both berths is 2,100 feet long and will support two vessels with overall lengths of 1,063 feet and a gross tonnage of 144,000 tons each simultaneously.
The design team overcame the challenges of the deep water, variable bedrock elevation, and loose/weak marine sediment overburden by using a combination of rock anchors, rock sockets, and SPIN FIN pile tips. PND used rock anchors in piles with high tension loads and shallow overburden. At locations with deeper overburden, SPIN FIN pile tips were utilized to resist high tension loads in overburden with low frictional resistance.  The utilization of SPIN FIN pile tips appropriate to the site conditions saved the City and Borough of Juneau several millions of dollars on the project cost.

 

Image courtesy of PND Engineers

Statter Harbor Improvements Phase II.

Statter Harbor Improvements Phase II

​PND Engineers

Through a cooperative agreement with ADFG Sport Fish, the City and Borough of Juneau retained PND to plan, permit, design and administer construction for the Statter Harbor Improvements Project - Phase II. An extensive environmental assessment was first conducted in accordance with NEPA guidelines and community meetings were held over several years to solicit public comments.  PND developed numerous concept plans in response to local and regulatory input and selected a preferred alternative, which was endorsed by all regulatory agencies, to carry forward to construction.  This project constructed the second of four phases for Statter Harbor. Phase II was recently completed and includes nearly 150,000 cubic yards of fill placed over wick drain stabilized soils to create a 4.5 acre parking and marine recreation facility designed to the City and Borough of Juneau and Sport Fish standards and conforming to all ADA accessibility requirements. The design included 3,700 tons of ACP pavement, 4,000 linear feet of curb and gutter, 2,000 linear feet of storm drain, water services, sewer force main for future restroom, a concrete marine seawall, a seawalk with covered shelter, and a multitude of landscape features that make the facility a fully functional and aesthetically pleasing venue for the developing Auke Bay area. Construction was specifically sequenced over two seasons to allow sufficient time for soft ground modifications, surcharge fill, and site paving to be completed just in time to allow partial utilization of the new facility for the 2016 Golden North Salmon Derby, with the remaining work substantially completed by year end.  

 

Image courtesy of PND Engineers / by Derrick Honrud

UniSea G1 Dock Replacement.

UniSea G1 Dock Replacement

​PND Engineers

After many years of service, the G1 Dock at the UniSea, Inc. seafood processing facility in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, required replacement due to severe corrosion and damage, and it no longer met the needs of the facility. The dock plays a critical role as the vessel offload facility that supplies live/fresh seafood to the adjacent processing facility which has the capacity to process more than 2.5 million pounds of seafood per day. The current crab and fish processing market demands increasing product quality to remain competitive. In order to increase quality and capacity, UniSea desired to increase productivity and reduce handling time by improving the processing plant, which includes moving the processing facilities nearer to the dock.  
PND Engineers, Inc. was selected to perform all aspects of the project including survey, bathymetry, geotechnical, tidelands lease acquisition, alternatives analysis, permitting (including an Incidental Harassment Authorization, one of the first in the State of Alaska), marine mammal monitoring, detailed design of the facility, construction administration, and construction inspection. The selected sheet pile dock alternative provides 0.7 acres of new uplands and includes concrete surfacing and bullrail, mooring bollard piles and cleats, timber and fiber-reinforced polymer pile fenders, a concrete utilidor and fish pump pit, trench drain and drainage structures, pedestal cranes, light poles, dock galvanic anodes, crab brailer supports, and two breasting dolphins with associated catwalks and support bents. In addition, a smaller sheet pile dock and access ramp located adjacent to the new G1 Dock was designed for a new seawater intake pump system and building.
The project was completed successfully and on schedule in the fall of 2016 and provided many unique features to meet the needs of UniSea. Many project challenges were addressed by the design: the seafood facility needed to remain fully operational throughout construction, soft marine sediments, shallow bedrock, new seawater intake and pumping system, complicated seafood processing mechanical system and utilidor, depressed cod offload station, crab brailer support system, heavy-duty dock fendering, and resident marine mammals in the construction area.

 

Photo by Aquila Alaska

Danby-Wembley Roundabout Public Involvement.

Danby-Wembley Roundabout Public Involvement

R&M Consultants

Even though they are a proven safety countermeasure, roundabouts are still met with skepticism in Alaska due to their relatively small numbers and the dissemination of misinformation. Planners and Engineers engaging stakeholders during roundabout project development are often challenged with overcoming this sentiment to focus on the merits. To rise above the noise, innovative tools for showcasing how a roundabout will address the context sensitive needs is required. Today's media-driven society demands something more than static plan-view displays. 
The Fairbanks Danby-Wembley Roundabout project was faced with opposition from the local trucking industry due to the project’s location along a major truck route for highway legal and Oversize/Overweight trucks. After a scoping meeting with the trucking industry, the consultant team organized and conducted a truck trial, utilizing a 1:1 representation of the proposed roundabout geometry and inviting the various design vehicles to traverse the course. The event was documented extensively, including with the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle for aerial video and ground based GPS receivers for tire track recording. This data was used to validate the computer-generated turning movements, as well as aid in targeted stakeholder outreach. In the court of public opinion, this use of real life media was key to assure project success.

 

Image courtesy of R&M Consultants, Inc.

​UMC Dock Socketed Pile Value Engineering.

​UMC Dock Socketed Pile Value Engineering

R&M Consultants

In March 2017, R&M was contacted by Turnagain Marine Construction (TMC), requesting value engineering on the replacement of a dock facility in Unalaska, designed by others. TMC had already been awarded the construction contract with the City of Unalaska, but prior to bidding on the project, anticipating very competitive bids, they decided to price into their proposal a value engineering substitution of pile rock anchors. They realized that if they could replace post-tensioned, rock anchored steel piles with drilled shaft, reinforced concrete anchored steel piles, they could not only save time on the construction schedule but could also reduce construction costs by more than $1 million. So, taking a risk with the idea that the Engineer of Record (EOR) and City would accept the anchoring system as equal, they lowered their bid by more than $1 million and was the successful bidder.
Subsequently, TMC needed to prove to the EOR that a pile anchored to bedrock with a reinforced concrete socket would perform equally to one anchored with a post tensioned anchor rod. Because the anchored piles support a 50-foot Gauge Container Crane, it needed to be shown that uplift deflections in the substituted anchors would be less than those specified. R&M worked with TMC and geotechnical engineering firm Shannon & Wilson, Inc. to design an innovative and more easily constructible solution that had higher uplift capacity and lower deflections then the specified rock anchors. R&M also provided a detailed calculation package to the EOR that clearly detailed anticipated deflections of the post-tensioned rock anchor design versus a socketed shaft design. The final substituted socketed shaft included a length of reinforced concrete bonded to drilled bedrock and several internal shear rings welded to the inside of the steel piles to transfer uplift forces between the reinforced concrete at bedrock to the steel piles above.  
R&M worked diligently with the EOR to prove the solution was not only cost-effective but of superior performance than the original design. The result of the value engineering effort was the EOR accepting the substitution request as the baseline design for the project, and then the EOR further using the design throughout other areas of the project to provide additional construction cost savings to the owner. The result was a win-win for both the contractor and the owner.

 

Photo by Kevin G. Smith

Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Patient Housing.

Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Patient Housing

Reid Middleton

The greatest risk to the health of Alaska Native people is not receiving the care they need when they need it,” said Andy Teuber, ANTHC Chairman and President.  This large-scale addition to the Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC), comprised of a patient housing facility, parking garage, and skybridge that links the complex to the existing ANMC Hospital, was designed and constructed to mitigate this risk.
Over half of the 147,000 Alaska Natives and American Indians receiving services at the ANMC live in remote Alaska communities.  Providing convenient, affordable local housing for patients and their families was therefore integral to getting quality medical attention to those needing it.  
Reid Middleton provided the structural engineering for this design/bid/build project made even more complex by requiring construction in three separate phases.  The project’s first phase was the parking garage, a five-story, 165,070-square-foot, 450-stall parking structure.  The second phase was the 90,000-square-foot patient housing facility that provides 202 guest rooms for patients and their families.  The final phase of the project was the skybridge that connects the Complex to the existing ANMC hospital. 

 

Photo by Kevin G. Smith

Anchorage Museum Expansion.

Anchorage Museum Expansion

Schneider Structural Engineers

The Anchorage Museum expansion—the Rasmuson Wing—provides a 30,000-square-foot addition for the permanent art housed in the Art of the North collections, a temporary gallery, new member and donor lounge, offices, and informal galleries, all connected to the remodeled atrium. The atrium now features a clean modern industrial aesthetic that allows visitors to “cleanse the art-appreciation palette” through cool colors, a scattering of tables and chairs, and a coffee stand before resuming their journey through the museum’s many galleries and exhibits. Product fairs, art/craft design fairs, and other events also take place in this accessible open space. The expansion also added space to the Imaginarium Discovery Center.
A focal point of the Anchorage community’s cultural life, the new wing allows the museum to add to their permanent collection and host changing art exhibitions in the new gallery space. A centralized area in the new gallery allows for gatherings that feature artists, performers, storytelling, groups of school children, special and theme events, and book readings. 
The structural design presented several unique challenges, the greatest of which was maintaining seismic separation between the new and existing structures. The original museum building, a concrete and masonry structure built in the 1960s, was not designed to support the added loads from the addition above. Knowing this, Schneider Structural Engineers had to find a way to frame the new structure completely independent of the old structure. To do so, the engineers dropped steel columns through holes in the existing concrete roof, ran those columns 60 feet up to the new roof, then hung the new second floor framing off the new roof structure. The second floor actually “floats” several feet above the existing roof, suspended from heavy steel plate girders. The biggest girders are 5 feet deep, weigh 50,000 pounds, and cantilever up to 50 feet beyond the supporting columns. Schneider’s structural design was closely coordinated to allow the existing museum workshops, children’s Discovery Center, and planetarium to remain fully operational during construction. 

The Municipality of Anchorage permitting process was accelerated through a collaborative process of working directly with the Municipality structural review during the design, resulting in a design with zero substantive structural plan review comments. 
McCool Carlson Green of Anchorage was the architect and interior designer. Davis Constructors & Engineers was the general contractor. The project was delivered by the CM/GC method, under budget and ahead of schedule.

 

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