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Iconic San Diego new Central Library prepares to open

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In downtown San Diego, an iconic shape has been added to the skyline. The new San Diego Central Library, with its unmistakable, landmark dome, can be clearly distinguished from its angular neighbors. The library was designed by the joint venture team of Rob Wellington Quigley, FAIA and Tucker Sadler Architects, and is being built by Turner Construction Company, who serves as the projects Construction Manager at Risk. The new structure promises to be one of the great civic buildings of Southern California, and it will play a crucial role as the hub of the 35-branch San Diego Public Library system. Turner Construction is honored to have been a part of bringing this phenomenal facility to the San Diego community.

Turner began construction of this civic icon in August 2010. Years of planning and preparation allowed the project team to hit the ground running from day one. The project team, including the city of San Diego, the architecture joint venture and the library, set an early goal to become partners in making the new San Diego Central Library a success. They committed to becoming a World Class Team through ownership, accountability and open and early communication.

Turner immediately began the coordination process using 3D Building Information Modeling (BIM) as its platform. During preconstruction, Turner determined that using BIM would be essential for project success. Teams met weekly to review and coordinate every component of the building. They wanted to ensure that at all levels, elements such as floor electrical boxes and sleeves for conduit and piping were identified in the model prior to putting them in place in the actual construction.

BIM also served as the basis for the projects 3D scheduling approach, which aligned the project schedule with the model in a 3D presentation. Turner also immediately developed a project specific quality control program to establish expected standards of finish on all materials and their fit with adjoining materials. This process created clarity for the entire team that led to greater productivity.

These tools, among many others, made the overall construction of this very challenging structure, as efficient as possible. Nowhere was the need for efficiency more evident than with the construction of the distinctive dome. It was by far one of the most challenging aspects of this building project. 3D modeling helped the construction team work through the challenges virtually, which streamlined actual construction.

Over the last three years on this project, Turner Construction and its subcontractors worked over 773,000 man-hours without a single lost time accident. Turner’s focus on safety has garnered a host of recognition, including the Cal OSHA Golden Gate Partnership Recognition, the Cal OSHA Safety Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) award and the Liberty Mutual 2013 Gold Safety Award. By projects end 43,000 cubic yards of concrete had been poured and over 12,000,000 pounds (6,000 tons) of rebar laidd within the projects slabs and columns. The Dome, weighing over 136 tons was erected. 1,500 aluminum perforated panels that cover the Dome were installed, creating shade for the Helen Price Reading room below. All of this and much more was successful due to the efforts of more than 1,100, workers representing more than 100 local first and second-tier subcontractors, vendors and suppliers.

“The architects presented us with ideas and a set of documents that challenged us,” said Carmen Vann, project executive for Turner Construction Company. “But, we appreciated the challenges because as builders, we value designs that push us to new heights in innovation and technology. And that is what this project did.”

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