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GSA’s Building 48 Project: Efficiency for the Long-Term

In 1940, the Hayden Family of Lakewood, CO, sold approximately 2,000 acres of their cattle ranch to the U.S. Federal Government, which subsequently signed a contract with the Remington Arms Company to produce rifle ammunition at a new purpose-built plant on the site. Today, this former family ranch has evolved into the Denver Federal Center (DFC): a 623-acre complex hosting 28 different agencies spread across 44 different buildings totaling more than 4 million SF.

The first facility at the DFC was the Denver Ordinance Plant, or Building 48, built in 1941. Following several additions and expansions, Building 48 most recently housed the National Archives and Records Administration, which moved to a new location in 2013. Today, Building 48 is undergoing a bold reimagining to become the new home of the U.S. Department of the Interior Business Center (IBC).

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The project is divided in three distinct components. First, the site, which includes two outbuildings as well as Building 48, will be remediated to remove hazardous materials (HAZMAT) related to the building’s original mission as a munitions plant. Next, work will entail extensive structural repairs, architectural upgrades, and new utility connections. Finally, concurrently with the structural work, the interior will be redone and enhanced with new control systems, fire suppression system, elevators, and new landscaping and parking lot. Ultimately, the project will deliver a complete renovation of the facility into a class A office building tailored to the needs of the IBC and featuring cutting-edge sustainability measures and the latest in energy efficient systems.

General Services Administration (GSA) Region 8 was tasked with delivering a modern, sustainable IBC that reflects the goals of the Department and the new reality of remote work options post-COVID-19. To help realize the project, GSA selected a design-build team composed of Denver contractor Centerre Construction, Inc., architect Cannon Design, and project manager Hill International, Inc. This team is augmented by local and small-business participation throughout the delivery process, from planning to suppliers and materials vendors.

Hill’s Thomas (Chris) Robles is leading the Hill PM team’s work on Building 48. “Our team has been responsible for developing the project across its entire lifecycle,” says Robles. “This includes acquisition, mobilization, design-phase support, field services, commissioning, project management, and closeout, and creating and monitoring the project schedule, managing costs, inspecting work, reporting on progress, and preparing for project closeout and handover.”

Sustainability by Design

The Building Modernization 48 project has received a great deal of attention as well as praise as work progresses into the second phase. For example, GSA’s Public Building Service Commissioner Nina Albert recently visited the site, and a Denver news outlet featured the project as a prime example of how public leaders are stressing more sustainable buildings.

Robles says the attention is well-deserved. “The sustainability goals for Building 48 are impressive,” Robles explains. “We could definitely see this building serving as a benchmark for other GSA projects with similar goals.”

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“GSA is seeking LEED Zero Energy Certification for Building 48,” says Robles. “Which would make this project GSA’s first Net Zero certified project.”

High-Performance for the Long-Term

To support the mission of the IBC and facilitate a collaborative work environment for employees, the Building 48 Modernization will deliver a “high-performance workplace.” This, says Robles, means realizing spaces and systems that not only modernize the facility, but also enhance and extend its efficiency and functionality.

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“The project involves a complete interior renovation and modernization,” explains Robles. “With new mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire and life safety systems, as well as a new roof.” Beyond these upgrades, however, are several changes that will make the new Building 48 truly a high-performance workplace. “Cannon and Centerre developed concepts that enhance all human factors, including health, functional efficiency, air quality, and comfort,” Robles says. “In addition, the design also seeks to extend the service life of the modernized building, all while meeting the IBC’s programmatic needs.”

Once complete, Building 48 will be a fully occupied class A office building housing approximately 149,000 SF of office space for the sole use of the IBC. In addition, according to GSA, the project will allow IBC to shed three private market leases, saving taxpayers approximately $6 million annually.

“This is the kind of project that can set a standard for years to come,” says Robles. “Today, realizing GSA’s mission as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible is the goal of the entire team. And I’m confident we will all take away key best practices for other similarly ambitious Federal building projects throughout Region 8 and across the U.S.”

Hill Project Manager T. Christopher Robles has more than 15 years of experience providing construction management services for federal projects, including new construction and renovation of office, healthcare, and research spaces. He is experienced in a variety of delivery methods, including design-bid-build, design-build, and construction manager-at-risk. Contact Chris at [email protected].

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Pictured L-R are Special Assistant to GSA Commissioner Matthew Poisson, Hill / Go Energistics Deputy Project Manager Brian Kingsford, Cannon Design Senior Project Manager Matt Bartels, Hill International Senior Project Manager Chris Robles, Director of Design & Construction / Deputy Regional Commissioner GW Emge, GSA Commissioner Nina Albert, GSA Project Manager Brandon Fortune, GSA Interior Designer Leah Spilling, Deputy Director IBC Quan Boatman, Deputy Assistant Director Doug Pokoerny, Chief of Infrastructure IBC Jarott Sorenson, and Deputy Assistant Financial Director IBC Brent Stevenson.