In a collaborative effort that successfully applied Bergelectric’s advanced approaches to design build construction—including identifying key value engineering opportunities, BIM partnership and cutting-edge prefabrication capabilities—Bergelectric, along with DPR Construction and other key trade partners, successfully completed the new Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Austin, a 17-story hotel tower located near the University of Texas campus.
Completed in 2021, the 140,000-square-foot hotel tower now includes a restaurant and outdoor seating on the ground floor as well as a 1,900-square-foot bar and dining area. The second level includes a 1,300-square-foot kitchen and a 1,600-square-foot multipurpose dining area.
Bergelectric was brought on early in the design and planning stages to work alongside general contractors DPR Construction. Their preconstruction team provided DPR with a total of five budget proposals for the project, ranging from early concept through design completion. They were able to offer value engineering opportunities throughout the design to maintain the initial electrical design budget through completion of the project. Value engineering alternatives that were utilized included: using Metal Clad (MC) cable for home-runs; conduit alternatives; revised fixture specs, types, layouts, and quantities to reduce overall fixture package cost; aluminum alternatives; Electrical Metallic Tubing (EMT) replaced with Electrical Non-Metallic Tubing (ENT); and utilization of shared neutrals and handle ties in lieu of dedicated neutrals for guest room circuits.
Preplanning and the use of Bergelectric’s in-house BIM resources were instrumental to the overall success at the Hilton Garden Inn. For instance, establishing best communication practice between key project teams (field, BIM and management) during the initial layout enabled a more efficient way to track the install locations of all devices and fixtures.
Bergelectric utilized Revit for BIM coordination and layout drawings to ensure deck rough-in was within 1/8” accuracy and that the prefabrication plan would work with the structure and framing. Once modeled and signed-off by the project team, data was converted to PDF documents via Bluebeam Studio. Items that needed to be reviewed were captured and reported to the installation team to verify before installation.
The Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Austin had a very small footprint for a building of its height and minimal laydown area for material storage. Bergelectric was able to take advantage of its prefabrication warehouse to store materials, built in advance by its own electricians, shipped back to the vendor’s storage and then delivered to the jobsite when ready for the installation (“just in time”). This minimized loading-zone usage and the need for on-site storage.
In addition, certain materials were stored in vendor-stocked mobile material carts with the ability to be rolled in and out to be refilled, as necessary. In each area, materials and tool storage were on wheels to allow quick relocation and avoid negative impacts on other trades.
Prefabrication of the hotel units was critical to the success of this project. The general foreman and the prefabrication manager developed an installation plan for the hotel units off-site and delivered as a “Room in a Box” to the jobsite. The “Room in a Box” consisted of: assembly of all boxes with ground pigtails, adjustable mud rings, and box supports; pre-cut Metal Clad (MC) cable whips to specified lengths with connectors (ready to install); pre-installed devices including receptacles and lighting control; required boxes with pre-installed fire pads; and installation of “paint guards” over devices to avoid damage during drywall installation.
Difficulties and Extenuating Circumstances
The Selmer Tennessee flood occurred on July 1, 2020. The ABB busway manufacturing plant is located in Selmer, which was the plant responsible for the process of manufacturing the busway of the hotel. Bergelectric’s busway was scheduled to ship later in the month and was already in production at the time of the flood.
Not only was the vertical riser busway damaged, but also the incoming Austin Energy vault tap. Austin Energy has specific requirements and dimensions for entering their vault with power. By carefully coordinating with Rexel and ABB, Bergelectric came up with a solution to use a manufacturer from San Antonio (EPI Electrical Products) to build a custom vault tap that would marry up to a new pull section of the main switchboard (built at another ABB plant) for a seamless look that met all requirements. Bergelectric’s team was able to accomplish this and had ample time so that power was not affected to meet the project’s schedule. This plan was so successful that DPR sought to use a similar solution on another project where they were having vault tap issues. This would not have been possible without Bergelectric’s field management, BIM Department, and project management; it was a huge morale booster and really showed how strong Bergelectric’s project team was at mitigating issues in real time.
The end result was a complete electrical installation (fewer plates and fixture trims) that was safe to energize prior to drywall installation. This allowed for less manpower on a congested site, and Bergelectric was able to power on lights earlier in the project to provide permanent lighting in the restrooms for paint and finish crews.
Now completed, the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Austin is a welcome addition to Downtown Austin’s north end—just a few blocks from the University of Texas, Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium, Moody Center, Capitol of Texas and a short distance to the famous 6th Street. The tower adds 214 much-needed guest rooms and ground-level restaurant space to this ever-expanding area of the city.