Over the last month, we’ve made a good bit of progress toward completing this project. We are only two months from substantial completion! Inside the building, on Levels 0 and 1, most of the floor finishes have been installed. All doors, door hardware, final wall paint, baseboards, and other cosmetic finishes are fully installed. We have passed the city’s above ceiling inspections on both floors and have also performed internal above ceiling inspections with our Buildings and Maintenance shops. The installation of interior wall panel systems and decorative glass curtainwall systems is ongoing on Levels 1 and 2. Rough-in of all A/V systems is complete and installation of A/V equipment is about to get underway on Levels 0 and 1.
On the upper levels, 2 and 3, floor finishes are 75 percent installed and other cosmetic finishes are going in over the next couple of weeks. Glass marker boards and tack boards are going in at all the classrooms and labs. Above ceiling inspections were performed by the city and our Buildings and Maintenance shops before Thanksgiving. In addition, terrazzo stair treads and risers are being installed over the original concrete stairs on all levels. Most of the lighting fixtures are also installed including the custom LED lighting strips on the wall panel systems. Display cases have also been installed on Levels 1, 2, and 3 in common hallways and at public entrances. 80 percent of all communications cabling is installed throughout the building and the subcontractor is working to prepare the IDF closets for receipt of switching equipment from ACC by the first of December.
Outside the building, the landscaping work continues. New pedestrian sidewalks and stairs have been poured. Decorative limestone retaining walls have been installed, most of the larger trees have been planted, and all rough grading has been completed. New wall decking is being installed in the north courtyard. In the north parking lot, the fabric shade structures over the handicap spaces are fully installed. The final asphaltic resurfacing of the parking lot is complete. All trees have been planted, The light poles have been set and irrigation systems are being installed.
The project is entering the home stretch! We are about three months out from substantial completion. The interiors are really starting to come together.
Final finishes are being installed on Level 0, including carpet tile, storefront glazing panels, final coats of wall paint, ceiling trim, and tile and light fixtures. Level 0 is the closest to being complete. Following closely behind is Level 1, where final finishes are going in on that level, too. Progress is less far along on Levels 2 and 3, but they will catch up there in the next month. Glass marker boards are being installed in classrooms and labs on Levels 1 and 2. Doors and door hardware are going in on Levels 2 and 3. Curtainwall glazing systems are also being installed on Level 2 and 3 in the core of the building in spaces that will be occupied by the Army Futures Command.
In restrooms on all levels, all ceramic floor and wall tiling is set and grouted and all toilet partitions have been installed. All plumbing and light fixtures are also installed. The restrooms are nearly complete.
All terrazzo flooring in common areas and corridors is complete on all four floors and floor protection is installed on top to keep the floors pristine while work continues on in the building.
On the exterior of the building, all the storefront door and glazing systems are installed at Levels 0 and 1. The historical replica painted wall doors are also installed. Temporary protection is wrapped on those doors to keep them clean.
At the north parking lot, irrigation systems are being installed. All light poles are installed. The parking lot asphaltic surface topcoat will be milled in the next week or so and then paint restriping of parking lot spaces will be done near the end of the project in December.
At the south courtyard, the stepped limestone Tillman walls are about 80 percent complete. The overall impression of the courtyard is really taking shape. At the north courtyard, rough grading is completed. Limestone retaining walls are going in and footings for the wood deck structure are being poured. Electrical rough-in of our outdoor light fixtures and power receptacles is also ongoing.
The main fiber connection for IT connectivity is being pulled from RGC 3000 to RGC 1000 this week. The network should be up and running by mid-November or so.
Rio Grande Campus will be home to the new first-of-its-kind Army Futures Command Software Factory. The factory will take up a portion of two floors of the building and is expected to open in mid- to late-January 2021. The factory will not impact the renovation project timeline. Construction remains on track to be completed in spring 2021, and move-in will begin at the end of spring and continue through summer. Classes are expected to resume in fall 2021. Learn more here.
Tremendous progress has been made over the past month. The two elevators are being installed. Decorative hand railing systems are being installed in the interior stairwells. The terrazzo floors in all common areas on Levels 0 to 2 are being completed and final finishing to polish the surfaces is underway. All restroom plumbing fixtures have been installed. Hollow metal door frames have been installed on all floors. Door panels are going in as well. The exterior concrete base is being painted with the approved multilayer protective coating system.
The construction of the south courtyard stepped amphitheater is ongoing with the placement of Tillman walls (large stone blocks carefully arranged in a stair-stepped pattern to create a tiered rectilinear bowl shape in the earth). The north courtyard is currently being prepped for Tillman walls to start going in as well.
Permanent power has been established and all the electrical systems are running to provide power throughout the building. The final painting of all interior original steel windows in the atriums is almost complete. A coat of final paint on interior walls will commence as soon as we have air conditioning in the building.
Rough-in of electrical conduit to serve the light poles and canopy mounted lights in the north parking lot is underway. The electric vehicle (EV) charging stations have been set and are almost ready to go live. The pulling of data cabling is ongoing on Levels 2 and 3 and is nearly complete on Levels 0 and 1. The historical replica exterior entrance doors on the West and East elevations have gone in and are currently being prepped to be primed and painted. All specialty shaped exterior windows have been installed with the exception of just a couple so that building materials can be moved into the building. The mechanical chiller will be started up before the end of August to begin providing chilled water to air handling units, which will provide air conditioning to the entire building.
Overall, construction is about 85 percent complete.
Laboratory casework installation is nearly complete in the science labs on Levels 1-3. All interior walls on Levels 0 and 1 have been constructed, which includes being taped, floated, textured, and primed. A finish coat of paint has been applied in most locations. On Levels 2 and 3, the walls are all taped and floated and ready for paint. Interior door frames are mostly installed on all levels. Ceiling grid installation is nearly complete on Levels 0 to 2 and partially complete on Level 3. All audiovisual cabling is being roughed-in in classrooms and labs. Rough-in of electrical and data cabling in the walls is complete on Levels 0 and 1 and nearly complete on Levels 2 and 3. Most light fixtures have been set into the ceiling grids on Levels 0 and 1.
We expect Austin Energy to power up the new transformers in the nearby vault, thereby establishing permanent power by the end of July. Next week, all major HVAC equipment will be started up and the main electrical panels will be hot. The commissioning of all mechanical and electrical systems will be the focus of efforts from August through November.
The COVID-19-related shutdowns have really created a challenge for our team to keep construction progress moving forward, but we’ve been fortunate that no major issues have arisen thus far, except for feeling the impacts of some delays with construction materials arriving on-site, specifically light fixtures, handrail systems, HVAC equipment and some other finishes. The delay of these items could potentially impact the progress down the road, but we will have to monitor the situation week to week.
As for the construction itself, we reached a significant milestone at the end of March. The building is officially dried in, meaning the roofing is fully installed so that we aren’t getting any water into the building. This has allowed us to make steady progress in April and complete interior drywall installation, including taping, floating, texturing, and painting walls on Level 1. We are now working on Levels 2 and 3 and should have all three levels 90 percent complete by the middle of May. We have also completed the sub-base installation for all terrazzo flooring that will be poured on Levels 1 through 3. We have started installing mechanical, electrical, and plumbing work in the main Library space, which is the last area of the building, other than the penthouse, where overhead work hadn’t yet started. On Level 0, network cabling is being pulled in overhead trays to all data outlets in the rooms. All the Level 0 steel windows have been installed and are being sealed and caulked in by next week.
The vault, located northwest of the Annex in the north parking lot is substantially complete. We received our approval for the building final inspection and expect to turn over the building to Austin Energy to install two transformers within the next couple of weeks. We are still tracking for permanent power to be tied into RGC 1000 within the next month or so, which is another major milestone.
In the chiller house and basement of RGC 3000, mechanical system control panels are being set and programmed to all air handling units.
In the north parking lot, new concrete curbs around islands have been cut in, formed, and poured. Two new electric vehicle charging stations will be installed around the end of April.
Persistent rainy, damp conditions slowed the rate of progress a bit in February, but construction continued to progress well.
Spray foam insulation applied to exterior walls has been completed on levels 1 and 2 and continues on level 3. Drywall installation in the electrical rooms on level 0 is complete. About 80 percent of the electrical conduit and air conditioning ductwork has been run overhead on level 3 and is 95 percent complete on the lower levels.
Construction crews are 25 percent complete with roofing the whole building. Despite the bad weather, the entire roof should be installed by the first or second week of March. Once the roof is complete and attached to the parapet walls, the building will be essentially “dried in,” which allows crews to make much more steady progress inside the building with installing drywall and finishing it in other areas of the building.
Crews are in the process of installing the metal clad wood windows on the inward facing atrium walls in both the north and south atrium. The steel windows are being painted and new glazing is being installed window by window. The atrium steel structural frames are 100 percent installed and the suspended ceiling hangers that provide the backing for the decorative ceiling finishes are also 100 percent installed in both atriums. Construction crews are now ready to start installation of the roof pillows, which will dry-in the atriums when their new roofs are completed. This installation should take about 2 to 3 weeks, pending good weather.
The installation of roof penthouse mechanical equipment is complete. Ductwork and piping is now being installed to connect the equipment to chase ductwork, pumps, and chilled water piping. Hardie-plank siding is also now onsite and ready to be installed on the exterior penthouse walls.
In the core of the building, the central stair is now poured with concrete and able to be accessed. On level 0, the main electrical switchgear is being installed in the main electrical room. Electrical lines are being run through pathways underground from this room over to the newly constructed Austin Energy (AE) vault at the northwest corner of the Annex in the north parking lot. The vault is complete and waiting for AE to deliver and install new transformers. This work is also pending the completion of new electrical lines being buried in trenches cut into 13½ Street, which is work being performed by a separate AE subcontractor. These lines will connect the primary AE electrical cabling under Rio Grande Street that serves the whole area to the vault to help establish permanent power for the building. This work will take another 2 or so weeks to complete and the building is expected to have permanent power around April 1.
Construction teams commemorated the topping-out of Rio Grande Campus on Wednesday, January 22. The event marked an important milestone for the project.
On Level 2, exterior wall spray foam was placed on all facades. Welding of steel roof supports was performed at both atriums and a crane erected the remaining roof-level penthouse steel framing. The science lab air handling units also were placed on the penthouse floor. On the south elevation, exterior metal clad wood windows were installed. Exterior window installation is nearly complete, with the exception of some special arched-shaped windows, which are special orders.The transformer vault foundation was poured and concrete back-up walls have been put up. The exterior brick veneer work has commenced.
Inside Rio Grande Campus, Building 1000, crews continue to pull electrical cables and pipelines for plumbing fixtures in restrooms across all floors. At the south atrium, cloud ceiling steel supports have been hung from the steel roof structure. Fireproofing has been sprayed on the steel structure of the penthouse at roof level. Science lab exhaust steel supports are being welded at the roof. Lastly, metal decking has been applied to the penthouse roof, marking the highest point of new structure on the building.
Across the street, next to Rio Grande Building 3000, the emergency generator equipment was placed over the holidays. The concrete back-up walls have been put up on the generator enclosure. The exterior brick veneer work has also commenced.
Two large cranes are on site erecting the last structural steel members to frame out the rooftop penthouse and place the curved tube steel framing for the new atrium roofs. Within the building, the structural window jamb repair work is now complete. Exterior windows have been placed on the west, north, and east façades. About 75 percent of all the windows have now been installed. In the north atrium, the last few steel windows are being abated and cleaned for new paint. Repointing and repair of the existing building facades also continues, and is nearing completion.
All interior structural steel framing has been installed to infill the last remaining hole in the core of the building, from Level 0 all the way up to the roof. The underside of the metal deck forming the floor plates has been sprayed with fire proofing. Concrete has been placed over the metal deck on all levels to form new floors. Currently, a large crane is onsite erecting the last of the heavy structural steel beams and columns to form the roof penthouse that will house mechanical and electrical equipment. The crane is also setting curved tube steel “ribs” that will form the new structure for the roofs that will cover the former atriums, to make them indoor spaces eventually when the roofing is installed in the next couple of months.