Construction is nearing completion with a substantial completion milestone expected at the end of September. Final touches are being completed throughout the building with several large performance spaces still undergoing substantial construction activities. Curtain tracks are being hung. The wood sprung dance floor will be installed soon. Fixed seating is starting to be installed in some locations. The pipe grid is nearly complete in all areas.
The connections to adjacent buildings 1000 and 4000 have been completed. Landscaping and site paving is mostly complete. Exterior furniture has been installed. The majority of the furniture has been delivered and installed. Equipment installation has begun in some areas.
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 exterior walkways, seating walls, and landscaping are complete on the west and are underway on the east side. The exterior building finishes are being completed and exterior furnishings are forthcoming.
The majority of the interior spaces are complete or nearly complete with the exception being the larger performance and production spaces that have a multitude of infrastructure and acoustic components and specialty finishes. Touch-ups and final cleaning efforts are on-going. Furniture installation is nearing completion throughout the building. Equipment installation has begun in the health sciences simulation area. Commissioning and systems testing is on-going.
Highland Phase 2 will open for Spring Semester 2021.
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.
The Riverbat has been installed on the Paseo canopy. It casts a shadow below that moves across the Paseo throughout the day. Concrete placement on the west side is finishing up. Grading and concrete work will begin shortly on the east side. The chilled water line on the east has been installed, insulated, and inspected.
Electrical conduit and wire work is ongoing while the cyclorama — a wall arced to create the illusion that there is no end — is currently being installed in the TV/Film Studios for Radio-Television-Film. The metal wall panels are almost finished and metal ceiling tile installation will start soon in the Meeting Presentation Hall. The final painting, lighting installation, and concrete floor overlay are nearly complete throughout the entire building. Stair railing installation is nearly complete. Pipe grid and acoustical wall panels are being installed in many areas. Study rooms and study niche seating is complete throughout. Markerboards, tack boards, and display cases are still being installed. Appliances have been installed throughout. Floor and wall protection has been installed in many areas as furniture installation has begun in some office suites and some classrooms.
Interior finishes and specialties are being installed and drywall finishing is ongoing. Overhead acoustical panel installation is ongoing. Cabinetry and built-in desks continue to be installed. Culinary equipment is being installed. Signage installation has begun. Restroom accessory installation is about to begin. Tile work, carpet, and other flooring activities are ongoing. Decorative metal railing posts have been installed at the open stairs and perforated panels will be installed in March. Glass railing at floor openings is complete. Three of the five elevators are complete. Cable tray installation, wire pulling, and pipe insulation are nearly complete.
Exterior metal panel activities are ongoing on the upper paseo. Paseo waterproofing is nearly complete and elevated concrete topping slab will be poured soon afterward. Sitework is currently ongoing in the paseo and on the west side. Sidewalks are being installed. Landscaping and finishes to begin shortly.
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.
Gas service is now on in the building and plumbing fixtures are being installed. Overhead utilities are still underway in the southern portion of the building. Restroom tilework is making progress, as well as carpet tile in many office suites and study rooms. Ceiling tile installation has begun and acoustic panels are currently in progress in the main corridors. Stair railings continue to be installed. Millwork, such as cabinetry and built-in reception desks, is being installed.
The building exterior metal wall panel installation is still in progress. Exterior site grading and flatwork have begun.