Muskingum University - Walter K. Chess Center
New Concord, OH

On Muskingum University's rolling campus, student living spaces were built over time on two sides of a steep, wooded ravine, resulting in separate living areas linked by a long, steep footpath. The Walter K. Chess Center and accompanying pedestrian bridge were positioned to connect these areas and become a focal point for students as the new campus activity center.

Our involvement with the project started with a compressed but considerable value engineering effort. When we joined the team, the plans were in the construction document phase and had been reviewed extensively by the University and prominent alumni, making any value engineering effort challenging.

Working collaboratively with the architect, we developed value engineering ideas to meet the University's budget while maintaining the carefully considered aesthetics. Our team first worked to identify costs centers. In particular, the team focused on the bridge. With the approval of the architect and owner, we solicited design/build proposals on the bridge design and construction. Using this method, the University received a one-of-a-kind design-the trapezoidal concrete box beam design was developed specifically for the University. Even better, the new design saved $500,000, meeting the budgetary requirements set for the bridge.

Cost and constructability challenges occurred throughout the project due to the site conditions-the building is positioned on the side of a hill while the underlying strata included expansive shale and sandstone. We helped develop strategies to properly analyze the need to add expensive rock underpinning to the project, resulting in no underpinning requirements or lost time for construction.

After six months of working collaboratively with the design team, we bid the project with outstanding results-our value engineering effort not only reduced the project cost by over $1 million, but we helped redesign several significant features, eliminating issues that would have been challenges during construction.

The resulting 22,000 square foot building features various activities on three floors: meeting rooms, lounges; a physical fitness floor including weights, aerobics rooms, and locker rooms; a full floor social lounge with event capabilities and a café; a large patio overlooking the ravine capable of accommodating sizable functions. The 335 foot pedestrian bridge, accessed from the top floor of the Center, provides the improved connectivity between residential quads desired at the outset of the project.

During the dedication ceremony, it was evident that the exceptional design and functionality of the building made the Chess Center and instant success with students and alumni.

2009 AGC Build Ohio Award

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