Greenville Technical College works to transform lives through education while driving economic development by building a strong workforce. To further that focus, Greenville Tech selected our team at Harper General Contractors to lead construction of the state-of-the-art Prisma Health Center for Health and Life Sciences building that would provide a unique learning environment to strengthen health sciences programs and general education requirements at the college.
As the Construction Manager-at-Risk, Harper was involved from the early stages of the project in order to develop a plan to deliver this three-story, 125,000-square-foot building that is currently under construction. Working with project architect, McMillan Pazdan Smith, our team collaborated with the client, taking a careful approach that incorporated creativity, innovative methods, and strong preplanning.
Collaboration between a skilled project management team and a knowledgeable construction technology team can significantly improve project outcomes. Thanks to seamless coordination and innovation between these two groups, Harper was able to navigate challenges, harness technological advancements, and go above and beyond for the client. “What makes the Greenville Tech field and operations team stand out is that they embraced the technology and ran with it. They have done an excellent job of taking the technology, understanding it, and then using it to be successful on their job,” shares Jordan Chandler, Harper’s Virtual Building Director.
Harnessing Technology for Success
Collaboration began with the construction technology team mobilizing on site to conduct an initial site conditions survey using geo-located orthomosaic drone mapping. These maps were used as a baseline for our team as they began the project and are continually updated to visualize changes on the site over time. When it came time to install aggregate piers to secure the foundation, the project management team relied on construction technology to ensure accurate installation utilizing a combination of drone mapping with DroneDeploy to capture aerial maps and robotic total station layout. Our team was able to quickly layout all 535 piers on site, map the site with a drone, and then overlay the structural foundation design and aerial drone maps to assure the location of the piers matched. This approach provided efficient layout, early coordination and quality control to prevent timely fixes and reinstallations. All of the piers were installed successfully.
One of the bigger challenges to date is the amount of unsuitable soils on the site and the need for significant site balancing before moving to vertical construction. The facility is being constructed on a former landfill and located in an area that was originally a parking lot in the center of campus. There was a big effort from Harper to separate all the onsite soils to determine what was unsuitable and what could be usable elsewhere on the site. There is a large cost component that is attached to this effort since the result will determine how much soil needs to be exported off site to the landfill and how much can be kept on site to reuse for other areas, such as perimeter fills around the structure. Again using DroneDeploy and the original site maps, our team visually sorted the different soil qualities and determined where soils were needed or should be removed. This exercise not only helped our team make important decisions but gave us the knowledge so that we could get creative about reusing the soils. Harper was able to save the college $250,000 through creative reuse of unsuitable soils. Additionally, our team was able to organize these various piles of soils in areas that wouldn’t impact construction progress. With the overlay feature in DroneDeploy, our team located these piles outside of projected work. Space was limited on site, so accurately using the project real-estate was critical. Overall, it has been a great tool for site management.
Another way the project management team used our technology was in capturing job progress in detail. Traditionally, teams capture stills throughout a project progression to document and bulk upload into large photo albums for future reference. For Greenville Technical College, the team used 360-degree cameras throughout the site that were integrated into DroneDeploy. This targeted way of capturing images at specific times and locations on a set schedule makes it simple for our team and future maintenance staff at Greenville Technical College to virtually “open the walls” and see the exact systems in place.
Engaging Students with Technology Firsthand
Each of the applications of technology provided opportunities for learning. When we joined the team as a CM At-Risk for this project, we knew that providing Greenville Technical College’s students with enrichment through hands-on experiences in construction technology would be an invaluable educational opportunity. By showcasing the practical applications of construction technology, the students have the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the industry’s intricacies and their impact. When we installed the initial aggregate piers on the site, we invited Clemson University civil design students to understand the construction technology and its application and impact in the field. We also brought Greenville Technical College’s Construction Engineering Technology and Architectural Engineering Technology students to our job trailer during the construction technology application and coordination meeting to expose the students to real-world scenarios.
“I am very grateful to Harper for opening their jobsite to our students so that they can see construction progress in real time. One of the guiding principles for the design of this building was to put learning on display and make it visible. Harper is carrying this design principle all the way through construction. Learning is on display and visible from groundbreaking to move in,” shared Julie Eddy, chief of staff to Dr. Keith Miller, President of Greenville Technical College. By engaging with construction technology firsthand, we aimed to empower the students to develop a passion for the field and potentially pursue careers in this ever-evolving industry, shaping the future of construction innovation.
About Harper: Throughout Harper’s 73-year history, they have had the opportunity to develop strong professional relationships with clients across the Carolinas. By bringing to life the vision of their clients, Harper leaves a lasting impression on members of the community. The core of the company is geared toward collaborating with clients and design professionals in an open and transparent manner, enabling the client to know how every project dollar is being invested. An award-winning company, Harper consistently receives recognition in the areas of quality, safety, environmental stewardship, and community involvement. For more information, visit harpergc.com.