By SHERI GASSAWAY
Before the exterior walls went up at the new SSM St. Louis University Hospital, Corrigan Company and its team of union craftspeople had already built 297 patient bathrooms offsite and placed them close to their final destinations in the building.
Usually, tradespeople have to wait until the steel beams are erected and the concrete sets before stepping into a building. But by taking the lessons learned on modern automotive assembly lines and using them in a different way, Corrigan was able to design and construct the bathrooms offsite in record time.
The 124-year-old St. Louis company recently released a YouTube video (see link at end of story) about the prefabrication project, which showed the early concepts, the construction of the bathroom pods in the Corrigan assembly building and their final placement at the hospital.
SUBSTANTIAL COST/TIME SAVINGS
Dennis Corrigan, Corrigan Company CEO, couldn’t provide exact cost or time savings on the project, but said both were substantial.
“It definitely saved a lot of time and effort at the jobsite, especially with scheduling,” Corrigan told the Labor Tribune. “We had a great group of people to work with. We really enjoyed the challenge.”
Donald Wojtkowski, executive director for the SLU Hospital Campus Renewal Project, approached Corrigan with the idea for the project. He said the project is on schedule largely due to the amount of prefabrication involved.
“I don’t like to think of them (Corrigan) as vendors or subcontractors,” he said. “I like to think of them as partners, and we were extremely fortunate that they expressed an interest in the project so we could do the work locally.”
Corrigan, a mechanical contractor primarily signatory to Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 and Sheet Metal Workers Local 36, served as the general contractor on the project.
STAGING AND SEQUENCING
“We called in the subcontractors and had some meetings and all scratched our heads to figure out how we were going to stage and sequence the work activities and materials,” Corrigan said.
Corrigan’s Project Superintendent Jason Blyzes, a member of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562, said it was like building an eight-story building all on one level.
PROUD OF THE WORK
“You have one trade in a pod at a time,” he said. “We have carpenters, tinners, tilesetters, tapers, painters and electricians. We’re really happy with the outcome and proud of all the work.”
TJ Wies Contracting General Foreman Ty Whitman, a member of St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council, agreed that the project went smoothly.
“We don’t have all this downtime trying to get material, which is normally scattered throughout the jobsite, and all the trades got along really well,” he said.
Corey Bruce, a TJ Wies Contracting carpenter who worked on the project, summed it up, “It’s like a well-oiled machine. We just keep everything going.”
Once the bathroom pods were complete, they were shrink-wrapped so they wouldn’t get wet or damaged on the way to the hospital. Once at the hospital, the pods were lifted to the various floors and moved on wheels relatively close to their final position in the building.
“As I walk through the hospital and see the final product in place, what strikes me is how many people have put a lot of time and effort and a lot of quality and craftsmanship into something that a lot of people take for granted,” Corrigan said.
“The methods, the materials, the craftsmanship and the quality are all there in place,” he added. “It has proven itself to be economical along with very high quality.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For more information about the Corrigan bathroom pod project, visit youtube.com/watch?v=YIKO9phrkPM&fbclid=IwAR3eL7APFPT2BJtRQeu5gP-64IOjvoWyfmiTmlPshxw6qsYkPME8jSCrpgY.