Mobility

Design-Build Creates New R.I. Links

Posted on August 17, 2012 by Rachel J. Burckhardt

Page 3 of 3



Cost-saving alternatives on the construction freed up funds for greater architectural creativity, resulting in a station that resembles a traditional New England textile mill rather than a nondescript rail depot.
Cost-saving alternatives on the construction freed up funds for greater architectural creativity, resulting in a station that resembles a traditional New England textile mill rather than a nondescript rail depot.
Blend not Bland

Wickford Junction is a great example that cost savings do not have to translate into cookie-cutter results. In fact, cost-saving alternatives on the construction freed up funds for greater architectural creativity, resulting in a station that resembles a traditional New England textile mill rather than a nondescript rail depot.

To reflect Rhode Island’s industrial past, intricate detailing was added to the precast panels intended for use on the principal façade. Raising and scoring the façade and using the elevator towers as key vertical elements meant that a generic “big box” look could be avoided. Instead, the structure blends with the existing architectural environment so well, in fact, that a number of phone calls were received from individuals asking to rent office space in a building that is actually a garage.

Adding amenities, such as pavers for the sidewalks and pedestrian areas, a stone seat wall along the track embankment, grand stairs that lead directly from short-term parking to the train platform, period lighting fixtures along the roadway and uplighting for the clock tower, have created a pedestrian plaza that makes for a welcoming and aesthetically pleasing commuter experience.

Collaboration among team members did not end at the proposal and design stage, but continued into the construction phase. For example, when a simple ramp failed to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act after the track grade had been adjusted, team members quickly considered the options, settling on a ramp and stair alternative. Even though the issue arose late in the design stage, when the precast concrete structure was in fact already in fabrication, the problem was solved without delays or budget overruns.

The design-build approach saved about 12 months of construction time, and the final cost is approximately equal to the engineer’s estimate prior to the preliminary designs and 25% below the engineer’s estimate at the preliminary (30%) design stage. Convinced of the advantages of the design-build approach, not only from a financial but also from an aesthetic perspective, RIDOT has begun to consider this method of project delivery for future projects.

Rachel Burckardt is a sr. supervising civil engineer in the Boston office of Parsons Brinckerhoff. Parsons Brinckerhoff served as the lead design firm for the rail station as part of the Manafort Brothers design-build team.

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