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Award of Merit: Higher Education/Research: Biomedical Research and Health Professions Building

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SpawGlass completed work on the three-story, 60,000-sq-ft Biomedical Research and Health Professions Building at the University of Texas at Brownsville in September 2012.

Photo by Mark Gaynor/Gaynor Photography
View of archways implemented throughout the project. This architectural feel can be seen throughout the campus and entire city.
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This is the first building in the university's history to be designed to withstand sustainable winds of 191 miles per hour. To accomplish this, the project teams quickly focused on each of the individual divisions, with SpawGlass proactively reviewing details and scheduling multiple work sessions with structural engineers and subcontractors to ensure that every part manufactured and installed met Texas windstorm requirements.

Sub-terrain structural components on the project required some innovation. Because of the sensitive nature of activities taking place in the adjacent campus buildings, ground vibration was very much a concern.

SpawGlass chose to implement an auger-cast pile system since the strata of earth in the area were difficult to predict while voids within were impossible to predict. The team was able to account and accommodate for the irregularities in the subsurface strata without losing pile-head heights, indicating a successful pile. A standby truck was typically nearby to compensate for any additions to the calculable volume of the drilled piles. Design further compensated for structural integrity by grouping piles with structural-pile caps in strategic locations.

Key Players

Owner University of Texas System, Harlingen, Texas

General Contractor SpawGlass Contractors Inc., Harlingen, Texas

Lead Design SHW Architects, Austin, Texas

Structural Jaster Quintanilla, San Antonio

Civil Charles Gojer and Associates Inc., Dallas

MEP Goetting & Associates Inc., San Antonio

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