University of North Texas Curry Hall Renovation

Denton, TX

University of North Texas Curry Hall Renovation

Originally completed in 1913, Curry Hall is the oldest building on the University of North Texas (UNT) campus in Denton, Texas.

The SpawGlass-North Texas project team was brought on board as construction manager-at-risk to upgrade the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems, retrofit the expansive Curry Hall interiors to accommodate a new fire protection system and bring the building up to current code compliance while preserving the historical features of the 110-year-old building.

As anticipated, removing and replacing the air handling units (AHU) above the third floor ceiling proved to be a significant challenge to the project. The modern AHUs were too large to fit through traditional openings throughout the building. The team brainstormed several ideas that ultimately were denied by the Texas Historical Commission (THC). Eventually, a compromise was reached; the team would remove select exterior windows and door frames – a very complex process – to bring in the units.

Not only was the construction taking place on an active campus, some of the classrooms in Curry Hall were slated to remain open for classes. For the first three months of the project, the third floor was still in use by students, faculty and staff. Working with UNT, Superintendent Michael Lovelace created a phased construction plan. The team began work on the first and second floors, then moved on to the third, finishing the third floor early to allow it to be occupied again quickly.

“Keeping everyone in the building safe during construction was really important to us and to UNT,” said Michael. “We came up with a lot of solutions to ensure safety during all phases of construction.”

A secondary gate was created to allow students, faculty and staff to traverse the site and enter away from where the main construction was taking place. The team also designed a specific route so that students could only walk through safe areas to access their classrooms.

Another challenge of the project involved getting buy-in from every subcontractor to complete thorough daily job safety analyses (JSAs). Subcontractors were encouraged to think about every task they would be performing each day, potential hazards and ways to mitigate risk to keep everyone safe. In the SpawGlass spirit of building people, Intern Alyssa Laughter took the initiative to create a rubric to “grade” the JSAs. With this new grading system, the teams with the most detailed JSAs each week received a goody bag reward. With the new reward system implemented, the JSAs saw a significant improvement in completeness.

Under the leadership of Project Manager Mitch Owens, the project team successfully accomplished its goal of upgrading the historic Curry Hall to modern building code standards while also working with UNT and THC to preserve a beloved piece of UNT campus history. Students, faculty and staff can now enjoy the architectural beauty of Curry Hall while also benefitting from the comfort and security of a modern, fully air-conditioned facility with life safety systems in place.

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