The University of Texas at Austin Sarah M. & Charles E. Seay Building Addition

Austin, TX

The University of Texas at Austin Sarah M. & Charles E. Seay Building Addition

The University of Texas at Austin Sarah M. & Charles E. Seay Building Addition

Project Team

The recently completed four-level, 35,000-square-foot Sarah M. & Charles E. Seay Building addition for the University of Texas at Austin Department of Psychology provides new research and administrative space to advance the study of mental health and wellness in the Central Texas community. 

As construction manager-at-risk, and working with BSA LifeStructures and many other project partners, SpawGlass ensured the Seay Building was able to remain occupied throughout construction, including tying into the operational research facility. 

The site was surrounded by busy streets and sensitive research and operations, including a daycare and outdoor playground. To accommodate this active environment, one of the preconstruction solutions adopted to optimize efficiency and reduce disruptions was the prefabrication of the entire exterior skin of the building. Working with building envelope consultant Zero/Six Consulting, subcontractors F L Crane & Sons (FLC) and Chamberlin committed to performing this unusual prefabrication scope as the schedule was being developed and the structure was being built, ready to adjust the plan as needed. Capitalizing on this unique opportunity expedited the schedule, as well as the start of interior work, by approximately three months. 

Inside the building, double the sheetrock was required to achieve the desired reduction in sound transmission necessary for controlled research conditions. This required drywall contractor FLC to perform the same drywall activities twice, along with an alternating stud system, utilizing twice as many studs. Our team ensured the amount of work inside the walls was properly accounted for in the schedule and appropriate manpower was dedicated to these activities. With the expertise of BIM/VDC Coordinator Brian Claxton, we also incorporated all of the interior studs into the building model, rare in BIM practices, revealing numerous clashes that were eliminated prior to the start of construction. 

Other challenging parts of the project scope were tackled through constructability reviews and constant communication with stakeholders and tenants during construction. “We had to tie into the campus utilities loop, which ran through the center of the new building’s compact footprint,” said Superintendent Gilbert Martinez. “That and connecting to the occupied research building through a glass curtainwall were two of our biggest challenges. As a team, we came up with solutions that worked for our client and kept us on track with the schedule.” 

On a research level, the Seay Building is thriving as a collaborative space, including dry labs and offices, for the Department of Psychology to house the Institute for Mental Health Research (IMHR) and the Center for Perceptual Systems (CPS) with room to grow their research and essential staff. 

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