The firm of Manske Dieckmann Thompson (MDT) has received accolades for work on the new PCC Austin Family Health Center in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, a LEED-Gold, 18,000+ square foot Federally Qualified Community Health Center. Built on a site adjacent to the CTA Green Line acquired from the City of Chicago, the building houses a primary care clinic on the first floor while the 2nd floor contains community meeting rooms, dental suite, and behavioral health services as well as administrative offices. The project was built by Madison Construction in conjunction with Kingdom Community, a neighborhood renewal group that recruited Austin residents to work on the project.
“Clients appreciate that they’re able to visualize the building from the first meeting. The 3D visualization we can create in ArchiCAD has always served us well as a sales tool and it certainly speeds the federal and municipal granting and approval process, which has a reputation for being slow at times,” says architect Larry Dieckmann. MDT used GRAPHISOFT ArchiCAD to create a 3D building information model (BIM) of the building’s glass façade and exposed structure.
While the basic design carried through from earliest conception, ArchiCAD made refinements over the course of at least a dozen community and City committee presentations. Time and cost effective and 3D imaging made the building easily comprehensible to community members and City officials.
“Our work on the PCC Austin project started in summer 2006, with an idealized building on a generic site. Over the following months the building was rotated and flipped in several iterations to fit the eventual site,” says Dieckmann. With the BIM model, these changes were accomplished in a matter of hours rather than days.
Dieckmann says ArchiCAD allowed him to create everything in-house and take care of processes that the engineers on the job would have. “With ArchiCAD, I could work on structural and architectural disciplines within the same program. I took the engineer’s drawings and numbers and dropped them into our model so we could control how the building looked. The public areas of the building featured exposed steel – ArchiCAD made it easy to have accurate steel sizes and shapes and show how they fit together.”
PCC received funding from multiple sources including a $1.3 million Capital Improvement Program Grant made by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a Green Roof grant under provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, Green Design and Geothermal grants from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICECF), and State of Illinois grants for green community development. ICECF standards call for at least LEED Silver on funded buildings, explains MDT partner Patrick Thompson, and the building’s LEED status contributed to selection for State of Illinois and HRSA and ARRA grants. ArchiCAD also assists MDT throughout the granting process by enabling early visualization and preliminary estimating. This provides necessary backup for the grant writer and is an advantage during grant review.
The project boasts a number of cutting-edge design and construction features, including a green roof, drought and salt tolerant landscaping, ground source heat pumps that utilize the earth’s natural heating and cooling capacities, SIPs panels for exterior wall backup, extensive use of recycled/recyclable materials, large expanses of glass to make use of natural light, solar hot water heating for public restrooms, and energy-efficient light fixtures. Operational and maintenance costs were estimated to be at 60% of those for a conventional system because of the geothermal heat pump system and high-performance building envelope. The BIM model facilitated estimating and calculation by engineers by making measurements, areas, and quantities easily accessible.
Dieckmann further explains that making extensive use of recycled/recyclable materials and organic compounds was part of the design process. The reception counter is made of bamboo; there are work stations topped with a surface composed of layers of recycled paper; locally produced brick and glass serve to reflect heat back to its source. It has a landscaped roof, ground source heat pumps that utilize the earth’s natural heating and cooling capacities, and solar hot water heating for public restrooms.
“It just makes sense for a health center to provide a healthier environment for patients and staff. Low-emitting materials and an enhanced supply of fresh air are just part of the way we’re making the whole building work in terms of promoting health and saving tax dollars,” said Dieckmann.
The community health center on Chicago’s west side has won the Illinois ASHRAE Award for Excellence in Engineering for 2010, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Outstanding Non-Profit Neighborhood Real Estate Project for 2011, and the Chicago Building Congress 2011 Merit Award for Construction under $15 Million to name but a few.