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May 26, 2017

Public building
$20 million-$50 million

Photo courtesy of BNBuilders
One challenge of the renovation was the building had no large openings to move big items through.

UW Denny Hall renovation

Location: Seattle

General contractor: BNBuilders

Owner/developer: University of Washington

Primary designer: Hacker Architects

BNBuilders recently completed a comprehensive renovation to Denny Hall, the oldest building on the University of Washington’s Seattle campus.

Denny Hall was originally built of heavy timber and load-bearing stone in 1896. Its exterior of sandstone, brick and terra cotta still honor its pioneer-era heritage.

In 1957, a substantial renovation removed all the interior walls and wood decking, and replaced them with steel and concrete columns and floors. None of the original interior character was retained.

Today’s renovation seeks to restore the grandeur of the 1890s interior while modernizing all building systems, improving accessibility and increasing seismic integrity. The complexity of the project necessitated a lengthy preconstruction process to plan the sequence of structural upgrades, coordinate installation of new systems within the existing building, and identify an efficient work-execution approach that still protects the building. All told, the project was in preconstruction for over 14 months.

Early in preconstruction, BNBuilders’ teams worked with the design team to identify elements of the renovation that would need to be moved into or out of the existing building. The lack of any large-scale opening made this challenging.

Since this work was heavily planned in advance, crews were able to efficiently execute work without damaging the building or negatively impacting the schedule. The use of lean techniques, including building-information modeling and prefabrication, helped further construction efficiencies.

The renovation to historic Denny Hall was a success. Not only was project executed safely, it was also completed six months early. This was due to extensive planning done before the start of construction and a diligent approach to efficiently executing the work, always with an eye towards safety.

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