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May 10, 2019

ABC Awards -- Eagle of Excellence • Historical Restoration/Renovation ($10 million to $25 million)

Photo from Rafn Co.
Cambridge Apartments renovation included seismic and life safety upgrades as well as a historic lobby and amenity space restoration.

Rafn Co.
Cambridge Apartments

Owner: Bellwether Housing

Architect: SMR Architects

Engineer: I.L. Gross Structural Engineers

Rafn Company proved itself yet again this year through their attention to the four pillars of distinction: excellence, design, integrity and safety by winning the Eagle of Excellence Award. This is the highest honor offered by Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Washington and was awarded for their work on the Cambridge Apartments in Seattle. Rafn also won the Excellence in Construction Award in the Historical Restoration/Renovation $10 million to $25 million category for the same project. Built in 1923, Cambridge Apartments is a ten-story piece of Seattle history that contains 157 residential units.

Meeting the Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard, this 90,920-square-foot, substantial renovation and seismic retrofit project, constructed at guaranteed maximum price, took approximately 27 months to complete. Eleven ABC members also contributed to this project: Evergreen Concrete Cutting, Inc., Fawcett Painting, Inc., General Storefronts, Inc., J&B Fabricators, LLC, North Coast Iron Corp., SME Inc of Seattle, United Systems Mechanical, LLC, LEAD Staffing West, LLC, Propel Insurance, Safety Matters and Construction Industry Training Council (CITC).

Cambridge Apartments originally started as a plumbing retrofit project but transformed into a substantial alteration. An enhanced scope and budget were required due to the addition of seismic and life safety upgrades as well as a historic lobby and amenity space restoration. Even with significant changes to scope, Rafn was able to accommodate the changes while maximizing the value from additional funding, meeting the Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard and minimizing what could have been a lengthy disruption for the building’s tenants. Building Information Modeling (BIM) allowed Rafn to create a plan that incorporated sprinkler lines in corridors and determined that concrete sheer walls would be a more suitable option to a cumbersome and visually unappealing steel brace system.

Restoration projects present unique challenges. One of the biggest hurdles was minimizing intrusion for the building’s occupants by mitigating dust pollution, shut-downs, limiting working hours and construction access and maintenance of safety systems and standards. There were also challenges that came with upgrading a nearly 100-year-old building. Some of these challenges included: delays related to the excavation of old footings; tricky installation of new mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems; and elevator modernization scheduling and design complications that made it difficult to move equipment throughout the building.

Another important factor was their exemplary safety record. Out of 133,776 hours recorded on this project, there were no OSHA-recordable instances of injury requiring days away from work, job transfer or restriction.

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