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Cold-Formed Project Spotlight - Baptist Medical Center

At the Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville, FL, a large expansion project was completed for the Wolfson Children’s Hospital. This 7-story expansion of 225,000 square feet adds 127 beds and 122 suites to the hospital as well as including different types of ICU units, pediatric critical care, and a burn and wound care unit. The building features many new technological advancements in the medical field for care of children and many of these are the first in a medical facility for the state of Florida.

The superstructure is primarily comprised of a thick reinforced concrete floor slab supported by concrete columns. The building’s exterior façade is primarily glazed window systems, E.I.F.S, and various styles of metal panel systems. Cold-formed steel framing is the sub-structure behind the E.I.F.S. and metal panel systems for support. Most of the large glazed curtainwall systems are supported by structural steel sub-structure while the smaller ribbon-style glazed systems are supported by cold-formed framing. Cold-formed framing is utilized on typical exterior walls as well as in soffits, parapets, “picture frames” surrounding large glazed curtainwall systems, and at the entrance canopies.

In order to help with the project schedule by saving on installation time of the exterior wall framing, the decision was made on this project to produce prefabricated cold-formed wall panels where possible. To further save on installation time, these wall panels also had exterior sheathing and a water/vapor barrier already applied. Due to the complexity and lengths of some of the cold-formed wall framing, it was not feasible to prefabricate the whole project. There were a number of locations where prefabricated wall panels were installed in and around areas of framing that had to be field framed. In order to help the field installation team with locating the correct field installation details, the cold-formed shop drawings were color coded to separate the two types of installation.

Coordination of the panelized portion of the cold-formed steel framing presented the greatest design challenge. Attaching cold-formed wall panels that arrive on-site with exterior sheathing already installed limits the choices of available design solutions for attachment to the building structure. When the point of attachment to the structure is also a concrete floor system, this further limits those choices. By selecting to utilize an embedment rail system, the field installation team was able to install these panels efficiently and quickly. The main reason for this was that field installation did not require having to install post-installed concrete anchors. Careful planning of the rail system locations along with each wall stud location in the wall panel layout allowed each wall panel to anchor securely with a simple, yet strong, cold-formed only solution.

Two architectural features also required a large amount of construction coordination. Wing walls were featured on most corners of the building. These wing walls required specific detailing to address the cantilevered loads that are produced in both the lateral and gravity directions. Also, numerous ribbon-style glazing systems existed which required a cold-formed design that included the installation of field kickers and post-installed connections to the bottom of the concrete. Due to the presence of building structural elements such as beams and columns, MEP floor openings, pipes and shafts as well as architectural elements, the design of this framing required a lot of consideration for these items as well as having to provide continuous alternate solutions at clash locations.

In order to assist with all of the mentioned items on this project, all cold-formed framing – both field and prefabricated portions – was modeled using BIM (building information modeling). This ensured that the cold-formed steel framing and structural connections were fully coordinated with the building’s superstructure and intricate façade systems. A full set of highly detailed layout drawings were produced from the BIM model for the cold-formed steel contractor’s use.


Architect of Record: FreemanWhite, Inc.

Engineer of Record: O'Donnell & Naccarato 

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