Back to the Base-ics: Base Build Project at the Waterfront of Washington, D.C

After a 20-year hiatus on base building projects, HBW Construction is back on the scene with an exciting ground-up job that is helping to transform a historic Anacostia neighborhood while drawing from the company’s deep experience in healthcare construction and detail-oriented interiors.

Rendering of Good Hope Road healthcare construction project upon completion.

When you’ve been in construction for over 50 years, every project includes familiar elements. But even the familiar feels new and exciting when your next project is something you have yet to do in more than two decades.

As HBW Construction kicked off a base building project in the Anacostia waterfront area of Washington, D.C., late last year, we couldn’t help but marvel at just how long it had been since we had done a base build – the shell and core, the primary structure, the whole shebang. About 20 years ago, the company turned its focus to interior build-outs. Though many of our projects continued to include the same elements of building demolition and construction, this project marks the HBW base build relaunch.

Marion Barry Ave.

We were brought into the Good Hope Road project (the historic area now renamed Marion Barry Avenue) to build a respite housing project. The 22,000-square-foot building will feature (medical offices) on the first floor, with three floors of communal studio apartments above.

The project started by demolishing the row homes on the land and quickly progressed to work on the first and second-floor decks. The building will have a synthetic stucco exterior and surface parking in the back.

The foundation has been a challenge in this build. The soil in the area, dredged from the Anacostia River decades ago, required very deep footers to reach bedrock and special concrete work. Fortunately, our concrete sub was great to work with, and our team was able to adjust to this new reality and move forward.

Good Hope Road project before HBW Construction began the base build project at the waterfront of Washington, D.C.
Marion Barry Ave. project before start of construction

Rendering of Good Hope Road project upon completion of this housing respite project.
Rendering of Marion Barry Ave. project upon completion

HBW on the Job

With a speedy schedule and so much to learn from the project, we have three superintendents assigned to the build. Don Johnson, who has been with HBW for over 10 years, brings his dirt work experience and has been instrumental in our interior build-outs. Phillip Sun has a background in base building construction, so he oversees everything on site.

And, since the job is such a good learning opportunity, we will rotate in a third superintendent to serve as quality assurance and gain base build experience.

Our approach on any construction job is to establish good relationships, and Marion Barry Ave is no exception. Before we started, our superintendents walked the very populated neighborhood. They introduced themselves to all surrounding business owners and explained that it’s a tight site and we have to get some big equipment in there, so they knew what to expect. Seven months into the project, we haven’t had any issues with neighbors or inspectors.

HBW Construction contracting team underway on the base build project on Good Hope Road.
HBW Construction's contracting team hard at work on this healthcare construction project in Anacostia, D.C.

Gaining Experience, Using Experience

The Marion Barry Ave project allows HBW to draw on one of our strong niche areas of expertise: Healthcare. We have extensive healthcare construction experience with dozens of hospital, medical, and veterinary projects on the books in the past few years. Healthcare construction involves a unique type of infrastructure to accommodate specialized equipment and purpose-built spaces, combined with finishes that enhance patient comfort.

Several recent projects have involved the ground-up construction experience that we hope to expand on. In combination with our retail and office interior markets, HBW crews are well-poised for the renewal and replacement projects that are being planned for the DMV region. We are looking at several new opportunities in the next year that will leverage our blend of experience, including converting an office building into a hotel.

The More Things Change…

The secret to our success at HBW has been our communication and organization. We like to say our pragmatic, professional approach is what drives our success. And we hear from clients that the level of attention we bring to our interior work sets us apart from other contractors – a good sign for winning more ground-up projects.

Phil Scott set the tone for this project. He said, “I don’t want us to come out of this being adequate or average. I want everybody involved to have the best construction experience they’ve ever had.” We still have a ways to go, but we’re doing it!

Though it’s been 20 years since we took on a full base build, HBW is in a position to deliver a superior product because of our recent experience. Our people, our processes, our knowledge, and our on-the-job capabilities are all there, ready to be applied to a market sector that is all about brand-new beginnings.