Building Filler: Unique Building Project on H Street

Every construction project has its unique challenges, but what happens when the whole project is unique? When HBW was asked to infill a multi-floor atrium to make way for more usable office space, we paused to consider the journey ahead – and then plunged in. Here’s the story of how HBW used construction creativity to get it done.

Building Filler: Unique building project on H Street

Demo is typically the first step in our office fit-outs, but for the building at 1333 H Street, we needed to start with new interior walls. That’s because the building would be occupied while we worked on filling in a four-story atrium on its upper floors. Isolating the active construction areas with temporary walls allowed us to keep disruptions and construction debris separate from office areas.

The work on H Street took just five months but required construction innovation around scheduling. We had to get eight street closure permits for the window removal, steel beam installation and concrete pours, which was completed over several weekends. Located in a tight area in D.C. close to the White House, we could only close the street on Saturdays. This left us working fast to minimize tenant disruptions but also having to add time to the schedule to accommodate weekend work.

Building Filler: Unique building project on H Street

Start with an A-Team

At HBW, the best teams are those where colleagues complement each other, and there’s a strong bond.

Senior Superintendent Bobby Smith explains about having a dream team on the H Street project: “Anthony and I started at HBW around the same time and have worked together as a team for about seven years. We often come up with the game plans for our projects together. He handles the schedules, and I distribute the information to everyone in the field. A lot of our success is our ability to communicate with one another – and the larger team. Nothing is happening on a job site that we haven’t talked about ten times before it happens.”

Using construction creativity on a unique building project on H Street.

Adopt a creative construction mindset

The unique construction challenges at H Street required innovation to keep things moving. When we decided to bring in the steel beams, we knew we would need to work one floor at a time. Maneuvering beams weighing 5,000 pounds into the center of an office, however, required special handling. The best option turned out to be pulling windows and moving the beams through the offices into the old atrium space and then hoisting them into place.

Another time, we were all set to pump concrete on a snowy Saturday morning. The building was empty, the road had been closed, and everyone was headed to the job site when the cement plant called to say they were closing due to the weather. It took some quick thinking and a persuasive phone call, but we pumped concrete that day.

By staying focused on our commitment to the client and doing each job right, we don’t get too caught up in plans that must change or let egos get involved in considering solutions.

See our commercial construction innovation on a dynamic project.

Prioritize communication

Great communication is cultural at HBW. We know that every project will have some challenges and delays. Our attitude is the quicker and more effectively we communicate issues to our entire team, whether it’s subcontractors, architects, or clients, the quicker we can work towards a solution and move past it. Since we work in the office and in the field, we can’t count on being face-to-face. We have to be intentional about communication. It helps that everyone is on the same page about it, and new hires quickly learn to communicate like pros.

Draw from a depth of experience

There’s not always a model for doing things right when doing new things. For H Street, we drew some inspiration from an amenity center project we did a year ago. Scale-wise, there’s no comparison, but that project also required bringing steel beams and a massive staircase into an enclosed lobby through a doorway. It went so well we decided to use the same company for the beams on H Street.

The depth and diversity of experience we have at HBW means there’s always someone who has done something similar or has a proven approach. It makes us exceptionally well-suited for unique construction projects like the H Street infill.

Today, the H Street building has an additional 2,500 square feet per floor. This unique building project did give us reason to pause, but ultimately, teamwork, communication, and creativity helped us build success.
 Explore HBW Construction's office buildout in an atrium building on H Street