The Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Headquarters renovation project fundamentally began as a major fire and water damage restoration effort, and quickly transitioned into an opportunity to retrofit two entire floors of their facility to meet the demands of the modern office culture. After a brief RFQ process, Chesapeake decided to engage CAM as a repeat client of theirs over the past 15 years. The heart of this project involved the construction of a new central break area, which functions more as a community gathering space with a variety of different seating options, food service offerings, and basic culinary equipment to assist employees who bring their own lunch. The genesis behind this space was to provide a welcoming common area amenity that employees could either utilize individually, with one another, or even with external facing clients. The architect’s goal was to make this a visually distinctive space that will impress upon every visitor and staff member who walks off the elevator into level one of the office building.
The linchpin of their concept called for replacing an old drop ceiling with multiple acoustical clouds, and leaving the rest of the structural slab exposed above. Executing this look required an extensive amount of clean-up within the former plenum, to demo extraneous low voltage wiring, bundle up active IT/data wiring within black corrugated piping, and consolidate electrical conduit runs into specific areas. CAM then sprayed the entire above ceiling area black to help any remaining MEP systems disappear from view, which helps maintain the occupant’s focus on the space in front of them.
Other elements of this job included the construction of an all-new fitness center with connected ADA restrooms/locker rooms, a massive new training room with a folding partition, a variety of small conference rooms designed for brainstorming sessions and zoom calls, and completely new finishes and systems furniture layout within the open areas on either side of the core of levels one and two. On level one, the project also involved shifting many of the building’s main support functions into more interior portions of the floorplate without natural light, etc; as a result, CAM helped create a new mail distribution room, IT support areas, copy/print rooms, and storage rooms.
Some of the most challenging facets of this project pertained to the limited working hours, given the continuously occupied nature of this facility during construction. Certain trades preferred to work off-hours to avoid disruptions to Chesapeake’s employees, and CAM facilitated the accommodation by being physically present on the jobsite for numerous evenings, weekends, and early morning meetings. CAM’s PM also wore the hat of superintendent, spending half of his day working out of the on-site office of Chesapeake’s facility manager, which facilitated immediate communication with the owner, yielded swift answers to questions, and helped approve design tweaks when beneficial to the overall project intent or schedule. CAM ensured that noise would be kept to a minimum during normal business hours, and that life safety systems were sustained over the course of the job. One tricky subtlety of the project involved preserving a large section of the existing ceiling grid on one of the floors, which forced trades to employ thoughtful integration strategies at the connection points and exercise caution for all relocation work above. Lastly, CAM was able to save the owner tens of thousands of dollars by salvaging and re-installing nearly all of the prior doors, frames, and hardware that had been removed and stored on-site during the demolition phase.
Nearing his retirement as Head of Procurement for Morgan State University, Churchill Wortherly became the Pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church in 2009. A fire, originally thought to be arson but later determined to be electrical failure, severely damaged his Church and virtually destroyed the lower level offices, social hall, kitchen, restrooms, and classrooms on the lower level of the building. The sanctuary, offices, and classrooms above suffered damage from both the fire and the firemen as they put out the blaze. What was not burned was either broken or suffered smoke damage, precluding both worship and the pre-school that the building facilitated.
Pastor Wortherly contacted CAM Construction with whom he and his congregation had worked at Morgan State University to restore the Church building and aid them in receiving the appropriate funds from their insurance company. CAM developed the scope of work needed for the restoration, provided pricing for each portion of the project on an individual basis, and then worked directly with the Church and their insurance company to ensure that the Church could maximize the replacement value from their policy.
The lower level social hall, which was most severely damaged by the fire, had both lead paint and vinyl asbestos tile flooring, which needed to be remediated; the heat had severely damaged the walls and ceiling, and the kitchen was a total loss. The windows in the sanctuary had been broken out, the narthex received smoke damage, the handicap lift had been destroyed, and the ceilings and insulation throughout the complex had been contaminated by smoke.
With a very limited budget, CAM was able to completely restore the lower level, restore the wall and floor finishes at the sanctuary, provide new windows at the sanctuary, install a new elevator, provide new finishes for all of the classrooms and offices, and not only restore all the restrooms but bring them into compliance with current ADA standards. Through the efforts of CAM and Pastor Wortherly, all insurance funds were used judiciously Also a challenge was that the Church remained operational throughout the restoration and the replacement of the electrical service.
Very sadly, Pastor Wortherly succumbed to an illness and did not live to serve his congregation in their newly restored home; his loss added to the challenge of the project because of his personal involvement in the design and construction and his relationship with the insurance provider. However, CAM was able to complete the project on time and within the small budget available to them.
It was Pastor Wortherly’s dream that the restored Church be “better than ever before”, and no one doubts that he is smiling down from Heaven now that the project is complete.