Ivy Residences: Expediting Condo Construction through Prefab Structural System
While many residential projects are going up in downtown Denver and other nearby busy areas, Ivy Residences sits on a quiet street in the Highlands neighborhood. The for-sale market is highly competitive in the Mile High City, so it was important to build this project quickly and safely.
This five-story condominium building, designed by Crane Architecture, brings 26 units to the area and features a ground-floor parking garage topped with a four-story Infinity structural system, all on an extremely tight site. Units range in size from 470 to 1,240 square feet. The boutique condos feature granite countertops, wood floors, exterior decks, space-saving tankless water heaters, architectural windows, available car stackers, storage lockers, custom closets and home automation.
To accomplish the goal of speedy construction, we utilized a prefabricated structural system, built good will with the neighborhood to avoid complaint delays, and worked collaboratively with the design team to quickly solve unforeseen challenges.
The developer, Elevation Capital Partners, envisioned a quality and affordable product that could be delivered quickly in this environment. The Infinity system allowed the building to go from groundbreaking to topping out much more quickly than a traditional wood-frame product. Although Infinity does expedite the structural portion of the project, the panels are prefabricated, requiring a robust upfront coordination to avoid costly and lengthy re-work later. In addition, the preassembled box beams were difficult to access for insulation, requiring a specialty contractor to install liquid foam insulation. Infinity also requires unique shoring sequences. In a wood frame project, you shore one floor below where you’re pouring. So, for example, floor two is shored before building floor three. With Infinity, you have to shore two floors below; when doing the deck pour for floor four, you have to shore floors two and three. This requires many hours of preplanning, engineer and trade coordination, and excellent implementation to keep the sequence of work active and progressing.
Another challenge this project had to overcome was being a near zero-lot-line project in a residential neighborhood. Maintaining positive relationships with the neighbors was key to making the work environment positive for the whole team. In addition, our temporary electrical panel needed to be off-site; we negotiated with one neighbor to rent a couple parking spots for lay down and temporary electrical panels. We maintained good relations by starting all work after 7 a.m. on weekdays, and emailing the neighborhood of upcoming activities and their potential impact. As a final thank you, neighbors were invited to walk the finished project and really appreciated a chance to see what all the hard work went in to.
As is typical, this project had a few unforeseen challenges. However, a collaborative team mentality on the Ivy Residences ensured that even the biggest challenges didn’t impact the schedule. In one instance, as we excavated the subgrade, we encountered unforeseen soil conditions. Partnering with the designer and structural engineer, we were able to come up with a revised efficient solution as well as get all required approvals and revised engineered drawings to expedite the work within 13 days.
The completed Ivy Residences sits unassuming in the Highlands neighborhood, blending in seamlessly with nearby buildings. At first glance from the street, it barely looks taller than the nearby buildings. The inside units are modern and warm, and the top units boast unobstructed views of the city and mountains that can’t be beat. It was a true team effort to construct this fast-track project without disrupting the surrounding area.
Published in the December 2019 issue of Building Dialogue.