An Uncommon Construction Partner for an Uncommon Project
131 Ponce Midtown Apartments received first place honors in the Associated General Contractors of Georgia, Inc.’s 2015 Build Georgia Awards Program. In addition to placing first in the “Building” category, 131 Ponce took home merit honors in the “Best Sustainable Building Practices” category.
“131 Ponce is one of the shining lights in our multifamily portfolio. It's an outstanding example of the custom building solutions, innovation and operational excellence our team provides,” said Mike Macon, vice president and business unit leader in Georgia. “These AGC awards offer timely and important validation that we have become true relentless allies for our clients by combining industry-leading talent with a passion for unparalleled service.
As the CM at-Risk on this four-story, wood-frame building with 280 luxury apartment units over two levels of concrete podium parking, Balfour Beatty led a highly collaborative team consisting of owner Faison and designer Davis Architects.
Achieving zero punch, zero lost time accidents and zero schedule delays is a feat on any project. But at 131 Ponce, it was nothing short of extraordinary. By the numbers, the project’s challenges included an initial $4 million budget overage, $1.6 million in change orders, and 39 weather days. The tight Midtown Atlanta site is bordered by four Georgia DOT lanes and located next to historic St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, built in 1867. Due to these conditions, Balfour Beatty developed highly customized logistics and demolition/earthwork plans to protect neighboring buildings and the public as well as oversaw frequent lane closures.
“Working alongside Balfour Beatty’s 131 Ponce team, it was easy to understand the love they put into the great work they do, building the kind of buildings that you are proud to point out to your kids when you drive by,” said Kris Fetter, managing director of Faison. “They delivered what they promised, and never promised more than they could deliver.”
Interestingly, the site also included the first offering of legendary architect, I.M. Pei, the Gulf Oil Building. Pei went on to design legendary structures such as the Kennedy Library and the Louvre Pyramid. Preserving this part of Atlanta history while re-inventing the vacant site was one of the project’s preeminent challenges.
Flanking either side of the entrance to 131 Ponce’s two-story lobby, two 12- foot columns are clad in the restored marble panels that once formed the façade of the original Gulf Oil Building.
The project team developed detailed plans to deconstruct the interior space in order to expose and preserve the marble panels that were a signature element of the original Gulf Oil Building design. Following abatement, the project team spent approximately three weeks removing and palletizing 150 panels of the signature stone. For more than a year, the panels were stored off-site, during which time they were cleaned and honed to an 800-grit finish. Today, those marble panels have been integrated with a similar façade of glass and steel at 131 Ponce in homage to Pei’s historic design and its indelible mark on Atlanta.
Balfour Beatty also developed a special relationship with neighboring St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church throughout the project. At the onset of construction, St. Paul’s had been experiencing a number of issues with their building that they simply did not possess the resources to address. When our team poured new sidewalks for 131 Ponce, they also poured a new sidewalk at St. Paul’s free-of-charge. As a token of our appreciation for the church’s generous provision of access to their parking lot during construction, Balfour Beatty repaved and striped the entire 29-space lot. And when it was discovered St. Paul’s had experienced years of a leaky and flooding basement, Balfour Beatty and Faison welcomed the opportunity to repair and waterproof their foundation — even going so far as to install new carpeting in their basement level.
“Balfour Beatty was courteous and neighborly despite the intrusive nature that sometimes comes with construction,” said Reverend Tolivar Wills of St. Paul’s Presbyterian. “They truly went above and beyond, going out of their way to help the church and did things they didn’t necessarily have to do.”
At every turn, Balfour Beatty adapted seamlessly to 131 Ponce’s challenging building conditions, delivering a first-in-class multifamily development that many Atlantans now proudly call home while carving out our own little piece of history in the process.
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