The Houston Zoo, African Gorilla Forest
Project in Progress
The Alley Theatre Renovation
Nick Mathews, Director of Operations Medical Center Renovation Team
Community Outreach Texas Children’s Hospital
Texas Children’s Hospital Pediatric Tower E Vertical Expansion
Byline Spring 2015
Project Profile - New Construction
The Houston Zoo, African Gorilla Forest / Houston, Texas After a 10-year hiatus, the gorillas are back at the Houston Zoo! Bellows completed construction of the 13-acre African Gorilla Forest and we are so excited for Houston Zoo patrons to experience this unique exhibit featuring such a majestic animal. Even though we’ve been in business for over a century, this project was a first for our portfolio. While each project brings new challenges, it’s not every day that you have to make sure every steel nut and screw head on your project is welded down so the occupants don’t deconstruct the facility. That is just one of many fascinating details of this one-of-a-kind project. The New Residents The African Forest is home to seven western lowland gorillas who are divided into two groups. One group is Western Lowland Gorilla. Photo Credit: World Wildlife Foundation made up of three male bachelors: Chaka (30), Mike (23), and Ajari (14). The bachelor trio will alternate spaces with a another troop of gorillas that consists of a family of three and another female gorilla. The family is Zuri (31), Holli (25), and their daughter Sufi (13) and the other female is, Binti (40). Not only will visitors be exposed to the two troops of gorillas, but they will also see the red river hogs co-mingling in the same habitat. The red river hog is a type of wild pig that is found in the forests and swamps of central and western Africa so it’s normal for these hogs and gorillas to encounter each other in the wild and the zoo is replicating that environment. Unlike the gorillas, the hogs aren’t endangered and make a wonderful addition to this exhibit. The excitement surrounding this new exhibit is not just about being up close and personal with these breathtaking animals; it’s also because these endangered gorillas are ambassadors who embody the commitment of the Houston Zoo to increase awareness and inspire conservation action that will ultimately protect the gorillas’ wild counterparts. So, while seeing the gorillas is thrilling in itself, the work and mission of the Houston Zoo is important and quite inspiring as well. Creating a Sanctuary The African Gorilla Forest was accomplished in two phases. Phase I was the development of the landscaped berm to create an immersive jungle-like experience. The first phase took 1.5 years, allowing the landscape to grow in full. Phase II was the construction of the exhibit. Due to the layout of the site and working in a confined area, this project had to be built from the back of the site forward. Additionally, everything had to be done using limited access to the site to reduce disruption to the rest of the zoo exhibits and to ensure safety for the zoo’s visitors. Up until the very end of the project, one bridge was used for all manpower. All team members, equipment, deliveries, etc. had to be funneled through one entrance and exit. Once the team worked their way to the front of the site, the bridge was removed and the team used a staff/personnel gate for only one month. Another challenging feat was excavating the moat. The team started 14 feet above grade and had to excavate down to the finished level. The crew had to ensure the equipment could fit in and out of the moat during excavation without getting wedged. The height measurements of the moat and every elevated wall had to be triple checked to confirm that they met the 14.4 foot containment clearance to make certain that the gorillas couldn’t scale the wall.
Sights to See What’s unique about the gorilla exhibit is that it’s not a one-stop-shop building that visitors filter through to see the gorillas behind glass. This exhibit was designed so patrons can see the gorillas from a variety of areas and viewpoints. rrival Building – This is an intimate A indoor area equipped with safety glass, benches, and boulders allowing visitors to watch the gorillas and hogs interact in the lush landscape that replicates an African forest. Air-conditioning is pumped down the outside of the glass to entice the gorillas to come closer on hot days. Construction Fact: Separated only by safety glass, the interior boulders for seating were built as mirror images of the adjoining exterior boulders for a more organic feel. The Gathering Tent – This outdoor covered area allows for panoramic views overlooking the exhibit. You get the full picture of red river hogs rooting around and gorillas playing in the grassy meadow. Construction Fact: The main tree branch that makes the peak of the tent had to be lifted and placed by a crane in order to fit it in the braces. The crew hit the mark on the first try. The Chevron Lookout – Visitors will travel through the outdoor boardwalk to this lookout point. Here they will have the chance to be as close to the gorillas as possible while enjoying the serene backdrop. Construction Fact: The 5-inch thick oak bench had a natural hole in the middle. The carpenters filled it with epoxy and the painter on staff painted over it, creating a seamless look.
Bellows Byline | Spring 2015
Project Profile - New Construction
The Houston Zoo, African Gorilla Forest / Houston, Texas The Robert R. and Kay M. Onstead Foundation Day Room – In this indoor play area, gorillas can climb a 23-foot tree, balance and swing on ropes, or relax in hammocks or on platforms. The gorillas’ bedrooms are off of the day room should they need a nap. Construction Fact: All the trees are made of concrete-coated steel, carved, and painted to look like real trees. T he Nau Family Treehouse – This private event space is equipped with a balcony which overlooks the entire outdoor habitat as well as a viewing window overlooking the private outdoor play yard for the gorillas. Construction Fact: After the room was complete, small wooden boxes were added to each side of the viewing window with tubes leading outdoors so guests can feed the gorillas – supervised, of course. The African Gorilla Forest project provided an opportunity for Bellows to further extend our experience and also establish a wonderful client relationship with the Houston Zoo. We are honored to have been the Houston Zoo’s contractor for this special project and hope that visitors have as much fun experiencing the exhibit as we did building it.
“We are so grateful to Bellows for making this very complicated construction so seamless for us. Norm Molen, Superintendent, and Ray Mancias, Project Executive, are incredible partners with whom we hope to work with on many more projects in the future!” Deborah Cannon President and CEO of the Houston Zoo
The Bellows team with the recognition plaque placed by the Zoo at the exhibit entrance. L–R: Ray Mancias, Project Executive; Laura Bellows, President & Chairman; Norm Molen, Superintendent; Mario Cossio, Project Engineer; and Chris Cardenas, Assistant Superintendent.
Norm Molen, Bellows Superintendent, and Deborah Cannon, President and CEO of the Houston Zoo, in front of ‘The Norm Molen Wall’, a special dedication for his outstanding leadership on the African Gorilla Forest project.
Bellows Byline | Spring 2015
The Alley Theatre Renovation / Houston, Texas For now, the curtain is down at the Alley Theatre and they have temporarily moved to the University of Houston, but there is still plenty of action going on downtown behind the scenes. Since Bellows built the original building in 1968, we were thrilled when asked to reprise our role as the general contractor for this important and well-deserved $46.5 million renovation project – the first since the Alley’s opening. From the time construction began in July 2014, over 5,000 tons of concrete and over 150 tons of metal have been demolished and recycled. Considering the facility hasn’t had any major updates since it opened, this indepth renovation was necessary in order for the Alley to reach its goals of being a theatre that is “sustainable, relevant, and accessible for future generations of Houstonians.” The stage has now doubled in size and all of the viewing obstructions, including four large columns on the stage, have been removed. The new thrust stage is larger and reaches further into the audience. Coupled with the new seating arrangement, this brings the audience closer to the actors, allowing for a more intimate experience. Other major renovations include the addition of a 4-story fly loft, a fullytrapped stage floor, state-of-the-art lighting/sound/ electrical enhancements that will allow 30 additional performances per year, new and expanded restrooms, new lobby space with a skyline view of downtown, the installation of energy-efficient glass, and refreshing the building exterior to give it a clean and modern look. Our project team has also reported that one of the most common questions asked regarding the renovations is if the new carpet will be the theatre’s traditional red. The answer is yes. The Alley Theatre has gained national recognition for being one of the most prestigious professional theatre companies because it focuses on collaboration amongst its team and the cultivation of new ideas. This is also how the Bellows team has approached this challenging project. It’s no small feat to bring a 1968 building up to date but the entire team, from owner to subcontractors, is making it happen due to strong communication and respect for this singular Houston landmark. The Alley Theatre will remain dark until the project is completed in the summer of 2015.
Nick Mathews, Director of Operations, Medical Center Renovation Team Nick Mathews joined Bellows in 2006 and has quickly advanced through the ranks. He is now the Director of Operations for our Medical Center Renovation Team (MCRT) office and oversees all of Bellows’ healthcare renovation work in the Texas Medical Center (TMC). When Nick was embarking on his professional career after graduating from Texas A&M University, he looked for a company that was Houston-based, had a strong presence in the local market, and was well-respected in the industry. For him, Bellows Construction was the clear choice. He supports and exemplifies the notion that the sole reason we’re on a jobsite isn’t just to do a job, but to guide, solve, and above all else, serve. Before becoming the Director of Operations for our MCRT office, Nick worked his way up the Bellows Construction ladder. His first position was in the estimating department where he learned to develop schedules and budgets, an important skill that can be a tricky dance. He then moved up to work as project engineer for The Capital Group project in San Antonio where he saw a large, complex job come to fruition. He also managed to check out that famous landmark in his free time (Remember the Alamo!).
He then returned to Houston where he continued as a project engineer on the Texas Children’s Hospital Feigin Center Vertical Expansion – an assignment that holds the top spot for Nick’s most memorable project. “The Feigin expansion was such a unique and challenging project. We added eight floors to an existing research hospital while the facility remained operational. It was a one-of-akind learning experience. I’m lucky that I work in the Texas Medical Center because I’m able to admire it every day!” said Nick. Soon after the expansion project, he was promoted to be the project manager overseeing renovation projects for Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine, and St. Luke’s Hospital. Now as the MCRT Director of Operations, Nick enjoys maintaining our current client relations, seeking out new opportunities, and being able to share his experience and knowledge with other Bellows project managers. Seeing an idea turn into a successful, functioning facility is why Nick chose construction as his career path. He’s proud to be part of an industry that impacts and serves the community, especially Houston’s healthcare community. When Nick isn’t busy overseeing the construction of state-of-the-art healing environments, you can find him fishing, hunting, and spending time with his family. When Nick isn’t busy with wildlife or being a family man, you can find him supporting his beloved Aggie football team. Gig ‘em! Nick Mathews, Director of Operations Medical Center Renovation Team
Bringing Joy to the Patients of Texas Children’s Hospital
At Bellows, we want to be good stewards by not only building high-quality facilities, but also by supporting our community. This past holiday season, Bellows started a new holiday tradition of giving a significant gift of lasting joy to those in need. In honor of our clients and colleagues, we donated two Starlight Fun Center mobile entertainment units, toys, and craft activities to Texas Children’s Hospital in hope of helping bring happiness and the healing power of play to their patients. The donations were gifted to the Progressive Care Unit, where many of the children are unable to leave their rooms. The mobile entertainment centers bridge that gap, bringing the fun to their fingertips. We were fortunate to get to visit these extraordinary children and see firsthand the beautiful smiles on their faces. We are honored to have the opportunity to support our friends at Texas Children’s Hospital and are grateful for the wonderful work they do.
L–R: Nick Mathews, Laura Bellows, and Tony Mansoorian visiting with a patient playing on a new Starlight Fun Center mobile unit.
Bellows Byline | Spring 2015
W. S. Bellows Construction Corporation P.O. Box 2132 | Houston, TX 77252-2132 713.680.2132 | 713.680.2614 Visit our new website: www.wsbellows.com
Healthcare Reaching New Heights
Texas Children’s Hospital - Pediatric Tower E Expansion
Bellows is honored and thrilled to work with our friends at Texas Children’s Hospital on their new Pediatric Tower E expansion. Texas Children’s Hospital’s commitment to progress while remaining true to the guiding principles of their organization is a standard to which Bellows can relate. This 640,000-SF, 19-story vertical expansion will be built on top of the existing six-story building, making it 25 floors and Texas Children’s tallest building to date. The expansion will add new pediatric intensive care beds, diagnostic and treatment services, offices and clinics, shell space for growth, two mechanical floors, and a heliport on the roof. The tower will have a profound impact on the Texas Medical Center skyline with its distinguished design. For continuity with the existing campus, the tower expansion will be constructed using their signature Texas Sunset Red granite and champagne glass. Additionally, Bellows will incorporate recently utilized materials such as reflective and tinted glass, metal trim, and alternate stone finishes. The 19-story addition will transform the tower into a functional sculpture with a curved building face and convex east and west end walls. As a part of the Texas Children’s Hospital Promise Campaign to expand their capabilities and services for children and women, this evolved building design will complement the current campus and stand as an icon to the hospital’s plans for the future. This will be the third vertical expansion project Bellows has constructed for Texas Children’s Hospital. Like the first two projects, West Tower and Feigin Center Vertical Expansions, the existing building will remain operational while the expansion is being constructed.