Sturgeon Electric Implements Innovative Solutions to Complete High Profile Hotel and Transit Center at Denver International Airport

March 2, 2016

Sturgeon Electric Company (Sturgeon Electric) has completed work on the new Hotel and Transit Center at Denver International Airport (DIA).

The $544 million upgrade includes the new 519-room Westin-DIA hotel and conference center, a new public transit center that will service the RTD fastracks commuter rail connection to and from downtown, and an 82,000 square-foot, outdoor public plaza that links the hotel conference center and train station to DIA’s Jeppesen terminal.

Not only does the completion of this project elevate DIA’s competitive position with major international airports worldwide, it also represents one of the highest profile electrical construction projects ever completed in Sturgeon Electric’s 103 year-history.

Its visibility, various separate projects and multitude of stakeholders led to many challenges.

“It was a tri-venture between three general contractors, plus you had city, county, state and federal agencies to deal with,” said Sturgeon Electric C&I District Manager Scott Greenhalge. “The coordination was extremely challenging at times but it worked out really well in the end.”

The signature piece of the project, the Westin-DIA hotel, boasts 519 rooms and 37,500 square feet of conference space, 15 meeting rooms/board rooms, two ballrooms and an open-air plaza for arts and entertainment.

The facility evokes the image of a bird in flight, with its wings expanded and its curved roof resembling the concave shape of the Jeppesen Terminal’s white-peaked roof.

From the upper floors, one can look down upon the open plaza filled with modern art or the train platform with its curved, illuminated canopy.

Electricians for Sturgeon Electric installed chic, contemporary lighting in several locations within the hotel, including the fifth floor sky bar, the fitness center, plus the sauna and pool areas.

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Sturgeon Electric Project Manager Brian Ablanczy said the intricate design of the hotel coupled with unexpected complications called for innovative solutions. Such was the case when they were hanging large chandeliers in one of the main ballrooms. “They are approximately 40 feet long and weigh over 2,000 pounds apiece, and I think they have more than 2,000 crystals hanging off of them. The original design was to support them from the ceiling but the ceiling was not designed to support that kind of weight. So we had to build a structured frame above the ceiling, and that was done through our Building Information Modeling (BIM) process. We had to coordinate it with duct work and other systems up above the ceiling.”

“There was a lot of room for conflict; a lot of room for clashes,” said Sturgeon Electric C&I President Jeff Wanka. “Our in depth knowledge and experience with BIM allowed every discipline to study where a particular pipe or conduit was going, where it was going to end up, and figure out what the correct path should be. This increased our productivity and helped us meet tight deadlines throughout the project.”

The City of Denver was committed to a goal of 30% participation by Minority and Women-owned Businesses (MBE/WBEs) through contract opportunities, educational programs, prime engagement, and workforce and business development. Sturgeon Electric was instrumental in helping the City strive towards this goal.

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In total, Sturgeon Electric’s subcontractor workforce consisted of eight MBE/WBE firms that performed a range of services including earthwork, temporary power and lighting, life safety systems, restaurant facilities and much of the hotel’s power and lighting. Sturgeon Electric provided significant mentoring and training to the selected firms, which have helped to promote opportunities for future growth. Because of Sturgeon Electric’s efforts which included holding open houses and conducting outreach efforts to inform and educate MBE/WBE firms on DIA opportunities, to involving them in team meetings and allowing them to participate in Sturgeon-established safety programs, Sturgeon Electric has been sought out to provide lessons learned and guidance to general contractors and MBE/WBE firms that may participate on future projects.

Waneka is very proud of how his entire group performed. “From the executives to the project managers, from the pre-con team to the field team. The safety culture, the planning processes, the communication… they joined together and made this project a success.”

Sturgeon Electric Superintendent Manny Pantoja said, “It’s going to be quite the place to be when you are coming into Denver; a real showpiece.”

“It is a hallmark building that we can all be proud of,” added Waneka. “It will be the building we see on news broadcasts for years to come.”
In 2015, Sturgeon Electric received a first place Award for Construction Excellence (ACE) for their exemplary performance on the Hotel and Transit Center at DIA by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Colorado. The category awarded was for the Best Building Project by a Specialty Contractor (Over $10 Million). The ACE awards are presented annually and recognize excellence in architecture, engineering and construction on projects throughout Colorado.

Related News: Sturgeon Electric ACE Awards 2015

Project Details: Aviation – Denver International Airport and Hotel and Transit Center at DIA

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