Sobie Floors Them

February 10, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — Sobie Co. had to tap manufacturers from four continents and use 52 different flooring products and four flooring concepts to complete the Saint Mary's Richard J. Lacks Sr. Cancer Center.

Project Manager Terry Dunagan said materials for the project were imported from six countries in Europe, as well as from Israel and Canada, and six U.S. states. Some materials — such as limestone from Jerusalem and from Quebec — had to be ordered nearly a year in advance. The logistics of dealing with people from all over the world was a major challenge, he said, as was juggling all the subcontractors to work on the various carpeting, tile, vinyl, glass and stone products used on both floor and wall surfaces of the facility.

Sobie installed the flooring for the entire 180,000-square-foot building, which is LEED registered and incorporated by the American Society for Healthcare Engineering's Green Guidelines for Health Care Construction. The green guidelines are meant to protect the immediate health of building occupants, as well as the health of the surrounding community, according to ASHE. The organization sees green building as a "precautionary and preventive approach" that is consistent with a fundamental principle of health care and public health: prevention.

According to Dunagan, various areas of the facility each have their own unique materials that were applied to vertical surfaces as well as floor surfaces. He said all the materials were selected to present a welcoming, healing atmosphere.

"The use of so many different materials and textures gave Sobie Co. the opportunity to use many craftsmen and to demonstrate their distinct abilities," Dunagan said of the project.

In Dunagan's estimation, one of the most impressive features of the facility is its grand staircase. The stairs and walls are circular and were constructed of Jerusalem limestone, while the floors were covered in a combination of carpeting, vinyl, tile, glass and stone. All materials used were LEED certified for being environmentally safe, Dunagan said.

LacksCancerCenter opened in January 2005 and features a rooftop garden surrounded by two ornamental pools. It houses 42 private patient rooms, four surgical suites, a full chef's kitchen, the Warren Reynolds Patient Information Library, a chapel, an atrium in the lobby and a "family room" with a fireplace.

Sobie Controller Jack Vande Guchte said the LacksCenter was one of the largest flooring projects his company has undertaken. He, too, said the most challenging aspect of the job was coordinating shipment of materials that came from various parts of the world and getting them delivered on time to complete the project on schedule.

Associated Builders and Contractors, Western Michigan Chapter, honored Sobie's work on the Lack's CancerCenter with the 2005 Construction Award of Excellence in the flooring category. 

"Excellent, top notch workmanship," "just beautiful, very well done" and "detail work impeccable," were some of the comments by ABC judges.

All in all, the LacksCancerCenter earned top honors in five categories, including the prestigious "Medical Construction over $20 million" award for Triangle Associates Inc.

ABC judges selected the best of the best from 95 entries in 40 different categories, and noted that all award-winning projects demonstrated "exceptional quality construction."    

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