Winner: 2011 Construction Excellence Awards: Gold (Ceilings, South Region)

A Healing Environment

During its more than hundred-year history, the Baylor University Medical Center has grown from a 25-bed clinic to a nationally-recognized hospital that treats thousands of patients. The recent modernization of the facility complemented the existing university campus, harmonized modern healing techniques with natural materials and achieved LEED Gold certification. A highlight of the project was a 10-floor curved walkway.

9Wood was first awarded the wood ceiling contract for the curved corridor late in the summer of 2009. Because the building was designed as an elliptical arc, innovative design solutions as well as extreme coordination with other trades and finishes were required to accommodate the design intent, acoustic performance and access requirements. 9Wood representatives flew down twice during the approval process to hold onsite coordination meetings with the owner's rep, architect, sub-contractors and local manufacturer's rep.

The design presented several challenges, beginning with the unusually-shaped panels. FSC Red Oak had been selected as the species for its natural color, strength, beauty and contribution to LEED certification. However, achieving trapezoidal- and triangular-shaped panels that conformed to a curve and also provided the required acoustical performance was extremely challenging. The faces of the panels were kerfed to allow sound absorption, but where the kerfs intersected the angled panel edges left fragile slivers of veneer. To prevent unsightly damage along the borders, custom non-kerfed borders were incorporated.

The accessibility requirement for the plenum above the ceiling was another design challenge. The ceiling would have to utilize two types of suspension systems without compromising the overall look and feel. 9Wood's Lift & Lock system offered accessibility by allowing the individual panels to be removed after installation, while the XL Channel system was ideal for the fixed panels around light fixtures. However, because the two attachment systems had different depths, a new fitting was developed specifically for this project to re-align the faces of the panels.

A third design challenge was to align the wood ceiling perfectly with the curving stone walls provided by another supplier. In order to have the pre-cut stone fascia line up with the FSC Red Oak ceiling panels, 9Wood communicated directly with the other finishing company and coordinated shop drawings to ensure the reveals of the two natural materials matched.

After the panels were designed and fabrication had begun, 9Wood flew the installing subcontractor to its facility to train on how to field cut, handle and install the large custom panels.

The effort 9Wood invested in planning and coordination up front ultimately resulted in having zero punch list items at the final inspection.

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