Case Studies

CNA Headquarters Relocation

Executed as a joint venture partnership of Turner/Executive Construction, the relocation of the CNA corporate headquarters to a new high-rise building consists of 12 floors. The 300,000-sf buildout at 151 N. Franklin includes an executive suite, conference center floor, technology hubs, and collaboration and amenity support spaces on each workspace floor.

The 3rd floor also houses operational support functions, including check printing and secure file storage, that share space with other tenants through a common corridor. Interestingly, it was determined structural reinforcement would be required to support the weight of the file storage. During the landlord’s review of the construction drawings, the team collaborated with the building structural engineer to develop a system of structural support that hangs from the 4th floor. This was done to avoid the aesthetic impact of additional under-floor infrastructure on the ceiling of the 2nd floor, the building’s amenity space.

CNA welcomes guests on the 7th floor in a branded reception space and conference center that features six multi-purpose rooms, subdivided for flexibility, that can be expanded to accommodate a variety of functions. Each room has a bank of nine monitors that, when used together, can create one “jumbo” wall screen. Skyfold partitions that divide the space easily fold up into the ceiling to allow these multi-use rooms to open quickly for additional space. The conference center floor features a reception area to coordinate events; high-end restrooms for visitors; and a dedicated AV control room hub that ties all six conference rooms together.

The 18th floor includes two zones, the first is an open-office environment for legal and human resource operations; the second half serves as the executive suite. The suite, outfitted with sophisticated finishes and furnishings, features individual offices with glass fronts and executive restrooms; a dedicated boardroom; and a buffet and servery to provide catering for board meetings and executive gatherings. The boardroom includes a nine-panel display like those in the conference center, and a backlit stretch-fabric ceiling that provides improved acoustics and lighting.

The remaining 10 floors of workspace present with the same floor plan—large conference rooms and open-office space on the east / west portion, and alternating spaces in the north / south area. These include small to large-sized conference rooms, alternating on each floor with wellness suites that serve as prayer rooms and mother’s rooms that offer soft seating, refrigerators, and privacy screens. Open collaboration spaces and huddle rooms with glass fronts offer employees additional spaces to work, and a business center on each floor provides large-scale printers, copiers, mail, and storage for supplies. Individual phone rooms are stationed near each floor’s print station for privacy or a quiet space for heads-down work. A community café is located on each floor, providing convenient amenities for staff to relax and gather.

Proper Planning Saves Time and Cost: Prefabrication, BIM, Mockups, and Logistics

One of the most ambitious challenges for this project was the translation of the design intent into clean built elements. Drawing upon the unique diagonals of the CNA logo, lines and angles were incorporated into the architectural expression to visually connect the workplace to the CNA brand. To limit possible in-field constructability and quality issues, drywall pieces and attachment hardware were prefabricated offsite in a controlled environment to consistently create the angled walls and corners, saving time with on-site installation.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) was used to coordinate all new architecture and MEP elements with the base building systems to streamline fabrication and installation. Specifically, BIM aided the project in two ways. First, the team used BIM to build the MEP systems virtually to evaluate the various systems for clash detection and, once complete, the trades fabricated the equipment from the BIM. Secondly, to determine the existing condition, the team performed a laser scan of each floor and reflected it within the BIM. Although the building was new construction, the high-resolution laser scan identified that certain floors required additional leveling. Since this was identified prior to construction beginning, the team was able to address this with the landlord and base building contractor before any of CNA’s tenant interior work started, saving time and ultimately cost to CNA.

Starting on the 6th floor, the sequence of work followed a “bottom-up” phased approach, with each trade trailing the lead and allowing for several floors of active construction in various stages of completion. Staging of materials was key for this process; each floor was pre-stocked with mechanical, electrical, and drywall materials to stay on schedule, and reduce time and labor costs. By planning ahead, the pre-stock activity occurred while the building still had the larger exterior skip-lift that accommodated bulk equipment and material deliveries. Due to the repetitive nature of the floor plans and unique architectural elements, mockups were used extensively on the sequence’s first floor to confirm design intent, process, and quality control expectations. These mockup sessions proved valuable. Once the team and tradesmen collaborated to work through constructability issues of mockups, such as the millwork and ceiling details on the first floor, they were able to execute the work faster and with more consistency as they progressed through the remaining 10 floors of workspace. Client and architect tours were also conducted regularly to test and finalize prototypical office space configurations and furniture layouts.

Given the 151 N. Franklin building was still under construction, the team thoughtfully developed the logistics plan. High-rise construction requires planning to account for the daily vertical transportation of hundreds of laborers—those on the CNA project and those constructing the building and other tenant buildouts. To address this, and capture additional time and cost saving, the team utilized a dedicated passenger elevator car to deliver Executive Construction staff and subcontractors to and from all project floors throughout construction. In turn, a portion of the 3rd floor served as a staging area for project debris. As debris gondolas were filled throughout the day on the various active floors, they were shuttled to the staging area to be stored. Each evening, or as the area filled, the debris was efficiently shuttled down to the building’s dumpsters, at a time of low elevator traffic.

Technology “Speed-to-market”

Understanding that CNA relies heavily on state-of-the-art technology, the schedule for implementing the desired information technology (IT) components was identified as a critical path item for this project. The cooling / power / data conduits were turned over ahead of schedule to the CNA IT department to allow plenty of time for their network installation, ahead of the desired move-in date for CNA employees. Each floor has a technology closet that is connected via risers to each other, and ultimately to the main server rooms on the 8th and 12th floors. The IT Hub is centralized in the middle floors of the CNA workspace and serves a resource for all employees with technology-related questions. IT Help Desks are located on two floors to assist with staff needs, as well.

Flexible Sprinkler Heads “Flex” Work Sequence

Planning and maintaining the schedule and sequence of work for a project of this scale is critical to the overall project success. Given the schedule parameters, the team capitalized on any opportunity to efficiently perform the work, from large-scale logistics to the smallest of details, such as the sprinkler heads. Based on a vendor recommendation, the team collaborated on an outside-the-box idea to utilize flexible sprinkler heads over the typical rigid pipe sprinkler heads. The flexible heads give the installer enhanced control for placement of the sprinkler heads, and the work can be accomplished while the ceiling grid is open. This provided two scheduling advantages: the installation did not hinder the construction sequence of “closing” the ceilings (often a delay), and this allowed the installation to occur ahead of the finishing, such as carpet. This timesaving step avoided what is traditionally seen as messy work above the finished carpet that may require significant clean up or repair, and supported the overall construction sequence.

Historically, the use of flexible sprinkler heads has not been as widely implemented in the City of Chicago as it falls outside of the standard code. The team, including Executive Construction superintendents, met with City representatives to explain the benefit of use to the CNA project, and ultimately received authorization from the City for a project-specific code variance.