In 2010, bursting at the seams of their small office building, the leadership at Mammoet USA decided it was time to invest in a new office facility.
Assessing their multi-acre yard in Rosharon, TX, it was determined that the best place for the new building would be at the front of the property, right beside the small, existing office building. However, the effort to construct a new building at that location would cause major disruption, and perhaps even mean relocation of employees to a temporary site.
Then the idea was launched to build the building at the back of the property and move it to the ideal location when it was complete.
"Building it at the back of the property would cause the least amount of day-to-day disruption," says Richard Miller, president and COO of Mammoet USA. "We thought it was the best thing to do to avoid safety and operational issues. And really, the third reason was 'because we can.' It was nice to be able to build our building without any disruptions and move it into place ourselves. It's a nice testament to our business."
An architectural and design firm was hired to design the building with a steel frame and using a modular concept. Noble Construction based in Angleton, TX was the contractor on the project that started early in 2011.
Miller says there were a couple of heavy lifts required during the construction phase. "Noble used our cranes for a few the heavy lifts," he says. "At one point they did bring in a smaller crane. We don't have the smaller cranes."
Ready to go
By mid-December 2011, the building was finished out almost to completion, plumbing was set and ready along with all wiring. Miller says most of the furnishings were in place - cabinets, flooring and a fully functional kitchen were ready to go.
The exterior of the building is sided with 10,000 square feet of glass. This fact didn't daunt the crews tasked with moving the two-story, 32,000 square foot building from where it was constructed to where it was effectively "installed" on a concrete pier foundation. The total distance was about ¼ mile.
Miller says the engineering team chose to move the building using a Scheuerle self-propelled modular trailer (SPMT) system.
The SPMTs are powered by four 500 hp diesel engines and the move of the building would take about two hours the first day and two hours the second day. There were four trains of SPMTs using 62-axle lines for a total of 496 wheels.
The building measured 150 feet by 150 feet and weighed 1.9 million pounds, which equates to 950 tons. Interestingly, this is a relatively light load considering Mammoet's normal projects.
The building was built on piers so that the SPMT system could drive underneath the piers and then raise the building off the piers.
"Not one piece of glass was broken or cracked," says Miller. "We had a lift procedure that had to be followed with very little tolerance in the offset front to back, left to right."
Leading up to the move, crews placed cribbing along the route, which was muddy from recent rains. On the cloudy, gray morning of December 16, 2011, the building was moved to the half-way point without a hitch.
Slowly and surely, one operator operated the remote controls for the SPMTs. A crew of about eight followed the building, making sure every inch covered was done so safely and without incident.
On the second day, a Saturday morning, the move was a bit more complicated, as the building had to traverse down a 250-foot-long ramp dug out of the mud.
Once the building was inched to its foundation, it again had to be raised up and rolled over the permanent piers, which were 5-feet, 3-inches tall. The building was then lowered onto the piers and bolted to them. After crews moved the building into place employees enjoyed a luncheon to celebrate the new facility.
At that point, construction crews came back in to do the necessary site work around the building, including landscaping, sidewalks and the like. Electric, plumbing and other connections were also made permanent. Employees moved into the building the first week of January 2012.
Miller pointed out that this wasn't the first time that Mammoet had moved an office building. The Mammoet world headquarters building in Holland was moved into place in a similar fashion.
The project was a good one for employees to witness and be a part of completing, Miller explained. "It's a progression," says Miller. "What they see is a natural progression of the growth of Mammoet USA. We are steadily progressing."
As well, Miller is pleased at the sustainability of the building and the green features employed into the design.
"This building is a new chapter for Mammoet USA," he says. "By doing what we did, we avoided safety and operational issues, and we showed what we can do as part of our business."