INGENUITY: A Piece of Innovation Square
With blocks of underutilized space sitting between the University of Florida and Downtown Gainesville, the university and the city joined forces to develop Innovation Square—a 12-block research and technology hub designed to foster creative ideas, build connections, and bring in business. Thanks to a handful of local developers, properties in the area are being reimagined with this new purpose in mind.
One of those developers is Gainesville-based Trimark Properties, who partnered with Ajax Building Company in 2017 to construct the brand-new, 53,095sf Ingenuity office building in the heart of the up-and-coming district.
BUILDING FOR TOMORROW
Ingenuity is a luxury, four-story, Class A+ office building meant to accommodate multiple tenants. Right as the core and shell construction kicked off, the top two floors of the structure were leased and Trimark decided to add the fit-outs of both floors onto the original project scope. Ajax was given a contract amendment in time to finish each floor and maintain Trimark’s schedule.
The structure itself is designed to be the first building in a two-building complex—meaning the lobby and elevator shafts were strategically located so when the second tower is built, the mirrored buildings will share a central lobby and main entrance. Thinking ahead even further, Trimark ensured the fire pump, electrical system, and other utilities were sized for two buildings.
TILT-UP WITH TRIMARK
One of the most impressive aspects of the core and shell effort was the tilt-up construction. The Ingenuity office building is comprised of 22 cast-in-place, tilt-wall panels that reach the full height of the four-story building—56ft in total. Of those 22 panels, 10 Ingenuity: A Piece of Innovation Square
weighed over 120,000lbs, and several were used to construct elements inside the structure. The size and variety of panels combined with the limited space on-site led to a complex tilt-up process.
“When most people think about tilt-wall construction, they think of an industrial area where you can create a tilt-wall perimeter and essentially build the entire building in place,” says Ajax superintendent Wesley Wallace. “We didn’t have that kind of space on this site, so we had to find a new approach.”
The project team strategically scattered the tilt-walls throughout the site and coordinated this layout with the crane lift plan, ensuring the crane would be able to reach the necessary pieces at the necessary times and place them safely in their final destination. “Pretty much every flat square inch on-site was a casting bed at one point in order to facilitate the tilt-walls,” Wallace says.
Complicating matters further, the team had to erect two stairwells and two elevator shafts inside the structure. Normally, all the walls would be braced to the outside of the building, and construction inside the structure would be able to continue. But, in this multilevel, scatter tilt-wall design, there couldn’t be any bracing to the outside of the building. To work around that challenge, the team erected the interior tilt-walls and removed the bracing after all the structural steel work—including decking—was completed.
“Even with the added challenge of coordinating the bracing of these extremely tall panels with the structural steel erection, we stuck to our plan and the erection went smoothly,” says Ajax operations manager Mike Dumas.
After a successful core and shell project and two-floor fit-out, Trimark chose to partner with Ajax once again in 2020 when the time came to build out Ingenuity’s first floor. This 8,700sf project included three suites with conference rooms, full kitchens, custom architectural woodwork, restrooms, IT rooms, and extensive MEP coordination. “Our intimate knowledge of the building and established relationships with the original structural engineer and the building management team helped us tremendously,” says Ajax senior project manager James Marini. “Plus, working with Trimark was a great experience.”
The first-floor fit-out was completed within budget and delivered two weeks early, despite the challenges of working through the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.