R.R. Simmons Construction Corp. has always been at the forefront of tilt-up design. But the multidisciplined service provider, headquartered in Tampa, Fla., also is leading the industry in implementing Building Information Modeling (BIM) and LEED techniques, as evidenced by its new corporate office building. When the company decided it was time to house the complete operations for all R.R. Simmons-affiliated companies under one roof, plans were made for a new 25,000-square-foot corporate headquarters located in Telecom Park, adjacent to the beautiful Hillsborough River.

Because tilt-up construction has been its bread and butter for nearly 40 years, R.R. Simmons felt that it was only natural to use the system on its new facility. Tilt-up was the natural choice because the company was interested in creating a "tough" building. In order to add visual interest in lieu of using normal EIFS shapes, the crew field cast copings and decorative columns that will be added to the basic tilt-up structure.

The two-story building is also a model of efficiency, well-planned design, and code-plus durability. Because hurricanes are prevalent in this part of Florida, R.R. Simmons is highly sensitive to their threat and potential impact on its business and employees. It also understands it needs to remain in business to support its clients should a hurricane impact the community. Therefore the walls, roof, and glazing systems were designed to meet 130-mph wind loading, which is higher than required by code. Also its power supply is protected by an extensive network of backup systems.

In addition to being efficient and durable, the building features a large, open-plan office layout with wooded views through the plentiful windows, a full kitchen and break room, an employee workout room with shower area, and a shaded outdoor patio, as well as multiple spacious conference and meeting rooms.

LEED certification

Dedicated to protecting the wooded surroundings of its new headquarters, R.R. Simmons made environmental sensitivity essential on this project. The initial focus on site preservation led the R.R. Simmons project team to decide to make LEED certification a top priority. "Originally, we set our sights on just a LEED certified rating, however, as we looked at our options, it was not a far stretch for us to consider the next level (Silver)," says Randy Simmons, president.

One of the greatest challenges in achieving LEED certification is adapting the universal standards to a specific climate. According to Simmons, many of the LEED standards do not match well with the high temperatures and humidity of Florida, and the mechanical engineers at R.R. Simmons had to work diligently to design a system that met the LEED criteria while maintaining a practical approach to humidity control in Florida's muggy environment. The ability to open windows and let in fresh unconditioned air is not practical in Florida on more than a few days a year, he says. It is hoped that the use of high ceilings to harness indirect lighting, as well as the use of extensive interior glazing to further bring the daylight into the workspace would help the project achieve a LEED rating.