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Student Jobsite Visit Reflections

By / December 30, 2022

Today we are featuring two guest authors from Evansville Community School District on their reflection from their recent visit to our Cedar Crest jobsite. A 76-bed nursing home addition and a 24-unit assisted living complex in Janesville. The students were able to see real-life construction, including schedules, budgets, and career opportunities.

Tucker Peterson, Junior at Evansville High School

On Tuesday, our class toured one of JP Cullen’s construction projects. This project consists of an expansion to a current nursing home located in Janesville. They are adding both general housing and assisted living facilities to the premises. Our tour was led by JP Cullen employee Brain Hesse. He informed us about the company and the work they do. He also explained that as the general contractor, they must manage all other subcontractors for the job.

First, we toured the assisted living facility. It was extremely interesting to learn just how much planning is required for such a facility. Brain explained that one of the highest priorities is fire protection. Each wall and door is rated to determine how long it would take for a fire to pass through. On the upper, less developed levels of the building, we could see that it was almost entirely made of metal and concrete. These materials help contribute to the fire resistance of the facility. Additionally, Brian told us about the advanced technology used in the project. For example, they installed a system with which firefighters can see exactly where in the building a fire is located. This would allow them to evacuate residents efficiently. Not only were the physical aspects of the project interesting, but so was the timeline in which it is being built. Brian revealed that the project only just started nine months ago. This fact is amazing when you consider the massive scale and complexity of the project.

In conclusion, it was a very interesting and informative experience touring the construction site. Our class learned so much about how construction projects truly work and the great effort required to complete them. It was especially interesting to me because I plan on being an engineer. As a result, the tour was especially enjoyable because I got to see how engineering is applied in the real world.

Kendra Finfrock, Junior at Evansville High School

We recently visited the construction site of an in-progress assisted living facility and apartment complex in Janesville, Wisconsin. One of the construction workers, Brian Hesse, at JP Cullen, the construction company building the place, gave us a tour of the two main buildings that are in progress.

One of the buildings was a complete assisted living facility in progress to be completed by August of 2023. This building process is very particular and specific because it must comply with all health codes and standards, as it is technically a medical building. Brian emphasized the presence of the fireproof material on the walls they were currently putting up. They put material on the walls, under the drywall, that essentially creates a fireproof barrier. This material can prevent a fire from burning through and entering a new room for a certain amount of time if the door is closed, which means for the entire building to burn down, it would take a very long time. I never realized how much fire safety and planning goes into the construction of a building until I toured the assisted living facility. Almost all of the structures put in place have a reason, and many of them have to do with fire safety or prevention. Another physical aspect of this specific building was the metal piece that went on each wall. The walls are made up of metal planks, but there was a long metal piece with specific screw placement so that any pressure or shock to the wall would be absorbed and it would be prevented from moving or shifting.

The other building under construction is an apartment complex with semi-assisted living, set to be completed around March of 2023. This building was farther along in its building process than the assisted living facility but still had work to be done. Brian stressed the importance of code compliance and how long it can take for something to get approved by all necessary parties. For example, there was an archway on the top floor that looked down onto the floor below, and although the entire thing was built, after a year of seeking approvals, they only had verbal approval and were still awaiting on an official approval for that type of architecture. Another interesting thing about this building was essentially all of the “bones” were the same in each unit. However, each tenant that was set to live there got to pick their own interior designs for their unit. Although the units were flipped around depending on their placement on each floor, they were all similar structurally but set to look completely different as they had been customized by the future tenants.

The importance of compliance with codes was stressed greatly throughout the tour, and I learned how long it could actually take to get approval for different things. The main reason for construction taking so long is not the actual building process itself but the process of waiting for approval on something, actually completing it, passing inspections, and getting official approval on that thing again. In addition to that, the process of building is extremely intricate, and nothing is done without thought or reasoning behind it.