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Children’s Mercy Tower.

Kansas City, MO

Project Description

AOG Engineers Groundwork for Transformation of Community Health

Children’s Research Institute project launches new hope for an end to diseases.

Alpha-Omega Geotech is proud of our long history of tackling high-profile projects across the Greater Kansas City area, but the new Children’s Research Institute at Children’s Mercy Hospital’s Adele Hall Campus is especially meaningful. AOG president Allan Bush says it’s a rewarding new endeavor in a relationship dating back more than a quarter century.

“Alpha-Omega Geotech and Children’s Mercy enjoy a long-term partnership and this latest challenge is one of the most unique and promising we’ve shared so far.”

Rising nine-stories in the heart of downtown, the Research Institute will transform the Kansas City skyline. Thousands of glass panels, including a blue glass facade and multi-colored windows, will capture the eye and draw attention to a world-class facility that offers six times the current research space.

Children's Mercy Research Tower rendering

Children’s Mercy Research Tower rendering

All of it is made possible by unprecedented Hall Family Foundation and Sunderland Foundation donations, voter approval of public land use, and local companies now working to build the “tower” into the sky.

Working through changing seasons at the Children’s Mercy Adele Hall Campus.

Working through changing seasons at the Children’s Mercy Adele Hall Campus.

Children’s Mercy Hospital construction

The Rise of Advanced Research

Children’s Research Institute Executive Director Tom Curran, PhD, FRS says ground-breaking work will attract the minds needed to position the hospital to answer pediatric medicine’s most challenging questions.

“Elevating our research profile through the Children’s Research Institute will be the single largest requirement toward advancing us into the top tier of children’s hospitals.”

Tom Curran, PhD, FRS, Executive Director, Children’s Research Institute

Tom Curran, Ph.D., FRS, Executive Director, Children’s Research Institute

In its quest for answers, the Institute will create an integrated research environment where no boundaries exist between science and medicine. The highest-quality research will be performed involving the latest medical technologies and collaboration among physicians, scientists, academic colleagues, philanthropic partners and others within our community, and around the world.

Research will focus on areas such as genomics, clinical pharmacology, and immunotherapy, and continue driving innovation in subspecialties including heart care and cancer treatment. Cutting-edge abilities to accelerate and improve the quality of research will make information sharing easier and provide more answers to children and their families.

The wall for the Center for Pediatric Genomic Medicine

Just imagine a future without some of the world’s most difficult diseases. Curran says that dream could one day become reality.

“If the Children’s Research Institute is successful, 100 years from now it won’t exist because work will be complete and all children will be healthy and free from disease.”

That kind of potential hits close to home for many, including Allan Bush.

“Cancer took both of my parents and all of my dad’s brothers. Contributing to this project allows me to help change the future in some way.”

Alpha-Omega Geotech COO Blake Bennett feels the same way.

“I’ve lost a brother-in-law to cancer and my mother-in-law has beat it a couple of times. So, we feel very privileged to be a part of something that will have an important impact on fighting disease, especially for kids.”

Alpha-Omega Geotech President Allan Bush and COO, Blake Bennett

Alpha-Omega Geotech President Allan Bush and COO, Blake Bennett

The Project on Top of a Project

It’s not the first time AOG has ventured into healthcare. Our portfolio includes several significant healthcare-related projects. But the tower is different. It’s the first time our firm has worked for the benefit of world-class medical research.

The tower also presents a unique engineering opportunity. Nearly twenty years ago, AOG worked with JE Dunn Construction on the hospital’s five-story garage that runs 50 feet deep into the ground.

Now we’re helping to establish the massive new tower directly on top of that garage. Only a small section stretches beyond the garage footprint with support extending straight down to the same bedrock supporting the garage.

Construction stretches west (right) beyond the footprint of the existing garage.

Construction stretches west (right) beyond the footprint of the existing garage.

Bennett says it’s an interesting challenge and something engineers don’t come across often.

“From a purely technical standpoint, it’s a very difficult engineering project and you know, those are a lot of fun for us to work on because it pushes us in new directions.”

Digging the site is a primary step toward bringing the tower to life. Regular soil testing for characteristics like moisture content, density and compaction ensure the ground can handle the extraordinary load built upon it.

A bulldozer clears space for AOG Technician Calvin Hiebert to take soil samples.

A bulldozer clears space for AOG Technician Calvin Hiebert to take soil samples.

We were also in charge of special structural and materials testing to ensure the project comes together as structural engineering partner Bob D. Campbell & Company intends.

Our technicians confirm the integrity of just about everything that touches or goes into the ground. In this case, that responsibility also includes anything connected to the existing garage.

Validating accurate placement of materials and structures that form key support columns.

Validating accurate placement of materials and structures that form key support columns.

Our inspections include materials constructed onsite such as concrete and rebar. Technicians watch, calculate, measure and test to validate quality. Bennett says if something is even a little off, it must be corrected so that construction crews can move forward with confidence.

“Our key function with inspections is to identify discrepancies. We make everyone aware of what’s going on so that corrections can be made to ensure the highest quality possible. This tower will be built to last generations. All of those years ahead of research helping people live better and longer begin with this kind of work. It’s inseparable from the entire project from the ground up.”

Construction crews pour concrete that forms every level of the Research Tower.

Construction crews pour concrete that forms every level of the Research Tower.

Pulling Together for the Greater Good

Of course, accurate, precise work is the price of admission for any geotechnical firm. Reliable performance is the core of what we do. However, Bennett says AOG takes pride in building something else on top of core competencies — personal attention.

“I think we’re known for that. We work very closely with our partners, always letting them know what we think, and keeping them informed on progress and budget every step of the way. No one likes surprises. The sooner our partners know what’s happening, the sooner they can plan to avoid problems. We send our technicians to the site very regularly to keep the project moving and on schedule.”

Bush says tight partnerships are defining.

“There’s no doubt we do expert work and have the experience to back it up. But strong collaboration makes us preferred. It may not be ‘the’ reason we’re hired, but it is a very important reason.”

Children's Mercy Tower construction panorama

Bush and Bennett point to McCownGordon as a good example of a partner that values close collaboration. As the tower project’s general contractor, McCownGordon relies on AOG and the trust the two companies have cultivated over the years. Bush describes McCownGordon as “just good people” who are understanding and well-grounded.

“They’re just very ‘Kansas City.’ They are real people in it for all the right reasons.”

Bush says it’s no surprise both AOG and McCownGordon are working together on a project like this, along with Bob D. Campbell, BSA LifeStructures and many others.

“We all appreciate the tower’s long-term potential to make our hometown and the world healthier. There’s a special satisfaction in knowing we’re sort of shaping the launch pad of a research mission that will dramatically change lives.”

AOG would like to make a difference in the healthcare industry and many aren’t aware of the intensive, scientific work our firm is capable of in order to bring a project like the research tower to life.

“But that’s not important,” says Bennett.

“When my grandson gets a little older, I’ll take him for a drive around Kansas City and show him that grandpa worked on this and that, and helped put up that research tower to help the kids inside Children’s Mercy. Yeah, that’s all the recognition I need.”

BSA Childrens Mercy Tower rendering Children's Research Institute KC logo Children's Mercy Hospital KC

Children’s Mercy is a nonprofit hospital and research depends on donations. Please explore ways you can help.

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