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JJ Curran Crane Company Brings Lifting Expertise to the Pavilion at University of Michigan Health

by: Debra Wood
JJ Curran Crane supplied, installed and operates the project’s tower crane.
JJ Curran Crane supplied, installed and operates the project’s tower crane.
Matt Reinhart and Mark Wade of JJ Curran Crane Company
Matt Reinhart and Mark Wade of JJ Curran Crane Company
A Manitowoc 2250 Lattice-Boom Crawler Crane is being used to help with steel lifts.
A Manitowoc 2250 Lattice-Boom Crawler Crane is being used to help with steel lifts.
JJ Curran Crane set up the Liebherr 630 EC-H Tower Crane.
JJ Curran Crane set up the Liebherr 630 EC-H Tower Crane.
The two separate crane operators have to collaborate during the project.
The two separate crane operators have to collaborate during the project.
A collaborative effort ensures the right cranes assist in building the new $920 million, 12-story patient tower, the Pavilion at University of Michigan Health, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“Projects like this require a lot of planning,” says Mark Wade, Vice President of Operations for JJ Curran Crane Company of Detroit. The general contractor “Barton Malow was a big help in coordinating,” said Wade.

A Vital Piece of Equipment
Typically, on the project the contractor outlines what the crane will need to lift and where the lifts must go. Then JJ Curran Crane’s engineers, based on their experience, create 3D lift plans and determine the correct crane and its placement to safely complete all of the lifts.

“Anytime you put a tower crane up, you go through a discovery process that includes determining everything from duration of job, max capacity required, scope of crane activity (lifting radius), foundation design, and local and customer specific safety requirements,” Wade says. “Once the fact-finding is completed, JJ Curran Crane analyzes the information and creates a lift plan. The process is necessary to ensure a safe jobsite and a happy customer. Once everyone involved completes their due diligence, everything can fall into place in a timely manner and our guys can get to work.”

JJ Curran Crane set up the tower crane about a year ago. It took the company’s crews four days using a Liebherr LTM 1750 Crane to erect the tower crane. It took 17 truck loads to bring in all of the crane’s parts.

On this medical center project the weight of some of the steel frame – as heavy as 12,000 pounds – required a large crane so the team went with a Liebherr 630 EC-H Tower Crane, which will remain on site for four years. The crane is 250 feet high under hook, with a 267-foot jib. It has a maximum lifting capacity of 88,184 pounds and a lifting capacity of 12,786 pounds at the maximum radius of 262 feet.

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JJ Curran Crane maintains and operates the tower crane for Barton Malow. Ted Fortier, with JJ Curran Crane, operates the tower crane at the Pavilion jobsite.

“We offer a turnkey package,” says Matt Reinhart, Senior Marketing Specialist for JJ Curran Crane. “We offer a seamless experience for the customer.”

JJ Curran Crane’s service includes overseeing and assuming responsibility for the safe design and installation of the crane’s foundation and anchors, and to ensure the tower is plumb. The crane company also provides a National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators-certified crane operator and will take the crane down when it is no longer needed. “It makes it easier for the customer if they do not have to worry about that stuff,” Wade says.

This is the third project where JJ Curran Crane has installed and operated a tower crane – a relatively new line of business for the 72-year-old, family-owned and -operated company.

Prioritizing Safety
Safety remains a top priority for JJ Curran Crane, which recently signed an agreement with the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The partnership involves Barton Malow and other subcontractors and will include scheduled and unscheduled site visits from the agency. The crane company also adheres to the contractor’s safety program and the University of Michigan’s guidelines. For instance, the university requires the crane operator to lift up only 50 percent of the crane’s capacity or the contractors have to seek approval from the university.

To enhance safety, JJ Curran Crane invested in a Crosby BlokCam for the tower crane. The wireless camera enables the operator, high above the ground, to watch and hear as crews prepare a load for lifting. The camera audio-visual feed gives the operator an unobstructed view in real time of everything as it takes place.

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“The operator can see them hooking up the load and monitor as they are rigging it,” Wade says. “Otherwise, they would be working blind.”

Also on the jobsite, a Manitowoc 2250 Lattice-Boom Crawler Crane, with a 100-foot boom and 140 feet on the jib, will stay onsite for about one year and assist with heavy lifting. Assemblers of Pinckney, Michigan, owns and operates it. Several of the trades also have brought in their own cranes.

The multitude of cranes on the jobsite required additional safety protocols that were addressed during the planning process.

“The trick is we have to keep the crawler crane’s tip height under the tower crane, so there is no shared air space,” Wade says. “We have to coordinate to avoid crane issues. The operators have to talk to each other and synchronize their swings.”

JJ Curran Crane expects to bring additional smaller cranes to the project as work progresses and Barton Malow’s needs change. “We have a complete line of cranes we can bring in at any moment,” Wade says.

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The project includes construction of tunnels connecting the new patient tower to the main hospital. Assemblers must stay cautious not to move the crawler crane over those tunnels until they are complete.

Constructing the Bed Tower
Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan Health has been experiencing a high demand for surgery and inpatient admissions, leading to capacity constraints. The health system’s five hospitals have been operating at nearly 90 percent capacity.

Therefore, the Board of Regents authorized construction of the 690,000-gross-square-foot, 12-story inpatient tower, which will have 264 single-occupancy, universal patient rooms and 23 large surgical or interventional radiology suites. Clinicians at the facility will care for neuroscience, cardiac, and vascular patients. The new building will provide family and collaboration spaces. The universal rooms can convert to provide intensive care level care.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of innovation with a new hospital that will support the extraordinary work of our faculty, nurses and other providers and our research community,” said Marschall Runge, MD, PhD, the Executive Vice President of Medical Affairs for U-M, CEO of Michigan Medicine and Dean of the Medical School, in a statement.

HOK Group of St. Louis serves as the architect and Barton Malow of Detroit is the general contractor. Work began with clearing the site in spring 2021, after a pause in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team is aiming for LEED Gold certification. The building is expected to exceed by 20 percent State of Michigan building codes for energy performance.

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Construction is scheduled for completion in fall 2025. At that time, University Hospital will redesign to convert semi-private rooms to single-occupancy rooms and grow its patient programs.

“The Pavilion at University of Michigan Health will offer the excellence in complex care that U-M patients are used to in a comforting facility that incorporates the latest innovations in health care delivery,” Runge added.

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