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The Link at Uptown Spotlights TD's Design-Build Solutions

The Link at Uptown office tower is aptly named, connecting Uptown, Victory Park and Downtown Dallas with approachable sophistication and amenities that promise tenants luxurious suites, stunning views and easy commuting access.

As one of TDIndustries’ largest design-build projects, with full core and shell mechanical design and construction — including HVAC, plumbing and building controls — The Link is a milestone accomplishment for TD.

"Kaizen Development Partners has a commitment to the design-build process," says Gary Roden, VP Design-Build Business Development. "We embrace the collaboration of the entire design and construction team using design-build methods to enhance owner value."

Approaching the job site each day and seeing The Link’s distinct profile emerge through the neighboring high rises gives Ken Luong, Dallas Construction Project Manager for TDIndustries, a rush of pride and excitement. "It’s always great to contribute to the skyline of Dallas. From I-35 South or going down Harry Hines Boulevard, The Link is the first thing you see,"  he says. "It’s a landmark goal achieved for us to celebrate this success with Kaizen, BOKA Powell architects and Balfour Beatty, the general contractor."


Early planning in 2019 allowed TD to get onto the job site, understand the project and reduce schedule durations, especially critical given the COVID-19 disruptions no one knew were coming, Luong says.

The immersive design-build experience and partnership in decision-making added tremendous value to the project, says Elizabeth Welch, Mechanical Engineer. "Ken and I went to all of the design meetings together, starting from the beginning when we were just issuing a narrative."
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That allowed the construction team to help shape design from constructability, safety and maintenance standpoints to drive client goals. TD provided A3s, or system comparisons, on equipment such as the chiller types, for the owner to consider during the design phase, offering available options suited to the footprint, pricing tiers and environmental and performance benefits.

Welch noted that because sustainability and energy efficiency are essential to the owner, Kaizen chose air-cooled chillers based on the analysis. The team, collaborating early with Balfour Beatty, explained the challenge of mounting the selected chillers on the roof downtown in a tight footprint. That influenced the type of tower crane needed to save money and potential risk on a helicopter lift.

The TD team’s challenges included the tight downtown Dallas footprint, busy traffic, high visibility and the COVID-19 pandemic. "As complex as the location is with the tight footprint and high visibility, TD ran its processes very lean," Luong says.

"All of that collaboration early on influenced the success of the project in ways that are hard to understand and describe," Welch says. "Ken and his team managed all of the material acquisitions with enough lead time that we didn’t have any delays, which is kind of shocking. And what enabled Ken to feel comfortable ordering equipment earlier than he would have on a bid-build project was that we worked together on those decisions."


Collaborations on solutions added excitement and growth through innovative digital design and fabrication through Revit. The lessons learned in this process and how they’ll influence future design-build projects helped the team gain an understanding of that intricate choreography and communication flow necessary to design-build project success.

"The team environment that Kaizen fostered and that Ken led through construction from the beginning of the project was collaborative, it was open and it was safe," Welch says. "When we came up against issues, we all came together to solve it as a team for what was best for the project — and that was an incredible experience. Kaizen made the best decisions for the building based on the recommended expertise of the people they hired because that was how they put together their team. They had goals they wanted to accomplish to make their building high-end, sustainable and unique, and we just found a good balance of partnership to help achieve those goals."

Luong and Welch emphasized that TD’s soft-skill advantage in performing as a trusted adviser is significant in a project like The Link at Uptown. "We exhibit those values we have as a company — building trusting relationships and continuous aggressive improvement — with everyone we work with, from the GC to the architect, to our early collaboration and communication with electrical contractor Cummings," Welch says.

Full-scope solutions

"On a core and shell office tower, the primary design challenge is providing for the future unknown," Welch says. "You don’t want to bring in a tenant and have them rip out what you just put in. With the plumbing, you want to offer flexibility for a break room at the far end of the floor or a private restroom for an executive, yet still execute cost-effectively."

TD relied on its finish-out construction experience to inform how to run the loop ductwork that serves the floor and put future tenant sanitary risers or chilled water provisions. And our service and facilities maintenance expertise influenced design decisions that will save repair and maintenance costs throughout the life of the building. The controls team anticipated owner and tenant needs with the latest technology-agnostic building control systems customizable to tenants’ comfort and sustainability goals.

TD’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility prefabricated all the restroom batteries, which were 3D modeled for The Link. Additional fabrication pieces included mechanical room ductwork, air handler connections, hydronic piping and more.

"By having that full-scope building experience — estimating and precon, engineering, construction, manufacturing, controls, service — we were able to bring to the table a large, collaborative effort to be a true design-build partner, ensuring premier quality and innovation while speeding up the schedule," Luong says.

Artist rendering by BOKA Powell Architects