FCL Builders – SKF Global Technical Center

Swedish manufacturer SKF has been a leader in providing technology for more than a century. The company’s expertise in bearings, seals, mechatronics and lubrication systems made it a formidable presence in the global manufacturing market, from its earliest products in 1907 to the highly sophisticated solutions it provides for its global customers today. Innovation has been key to SKF’s success over the years, and the company is furthering its commitment to developing the solutions for tomorrow’s manufacturing applications with the construction of its new Global Technical Center outside of Chicago. 

The 130,000-square-foot, $30 million Global Technical Center Americas has been planned with the goal of bringing SKF’s technical expertise and engineering prowess closer to its customers in North America. Located in Naperville, Ill., the Global Technical Center Americas will complement the company’s existing technical center in Michigan and will provide the company with a new state-of-the-art facility from which it can develop new solutions for its customers. 

“The [center] will bring world-class SKF knowledge and experience closer to customers in order to increase the speed of delivering new products and solutions to market,” SKF USA President Poul Jeppesen said in a recent statement. “Our engineers will be working more closely with our customers in order to solve tomorrow’s engineering problems today, tackling challenges from energy efficiency to reliability and increased productivity. [It] will also strengthen our connections to the excellent university research work in North America.” 

Before the Global Technical Center Americas can get to work on creating solutions for SKF’s clients, of course, the challenges of building the facility have to be solved. To bring this facility from concept to reality, SKF turned to FCL Builders, an Itasca, Ill.-based design/build contractor that specializes in commercial construction across the country. 

FCL Builders Vice President and Principal Randy Lindenberg says the project came about as a result of the relationship FCL Builders has with the developer, Murphy Real Estate. He says the developer had been working for years with FCL Builders to find a project that would suit the parcel of land in Naperville before they were approached by brokers representing SKF. The site’s location made it the right place for the new Global Technical Center Americas, and FCL Builders was awarded the contract to design and construct the facility as a build-to-suit project.

A Different Project

As a design/builder, FCL has a lot of experiences customizing buildings to fit an owner’s specific needs. As a design/builder, FCL has a lot of experience customizing buildings to fit an owner’s needs, and that experience makes it more than qualified to tackle a project of the size and scope of the Global Technical Center Americas. “We have established a proven design/build method that ensures the customer’s needs and desires are completely understood and the customer is completely satisfied,” the company says. “FCL Builders consistently matches its internal team and external resources, including clients, architects, engineers and subcontractors, to ensure we deliver the highest-quality product every time. Not only do we hold our own employees accountable, we also regularly evaluate all subcontractors and suppliers to make sure they meet our standards for quality, reliability, ethics and professionalism. Every member of our team, at every level, is devoted to meeting our customer’s needs. We have created a climate in which issues can be raised, openly discussed and jointly settled for successful outcomes.”

In this case, the Global Technical Center Americas is intended to blend into the environment and the aesthetic elements of the site. FCL ensured the design focused on a facility that provides comfort for its engineers. “They want this to be a wonderful work environment for their employees, relaxing and innovative to allow their employees to  think creatively,” Lindenberg says. 

A significant part of creating that environment for SKF’s engineers is providing them with an inspiring view. Lindenberg says the building has been oriented on the site to provide views of the natural wetland area and  pond on the building’s north side. A walkout patio area also is being constructed on the north side to provide employees with a gathering space. 

Overcoming Challenges

The orientation of the facility on the site is important for creating the type of work environment SKF wants for the Global Technical Center Americas, but it also comes with some significant challenges for FCL Builders and the rest of the project team. “The site has significant topographical elevation changes,” Lindenberg says. “It falls from 40 to 50 feet from south to north.” 

Engineering the building to accommodate the severe slope of the site was “far and away” the greatest challenge for the project team, Lindenberg explains. 

However, FCL Builders was able to leverage its design/build experience and worked closely with the rest of the project team members to find creative solutions to the situation. For example, the building’s northeast corner is essentially like the deck on a house, built with supports that elevate it over the site. 

Lindenberg says the project also has been designed to achieve LEED certification. Among the sustainable features included in the project are natural lighting, permeable pavers in the parking lot, potential solar panels on the roof and improved stormwater collection, retaining wall and HVAC systems. 

Crucial Teamwork

The close collaboration between all members of the project team has been a major reason why the SKF Global Technical Center Americas project has remained on track to be completed on schedule. Lindenberg says FCL Builders’ work on the shell and core will be completed by mid-September, with interior improvements representing the next phase of the project. 

Lindenberg explains that the cooperation of the city of Naperville has been extremely helpful for the project. Lindenberg says teamwork has been a crucial element of the project’s success. 

“I think we definitely reinforced that, by working collectively with the client and our subcontractor team, we found the best solution to the challenges that were in front of us,” he says. “That is what we do best. We are passionate about seeing our customer’s vision become reality.” 

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