BEST BUILDING PROJECT: The Forsyth Medical Center Expansion & Renovation, Winston-Salem



The Forsyth Medical Center Expansion and Renovation for Novant Health of Winston-Salem included five major projects totaling more than 1 million square feet. These were the North Pavilion, a new parking deck, an education and conference center, a central energy plant expansion and the Derrick L. Davis Forsyth Regional Cancer Center. Additionally, there were infrastructure improvements and a reroute of the primary road fronting the hospital.

This too was a joint venture. It paired Rodgers Builders of Charlotte with the Greensboro office of Rentenbach Constructors, based in Knoxville, TN.

“It was a great relationship,” says David Craft, vice president of construction for Rodgers. “We melded. We were one team. We never made a decision that was not in the best interest of the project.” 

Rentenbach reminds him of Rodgers, Craft says. Rather than concern themselves with formulas for the number of people involved from each company, Craft says, “We just worried about who’s the best person to fill a particular position.”

That brings to mind what Reid Linthicum, vice president of operations for Rentenbach, considers the best anecdote about team spirit.

“The owner, Novant Health, on occasion confused which team member worked for which company,” says Linthicum. “That’s the ultimate compliment on how well the joint venture worked.”

David Mauney of Pyramid Masonry Contractors also praises the cooperation and points to preplanning and the coordination of subcontractors it produced. That made a big difference for work that had to be accomplished while normal hospital activities continued uninterrupted, said Mauney, a regional vice president based in Charlotte.

Constructing a brick veneer, the 60-person Pyramid crew found themselves in tight conditions with limited access. Sometimes they toiled above roofs of existing structures.

It’s situations such as those, Mauney believes, where preparation by Rodgers/Rentenbach helped immensely.

“The quality and workmanship our guys were able to achieve is there forever,” Mauney says.

Mauney also praises the attention to safety. “Rodgers/Rentenbach made certain this was given the proper priority each and every day,” he says. The CAGC cites a .75 incidence rate for more that 900,000 hours on the job.

The four-year project presented many scope changes and challenges, including multiple phase renovations, infrastructure improvements and utility relocations.

For a sense of size as well as coordination issues, consider that the five-level visitor parking deck is 600,000 square feet of cast-in-place concrete. As the deck neared completion, the pours for the North Pavilion were in progress. Further, the North Pavilion opening had to coincide with West Tower renovations.

A four-level, two-truss connector was needed to link the hallways of floors five through nine from the North Pavilion to the General Tower, which dates to the 1960s. To accomplish this, a 2,400-square-foot roof had to be removed while lower floors were occupied.

“Probably the greatest challenge was tying in the existing building to the new building at the third and fourth floors,” says Craft.


Complications abounded. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was at a connection point, and a connection was impossible while the unit was occupied. But the NICU couldn’t move until the North Pavilion was ready.

Craft and Linthicum thought ahead, and with the help of the full project team – including representatives of architects FreemanWhite Inc. and Forsyth Medical Center – found ways to overcome challenges with minimum disruptions. That anticipation prepared the team for when logistics puzzlers popped up, Craft says.

The CAGC praises completion “well below budget, despite an unprecedented increase in market prices from initial budget through bidding to the end of the project.”

Craft is proud the project was completed early. “And we didn’t fail any inspections,” he adds.