A STATELY RELATIONSHIP: Ajax and the Florida Department of Management Services
Ajax Building Company has been working with the Florida Department of Management Services (DMS) for over 30 years. In that many years of working together, they have seen it all—from simple waterproofing repairs to massive campus redevelopments.
DMS is essentially the business arm for the State of Florida, including managing the state’s real estate properties. The Ajax team has not only managed some of DMS’s largest projects in northern Florida—such as 260,000sf of expansion at the Capital Circle Office Complex in Tallahassee and the current Capitol Complex campus upgrade—but also dozens of smaller projects, such as elevator replacements and waterproofing efforts, under a continuing contract with the state.
“The most interesting part of the continuing contract is the range of projects that can result from some of the larger ones,” says Allan Wooden, Ajax operations manager. “Sometimes a larger renovation causes unanticipated consequences to other facilities, and this contract allows us to move forward with those smaller projects to keep the larger one moving ahead.”
One example is DMS’s extensive Capitol Complex renovation project. Ajax was hired to manage those larger renovations but, as Wooden explains, “there were several systems running within the limits of the larger project that would be disrupted in order to accomplish the work.” Some of the work associated with the parking garage necessitated modifications to the complex’s medium-voltage distribution system, which then uncovered some issues with the 40-year-old switchgear system. DMS allowed Ajax to not only continue removing and replacing that system, but also reconfigure the heating systems in adjacent buildings so they could continue to function without being tied to the central plant. Thanks to the continuing contract, Ajax could continue managing those ancillary projects as the overall renovation continued.”
“Most of these jobs were electrical in nature so we hired an electrical contractor,” says Wooden. “But the contract provided the mechanism to get those projects done quickly so we could progress with the garage.”
Similarly, the garage project also led to Ajax’s involvement in one of the Capitol’s largest projects—a $55M redevelopment of the entire Capitol Complex site. While initially working on the garage renovations, the project team detected some water damage and deterioration. As the project progressed, the team discovered part of the deterioration was caused by the dense stand of trees above the garage that had grown much larger than originally anticipated.
At the same time, the state had issued a legislative mandate to create a “memorial park” on the Capitol grounds. Since the existing vegetation over the garage had to be removed to expose the structures for repairs, DMS took the opportunity to completely transform the campus into an open, bright, welcoming space designed to encourage visitors and employees alike to spend time outdoors and to serve as an outdoor function space for the legislature. The new park will include two main levels covered in a combination of precast pavers, granite clad panels, slate panels, and precast copings, with connecting stairs and ramps, plus extensive landscaping features and spaces to house monuments and memorials to be added over time.
“What was a smaller effort morphed into this larger, more complex project that will dramatically change what the Capitol Complex has looked like for the last 40 years,” says Wooden. “It’s one of the jobs at the end of my career that I will look back on and say, ‘That one was special.’”
Ajax and Florida DMS Example Projects
- House Office Building parking garage fire sprinkler safety system replacement
- House and Senate Office Building colonnade finishes and waterproofing repairs
- Florida Department of Law Enforcement Regional Operations Center in Jacksonville
- Security upgrades to the Florida Supreme Court
- Various utility infrastructure upgrades
- Various warehouse renovations
- Crime lab renovation and reconstruction
- Underground parking repairs