Workers at Birmingham-based construction firm Robins & Morton are pouring on the steam, turning 250,000 square feet of the Miami Beach Convention Center into a 450-bed field hospital, and they have less than two weeks to complete the job. The retrofit is part of the Army Corps of Engineers’ ongoing effort to convert convention centers, hotels and closed hospitals to alleviate pressure on local hospitals caused by the anticipated surge of COVID-19 patients.
The Corps, joined by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state and local officials, announced the $22.5 million contract at a press conference in Miami Beach on April 8. Robins & Morton are charged with finishing the job by April 21, giving workers only days to take the convention center from bare floors to a fully functional hospital, complete with isolation rooms.
“As we were wrapping up details of the contract, we were already working on the logistics and had our key project team members in place within 24 hours so that work could start the next day,” said Johnathan Peavy, Robins & Morton senior project manager. “Turning an empty space into a hospital in such a short time is a huge undertaking, but everyone on the project is committed to working with the Army Corps of Engineers to get this done. We know how important this is to the state of Florida and the Miami Beach community during the public health emergency.”
Up to 250 people – including craft professionals and more than 40 members of the Robins & Morton team – are working around the clock in two shifts. Robins & Morton quickly added more than 20 contractors from south Florida to help the team with the project.
Along with overseeing the project, Robins & Morton will follow all COVID-19 safety and health protocols and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to help protect everyone on the job.
“We understand the critical nature of these projects and their role in supporting vital health care services during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Robins & Morton President and COO Robin Savage. “With that, we understand our role is to ensure that this project is backed by the full support of our company to usher it to completion in its short time frame. Projects like these are rewarding – the ones that really make a difference. They make being a builder so meaningful. We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to preparation efforts in the community at this difficult time.”