Originally posted Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Written Sandy Lu and Nick Dorman

In mid-November, Owners from across the country met in Tampa, Florida for the 2010 COAA Fall Owners Leadership Conference. The three-day conference included a dash of local interest and Walt Disney magic; more information on BIM, the topic Owners can’t seem to get enough of; a series of sessions on sustainability/energy issues; a mini-track devoted to the related topics of integrated project deliver (IPD) and “lean”; a handful of general interest sessions; the COAA Annual Business Meeting; Project Leadership Awards presentation; and the ever-popular open-mic Owner Forum. In mid-November, Owners from across the country met in Tampa, Florida for the 2010 COAA Fall Owners Leadership Conference. The three-day conference included a dash of local interest and Walt Disney magic; more information on BIM, the topic Owners can’t seem to get enough of; a series of sessions on sustainability/energy issues; a mini-track devoted to the related topics of integrated project deliver (IPD) and “lean”; a handful of general interest sessions; the COAA Annual Business Meeting; Project Leadership Awards presentation; and the ever-popular open-mic Owner Forum.

COAA Conference Committee Chair Howie Ferguson of the University of Florida, said, “The conference theme, ‘Learning by Doing—Owners Turning Trends into Tools,’ applied to almost all of the content at the conference, with the underlying message of ‘Dive in, the water’s not too cold!’ BIM, sustainable design and construction, and IPD (or at least “IPD-sh” principles) really are becoming more ordinary and prevalent.” Ferguson continued, “As with AutoCAD, commissioning, ADA standards, and alternative delivery methods a few years ago, these ’emerging trends’ have morphed into tools at our disposal or even simply become the way business is routinely done. And, like those ‘trends’ from past years, today’s trends-becoming-tools are doing so in large part because we Owners have demanded it.”

One of the highlight sessions was surely “Disney Imagineering: Innovating Into the Future,” in which Jack Blitch, VP of Florida Imagineering, reviewed the Disney approach to immersive construction and, especially, Disney’s use of BIM and IPD strategies. There was much discussion of 3-, 4-, and even 5-D modeling in their projects, and the audience saw how they were utilized in the construction of some of Disney’s most notable recent projects.

The city of Tampa had the spotlight for the opening session, “A Tale of Two Visions: Reaching Consensus to Deliver an Icon.” The session was immediately followed by a guided tour of the Tampa Museum of Art and the University of Tampa.

Sessions on sustainability included a project profile of Florida Gulf Coast University’s 15-acre solar field; a session entitled “Energy Conservation Strategies in Laboratory Facilities,” which looked at energy conservation in what has traditionally been one of the greatest consumers of energy on campuses; and a session on green building in warm climates, focusing on moisture and mold considerations that can compromise a building’s performance and longevity, particularly in warm and humid regions.

The last session of the conference (“Owner Forum—Live!”) was a well-attended, intimate, and unstructured roundtable discussion of emerging trends, hot-button topics, and follow-up on particular sessions.

For those members who could not attend the conference, the presentations are available at COAA’s website, www.coaa.org. Log in, select “Members Only,” then “Archives” to download the files. Don’t forget, the 2011 Spring Owners Leadership Conference will be held May 4-6 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Project Leadership Awards

Three Owners received recognition during the Tampa conference. COAA President Boyd Black presented the 2010 Project Leadership Awards during the Conference Award Luncheon. Speaking during the presentation ceremony, Mr. Black said: “Our 2010 award recipients have reinforced our belief that the success of our projects lies in creating collaborative working relationships with our designers and contractors. COAA’s Project Leadership Awards Program provides an opportunity to recognize those “Owners” who have demonstrated strong leadership with their project team, resulting in a successful project—successful for the owner, designer, and contractor!”

The Project Leadership Award Program promotes leadership, professionalism, and management excellence of Owners involved in the design and construction process. The Award is given to the Owner who achieves excellence by demonstrating exceptional leadership and project management skills, which include visioning, integrity, team building, communication, fairness, problem resolution, decision-making, plan implementation, collaboration, etc.

The Gold Award was presented to the Middle Tennessee Medical Center for the Replacement Hospital Project. The Middle Tennessee Medical Center Replacement Hospital Project, with 286 patient beds and 550,000 square feet, is a project that exceeds many industry benchmarks, including finishing two months ahead of schedule and approximately $4 million under budget.

The use of building information modeling and lean construction practices allowed for significantly reduced crew sizes in some situations. For example, only three workers over five days were required to stand on the metal deck before concrete was poured to place hundreds of pipe hangars across a 30,000 square-foot area.

The Middle Tennessee Medical Center Replacement Hospital Project wasn’t without its challenges. The site required a substantial amount of fill to bring the facility two feet above the 100-year flood stage for the site. But by finding fill material at an economical rate as early as 2005, the site received approximately 30 percent of the fill material before the project was even designed. This project was also affected by a significant market slowdown in late 2008. The project team looked closely at the need for cash flow and adjusted the expenditures and schedule as needed so the project would not be greatly affected. Through exemplary leadership, the project remained on course and was still able to finish ahead of schedule and under budget.

Two Silver Awards were presented. The first Silver Award was presented to the University of Florida for the Emerging Pathogens Institute. The Emerging Pathogens Institute (EPI) is a five-level, 89,000 square-foot facility, consisting of office space, administration, BSL-2, BSL-3, BSL-3e, and BSL-3Ag spaces. The facility also contains the only rooftop BSL-3 research greenhouse in the southeastern United States.

The project encountered some very unique scheduling challenges. For example, during the design phase, it was discovered that a bald eagle had nested a few hundred feet from the proposed site. Though eagles are no longer endangered, they remain a protected species, and there are strict guidelines regarding construction activities near an existing nest. While this impacted the overall project schedule, the team continued to move forward with minimal impact to both the schedule and the eagle.

During the construction of EPI, an adjacent chiller plant, which would serve this project, was also being constructed by others. Several issues prevented the chiller from being completed on time, which prevented chilled water from being utilized to condition the space at EPI. HVAC was a very critical need for EPI, as interior finishes had to be installed in order to meet the stringent scheduling requirements. The team recognized this need and helped to coordinate the use of temporary chillers to serve the facility until permanent chilled water was available. The temporary chillers would be utilized for approximately 5 months and would enable construction to progress as scheduled. By maintaining open communication with the designers, engineers, builders, and the university’s physical plant, UF helped ensure that cost and schedule were met or exceeded and that the facility was designed and built for efficient maintenance.

The second Silver Award was presented to the Loudoun County Public Schools for the Tuscarora High School. What was once a 132-acre livestock farmstead is now home to the Tuscarora High School. The property now houses the 280,000 square-foot main building—a full athletic complex with a 4,000-seat stadium, competition-level baseball and softball fields and ancillary support, and physical education program spaces.

The project was a culmination of many years of work, beginning with numerous challenges associated with land acquisition, public opinion, and a rather difficult site, in terms of construction logistics. The design phase was complicated by many factors, including the preservation of one of Virginia’s last remaining native trout habitats. The design team not only produced a responsible solution for the preservation of this valuable resource, but also orchestrated a public awareness campaign.

The construction phase was equally challenging, beginning with the discovery of subsurface limestone karst formations, as well as three major winter snowstorms that dropped approximately 72 inches of snow within a period of six weeks, all with the potential of derailing the project’s schedule.

In only 570 days, this team of dedicated professionals overcame extreme project constraints, outside intervention, “state of emergency” winter weather, eminent domain procedures, and an abbreviated design schedule. A marked commitment to open communications, plan implementation, and problem solving resulted in a successful project, completed ahead of time, that stands as a clear example of professional relationships working for a common goal to the benefit and credit of the entire team.

The deadline for nominations for the 2011 Project Leadership Awards is August 31, 2011. For more information, visit www.coaa.org.