Originally posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Written by Brittany Fining

Located on the University of Wisconsin campus in the heart of Madison, the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery is a benchmark facility that fosters interaction between private and public research, while transcending all boundaries of biomedical research.

The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery (WID) project is an innovative 303,300-square-foot facility designed for interaction, community, and collaboration. Developed by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) in partnership with the State of Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin, the partnership consists of twin institutes – one private and one public. This state-of-the-art, five-story facility houses the public WID, a center within the UW-Madison Graduate School, and the private Morgridge Institute for Research (MIR), a subsidiary of WARF. The facility serves as a hub for interdisciplinary research, education, and outreach.

4_Wisconsin_Institutes_for_Discovery_01Unlike traditional research facilities, the institutes bring together progressive researches in both formal and informal settings, all with a unique tie to the public with a Town Center located within the building. The building has two main purposes: to house a wide variety of research laboratories and to encourage collaboration. It has numerous floors on which research is conducted. Also included are embedded teaching labs with public access that are linked electronically so that one teacher can present to pupils in all the labs at the same time.

The WARF Board of Trustees saw this project as an opportunity to undertake an Integrated Project Delivery approach and encouraged project leadership to pursue this. The resulting facility primarily represents the achievement of a mission- driven project from the Owner. WID aims to facilitate collaborative interdisciplinary work in which conceptualization and research are done mutually—an approach reflected also in the project’s delivery.

An IPD team was formulated to lead the planning, programming, budget, design, and construction. IPD illustrates that social connections can speed intellectual connections, while ensuring fundamental elements of construction such as quality, safety, schedule, and budget. Consistent with the IPD process, the WID project involved the selection of trade partners early in the project. The project also embraced cluster teams to enhance the spirit of collaboration and to enable all team members to actively participate in the overall success of WID.

4 Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery 03Challenges and successful outcomes of the project’s Owner- driven IPD approach became dramatically evident both before ground-breaking and upon ground-breaking. Incidents of unanticipated site conditions and evolving project elements were successfully managed through functional optimizations of the IPD approach. The IPD team worked hard early on to develop a project milestone schedule through many reverse-phase scheduling sessions, which allowed the entire team to work together to build a schedule that would minimize workflow inefficiencies. During construction, the project schedule was exceeded, and the IPD team completed WID almost one month early. Throughout the project, the management team had a dedicated on-site BIM professional focused on the combination of all design disciplines into a 3-D model, which was then converted into a 4-D model after the construction schedule was incorporated. This model allowed all stakeholders to visualize the end facility and allowed for the testing of various schedule sequences. This Virtual Design and Construction process was key to the project’s successes in scheduling.

4 Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery 03A central facet of the IPD team is to create value for the end customer. Early in the planning of the WID project, the Owner established a target value for the development of the facility. The IPD team provided a variety of value analysis options for the project during the building concept and project formation phases to achieve the greatest value. A notable example of one of these options involved modifying the facility’s initial design to transform it from a high-rise building into a non-high-rise building. This change both simplified the design and saved a significant amount of money. During the design phase, the IPD team worked collaboratively in suggesting a variety of value analysis solutions while providing continuous cost estimates to meet the project budget. During the construction phase, a variety of cost management tools allowed the team to accurately monitor specific costs and the project’s overall budget.

The facility’s quality was ultimately borne out in the quality of the research conducted within it and the scope of knowledge deriving from it. By fully understanding the programmatic values of the project, the IPD team was able to create a purposeful Quality Management Program (QMP). They believed that establishing a culture of quality at the project’s outset would directly affect safety, efficiency, schedule, initial cost, long-term operation costs, and overall customer satisfaction. The QMP was focused on a proactive program and based on the principle of “early planning.” The plan concentrated on a number of core focus areas, including identifying the definable features of work, team member training, and three-phase inspection project, among others. Throughout the WID project’s construction, team members continuously reviewed and inspected the work to ensure the building’s quality.

As with all other aspects of this project, the Owner team’s role was an active one in the quality process. The Owner convened and chaired monthly meetings of the core team, and the core team’s leadership created a proactive environment, and initiated regular reports on the progress of the project’s established benchmarks.

The project took a total of 1,050 calendar days to complete, which was 28 days ahead of schedule. Many factors contributed to the project’s overall success, including its open, honest environment. Additionally, the core team chose eight values as the project’s guiding principles: relatedness, collaboration, network of commitments, BIM, reliable promising, planning and scheduling, minimization of waste, and dynamic cost modeling/target value process. Faithful adherence to these ultimately resulted in the project’s success.4_Wisconsin_Institutes_for_Discovery_01

While the project’s overall success cannot be denied, there were challenges to the project along the way. These included:

  • Planning and delivering a flexible 100-year building prior to the selection of the building’s occupants
  • Coordinating with the City of Madison for earth retention needs and challenges within the tight site
  • Dealing with groundwater issues
  • Connecting the building to the University of Wisconsin’s water system
  • Incorporating building systems unique to this market • Addressing the challenging geometry of the building
  • Considering vibration sensitivity of the building’s labs

Solutions to these problems lay in the project’s virtual design and construction. Benefits to this included early design coordination, 4D scheduling, smoke control modeling, MEP coordination, and integrated work planning, among others.

The team also used technology extensively. An on-site VDC “war room” allowed the team to bring all modeling entities to work in a single location. With a dedication to minimizing waste, enabling integration, and improving collaboration and efficiency, the team applied a number of new technologies to the project. A selection of these technologies included Latista, submittal exchange, point cloud, digitizing the construction site, field notebooks, and joint servers in the field. The project also had many achievements with regard to sustainability.

The project achieved LEED Silver Certification, thanks to the development and construction of a unique geothermal HVAC system. The project includes roof-top solar panels, energy-efficient mechanical systems, a night flush system to cool the building during the summer, automatic shades to adjust to outside light levels, and recycling, including recycling 98 percent of the demolition materials.

The WID project’s success was thanks to the commitment and capability of the team and the leadership of the project’s Owners. Everyone involved understood the necessity of collaboration, coordination, and commitment to the values set out in the quality management plan and worked hard to see that those values were adhered to. For their excellent planning and management, COAA’s Project Leadership Gold Award rightly goes to the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.