024 The Designer Shortlist: Bond Project Post #3

post24Happy New Year everyone! I’m starting the year 2017 off describing the process that we used for shortlisting designers for the bond project. On all projects we typically receive 10 – 20 submittal packages from interested designers. Since we cannot interview all the teams that submit, we will shortlist up to six teams. Below I will describe the shortlisting process that we went through to determine which designers to interview on the bond project. Continue reading

020 Interview with NIH Branch Chief

SHThis week I’m pleased to share my interview with Stephanie Hixson, PE, LEED AP with you.  She is a Branch Chief for the Laboratory Branch in the Division of Design and Construction within the Office of Research Facilities at the National Institutes of Health [NIH] in Bethesda, MD. She supervises a group of project officers that focus on the design and construction of laboratories and research facilities.

[Q] What project management tools do you use to keep projects on schedule and on budget?

[A] We have internal systems for tracking project budgets and tracking our schedules primarily with Microsoft Project for the smaller projects and Primavera for the larger projects as well as for master scheduling (all active projects). Continue reading

017 Public-Private Partnerships: A Primer

WordpressIt took about one hundred conversations to negotiate the deal,” said Gordon Merklein, the executive director for real estate at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He compared negotiating this deal and other deals to dating. “If the ‘first date’ goes well then you progress to a ‘second date’ and if that goes well then there are many more, sometimes hundreds,” he said. During the “dates”, they worked through issues like who would pay for the “town square” in the middle of the development because by not building on this part of the site, the developer would lose leasable area, but Gordon’s team felt it was necessary for the quality of the development. Like dates, he explained, some meetings were jovial, some meetings were tense, some dramatic, and I sure quite a few were boring, but in the end they negotiated a deal that benefited both parties.

The deal described above is for the “pseudo” public-private partnership (PPP) Carolina Square development. I say “psuedo” because the “public” part of the partnership is the Chapel Hill Foundation Real Estate Holdings, Inc., a subsidiary of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Foundation Inc., which is funded by private funds, but is considered public since they represent the interests of UNC. Continue reading

015 Interview with Wake Technical Community College CIP Manager

TManningLast week I sat down with Todd Manning PE, CCM, PMP, PEM, LEED AP for lunch and to talk about project management. He supervises the facilities project managers in the design and construction department at Wake Tech Community College (WTCC). His group is currently managing over $200 million worth of projects on the multiple WTCC campuses. 

[Q] How does WTCC manage projects in each of the design and construction phases? Is there a project manager (PM) for the design phase that hands it over to a construction manager during the construction phase? Continue reading

011 Three Reasons Why Owners Should Provide a Stakeholder Register at the Project Kickoff Meeting

stakeholderI learned two lessons this week that are unrelated. I learned that there truly are unforeseen conditions. As part of a bigger project, we were moving a HIV research team out of a building that we are renovating. We learned in the 10th hour that the space we were going to move them into was unacceptable because it contained remnant HIV DNA. The remnant DNA is harmless, but it will compromise their research. No one saw that one coming.

The second lesson is related to the topic that I’ll discuss this week, which is the benefit of using a stakeholder register. I learned that it is never too early to issue one to your team. We recently kicked off a  feasibility study for a renovation project. Without including me in the loop, a consultant emailed various campus personnel that aren’t related to our project for information about the project. The people he contacted couldn’t help him, but obviously he didn’t know that. If I had provided a stakeholder register to my team earlier, he would have known whom to contact and we could have saved time and aggravation. This blog post will discuss stakeholder registers and the benefits of using them. Continue reading

009 How Many People Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb?

Q: How many people does it take to change a lightbulb? A: More than one when you have to erect scaffolding to do it.

“He may have won the battle, but I won the war,” she said with the click of her ink pen.

I laughed. “What happened?”

As a construction manager, she had just met with a subcontractor to install a small access panel in the soffit of a campus building. She attempted to have it installed while the building was under construction, but the architect had determined that it wasn’t suitable for aesthetic reasons. The architect provided an access panel, but it was too large and unwieldy. Knowing that a maintenance worker would frequently access a piece of equipment behind the panel, she thought it made more sense to provide a smaller access door within the larger panel.

She is aware of what designers often forget, the day-to-day operation and maintenance of campus facilities. Architects and engineers romance our buildings for a little while, but facilities and operations are married to them for life (and have to wine and dine them and keep them looking nice on a limited budget). In this blog post, I will discuss a few operating and maintenance items that designers should consider when designing campus buildings. Continue reading

008 Interview with Corporate CIP Project Manager

Untitled-1Kent Mitchell is a registered architect and project management professional with over 28 years of experience in the design and construction industry. He has worked in both the public and private sectors and is currently a business lead and senior project manager of capital projects for Syngenta.

[Q] On your latest project, how many stakeholders do you have?

[A] I have a lab project in design phase that I have +/-50 stakeholders.

[Q] What is Syngenta’s process for hiring consultants?

[A] Our procurement business partners issue Requests For Proposal to pre-qualified AE teams.  We would generally short-list the firms and invite 2 or 3 firms to interview.  The Syngenta selection committee might consist of 6 or more cross-functional decision makers who vote on the firms.  The selection is based on multiple criteria, not just low bid.  Continue reading

007 Stakeholders- A Resource or a Constraint?

Given and Find

menilScott, Julie, and I looked at our next homework problem, in the grey study room of the Engineering Sciences Building. The problem: “The velocity of a particle undergoing rectilinear motion is v(t)=3t2+10t m/s. Find the acceleration and the displacement at t=10 s, if so= 0 at t=0.” It was 1990, and we were in Engineering 101. As studious freshmen, we focused on the task at hand, as we had been taught, we wrote down Given, left a large empty space and then wrote Find. Under Given, we wrote down our parameters (Newton’s laws of motion) for helping us to solve this problem: acceleration is the derivative of velocity over time, and the integral of velocity with respect to time is displacement. Voila, we solved for the answer and finished our homework so we could go get a drink…of Pepsi, we were under 21.

Working with Constraints

Unlike Newton’s laws of motion, the stakeholders and the guidelines that serve as design parameters (givens) for campus projects are not as straight-forward. And, as you can imagine, Continue reading

006 One Easy Way to Show Appreciation via Email Response

email-inboxI closed my email on the Mac that I shared with my fellow architectural students at Arizona State University. My dad hadn’t written me back again. I started to get up from the desk, but then I sat back down. I had written him four emails and no reply. I was pissed. Granted it was 1994, so email was a new phenomenon, but I was 2,000 miles from home for the first time in my life, and I was a tiny bit (OK a lot) homesick. I sent him the following email. “Dear Dad, if you do not respond to this email, I will never write you again. Love Amy.” Of course he answered and has never missed answering an email since then. Over the next few years, I relaxed a bit and didn’t expect an email reply unless I needed a question answered.

Fast forward to 2007. I worked at an A/E firm and noticed that my client, an architectural Continue reading

005 Project Milestones & Marketing Strategies

image-for-post-005With the help of my parents, my first job was delivering The Dominion Post, in Westover, WV. I earned a fair amount of money for my candy habit, and had enough left over to buy a piano. If I knew then what I know now, I would have saved a lot of money on dentist bills and I’d own Microsoft stock instead. While I was a consultant I often thought the same thing, if only I’d known about the project before my competition, I could’ve positioned myself better to be on the winning team. Some of you may be aware of the milestones in the planning process and some of you may not, but knowing the milestones described below may give you a leg up on your competition.

01 Master Plan

The creation of a campus master plan is the twinkle in the eye milestone of a project. The campus Owner (University, City, or Corporate entity) will hire an architectural planning firm Continue reading