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

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

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