Whitepaper: 01.15.2015

Case Study: A Grand Performance in Lean Construction at Chapman University

by Felipe Manriquez, McCarthy Project Manager

McCarthy is utilizing its deep-rooted Lean culture to maximize value and eliminate waste on the new $78 million Marybelle and Sebastian P. Musco Center for the Arts at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. The 28-month-long project includes construction of an 88,142-square-foot facility to house a multipurpose Proscenium-style theater hall with just under 1,050 seats, rehearsal space, associated performer and support space and storage, administrative offices and a multilevel lobby. 

Designed by Pfeiffer Partners with project management by Abacus Project Management, the center’s exterior skin will consist of plaster, curtain wall and brick to fit within the context of the campus and to convey the College of Performing Arts’ role as a cultural and aesthetic heart of the university. The new five-level facility is being built with three underground levels meeting the city of Orange Historic District height regulations and the need for a tall fly tower over the stage.

Scheduled for a soft opening in late 2015 and a grand opening in 2016, the world-class performing arts center and educational facility will be used by the theater, music and dance departments of the university’s College of Performing Arts and will serve as a cultural destination for the Orange County community.  

By establishing a Lean culture, the collective actions of the project team are successfully increasing construction effectiveness and efficiency on this prominent performing arts project through improving logistics, team collaboration and building coordination technology. Lean solutions are also ensuring the project’s schedule and quality of construction.

Increasing Construction Effectiveness and Efficiency through Lean Construction
Lean Construction, as adapted from Lean Manufacturing principals and defined by the Lean Construction Institute, is a delivery method extending from the objectives of a Lean production system — maximize value and minimize waste — to specific techniques and applying them in a new project delivery process. McCarthy’s Lean culture, which empowers the firm’s employee partners to question current procedures in an effort to find a way to continuously improve the flow of work, goes well beyond just waste elimination and includes optimized processes, maximized effectiveness, and significantly enhanced project benefits.

The process McCarthy uses in Lean project delivery fosters creativity and continuous improvement by the elimination of waste: overproduction, transportation, excess inventory, defects, over processing, wasted motion, waiting time and wasted human potential.

In McCarthy’s Lean Culture, project players are primarily educated and given the freedom to innovate their tasks and “fix what bugs them,” maximizing effectiveness while minimizing waste. After key staff identifies the improvements or failures, the larger group is informed to benefit the entire project. The techniques are only limited by the imagination of those individuals engaged in the work. Not unlike traditional construction, mistakes happen; the Lean approach encourages individuals to share lessons learned in real time to prevent a one-time issue from repeating.

Lean Tactics Mitigate Challenging Site Logistics
The new Musco Center is being constructed on a highly visible, 125,000-square-foot site formerly occupied by an apartment building and strip mall (the owner demolished the existing buildings and did mass excavation prior to McCarthy starting the project). The tight site is surrounded by the university campus on three sides with residential homes to the north. In order to conform to the city’s height restrictions for this historic area, the final building rises only 55 feet above the sidewalk elevation, with stage area footings nearly 45 feet deep.

A core Lean process identified and implemented to help manage the site challenges and keep the schedule on track, was the use of 3-D laser scanning to map the initial site conditions for quicker production of a dimensionally accurate as-built drawing of the excavated terrain. This solution resulted in an 83 percent time savings over traditional surveying methods, allowing an early start of the building foundations.

The laser scanning was completed by a single individual from McCarthy in less than four hours including travel time and digital file processing. The scan generated a 3-D image that was imported into the 3-D Building Information Modeling (BIM) coordination model for reference and for use to plan the shoring, excavations and concrete footing work.

One particular area in which laser scanning proved beneficial entailed the excavation of a crater-sized hole, which spanned over 500 square feet and was approximately 50 feet in diameter and 40 feet deep. The accurate 3-D as-built site drawings enabled the McCarthy team to determine both the amount of soil remaining on site and the amount of soil required for fill, without any additional information from the owner based on their prior project for soil export.

Furthermore, in order to place the deep footings and not compromise the adjacent campus buildings and plaza fountain, McCarthy developed a solution for an engineered shoring system that included steel beams as tall as 40 feet with some beam widths as large as 24 x 146. Subcontractors also installed post-grouted tiebacks reaching up to 35 feet underground at a 20-degree angle in order to hold the beams upright. 

A final lean solution implemented regarding site logistics was to maximize the use of visualization to convey issues and solutions that maximize effectiveness and minimize waste. This was accomplished specifically in regard to underground utility as-built documentation due to poor reliability of information. McCarthy utilized ground-penetrating radar and potholing to clearly locate each utility and then plot the site drawings with clear, easy-to-read details of each utility labeled and color coded that were then used prior to excavation. This solution enabled construction crews to work efficiently around the project site without any facility interruptions.

Lean Solutions for Complex Systems and Architectural Components
Another core Lean Solution implemented on the project was that of 3-D BIM coordination technology. This was implemented due to the complexity of both the delivery method and the systems/architectural components. This included the fact the design documents for the Performing Arts Center included 14 deferred approvals including subcontractor design-build work packages from exterior metal-stud framing to digital fire alarm system and theatrical stage rigging. Many of the elements interface with the building structure and architectural finishes as well as schematically designed plumbing, HVAC and electrical systems.

Use of the 3-D BIM coordination minimized conflicts between the Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing systems, structure and architectural finishes on the Chapman University project. It is also facilitating the use of prefabrication, improving the quality of work product, reducing wasted materials, and providing faster production rates for project components.

3-D BIM coordination enables the entire team to collaboratively model the systems, coordinate with the building elements, plan the work, generate shop drawings without system clashes, and virtually build it before expending manpower and resources. It also gives the building team the ability to navigate through designed spaces, identify clashes, and collaboratively determine the best solution with input and buy-in from the owner, architect and subcontractors.

In one instance, the 3-D model was used to pinpoint the exact location of the required shoring for use with the future installation of the permanent site retaining walls, planters and hardscape. The team used images from the model to communicate the contract document changes to the civil engineer and city plan checker for a cost-savings design change, allowing for a conflict free site-wall footing installation.

The use of 3-D modeling is also enabling prefabrication on the performing arts project by creating a virtual construction model of the project components that are both coordinated and visually accessible via computer. The coordinated models are able to isolate the system components, be converted into 2-D shop or fabrication drawings, and put into fabrication. 

One such application by the plumbing subcontractor entailed using the coordinated underground plumbing model to produce fabrication drawings with detailed material lists, pipe lengths, and accurate through concrete wall and slab on-grade penetration locations. This allowed their installers to put together the piping in the field like a detailed Lego set.

Lean Strategies Increase Team Collaboration
McCarthy Teamsight℠ is another Lean process and technological tool being used on the Chapman University project. This proprietary web-based project management system enables online collaboration, document control and cost control, providing team members — including owner, architect and subcontractors — real-time secure access to project information and reports via the Internet.

Furthermore, the project design and construction team is using an electronic plan room to provide continuously updated contract documents. This electronic resource eliminates the need for tedious RFI posting and constant printing by providing online access to the plan room. It also reduces traditional duplication efforts.

Lean Produces an On-Time Performance
The project team is using the Lean method of collaborative scheduling to ensure on-time completion of the performing arts project. This approach maximizes input from those responsible for doing the work, where the team starts at the target completion date (milestone) and works backwards to identify and sequence tasks for successful completion.

Collaborative scheduling allows the entire team to communicate and understand the project’s workflow by providing insight into how subcontractors impact each other. This process increases accountability and provides valuable input from the project team on the subcontractor’s scheduled work.

Through this collaborative scheduling approach, the team has maintained the project’s completion milestone date even with construction design changes, added owner scope and supplier delays. This is no small feat, with over 50 hard-bid subcontractors and a complicated multiphased, 65-page project schedule detailing more than 3,000 activities.

McCarthy’s Lean Construction culture on the new Center for the Performing Arts project at Chapman University is effectively helping to deliver an exceptional client experience. Together the team is eliminating inefficient behaviors in order to successfully address the project’s challenges while planning and executing work safely, quickly, cost effectively, and with high quality. Through this implementation, the new Center is on track to debut the world-class facility’s first grand performance.

About the Author
Felipe Manriquez, PMP, LEED AP BD+C, is a Project Manager with McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. in Southern California. With more than a decade of construction experience, he currently is helping manage construction on the Musco Center for the Arts at Chapman University. Felipe is also a member of McCarthy’s Lean Team, a cross-divisional group comprised of Lean practitioners dedicated to the elimination of waste and continuous improvement at McCarthy through the use of Lean techniques. He holds a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Felipe can be reached at fmanriquez@mccarthy.com.

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