Press Release: 05.03.2012

Delivering Big Results

CM-at-Risk and Design-Build Approaches Offer Experienced Owners Peace of Mind

In the Southwest, experienced public and private owners are reaping rewards through the use of alternative project delivery methods like Construction Manager at Risk (CM-at-Risk) and design-build to achieve the quality they want at the best final cost.

These approaches are powerful in that they allow the contractor and architect or engineer to work together early on with the owner and become genuine collaborators, eliminating the potentially adversarial position they face in traditional design-bid-build projects.

The design-bid-build process is a linear model addressing each of the three major phases of construction individually – as if they have little connection to one another. The phases are managed independently, one at a time, lengthening the entire construction process.

Owners who have opted for CM-at-Risk or design-build projects enjoy the benefits of value analysis, allowing a builder’s perspective to be integrated directly in the design stage, eliminating the potential for over-designing and identifying potential construction issues in advance rather than on the jobsite.

CM-at-Risk Success: Banner Thunderbird Medical Center
The $180 million, 470,000-square-foot tower addition and renovation at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale, Ariz., included a new six-story, 200-bed patient care tower with full basement; 84 emergency exam rooms; renovated imaging and interventional space; expanded pharmacy; renovated CSPD, pre-op and PACU; new food services; central plant; and main lobby areas.

Banner Health awarded the project as CM-at-Risk and hired both McCarthy and NTD Architecture under separate contracts. McCarthy was brought on board early in the design phase to assist in constructability reviews, value engineering and budgeting to ensure the project met all the needs of the owner without sacrificing budget or schedule.

Using McCarthy’s integrated design-assist schedule, the construction document phase and the bid, detailing/shop drawings phase were completed simultaneously, which represented a time savings of approximately four months. This approach allowed the architect and contractor to work together at an earlier stage, allowing for open communication from the start.

“This was the first true use of the design-assist strategy for a Banner Health project,” said Jim Lucas, project executive at Banner Health. “There were modified versions used on other projects in the past, but this project was perfectly positioned in time and scope to fully benefit from an integrated process. We were able to see value very early in the design process with designers, construction managers and key subcontractors at the same design table working through challenges typically not surfacing until much later in a project.”

Among the challenges identified were more than 6,000 clashes detected and resolved prior to permitting through the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM). Without the contractor and architect working together, these clashes would have likely occurred during the building phase, resulting in potentially expensive fixes.

Through the use of CM-at-Risk and a design-assist strategy, Banner Thunderbird’s tower addition was completed in just 19 months, the overall project quality was improved, there were zero changes as a result of proactive coordination, and zero time delays due to rework.

Design-Build Success: Colorado Springs Utility’s 50 MGD Water Treatment Plant and Pump Station
The design-build team of McCarthy and Carollo Engineers recently secured a contract with Colorado Springs Utilities to design and build a 50 million gallons per day (MGD) water treatment plant and pump station for the Southern Delivery System (SDS), a collaborative regional pipeline project that will transport water from the Arkansas River to provide a long-term water supply to the growing population of Colorado Springs and surrounding communities.

The largest and most complex component of the SDS project – the water treatment plant and pump station – hit a speed bump when construction estimates for the original plant design far exceeded the budget. This important public project was on a tight timeline, and overspending public money was not an option.

Colorado Springs Utilities recognized that a design-build approach, rather than the traditional design-bid-build method, could solve some of the budget issues facing this complex project. The McCarthy-Carollo team proposed a strategy that was 25 percent more cost-efficient than initial estimates based on an in-depth cost analysis.

“We were impressed by the innovative design concepts the McCarthy-Carollo team proposed to reduce construction costs and save our customers money,” said John Fredell, SDS program manager with Colorado Springs Utilities.  

Part of the solution was building a more consolidated plant versus a sprawling, campus-style one. This enabled the team to reduce the square footage of walls by utilizing common walls within the plant and saving on exterior skin. It also saved thousands of dollars in yard piping, eliminating miles of unnecessary pipelines. The team also proposed to reorient the plant on the site to maximize the geology of the property. This resulted in less excavation costs and eliminated additional pumping costs by taking advantage of the slope of the site, allowing gravity flow to be used through the treatment train.

Another advantage of the design-build approach for Colorado Springs Utility is flexibility. The McCarthy-Carollo team developed three potential construction schedules for CSU.

“Pricing three construction schedules promotes flexibility and assists the owner in understanding funding requirements of each schedule,” said Steve Gotschall, vice president at McCarthy. “Rather than focusing on different start dates, it allows the contractor to price and present options so the owner can spend the money in their best interests.”

In conclusion, alternative delivery methods like CM-at-Risk and design-build – managed by an experienced team – are the best option to ensure a project will be delivered on time, on budget and at the level of quality desired. Under these approaches, the planning, design and construction phases are transformed into a more integrated, collaborative and streamlined process for all parties involved, providing better quality performance and the best final cost at the end of the project.

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