Editorial: 02.21.2019

Success of IPD at OHSU’s Knight Cancer Research Institute

— By Tim Albiani, Project Director

Group of people in a meeting

High-performing teams are crucial for the ultimate success of today’s complex construction projects. Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), when implemented with full buy-in from all project partners, offers a powerful and collaborative approach to successfully bring team members together and deliver tangible benefits to owners. IPD harnesses and encourages the cross-pollination of the talents and insights of all key participants throughout design, fabrication and construction, completion and turnover. While effective implementation takes careful planning and continued innovation, the benefits are real and typically center around four areas:

  1. Optimizing project results/Delivering more “Certainty”
  2. Increasing owner value 
  3. Reducing waste
  4. Maximizing efficiency

The Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Knight Cancer Research Institute located on the Willamette River South in downtown Portland, Ore., elected to utilize IPD on their new research building project. Their aim was to reap maximum value of a fully integrated team, inspiring creativity, collaboration and innovation reflective of the ambitious nature of its facility.

This plan and project delivery option resulted in the development of a high-performance project culture that was clearly displayed at an enhanced level beyond traditional building models. This culture was built and based upon trust, respect, joint ownership and integration. In the end, IPD was a significant factor in the ultimate success of the new Knight Cancer Research Building. 

Occupied in August 2018, the $190 million, seven-floor, 300,000-square-foot facility houses up to 650 researchers and staff focusing on cancer research and early cancer detection. The building features wet and dry lab space, administrative offices, 200-seat auditorium, cafes and ground-floor retail space. It was designed and constructed to achieve LEED Platinum certification, which is a very lofty goal for any laboratory building.

IPD is not just about the outcome. It’s a process that starts from the top down and is organically developed. A great example is ensuring that every person on this project understood the goal of the project and understood their role in curing cancer.


The IPD team included OHSU, Knight Cancer Center, joint venture contractor team McCarthy Building Companies and Andersen Construction, and architect SRG Partnership, Inc. Upon selection in 2014, the team quickly co-located and remained that way throughout the project. As a result, a tight-knit community developed within the colocation serving as a melting pot for innovation, cooperation and constant progress toward end goals.

One of the things I told everyone was, ‘You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable’,” said Mike Buckiewicz, project manager for OHSU Major Capital Project Design and Construction. “When you push yourself to do that, things come out of it that you don’t typically see."

Buckiewicz and the team are now firm believers in the power of IPD.

All team members were invested in the project’s success. “It’s a huge paradigm shift from how we’ve delivered construction for the last 1,000 years,” said McCarthy/Andersen Project Director Rich Brecke. “It’s a big leap, but it’s absolutely worth the up-front effort.”

McCarthy Integrated Design Director Stefanie Becker agreed.

“It’s really all about integrating all the members of the team so the project is served, and everyone is focused on the project’s success,” Becker explained. “We started with a set of guiding principles. These principles, in combination with a focus on behavior and how we were going to work together, were critical and unique for this project.”

Even the scientists involved from the beginning, including Dr. Brian Druker, director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, were amazed at the cooperation between all the different teams.

“It’s remarkable how the architects, engineers and contractors are working together,” Dr. Druker said. “We are learning from them about team building and organization to focus on a goal.”


Quick and efficient project delivery is becoming the expected norm in the industry. Developing a strategy to engage key team members in the earliest project phases is proving to better enable construction teams and owners to make more informed and “value-based” decisions. This leads to improved quality, project schedule efficiency and clarity of budget, as well as more certainty in the design and construction process output.

IPD also creates an environment of trust. From the earliest planning stages of the project in conceptualization and design, using IPD promotes greater opportunities to balance “best value” outcomes, while clearly presenting real-time cost/ budget management to all involved partners. This reduces waste and uncertainty, compounding the depth of the partnership and developing a greater level of trust.

Through this delivery model, project risk is lowered for owners while degrees of expectation and levels of satisfaction are increased. With the increased synergy of open collaboration, all aspects of the project can be easily analyzed and planned. This synergy drives predictability and reliability and allows contractors to better deliver on even the most complex projects. 

“I would say that this team is totally and completely knocking it out of the park,” said Tiffani Howard, OHSU project liaison. “There are amazing minds in this room, huge amounts of intellectual power and a huge amount of creativity and innovation. There are lots of teams like that, but the beauty of this team is that we have totally empowered everybody on every team to speak and up and provide what they have to offer.”


One of the overriding factors in the Knight Center Research Institute design was creating “neighborhoods” throughout the building that helped bring the researchers, scientists and support teams together, encouraging more collaboration and “accidental encounters.”

This building is really working as planned,” said Laurie Canup, of SRG Architects. “The building users are collaborating together. They’re not tucked away in offices. They’re sharing resources and working together in a collaborative way to solve cancer.

Among the guiding design principles was creating intellectual and social “hubs” on each floor, promoting “spontaneous collaboration.”

“These social hubs bring scientists together,” Canup explained. “They can talk about the research they’re doing…what they might do next…how they can innovate together.”

The designers also did not forget to showcase Portland’s natural beauty nor the buildings unique location on the banks of the Willamette River. Extensive use of glass walls on the south side of the structure does more than just allow daylight into the facility.

“It brings the view corridor to all the researchers,” Canup continued. “Rather than seeing the building next door, you actually get a view out to the mountains.” The OHSU campus sits on top of the hill on one end and the expansive and beautiful river sits on the other.


About the Author

Tim Albiani, P.E. / DBIA is project director with McCarthy Building Companies, Inc., and led the McCarthy team on the Knight Cancer Research Building. With more than 35 years of industry experience, Tim has worked on a wide range of project types ranging from research and healthcare facilities to parking and education. A Designated Design-Build Professional from the Design-Build Institute of America, Tim is a long-time champion of collaborative project delivery and the power of high performing teams on the overall success of a project. He holds a bachelor of science in civil engineering from the University of California, Davis and is a Registered Civil Engineer.

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