Complexities Necessitate Intensive Collaboration

By on April 16, 2018

From ENR:  About five blocks from the city’s Theater District, Houston Independent School District (HISD) is building a five-story, 168,000-sq-ft replacement school for its famous arts magnet program.

Complexities on the Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA) job include its downtown location, a late change in the project team and accommodating the acoustic requirements of multiple performance spaces under one roof.

In 2012, Houston voters approved a $1.89-billion bond to replace or repair 40 HISD campuses. Part of that money is being used on the $88.3-million HSPVA campus.

A Team Switch

Planning and design of the construction manager at-risk project began in 2013 and 2014. “When we signed up with the original contractor, we had some issues quite honestly with pricing and handling of a project of that magnitude, especially in a downtown area,” explains Derrick Sanders, the school district’s construction services officer. “When we started looking at things like our shoring plan combined with the pricing, we felt that we needed to cut back and deal with a more proven contractor who’s accustomed to dealing with those types of projects.”

As a result, about three to four months into working with the original contractor, HISD decided to go in a different direction.

McCarthy Building Cos. was among the firms that first bid the project in 2014. When the award went to another firm, the McCarthy team assumed that was that. But in late 2015, HISD called McCarthy to see if the firm was still interested.

“So our upper management met with HISD and Rice & Gardner, who’s the program manager. We were given a notice to proceed in late 2015, and then we officially started in February 2016,” says Wesley J. Moncrief, senior project manager at McCarthy.

On complex projects such as HSPVA that carry a tight timeline, HISD prefers to use  CMAR delivery to get the contractor involved early in design, Sanders explains.

But because McCarthy wasn’t involved from the outset, the contractor received documents already at the construction stage. “We weren’t there through the whole phasing process, so we weren’t aware when we got the 100% documents of all the things that had changed during that process,” Moncrief says.

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