Owner and GC Talk Transparency & Tools
Working together on a project takes the ultimate level of transparency between GCs and project owners, accoding to Mortenson Construction.
When Mortenson delivers a superior experience for project owners—as they are consistently known to do—Maja Rosenquist believes their transparency and investment in technology have a little something to do with their success. As the Vice President and General Manager of the Mortenson Denver office, which is currently running full-tilt constructing the only industrial turbomachinery systems (ITS) manufacturing facility of its kind in the world, she understands that precision in communication and installation are always going to be key.
The 263,000 square foot project in Fort Collins, CO will ultimately serve as the office campus for one of the largest global manufacturers of control systems for the aerospace and industrial markets, Woodward, Inc., who have understandably high standards. While Mortenson has been vocal in their advocacy for transparency and tech, publishing numerous case studies about their combination of the two, one can’t help but wonder what both the owner and GC have to say about establishing transparency and leveraging technology on the challenging campus project.
Establishing Transparency from Day One
Jennifer Ray, a Program Manager at Woodward, and her team are working closely with Mortenson as the GC progresses on campus construction, and she explains that critical, transparent communication began early on in the project. She relays, “We all worked as a team to make sure we were going to get the building we want, with the quality we expect, that will meet our budget requirements.”
Rosenquist explains that Mortenson often develops a collaborative agreement incorporating input from the owner, designer and project stakeholders to begin projects, which helps teams define roles and outline chosen technology tools and standards for transparency and accountability. “It takes a lot of upfront discipline to ensure that team members have distributed responsibilities, and define how we are going to collaborate and work together, share models, and use technology. This sets the foundation for ensuring that we have strong transparency and collaboration through the course of a project.”
Mortenson not only created a collaborative agreement up front, but they also delivered a complete vision for the work ahead of them, including pledges that they and their team would deliver to Woodward:
- A state-of-the-art, dynamic facility enabling innovation and collaboration
- A flexible, motivating, collaborative work environment
- An environment supporting best-in-class implementation of lean methodologies
- A facility where Woodward customers can witness, firsthand, Woodward’s commitment to developing and manufacturing leading-edge technology
Proving the Value of Technology
Rosenquist relays that more and more customers are saying, “Prove that the investment you’re making in technology is paying off for us.” In fact, in 2013, when Woodward conducted a rigorous interview process for the firms who would design and build the new campus, they asked Mortenson to demonstrate the value of its technology usage. “It was the first time within my 20 years in the AEC industry that after the interview was over, the Woodward team approached us and said, ‘Prove it,’” attests Chris Boal, Integrated Construction Manager at Mortenson.
Part of providing a uniquely valuable owner experience is capitalizing on cutting-edge technologies. Rosenquist reveals that Mortenson takes pride in being on the front edge of the technology curve. She explains, “We recognize our customers’ core business is not about building—that’s our business to do—so how can we ensure that we’re using the latest and greatest in technology tools to ensure that we come with the most logical outcomes, and are providing certainty of performance? That’s what we’re looking to do. Ultimately, it’s about a better product for our customer.”
“We don’t do construction—that’s not what we do,” echoes Ray, yet she and her team found themselves involved in critical parts of the construction process, weighing in by using BIM solutions and technology like Bluebeam Revu which Mortenson taught them to use. The solutions allow the project team to bridge gaps between the model and the field, and between technical experts and decision-makers.
Using Bluebeam Studio to collaborate, the team deploys an ultra-efficient, non-linear review process where project partners provide feedback, place markups, and review documents in real time instead of “waiting in line” for each stakeholder to review and pass them along. This ability to review documents concurrently is empowering for Ray: “It helps us make decisions quickly and get information to the design teams to move forward in an efficient, documented, revision-controlled fashion.”
Ray and her team are able to view and use the model, as well as review and mark it up, in 3D PDFs, which deliver specific views of the model in a simpler navigation experience, allowing Woodward to share input with Mortenson faster and with greater accuracy. “We’re looking at the same tools and working through things together. I can at any point say, show me this, talk to me about this, put me on the ground floor, and show me what I’m going to see,” she reports.
The Woodward team will even continue to reap sustained benefits through Mortenson’s technology investment after construction is complete, because they are not only viewing the live model throughout the active construction phases of the build, but they will also use it moving forward into facilities management to handle manufacturing machinery placement and replacement. Ray applauds Mortenson’s use of the model to transparently convey design intent, saying, “Now this is something that you can put in front of an owner and say, ‘Here’s the problem, and here’s our plan to fix it,’ because we can understand a 3D world so much better than a 2D world.”