February 4, 2013
FIVE HILLS HEALTH REGION
Project delivery innovation in the “big room”
Every two weeks, upwards of 30 personnel involved in the design and construction of a new regional hospital to serve the city of Moose Jaw, Sask. converge in an empty warehouse to flesh out the design of the facility.
The so-called “big room” meetings, which typically span a period of three days, are an integral part of the project, which is being delivered using an innovative blend of lean construction and integrated project delivery (IPD).
The $103.8 million hospital is believed to be the first healthcare facility in Canada to be built incorporating both concepts.
“There’s a whole different mind-set from conventional construction delivery processes where everyone is working in silos,” said John Liguori, the Five Hills Health Region’s executive director on the project. “We’re working together as true partners. We want this project to be successful for all of us.”
The project is being undertaken by a team of architectural, engineering and construction firms selected as a result of its expertise in lean construction and IPD.
It includes a mix of Canadian and U.S. firms: Graham Construction, Boldt Company, Stantec Architecture Ltd., Stantec Consulting Ltd., Devenney Group Architects and Black & McDonald.
The contract was awarded in January 2012.
The health region said the integrated model allows core participants to enter into a single contract that allows them to become a highly efficient team “with the common goal of providing the most value in the most efficient way, right from the beginning.”
The request for proposals (RFP) was issued in November 2011.
“When the RFP was issued, we told the teams that we expected to deliver the project using a more collaborative model,” Liguori said.
“We said, ‘this is what we would need and here are some deliverables that the owners require.’ ”
The budget was spelled out as well.
Before the process closed, a mandatory information meeting was held.
“We wanted to make sure that everybody understood how we envisioned this project being organized and delivered and the project delivery framework that we were looking to adopt.”
The hospital will include 72 inpatient beds, 43 universal care rooms and four operating rooms, among other facilities. The project is being funded by the province’s Ministry of Health as well as the city of Moose Jaw and surrounding municipalities.
The big room meetings, a hallmark of integrated project delivery, got underway last April. Participants, who include key hospital personnel, work in clusters to advance the design in such areas as interiors, exteriors, mechanical, electrical, structural and production.
“You are basically working in smaller teams,” Liguori said. “Each team has an identified leader who has certain responsibilities. Everyone becomes the owner of a task. They are all working to a milestone schedule.”
He said team members hold “phone huddles” in between the warehouse meetings.
The design is scheduled to be completed by March.
The project is making use of a process trademarked by the Wisconsin-headquartered Boldt Company called integrated lean project delivery which marries lean construction with IPD. The intent of lean is to eliminate waste from initial planning and design stages through on-site construction.
From Liguori’s perspective, participating in the “big room” discussions from the get-go has been invaluable experience.
“If someone in my cluster, for example, is working on something that say is going to affect mechanical, the mechanical guys are right in the room,” he said.
“We can walk over and have a face-to-face conversation and know for certain what they need or don’t need.
“And certainly on the owner’s side, you can’t say that you don’t know what’s going on because you are there every step of the way.”
Liguori said the effort being expended upfront during the design phase by the core participants — hospital personnel, designers and builders — is expected to result in an accelerated construction schedule once ground is broken.
“It’s almost like you go slower at the beginning, but when you hit construction, you go much faster,” he said.
Site preparation is scheduled to get underway this spring. The goal is to close the building in by fall.
Construction is to be completed by December 2014. The building will then be commissioned.
Follow Patricia Williams on Twittter @Patricia_DCN.
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