Q&A: An Owner’s Perspective

James Pease is a senior project manager with Facilities Planning and Development at Sutter Health. (Photo courtesy of Sutter Health)
Using IPD, the team replaced a 55-year-old building with a fully modernized, 125,000-sq.-ft., three-level medical center. (Photo courtesy of Sutter Health)

James Pease, senior project manager with Facilities Planning and Development at Sutter Health, serves on the Core Group for the Lean Construction Institute’s Northern California chapter. Pease is currently using Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) for the construction of multiple healthcare projects in the San Francisco Bay Area, including DPR’s Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s (PAMF) Sunnyvale Center. The following are his insights:

Team Players

Project: Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) Sunnyvale Center

Customer: PAMF is a not-for-profit healthcare organization dedicated to caring for nearly 800,000 patients and enhancing the health of people in local communities. PAMF is part of the Peninsula Coastal Region of Sutter Health, a family of not-for-profit medical centers and physician organizations that share resources and expertise to advance healthcare quality.

Architect: Hawley Peterson Snyder

Project Highlights:

  • The team replaced an existing 55-year-old building with a fully modernized, 125,000-sq.-ft., three-level medical center. When open this summer, the Sunnyvale Center will house: pediatrics, family medicine, internal medicine, infusion and cancer care.
  • New amenities include a linear accelerator, diagnostic imaging center, laboratory, 15 infusion stations, medical offices, and exam rooms.
  • There is 250,000 sq. ft. of below-grade parking and separate 150-stall above-grade parking structure.

What is your overall evaluation of the project so far?
We are extremely satisfied. We are getting a high-quality building under budget and ahead of schedule. Through creative re-sequencing of work, the DPR team successfully reduced the overall timeline for the Sunnyvale medical center project, which is scheduled for a summer public opening. A prime example is when the team opted to stand the steel before pouring the podium. By doing this, they were able to take a large piece of the work off of the critical path and save nearly eight weeks of work.

What have been some of the challenges?
DPR has developed a very collaborative integrated delivery team with intensive use of BIM, which has allowed us to reduce the cost and time on the project without reducing the quality of the final product.

The challenge was appropriately defining the workload across the integrated team. While it is creative, it’s not always clear who does what under this type of project. It can be a challenge to maintain real-time schedule and financial forecasts. DPR has done a great job but it hasn’t been easy.

What has been the benefit of the team’s adoption of BIM?
There have been a number of benefits using BIM. We were able to insert the decks prior to placement of concrete, which resulted in schedule savings and a safer jobsite. We could resolve clashes and coordination issues prior to fabrication of the work. We were also able to use a significant amount of prefabrication, which has helped save cost and maintain quality; it’s also helped with scheduling and site safety. Additionally, we received permits on our fabrication drawings using collaborative modeling. The actual BIM files were submitted for approvals, so the permits were for precisely what we were going to build, and there were no unanticipated changes.

What has been the most significant lesson learned on the project?
I don’t know and I think that’s a compliment. With any large project there are thousands of lessons learned, but I can’t list a lot of things that we should have done differently. It’s always wise to keep your various owners and stakeholders involved during the design process so you can really tie the development of the design to the specific owner expectations, so everyone understands what they are getting. You always have to proactively keep the user groups—like housekeeping, engineering and facilities management, and department managers—informed and engaged.

What was innovative about the project?
Since this project is next to a residential neighborhood, the residents have been understandably concerned about increased construction traffic and noise. DPR took the initiative to keep construction traffic and deliveries off of neighboring streets by using an innovative quick response (QR) code delivery tracker software that they developed in-house. Each supplier bringing materials to the worksite has had to log in to a special website managed by DPR. There, they get a delivery map indicating where not to drive in the neighborhood. The delivery must be approved through dispatch. We didn’t get any complaints about deliveries so it clearly worked.

That’s just one example. Throughout the project, there has been very good collaboration between the design and construction team.

Is there anything else you’d like us to emphasize about this project?
Since this project is next to a residential neighborhood, dozens of local residents were directly impacted by the commotion of construction activity. The DPR team was cooperative and collaborative with PAMF’s community relations manager. The site managers, Joe Yau and Brian O’Kelly, did an excellent job of interacting with the neighbors and were always patient and professional.

On Valentine’s Day 2012, the DPR team got a heartwarming surprise when a group of students from St. Martin’s Elementary School (right behind the worksite) delivered a creative collection of handmade Valentines for the crew. A few months later, the DPR crew took popsicles to the school as a “thank you!”

The DPR team really contributed to keeping relationships in this community friendly and open.

What advice would you give to other owners thinking about using an IPD method on their projects?
I’d encourage other owners to clearly define their expectations, and spend time upfront planning how they are going to structure their team and how they are going to work together. IPD is sort of a social experiment, so improvements will come with time.