Employing a seven-party IFOA, the IPD team shared all project risks and rewards on the $37.3 million, 140,000-sq.-ft. data center project. (Photo by Brandon Parscale)

Trust is Key for First IPD Data Center for Digital Realty

Team Players

CUSTOMER: Digital Realty supports the data center and colocation strategies of more than 1,000 firms across its secure, network-rich portfolio of data centers for domestic and international companies of all sizes.

ARCHITECT/ENGINEER: Highland Associates

CHALLENGES:
  • Schedule pressure. Even with extreme rainfall in the region, which caused 52 days of weather impacts and major design changes with added scope, the team was able to finish on schedule.
  • First IPD project. Four of the firms, including the owner, were undertaking a new delivery approach—IFOA—which they had never tried before. Well-planned alignment and trust in DPR’s experience was key.
  • Standardizing reporting. Integration and standardization of reporting to reflect shared costs relative to target values allowed for dynamic insight into the financial status and forecast of the project.

With added external challenges, integrated project delivery (IPD) offers solutions, new lessons for team on DLR project

DPR’s longstanding relationship with Digital Realty (DLR), forged over the course of more than a decade and more than 150 successful data center projects across the U.S., laid the groundwork for DLR’s first time using integrated project delivery (IPD) on a challenging data center project in Richardson, TX.

Employing a seven-party integrated form of agreement (IFOA), the IPD team shared all project risks and rewards on the $37.3 million, 140,000-sq.-ft. 907 Security Row data center project. IFOA contract signatories included: DLR; DPR; Highland Associates; and four key trade partners: TDI Mechanical, Cummings Electrical, RF Stearns (steel) and TAS Concrete.

The results speak for themselves. The project was completed on the original 10-month schedule in July, approximately $500,000 under the original targeted value. It is also a testament to what can be accomplished by a solution-oriented team backed by a high degree of trust, collaboration, and a shared commitment to finish on time and under budget. No small feat given the significant challenges they faced.

REUSE

One of the first opportunities to challenge the newly formed team was the reuse of 750 tons of fabricated structural steel that DLR had on hand in Virginia. With some creativity, the team determined that the shape of the steel would work in the new facility. After a cost and schedule benefit analysis of shipping the steel to Texas versus purchasing new steel locally, the steel was reallocated to the project and put in place.

SCHEDULE PRESSURE

The unprecedented rainfall in the region that caused 52 days of weather impacts was one of greatest challenges for the team to overcome, according to DPR’s John Arcello. The team had stretched the limits of design and programming changes to the last responsible moment—all while enduring the impacts of the relentless Texas rain from January through the end of May. In addition, some major design changes needed to be incorporated just as construction was set to begin, with $1.8 million in added project scope.

“Overall, the team performed great given our exploration of alternate design scenarios and some epic weather,” said Steve Kundich, Senior Vice President, Global Design for DLR.

FIRST IPD PROJECT

“Four of the firms, including the owner, were undertaking a new delivery approach they had never tried before, putting a lot of trust in DPR to help lead the way,” said Arcello.

DLR’s legal consultant, Howard Ashcraft, helped align the team over the first couple of months. The team focused on drafting incentives into the contract to encourage behaviors that would drive results around schedule, target cost savings, quality and efficiency innovations.

STANDARDIZING REPORTING

To allow dynamic insight into the financial status and forecast of the project, DPR’s Brad Barton was tasked with handling cost controls and helping the team members integrate, standardize, and report the way they reflected shared costs relative to target values.

“Each player brought their own ways of reporting,” Barton said. “After standardizing templates, the reports became very easy to universally read and interpret.”

Standardization proved helpful to devise cost saving solutions to mitigate discrepancies in some of the drawings, Barton noted. “In one particular instance, the mechanical and steel signatories helped us explore a solution to a missing waterproofing detail on the roof,” he said. “Instead of the individual stakeholder mentality, we all started to think like a team.”

LESSONS LEARNED

The team was also able to make cost saving suggestions that went well beyond this particular project. Those suggested changes, some of which are being added to DLR’s corporate “Design and Engineering Guideline” book, provide new efficiencies for DLR to carry forward on other projects.

“I think we strengthened our relationship with a great client,” Arcello said. “In the IPD project, it’s really about making what’s best for the project the highest priority.” Ultimately the team not only shared risk, but also reaped common reward, in the form of cost savings distributions.