Currently targeting LEED Gold certification, the institute is adjacent to the Scripps Florida campus also built by DPR and Weitz. (Photo by New York Focus Photography)
The facility will be used to help translate molecular-level research discoveries to patient-oriented applications. (Photo by New York Focus Photography)
The building comprises a 101,000-sq.-ft., three-story building with a fourth penthouse level, wet- and dry-bench research, instrumentation laboratories and computational research. (Photo by New York Focus Photography)

DPR Delivers World-Class Facility in Florida for Max Planck Institutes

The town of Jupiter, FL, is now home to world-renowned, German-based Max Planck Society’s first research institute in the United States.

Team Players

Project: Max Planck Florida Institute at FAU

Customer: The Max Planck Institutes carry out basic research in the life sciences, natural sciences and the social and human sciences.

Architect: Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects and PGAL

Project Highlights:

  • The project is a 101,000-sq.-ft., three-story, biomedical research facility in Jupiter, FL.
  • The project utilized complete BIM to model more than 7,500 MEP penetrations and supports to within 99.7 percent accuracy.
  • Six weeks were shaved off the schedule due to BIM.

Successfully completing the highly challenging project in May, through a joint venture between DPR Construction and The Weitz Company, the team not only delivered a new world-class biomedical research facility focused on brain function and neural circuits to the South Florida region but also helped advance the local construction landscape, according to DPR Project Manager Aric Preisendorf.

“One of our goals as an emerging office for DPR is to really help change the construction industry in this region,” Preisendorf said. “We particularly look for opportunities to grow and accelerate performance of the subcontractor community. On this project, for example, we took the use of building information modeling (BIM) tools and lean construction principles to a level that few other projects in this region have before.”

Multitude of Challenges

The Max Planck Florida Institute at Florida Atlantic University (FAU)’s MacArthur Campus in Jupiter comprises a 101,000-sq.-ft., three-story building with a fourth penthouse level, wet- and dry-bench research, instrumentation laboratories, computational research, core imaging and microscopy facility, IT services, researcher offices, and support shops.

Designed by a joint venture between Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects and PGAL, and currently targeting LEED® Gold certification, the institute is located adjacent to the 350,000-sq.-ft. Scripps Florida campus, which DPR previously built in a joint venture with Weitz. The prestigious nonprofit Max Planck Florida Institute plans to collaborate closely with Scripps Florida to translate basic research discoveries from the molecular level to patient-oriented applications.

The team faced numerous challenges throughout the project, which was awarded in 2009 and broke ground in August 2010. Among them:

  • Nearly 40 inches of rainfall over 18 months of construction;
  • A key subcontractor filed for bankruptcy, requiring extensive coordination and re-contracting of its work to stay on track; and
  • A $1.6 million change order late in the project schedule that the team accommodated through detailed resequencing of work to limit impacts to the client’s move plan.
Big Success

Additional challenges, such as the learning curve faced by some of the primary design-assist subcontractors getting up to speed with BIM and lean construction processes, also turned into some of the project’s biggest successes, Preisendorf added.

“This was one of the first projects in South Florida to undertake a complete BIM approach, with everything one inch and larger modeled on our mechanical systems,” he said. With more than 7,500 mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) penetrations and supports modeled to within 99.7 percent accuracy, Preisendorf estimates that BIM shaved approximately six weeks off the MEP overhead work.

Ian Leveroni, senior project manager with the project’s program manager, Jones Lang LaSalle, noted that the public-private nature of the project involving state and county funding added to the complexity. He pointed to a strong team effort as key to bringing the project to fruition.

“There were just a ton of diverse challenges, a lot of different dynamics going on, as well as many small business enterprise, minority and local participation requirements attached to the public funding that had to be met—and were,” Leveroni said. “Ultimately, it was a very successful project, and it’s just a beautiful new facility for this area. Everybody did a great job doing what needed to be done to deliver a project we can all be very proud of.”