Polymer & ISB Chiller Plant Upgrades Presented by: Alec Mattar, Jack Ferrazzani, John Willcox


For the past six weeks, we have observed and documented a construction site on campus. The construction site we focused on is busy upgrading the North and ISB Chiller Plants. The ongoing job site is located on the northern side of campus and is flanked by Holdsworth Hall, the PVTA Bus Garage, and the Computer Science and Engineering labs. The purpose of this renovation is to increase both the reliability and capacity of chilled water service all throughout the northern side of campus.

The cool water provided by the chiller plant plays a critical role not only for air conditioning, but also for research and learning purposes such as cooling lasers or maintaining certain environmental conditions when conducting testing or experiments. In addition, the new North chiller plant facility is going to be a prime teaching tool; the perimeter glazing at ground level puts a fully functional and operational chiller plant facility on display for all students, especially engineers.

The entirety of this project will take approximately 1.5 years to fully complete. The new chiller plant that is capable of just about triple the capacity of the old service, an extreme improvement on the previous chiller system. Although the physical construction is to be complete in August 2017, system testing will occur continuously until February 2018.

Observations: Week 1 (Oct 23-Oct 29)

Job Site

This was our first photo of the job site. This photo gives an overview of most of the site but not all of it. It captures the location of the job trailers, materials, equipment, and labor that was taking place that day.


This photo depicts a run that the excavator in the picture had just dug. There is a laborer in the trench but no pipe pieced together yet. The pipe sitting on the side of the trench is 4" PVC Electrical Conduit. There is also a tripod set up for some kind of manhole maintenance taking place where the laborer is standing behind the jersey barrier.


This photo concentrates on how the site built its perimeter. The site uses mobile fencing that allows access for pedestrians walking along side the site.

Material and Box Truck

In this photo we see a pile of stockpiled material that appears to already had a few buckets taken out of it. There is also a box truck that could potentially belong to the licensed electrician on site or whoever is going down in the manhole.

Weather Report for Week 1

Week 1 Research: Project Delivery Methods

There are many different systematic ways to organize and finance a project. In order to have a project take off, a delivery method must be chosen so that a chain of command and responsibility can be deemed to the project's major players. Three popular methods include Design-bid-build, Construction Management at risk, and Design Build. The project delivery method is the most crucial decision that any owner or enterprise makes in the construction process.

Design-Bid-Build Model

The first type of project delivery method is known as “design-bid-build” and is considered the standard method for project delivery (CMAA, 12). To start, the owner will choose a designer. This designer is in charge of working hand in hand with the owner to create a design that will incorporate exactly what the owner is looking for. All design materials and construction documents, including drawings, specifications, and other details are delivered to the owner. Once all of the details are straightened out and finalized between the owner and designer, “the bid package, including the design and bidder’s information packet, is presented to interested contractors, who prepare and submit their bids for the work” (CMAA, 12). After all bids are received, the contract is awarded to a contractor by the owner. While it may seem apparent to choose the contractor who bid the lowest price, this is not always the case. In some instances, the owner may choose a contractor based more of experience or because of prior work they have done. After being awarded the contract, the ball is now in the contractor’s court, as they are responsible for hiring out sub-contractors for all of the various trades like plumbing, HVAC, etc. The designer remains in the background, sometimes aiding the owner throughout the construction phase in an advisory type role.

One prime example of the DBB delivery method being executed right in our backyard would be the newly built Kendrick Place Apartments located downtown. The owner was Archipelago Investments, who in turn hired Holst Architecture out of Portland, Maine, as the designer. The contracting company who won the bid was Cutler Associates, based out of the east coast. Finally, Cutler hired subcontractors for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, etc. for each phase of the project. As with any delivery method, there are definitely advantages and disadvantages of DBB.

One of the more beneficial aspects about the DBB delivery method is that the process is very regularly used and easy to understand. Also, it gives the owner more control over the final product, as plans and details are finalized before selecting a contractor (CMAA, 13). However, there are some downfalls to it as well. For instance, the owner is subject to change orders from the contractor based off of the design, which is agreed upon in the owner/contractor contract (CMAA, 13). The main disadvantage is that the designer is unable to take cost and scheduling ramifications into consideration during the design stage, which can lead to a far more costly final product (CMAA, 13).

The Construction Management at risk is an extremely popular project delivery method. The Construction Management at Risk is “A project delivery method in which the Construction Manager acts as a consultant to the owner in the development and design phases, but assumes the risk for construction performance as the equivalent of a general contractor holding all trade subcontracts during the construction phase. This delivery method is also known as Construction management/General Contractor. (CMAA, 1)” Like any delivery or planning method the Construction Management at Risk holds negatives and positives.

CMAR Model

When analyzing the Construction Management at Risk it's important to understand the complete dynamic. Focusing on the positives is great because it’s nice to know all of the good that can come from the decision. However owners must be aware that once they choose this method, they minimize their voice for the duration of the project. If they are going to put the risk on the construction management than they can not expect to constantly interrupt the project with their opinion and interjections (CMAA, 19). This delivery method has the CM play the role of a consultant during the design phase of the project. If the owner has their own design team than it opens up the door for conflict between the owners design team and the CM who is at risk (Xiao,1).

Once an owner understands the negatives of CMAR they should review all of the favorable aspects of the delivery method because they are in plenty. The major advantage is that the risk is on the construction manager at a fixed price. This means that the owner can not be held responsible for any costs that exceed the fixed price. The delivery method also puts pressure on the management firm to complete the job in the most efficient manner possible because that benefits them the most. More beneficial factors include that one party is in charge of the construction of the project so there is no adversity between the owner and the management firm during the construction phase. Lastly CMAR allows for the possibility of the project to begin constructing before the design is 100 percent completed otherwise known as fast tracking (Xiao, 2).

Petrot Museum of Nature and Science

An example of the CMAR method in practicality was when the Perot Museum of Nature and Science was constructed in Dallas, Texas. The management firm, Balfour Beatty Construction worked seamlessly with the architecture firm, Morphosis. This project selected the Construction Management at Risk method for a couple different reasons. First off they were able to maximize communication and collaboration by between the GC and subcontractors. Next this project eliminated major adversity because it created one cohesive unit/budget instead of a bunch singular parts working in the same space. This method was necessary for such a unique project that would have been derailed if all the key players were brought in during the post design process.

Finally, the design-build delivery method is a method that acts as a single entity responsible for design and construction. With this method, construction often starts before design completion (Xiao, 3). By doing this, the project schedule can be reduced and money is saved in the process. Price certainty is given to the owner, as cost is known and fixed from the start.

Design Build Method

In an example, Shambaugh & Sons built a Chobani plant in Indianapolis in 2012. The method used by this company was design-build and their persistence in ensuring the usage of this method solidified the job as a major success. The project was scheduled to last for 24 months, but with certain actions, they were able to condense the schedule to 10 months. Millions of dollars were saved due to this scheduling change. The builder was able to complete and construct necessary stages because of the owner handing over much of the responsibilities. The project operated more smoothly because of this. Further, with only a single company running the job, conflicts were few and far between; when they did occur, they were resolved immediately. The extremely demanding schedule to complete each phase forced workers to successfully labor through 2 million hours without a “lost time incident. (Xiao, 4)”

While this method might be appropriate on some occasions, the owner should consider the negative effects as well. The owner is left out of daily operation, and the builder is entrusted to complete plans with safety and precision. For the contractor, this may be good news. Certain requests that could take multiple days waiting for clearance can be expedited, and work flows uninterrupted. With minimal owner control, design/construction quality is left out of their hands. On site, there is no party responsible to represent the owner’s interests and the intuition of the builder is trusted on a day-to-day basis. These considerations should be taken into account before the owner contractually binds a builder/contractor to the project.

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