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IPD the "logical choice" for St. Jerome’s project

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Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) may not be for everyone, says Darren Becks, but when dealing with a $47-million campus expansion at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ont. it was the logical choice.

"I don’t believe IPD is for everyone. There are a lot owner inputs into this process," he said, which some may not be interested in.

"Every detail of this project is available to every team member."

IPD is a relatively new concept in project delivery that involves the architect, client and contractor operating as a team. Incentives are put in place to maximize the value for the building owner, while at the same time rewarding the designer and contractor when the project is finished.

Becks says the team at the university wanted to bring in faculty, students, and other interested parties and be heavily involved in the planning process, thus choosing IPD.

"All this time we were spending on the front end… it’s paying its dividends now," he explained.

St. Jerome’s is affiliated with the University of Waterloo. Its expansion includes the construction of a new seven-storey, 360-bed student residence as well as a new two-storey academic centre.

Renovations to existing buildings are also included in the campus renewal plan. The current completion date is scheduled for 2016.

Art Winslow, director of IPD at Graham Construction, told seminar attendees this model strives to integrate a full team where everyone has a vested interest in the project.

"All the members put their profit at risk," he said, adding as a result, "we end up getting changed behaviours, where contractors aren’t hungry for extras and changeovers. We have architects that aren’t building monuments to themselves… and we have owners who are willing to give and take."

He said the key to any successful IPD model is the early involvement of key participants. During the RFP process, usually the details of the project are vague, discussing the need, maybe the potential cost and where it’s going to be built.

"There’s very little we have to go on," Winslow stated. "Most of the time there’s no drawings."

This had some audience members asking how the procurement process would work – especially when it comes the public sector, such as municipalities.

"The owners generally have their criteria for onboarding a team. It’s not price driven. It’s value driven," Winslow explained.

"Procuring is one of the big limitations (municipally). They’re still in a different paradigm. Their purchasing process has a bunch of tick boxes that this model doesn’t necessarily fall into."

Becks pointed out when it came to St. Jerome’s a full RFP process was carried out.

"We received 10 full submissions. Each team had to assemble what they felt it (the project) needed. There were varying degrees of understanding (the IPD model)," he said.

"We gave them up front…a whole backgrounder. It was just different because we were procuring a whole suite. This has not been done a whole lot in Canada in the full IPD way. We commenced the project with a cost, until we got to validation."

The validation phase and agreement occurs when the involved parties create a detailed plan, outlining what the project will entail, said Winslow.

"We have to come to an agreement on what we’re going to deliver. We’re always ensuring that we’re delivering value to the owner — always thinking towards the same end goal," he stated.  "(We’re) trying to instil trust within a team environment. That doesn’t always come off the top. It comes from holding olive branches out to each other and trying to foster that trust as a team."

Winslow said lean principles are also part of the process, to ensure transparent decision-making and reliable plans. The "big room" is where a lot of the initial action takes place, he added. This is  where meetings occur with the project team, which in some cases can be up to 50 people.

"Something comes up in this big room setting, we talk about it and deal with it right there. It’s instant. It’s not done in silos," Winslow explained. "We deal with problems more often, but they are smaller problems."

David Dow, principal at Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc. told seminar attendees Building Information Modeling (BIM) is another tool that’s valuable in an IPD model.

"It is integral to this process," he said. "Processes like this will only make it become more important."

Becks stated overall IPD has been effective thus far, with all parties deeply involved in the process.

"There’s a level of reasonableness that injects itself into the process that I think deescalates some of the traditional conflict that happens," he said.

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