No matter how much planning you do, there will always be some surprises.
Graham Construction was able to manage a variety of curveballs while constructing The Paramount in Richmond, B.C.
The $267 million contract included three 15-storey residential towers totalling 533 for-sale units, plus 27 low-income market rental units, a 12-storey office tower and multiple retail units at ground level built atop a four-level parkade (two below-grade and two above-grade).
Right away the team had to contend with Mother Nature.
“When it comes to this part of the world and Richmond, there aren’t too many buildings that go two levels below grade because the water level is typically only one metre below ground level,” said James Cassano, senior project manager for Graham. “You only have to kick the dirt before you start seeing a swimming pool.”
To assist with this, Graham built a deep soil mixing (DSM) water cut-off perimeter wall. The system used drilled concrete columns, greatly reducing the amount of seepage and pumping required during construction.
After work had begun, the project faced a major shakeup.
“The intention was that it would be a three-year project with one handover of all the buildings, but just before COVID hit the client said they really wanted to do a phased occupancy,” said Cassano.
The project had originally been planned to wrap up in May 2022, but this was revised to a phased occupancy approach with the first phase getting turned over in October 2021. To hit this target, the team needed to speed up work right in the midst of a global pandemic.
Graham installed a third tower crane, used a separate yard for off-site rebar assembly to ensure the concrete teams worked without interruption, hired a logistics software company to synchronize delivery of materials with the use of tower cranes and hoists, and used a new product that provides real-time monitoring of concrete curing, enabling removal of shoring sooner than under the traditional set-time approach.
“We of course had already started our acceleration plan when COVID hit so we have all these challenges from a health and safety perspective, availability of manpower, availability of materials and all these other things that were challenging for the whole industry,” said Cassano.
In addition, the project included a 19,000-square-foot early childhood development hub that Keltic donated to the City of Richmond, and a district heating and energy distribution hub, which added more complexity in terms of stakeholders and systems.
But the project was able to navigate those challenges and hit the accelerated completion targets. Cassano explained the large project included lots of complex electrical and mechanical systems which Graham had modelled in BIM during the pre-construction period which was a big help.
He also attributed the project’s success to early contractor involvement and the strong trust that was built between the many team members, including the owner, designer, builder, city, consultants and subcontractors.
“Nothing was off the table,” said Cassano. “People were open to different ideas. I think it comes down to having that early involvement, having that communication and those transparent conversations which can be hard.”
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