C.W. Driver Faces Tight Schedule with Irvine Project

IRVINE, Calif. — C.W. Driver, with offices in Irvine, is in the process of constructing Por-tola High School, Irvine Unified School District’s (IUSD) fifth comprehensive high school. The main challenge of the project is its fast construction schedule, which involves completing the 16-building campus in 22 months in time for an August 2016 opening.

HMC Architects, with offices in Los Angeles, designed the planned 266,000-square-foot facility, which is located on a 40-acre site on the west side of the old El Toro Marine Air Base. Upon completion, the facility will include 11 campus buildings consisting of a one-story administration building, two-story performing arts building, one-story electives classroom building, one-story student center and library, two two-story classroom buildings, three two-story science/special ed/classroom buildings and a gymnasium/locker/classroom building.

The campus also includes a 50-meter lighted competitive swimming pool with a pool-service building. The field facilities will include a lighted stadium with an all-weather track and synthetic turf field, 1,740-person home bleachers with a press box and 1,200-person visitor bleachers, a snack bar/toilet facility building, toilet room building and storage building. Tennis courts, varsity and junior varsity softball and baseball fields with adjoining soccer fields and outdoor basketball courts round off the exterior facilities. The campus will also include parking for 791 vehicles.

“Given enough time, anyone can build anything,” said Mac Byers, senior project manager with C.W. Driver. “Building quickly takes a large amount of preplanning, risk analyses, a high degree of execution and teamwork. Attention to details large and small and developing systems to catch every aspect of the project before it becomes vital are keys to success.”

School Construction News spoke with Byers about the several moving parts involved in the project and how C.W. Driver plans on completing the high school in such a quick time frame. Here are five of the key challenges he discussed:

1. Compressed Construction Schedule Time Frame: With a delayed property purchase combined with the district’s need to provide a viable campus by August 2016, a 19-month construction window remained for a typically 27- to 30-month construction schedule. In compliance with DSA requirements, most of the grading and utilities were installed and completed in a previous phase easing some of the construction timeframe burden. To meet the district’s needs with this compressed construction window, C.W. Driver first looked at splitting the project into two separate campuses requiring contractors to provide two separate and independent labor crews — one for each half campus.

Taking into account the different schedule and risk factors that could occur during the course of construction, it was determined that the best approach to attain project success was to split the campus again, creating approximately four equal campuses, requiring contractors to provide and staff four independent labor crews, one for each quarter campus. The project was scheduled and bid with this requirement, including a mandatory six-day work week. A real concern of the construction team was finding and awarding contractors who can bond and provide this level of commitment to a very aggressive schedule. C.W. Driver facilitated the creation of the appropriate contractor teams in a timely manner, and construction of the project was underway as soon as possible.

2. Onsite Scheduling: In essence, the project was divided into four complicated “elementary size” schools being constructed at the same time with the same contractors. This complexity quickly revealed the need for an on-site scheduler to monitor and make real-time adjustments to the schedule. With multiple crews working simultaneously and starting on a pre-graded site, procurement of materials became paramount to the project’s success. Materials like masonry, steel, concrete reinforcing and HM frames for four buildings being built at the same time immediately became hot procurement issues. C.W. Driver supervision meets twice weekly, once with contractors and once internally to review, update and distribute current, accurate and relevant construction schedules.

3. Speed of Teamwork: This project is not just the construction manager driving an ag-gressive schedule for schedule sake. This project’s success will be realized because all stakeholders are on board. IUSD authorized the use of contractor overtime to assist the project schedule as well as approving additional full-time, on-site civil and architectural services to expedite responses to on-site issues as they occur. In addition to their continual on-site presence, HMC has committed to quick turn-around time on submittals, with “revise and resubmit” not being an option. Wherever possible, issues are resolved prior to the return of submittals expediting the procurement process.

4. Speed of Payment: Realizing the contractor’s labor and material commitment required to construct a project at this pace and the contractor’s potential cash flow issues, IUSD and C.W. Driver have committed to expeditious monthly payments to contractors. Realizing that the flow of contractor funds propitiates the flow of construction, monthly contractor payments can be turned around in or about two weeks from approval.

5. Speed of Trust: Early on in the bidding and construction process, C.W. Driver displayed their commitment and understanding of the needs of all stakeholders: the owner, architect and contractors. Displaying this commitment by providing clear bid documents and a detailed schedule defining the special and unique requirements of this project, C.W. Driver set the stage for trusting relationships where mutual goals are understood and shared. This trust created an environment where issues are and would be addressed quickly and fairly. C.W. Driver met early with successful contractors to further gain understanding and commitments from the contractors, which have now transferred to efficient production of their field forces.