Michael Schroeder, Partner, Director of Virtual Design and Construction Services
Vital to every construction project is its on-time and on-budget completion. The projects promise a specific schedule that has to be maintained so that the facilities are turned over to the users or tenants on time. It is also important to ensure that these projects fall within the stated budget to avoid hassles and ensure the client’s satisfaction. But several issues hinder the project from being delivered within the estimated time and budget. These include long entitlement processes, catering to additional requirements of new buildings like energy-efficiency, sustainability, and more of the like. But the major impediment lies within the communication gap between the design teams and the construction teams.
Construction projects involve a large number of people, including architects, engineers, project managers, contractors, and sub-contractors. Therefore, they often function in siloes, which leads to extensive delays and exceeding budgets. It is on these lines that SGA, an architecture firm, comes into the picture. They offer Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) services, which feature a highly collaborative and tech-driven approach, bridging the gap between design and construction. Emerging as a proven project delivery system, VDC utilizes a combination of people, process, and technology, which integrate the workings of the design team, construction managers, and sub-contractors from the initial phases of the project.
Leveraging VDC, SGA has improved the communication between the teams for the construction project and manages the whole spectrum of the processes, from design to delivery, efficiently.
VDC optimizes the project delivery system to render creative, budget-efficient, and schedule-managing solutions with sustainable and unparalleled designs for unique client needs. The most significant benefit has been the firm’s ability to cut down several months off their schedules. Moreover, with a tech-forward approach, SGA has integrated current technologies into the project processes and generates several models that can predict the project’s probable issues before they happen on the ground, and enhance predictability, improve cost-efficiencies, and assist in speed to market. Today they have grown as one of the few leading firms in the US to be deploying such techniques for project delivery.
“VDC is the future of project delivery that utilizes intelligent collaboration, helping clients save millions of dollars and deliver projects on shortened schedules with predictable outcomes, and providing sustainable solutions,” mentions Michael Schroeder, Partner, Director of Virtual Design and Construction Services at SGA.
To achieve the successful implementation of VDC services, SGA adopts a very systematic methodology. At the commencement of every project, they focus on the onboarding process to ensure that every member meets the predefined criteria and participates effectively in the collaborative method. They also conduct Execution Success Planning (ESP) sessions with the entire team to set each team’s goals and expectations. They also allow the different teams and workers physically located together with their collaborative-location approach. Through this, the architects, engineers, mechanical, electrical and plumbing, and subcontractors can work together. In response to the limitations brought by the coronavirus pandemic, this approach has been transformed into a virtual co-location approach. Next, they apply a model-first technology approach that doesn’t rely only on 2D outputs but leverages BIM. They also develop customized dashboards in-house, which provide real-time information to teams on a day-to-day basis.
SGA serves several market sectors, including life sciences, corporate, commercial, academic, urban, mixed-use, and repositioning. They have offered many buildable and sustainable solutions to the market that edge over other architecture firms in the industry. One of the recent successful projects is a laboratory, and office building that comprises 10-story, state-of-the-art hybrid buildings, covering 900,000 square feet where the buildings are equipped with cogeneration technology, LED lighting, energy-saving closures, and other unique features. SGA completed the building’s core and shell with zero RFI’s, 90 percent of submittals approved, and accommodating the entire project within the budget.
Currently, SGA is witnessing a sturdy growth in their life-science and laboratory work, with new in-house built tools for advanced lab planning and programming techniques. They have also introduced energy modeling in-house, eliminating their need to outsource these resources and conduct their own energy analysis and enhance their sustainable and carbon neutral designs in the new buildings. Particularly laboratories consume high energy, which is one of the areas where SGA is looking into and is bringing in sustainable laboratories. Their efficient VDC process assists these construction projects and enables the new and sustainable projects to succeed.