PJ Glasco
PJ Glasco
October 16, 2019

How Partnerships Drive UTMB’s League City Hospital Expansion

PJ Glasco
PJ Glasco

Working with our construction partner Hensel Phelps on the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) League City Hospital Expansion project has been a rewarding collaboration that relies on a strategic partnership and working relationship with UTMB. We recently shared the key ingredients for success on this project for the Houston AIA at UTMB’s League City Campus’ conference center on Sept. 13. 

To keep this project on schedule and budget while meeting all client expectations, CannonDesign and Hensel Phelps committed to an integrated approach supported by the following strategies:

  • Hitting budget and schedule: The team moved away from the traditional process where the architect creates design iterations and then the construction manager prices each iteration…followed by constant back-and-forth to try and keep the project near its original budget. We avoided unnecessary frustrations for the client by working as an integrated team to define a seamless approach that included the CMAR in the design process. Hensel Phelps and CannonDesign collaborated to determine the criteria that should be defined in early design to meet client expectations on vision, design, scope, budget and schedule, avoiding the typical VE process.
  • Committed to the big picture: “Keeping the end in mind” was a constant mantra that the entire team was committed to from the beginning — owner, architect and CMAR. UTMB has master-planned significant growth for the League City campus, close to three million square feet. The hospital expansion project, while a small piece of that growth, is a strategically significant facility expansion that sets the stage for the rest of the campus. This expansion has helped set the circulation patterns for patients, staff and materials and has invested budget and time in thoughtful planning for vertical and horizontal expansions. If at any point the budget was insufficient to buy out the big vision, the team always had a master plan approach on how to achieve that vision over time.
  • Detailed BIM execution plan: This was used to plot and organize all League City campus projects and delineate roles and processes. CannonDesign created the plan that established roles and processes during design and development, and Hensel Phelps used that information into a Virtual Design and Construction Operations plan for all ongoing League City projects. This BIM plan created project efficiency between teams and accurate BIM deliverables.
  • Virtual reality: Hensel Phelps’ use of virtual reality and augmented reality technology to showcase various issues during construction to UTMB was extremely useful in coordinating infrastructure in areas under construction and making coordination between two different owner teams(MD Anderson and UTMB) more efficient. As MDA had one of their HAL locations under construction at the same time, adjacent to UTMB’s Hospital Expansion, Hensel Phelps’ use of this technology helped guide decisions around site use, trailer locations and construction schedules for both buildings. 

Project members at UTMB, CannonDesign and Hensel Phelps agreed that building off one another’s assets and strengths are integral to success on the Hospital campus project. Upfront expectations and open lines of communication between design, construction and the client ensured that ongoing and future expansion projects will be successful, building toward UTMB’s end vision.