Constructing an academic building that includes teaching facilities, labs, and a fully functional drug-production facility is no small feat. To stick to an ambitious schedule and keep 60 subcontractors on track, Miron Construction is using cloud collaboration and setting up stations where the latest plans can be accessed at any time for the new College of Pharmacy at the University of Iowa. Watch the video to see how this new technology comes into play and helps keep everyone on the same page on this challenging project.
Donald Letendre, Dean of College of Pharmacy, University of Iowa: So, I like to say we are going from worst to first. Our current facility is woefully deficient. You would think that education was an afterthought if you were to walk around here. Our laboratories are also woefully inadequate because they don’t really take advantage of current technology, and there are a whole host of other issues that limit us in our science.
Our new facility will address each of those problems.
Daniel Cassidy, Construction Manager, University of Iowa: This is a new building for the College of Pharmacy, and this project will have multiple different spaces in it. We have teaching and education spaces. We have dedicated research lab facilities.
James Maier-Gast, AIA; Associate; OPN Architects: But probably the most unique aspect of the building, that is in the basement, is a fully functional pharmaceutical-production facility that major manufacturers can contract with to run and create small batches of test pharmaceuticals. It’s something that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the country that I’m aware of.
Steve Heyne, Senior Project Manager, Miron Construction: The project is currently a little over halfway. We are in enclosure of the project, so our exterior skin is going on. Roof interiors are being roughed in. Mechanical systems are roughed in 70 percent of the way. The challenge of having classrooms, labs, and a production facility means you have more contractors. We have 60 different contractors because you can’t just work on classrooms; that’s a simple drywall. You don’t have just labs, which is one contractor. You don’t have just a lab production facility, which is a whole different set of contractors.
Brian Athey, Virtual Construction Specialist, Miron Construction: Our new technology that we’re using is really the paperless site. It started with a monitor, a computer, and a printer that sits in a gang box with access of read only to all the documentation, all the models, everything that would be needed by a subcontractor, anybody that comes in.
Heyne: Having a paperless job site is revolutionary, in terms of the way things have been done for years. You always had guys rolling plans out on the hood of their truck or whatever, and here we are, we have three 16-inch monitors in our job trailer. We have two 30-inch monitors out on site. That is our virtual hood of a truck.
Cassidy: Normally, on a construction job, there are reams of paperwork. We have five volumes of just construction drawings, five volumes of spec books. To have all of that and to maintain that as current is a monumental undertaking. And to have that available in the cloud, everybody can see the updated drawings. Everybody knows the current scope of work, and we can communicate seamlessly using that cloud application. It’s been fantastic.
Athey: The University of Iowa wanted a better way of capturing issues. So we decided to barcode our rooms. The idea being, anybody could walk into that room; grab the barcode; and, bam, you’re in that room. Once you’re in that room, in the 360 field, we can take in-wall photos and attach them to that room. We can do 360-degree photos and attach them to that room.
Heyne: We can also start attaching issues. So as you walk into a space and you want to have an issue in that, take a picture of the barcode, and then any issues that you have are tied to that piece of room.
Cassidy: What’s really cool is that we can use those same barcodes as a means of communication here on the jobsite with the contractors. As they get equipment installed, and they’re happy with the delivery of the equipment—there’s no damage—they can scan that barcode, and they can log it in as having been accepted.
Athey: The project is better because of cloud collaboration, because we’re able to react quickly to issues. We can share the model with the contractor. The contractor can share their model with us, and we can work together again in that real time to adjust issues that the contractor is finding in the coordination of making sure all the ducts, the pipes, and everything are fitting above the ceilings. And if there’s a conflict, we can then, together, figure out how to solve that.
Heyne: It’s a benefit to us for building the right thing. It’s also easier for us to turn over to the owner what we’re actually building. The architect is keeping up drawings; we’re keeping up our model and drawings; and the owners gets a better turnover at the end of the project.
Athey: The proudest moment for me might be two years from now, sitting at another University of Iowa project, and the owner saying to me, “This is a requirement. This is now what we want. This is our expectation.” We’ve raised the bar.
Heyne: I’ve always enjoyed working on challenges, puzzles when I was a kid, and that’s all construction is, is just how to put it together more efficiently, faster. Well, the greatest reward is just the pure excitement of everybody going into that space. It is not much better than that for being in construction, because they appreciate. They don’t know all the hardship; they just go, “Wow, this is awesome.” So that is a great feeling.
Letendre: I’ve had an opportunity to visit with the construction workers. I wanted them to understand the fact that what they’re doing is not only going to have an impact at the University of Iowa, but it’s going to have a global impact. And, yes, we have science going on in this building that could conceivably change the way in which we currently treat disease.