It’s All About the Plan: Capital One Toronto
For some projects, the challenges that pop up in the field can be the biggest hurdles. For others, the real problem-solving comes before construction begins.
When Capital One wanted to consolidate its Toronto offices under one roof, the biggest challenge was time. They had just under a year to get through the design and construction of 120,000sf over 5 storeys AND move their staff from the old space to the new.
“It was a very tight timeframe,” says Hany Younan, project manager for Govan Brown, who Capital One hired to lead construction. “They also had a fairly firm budget, so those two factors really drove the project.”
From the start…
To meet that challenge, the Govan Brown team focused on the elements of the project they could control—and how to make those as efficient as possible. To start, the team got involved early with the design team to work through five months of preconstruction, during which they fine-tuned the budget and value-engineered some of the higher-end features.
One of the easier decisions came with the furniture. Because the new offices were designed to maintain the aesthetic of their existing offices, Capital One agreed that they could reuse much of their furniture in the new space—which would be a big time and money-saver.
“That became more of a phasing challenge,” Younan says. “Capital One had to purchase one floor’s worth of new furniture so staff could move into that new floor while we moved their former furniture into the next phase. Govan Brown helped the client come up with a phasing plan that would best accommodate the move with the least interruption to Capital One’s internal operations.”
…to the finish
Phasing was, in fact, the operative word for the entire project. First, each floor’s technology infrastructure had to be ready well ahead of move-in. That meant not only building out the MDF and IDF rooms and installing all the racks, UPS equipment, security panels, etc., but also having them properly commissioned. Capital One hired a third-party commissioning agent to handle the commissioning, and Govan Brown developed a schedule and list of tasks to help keep the entire team on track.
“Commissioning like this is very detailed and can often take weeks,’’ says Younan. “We developed the schedule task by task to make sure everything was documented and ready for testing. What they predicted would take two weeks was done in three days.”
Phasing the move itself was also a major focus for the team. The new space occupies the 16th through 20th floors of 161 Bay Street, an active office tower in the heart of downtown. The first move-in was targeted for the end of May. Since construction did not begin in earnest until mid-December of 2017, the team had a tight window for phasing the turnover of each subsequent floor, leaving just two weeks between each phase. But with a carefully prepared plan, the team made it work.
“We had to make a few tweaks to the schedule as things moved along, but from day one of construction we didn’t really need to adjust the schedule too much,’’ says Younan. “All that preparation really paid off.”
In fact, the new space is targeting LEED Silver, and the team’s early organization made closing out that process much easier than usual too. “We came up with a plan where we provided all the waste bins to track materials,” Younan says. “Crews could just drop everything in the bins and our vendor would sort it off site.” With that plan in place, Govan Brown avoided the usual need to chase down each subcontractor to find out what they tracked—and then sort through the various ways each sub tracks that information. “In the end it only took two months after the job was finished to fully close it out,” says Younan.
From preconstruction right through to close-out, Younan says preparation, teamwork and having the proper resources to manage each task made all the difference and a beautiful end result.
The HIDI Group
Preconstruction, Construction Management