Fast Campus for Sun
To meet the timing goals for Sun's expansion, five office buildings had to be delivered in a fast-paced sequence with openings at six-week intervals.
Each building was designed, detailed, and granted building permits following a sequence of "packages": sitework/site utilities; underground utilities/ foundation; structural frame; steel details; architectural/ plumbing core and shell; and tenant improvement.
Each package in the sequence was permitted for construction before design on the next package was completed. KMD established a high level of trust with the city, pointing out our track record of competence and keeping the city informed about project progress.
The sequencing strategy was also applied on a building-to-building level, with the ordering of materials and the construction of various aspects of each building occurring simultaneously.
An early project management task was development of a schedule of all of the construction/permit packages, and review of this schedule with the Newark Building Department. This helped the agency to anticipate and plan for appropriate staffing for the review of the packages, facilitating quick turnarounds.
Committing to Future Construction Decisions
Early commitments played an important role in the success of the project. The owner had to commit to a 32-by-32-foot (9.75-by-9.75-meter) bay size and a core/ shell design that would accommodate an interior layout using Sun's standard planning module. This module ultimately yielded the lowest ratio of building area per employee of any previous Sun project.
The contractor proceeded with construction with an expectation that further design and detailing would be accomplished with minimal changes to construction cost and schedule. The permitting agencies were flexible in issuing temporary permits, trusting that there would be no substantial changes between the preliminary package approval and the final permit issuance.
The design team had to ensure that key decisions made at each phase of design and detailing were correct to the extent that substantive and significant revisions would be minimized.
All the consultant team members — the design teams for core/shell, tenant improvements, program management, and contracting — committed to a risk/reward scenario regarding fee.
For the core/shell design team, 10 percent of the overall design fee was allocated to an incentive program that contained evaluation criteria in the three categories of schedule performance, drawing quality, and overall performance.
At the beginning of schematic design of the first building, this team committed to due dates for all packages for every building. The evaluation of schedule performance was made on a "zero float" basis. If they missed the submittal date for any package, they would forfeit the schedule performance portion of the incentive fee.
Drawing quality was evaluated on the basis of extra construction costs due to errors or omissions in the documents. Evaluation for the overall performance category was tabulated on a scorecard developed by the real estate and operations divisions of Sun Microsystems.
Identifying long-lead items first and acquiring building permits within ten days of application allowed construction to begin four months into the process. Positive performance evaluations for the core/shell design team in both the schedule and drawing quality categories allowed them to earn 100 percent of the fee incentive.
Cost Control in Facade Design
Project decisions supported a corporate client keen on avoiding waste and opulence. The design of the building facades illustrates the approach we took toward construction cost control.
The architects developed three different facade types. The most expensive was a standard, "off-the-shelf" curtain wall assembly that was used only for the main building entry areas.
A less expensive facade combined an even mix of windows and solid exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS) walls. This was used on building elevations interior to the campus, seen by most Sun employees and visitors as they travel between buildings or through the interior courtyard. This midrange facade type was also used in selected locations at the top story of elevations visible from a relatively close distance outside the campus.
The least expensive facade type was mostly solid wall and factory-assembled windows. This facade type was reserved for building elevations oriented to the exterior of campus, but seen only from a distance, such as across a parking area.
In this way, money spent on exterior walls was prioritized to get the most "bang for the buck." Rather than elaborate building shells and grand entrances, construction dollars were spent in areas we believe affect employees more directly: comfortable, efficient offices, generous daylight, internal courtyards, and landscaping.
The Bottom Line
To meet aggressive economic development criteria during a time of inflation in the regional construction industry, project budgets were established to be competitive with the lower end of the commercial regional market.
Within these aggressive cost constraints, a quality project was achieved in record time.
Natasha Scripture and director Richard Sheng are with Kaplan McLaughlin Diaz, a San Francisco-based architecture firm that pioneers campus planning in the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Asia.