A daunting challenge

Kelowna and Vernon hospitals project
Thursday, January 3, 2013
By Cheryl Mah

Graham Design Builder’s first public-private partnership (P3) project in British Columbia was a daunting one – build not one but three major health care facilities simultaneously in two cities.

Not only did the company overcome a myriad of complex challenges, it delivered the much needed health care facilities on budget and ahead of schedule. The successful outcome earned Graham a well deserved 2012 VRCA Gold Award of Excellence.

The Kelowna and Vernon Hospitals (KVH) project was one of the largest and most complex construction projects in Graham’s 86-year history. The $376-million project scope involved the construction of a new 358,000-square-foot Centennial Building and a parkade structure at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH), a 36,000-square-foot Interior Health and University of B.C. Faculty of Medicine Clinical Academic Campus and the new 229,000-square-foot Polson Tower at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

The project is part of a major expansion of health care facilities in the Okanagan region for the Interior Health Authority that will enhance patient care for the rapidly growing population.

Construction started in 2008, and was completed in three phases. The last building at KGH was completed in January 2012, a full seven months ahead of schedule.

Graham was the design-builder and worked closely with Stantec to design and construct the three buildings concurrently.

The new state-of-the-art facilities were constructed on operating hospital sites requiring careful planning to minimize any impacts to patient care services.

“We had to maintain full operation of all the facilities while construction was going on, which was no easy task given that we had to relocate the main entrances and ambulance bays for both hospitals without interrupting any services,” says Dave Corcoran, Graham’s vice-president of major commercial projects.

In addition, Graham had to meet strict data regulations and compliance requirements, and faced potential financial penalties for any schedule delays or non-compliance.

Another challenge was the sheer volume of documentation required for a project of this nature. To address this issue, Graham used an electronic document control system by Aconex to better manage tendering, workflows and distribution of drawings. At the end, more than 585,000 documents and 4,500 drawings were counted.

“By using the electronic system we could easily send all the latest documents out to our subcontractors and they would get them in real time,” says Corcoran. “We never had to worry about whether a subcontractor had the latest drawings.”

Use of the Aconex technology not only helped Graham to streamline efficiency and productivity on the project, it also recently earned them a Constructech Vision Gold Award. The award honours companies that have successfully applied innovative technologies to their everyday businesses.

And innovation was a must on this project. A notable time and cost-saving solution was the use of Graham’s in-house design for a column hung forming system.

“It allowed us to shave about four months off the schedule for the Kelowna Hospital,” says Corcoran, noting peak manpower was close to 600 for both sites.

While the majority of the trades were local, Graham used resources throughout B.C. to accomplish the work.

The three buildings were designed to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification standards and include green features such as reflective roof surfaces, stormwater collection tanks for landscape irrigation, daylight harvesting and geothermal heating and cooling at Kelowna General Hospital. Approximately 92 per cent of construction waste was diverted from landfill.

Cheryl Mah is managing editor of Construction Business magazine.

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