New London, Connecticut’s Lawrence + Memorial (L+M) Hospital is in the process of building a $34.5 million, 47,000-square-foot cancer center in Waterford, Connecticut, to house its radiation oncology and medical oncology programs. The project is colored by a focus on Lean design, reliance on building information modeling, and goals for LEED Silver certification.
But it’s the process by which the cancer center is being built that really sets it apart from dozens like it across the country. The L+M project team has committed to a full-scale integrated project delivery (IPD) contract—one of just a few healthcare projects to do so and the first project ever in the state of Connecticut.
Under the IPD contract, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, construction manager Suffolk Construction, and architecture firm TRO Jung|Brannen (TROJB) will share all risk and reward on the project, and that goes for the mechanical/plumbing/controls, electrical, and site work contractors, as well.
Testing the waters
Over the years, L+M has established a culture of innovation on new building projects, with four process innovation engineers who are involved right from the design phase. So when the cancer center project came onto the radar as a significant capital and strategic initiative, the hospital once again looked to innovate in its project delivery method.
“We quickly realized we did not want to use the traditional design-build method, so we did some research. We’ve had a longstanding relationship with TROJB, and they brought the idea to L+M in terms of integrated project delivery,” says Crista Durand, vice president of strategic planning, marketing, and new business development, L+M.
To get a better feel for what the delivery method would entail, the L+M team took a trip north to Augusta, Maine, where MaineGeneral is building a new regional hospital using an IPD contract.
“We were very impressed by the amount of collaboration and input the owner had in the entire project,” Durand says. “So it really was a combination of our existing process innovation culture and wanting to do something different with a project of this significance for our institution.”
Choosing to continue its working relationship with TROJB, which was also the architect on the MaineGeneral project, L+M looked for a contractor for the IPD team through a formal RFP process. Suffolk was selected about two months later, and the team set out to formalize its contract.
Taking the plunge
Before signing on any dotted lines, Durand says, the team worked to clearly define the goals so that everyone was on the same page in terms of project parameters, including budget, timeline, specific deliverables, and how team members would be expected to work together.
“We spent a lot of time getting to know each other, building the relationships before we were embarking on negotiations,” she says. “What’s a little bit different about IPD, and you’re going to hear this word a lot, is ‘trust.’ Basically, we were working in an IPD environment for months prior to the contract being fully negotiated and executed, so there was an awful lot of trust put forth on Suffolk’s behalf and TROJB’s behalf with L+M.”
While many healthcare projects today have incorporated IPD methodologies—primarily in terms of bringing in all team members early to better design facilities and assess constructability issues from the start—what makes a full-scale IPD contract a reality is agreeing to share risk.
On the L+M project, the team worked with an attorney experienced in the IPD process. “We had to identify not only what we thought our partners’ risks were, but what did we bring as risks to the project—not only financially but in decision-making skills, in personalities, in time management,” says Brenda Bullied, facilities project manager, L+M. “The legal part of the contract became less ominous as those issues became more out in the open.”