Moderator: Timothy Burrill, Florida Hospital Orlando
Panelists: Jody Barry, Florida Hospital Orlando; Borron J. Owen, Jr., Esq., GrayRobinson
One of the biggest obstacles in designing a new building or other structure can be obtaining approval from city officials. In fact, Timothy Burrill, assistant vice president of Florida Hospital Orlando, likened dealing with city zoning, permitting and development officials to getting a root canal.
Fortunately, Burrill, Jody Barry and Borron J. Owen, Jr., Esq. - all of whom work extensively with Florida Hospital of Orlando, the flagship campus for Adventist Health System, the largest non-profit health system in the country - have a four-step prescription for dealing with government officials.
Burrill outlined his prescription for success in detail: Build healthy relationships. Look for mutual wins. Operate with integrity. And, finally, follow through on promises.
Barry, property administrator for Florida Hospital of Orlando, elaborated on ways to build healthy relationships. He recommended assessing the situation from a public servant's point of view. “Learn your community's issues,” he said. “If you have traffic and transportation problems, maybe your city wants you to design [your building to include] bus and rail stops.”
Barry also suggested learning and using the staff's current buzzwords - such as “mixed-use development” and “pedestrian-friendly.” And the latest, Barry joked, “you've probably heard this… green, green and green.”
Another way to build a relationship is to include officials in your early design meetings. Ask for their ideas and suggestions. If they can become familiar with your project early on, Barry said, they will feel responsible for it and become more of a partner than an obstacle.
Owen knows a thing or two about looking for mutual wins. Recently, Florida Hospital was in negotiations to expand its Orlando campus. After agreeing to the plans, the city government asked them to fund a commuter rail transit station on their campus for several millions of dollars.
Owen described “that first moment of panic,” but in the end, he said, the decision was easy. Their agreement was not just a mutual win; it was a multiple win. The city got its commuter rail system. Florida Hospital maintained ties with the local government. The rail station turned out to be extremely cost-effective, and it offered an environmentally-friendly alternative form of transportation.
“We found that, as we try to do good… we achieve solutions that not only benefit us, but also benefit our surrounding community,” Owen said.
“Our prescription is all about building relationships,” Burrill added. And, in their experience, the prescription never fails.
- Ashleigh FrankHealthcare Building Ideas 2008 June-July;4(5):63