Weitz Delivers Student Housing to Texas A&M
- Oct 17, 2016
By Jeffrey Steele
College Station, Texas–One year after beginning construction, construction company and general contractor The Weitz Co. is well on its way to completing Park West, the largest U.S. student housing project to date developed through a public-private partnership.
Weitz opened 40 units and 72 beds in late September, following 80 units and 144 beds in August, a total of six buildings for the Texas A&M University property in College Station. Project developer Servitas has entrusted Weitz to construct what will ultimately be more than 1,300 units and 3,400 beds in the 2.2 million-square-foot student housing community.
“The first challenge was to put together a staff that had the talents and personalities necessary to work as a team,” Weitz Senior Project Manager Frank Dascanio told Multihousing News. “After staff was selected, we broke up the work into manageable pieces and matched the staff’s talents with the individual pieces of the project. Managing the design has been a challenge, as it is a fast-track design-build project. The project is being built just as fast as the design in some areas. One of the ways we have overcome this challenge is by phasing design to match the build-out of the project. So far, the success of the project is due to the collective, team effort we have experienced with Servitas, Texas A&M University and our design partners. A project this vast needs to be a collaborative effort among all stakeholders if it’s to be a success.”
Weitz interviewed its key subcontractors, touring current projects and reviewing pre-qualifications, Dascanio continued. “We focused on laying out our expectations with manpower, equipment and the need to attack the schedule aggressively. We were very clear on the production rates we would need to make the project a success,” he said.
“We decided it was extremely important to remove weather from the equation as much as possible,” he added. “We modified the civil design and planned the sequencing of the project so we could pave early in the project schedule. This allowed us the accessibility needed around the site, along with plenty of area for laydown of materials. Multiple crews were used to install the infrastructure critical to completing drainage and keeping the site in a workable condition. The selection of the proper concrete sub to build the garage was extremely important, as the garage needed to be completed prior to topping out the figure-eight building—or B building, as we call it. We started the exterior sections of the B building so we could sequence the dry-in and start interior finishes early.”
The sheer size made the project difficult to schedule, Dascanio said. Weitz used (the) Lean Last Planner (system), along with production rates to ensure success and the ability to measure results quickly, which allowed it to make adjustments as needed in a timely manner.
“We sequenced the project from east to west and planned an early turnover of the six flats building on the east,” he explained. “This was a challenge. But we knew it was important to the client. We prioritized the flats and put key subs in charge of this work so early turnover could remain a consistent focus. The project has been challenging but it has been a success due to strategic planning and fully collaborative partnerships. We are looking forward to a successful turnover in August 2017.”
Weitz’s previous experience with Servitas, as well as transparent dealings that led to a fair contract, gave the company confidence in the plan and were key to the productive start on Park West, according to Weitz Commercial’s president, Kevin McClain.
Early delivery of units was not part of the original agreement, McClain added.
“But we uncovered how important it was to Servitas through good customer advocacy,” he said. “The advantages of early occupancy were expressed to us, and we’ve worked collaboratively to accomplish it.”