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It’s Official: We’re Way Ahead of the Curve

It’s official: our revised plan shows a 45% reduction to the project timeline!

Last month at the Mosaic Centre, our deliberate efforts at building a site culture and implementing lean thinking came to fruition: sub-trade foremen were united for a morning of planning scheduling with the end goal of determining when this masterpiece will be complete.

As an owner-occupant, it is important that the building construction finish within a certain risk window. If the building is delivered late, the problems are too obvious and numerous to state. If the project is right on time, everyone is happy–from the bank, to the contractors, to the owner. What if the project is ahead of schedule? Nothing but devil-horns…right?

How did a 45% reduction in timeline come to be? How does one over-schedule a 10 month build by five months?

Over the past few months, I had been developing a stronger hunch that the project would be ahead of schedule; a hunch rooted in the pattern of smiling faces, good weather and “lean wins”. When I asked Mark (our Project Manager) about the logic behind the neatly pinned GANTT chart on the north wall of the job shack, he shot back a mischievous grin and a deflecting “what do you mean?” The red herring in question was a bright red, three-month long bar called “tenant improvements” embedded in the critical path. It turns out that Mark, in his conservative nature, had built in a shock-absorber of sorts to help cushion any weather issues or design flaws encountered.

My first reaction was a heel-click and power move, as this was an ideal situation and a dream come true. Being able to complete ahead of schedule is a feat in its own, let alone on a project of this size!

That excitement was short lived, however, as thoughts of furniture, leases and moving in the frigid Alberta winter started racing into my mind. “Holy shit,” I thought. “We need to ramp up the interior design team quickly.” Then a wave of anxiety set in as I was faced with the reality that Christy and I only had six months to find tenants.

In the last few weeks, the interiors team has rallied to get all of the finishes and furniture selected and ordered. Christy has been working on building the vision for InterChange, the co-working space slated for the second floor of the east wing, and has started accepting applications. The anxiety has subsided for the time being.

Lesson learned: although a traditional construction schedule may have seemed fitting for building the Mosaic Centre, as a team, we should have back-checked it sooner to reveal the shortened project window.

It was a surprise to all of the stakeholders who participated in the last planning session that revealed this shortened schedule. In fact, it was so much of a surprise that we revisited the results three times to make sure we had not missed anything. I would wager that there is still doubt in some of the minds on site that it is possible to build a “first of its kind” building in 10 months–but that seed of doubt is dwarfed by the engagement, teamwork and desire to accomplish the unthinkable.

Dennis Cuku

Dennis is a Mechanical Engineer with expertise in drilling rig design and is acting President of Oil Country Engineering. Paradoxically, his passion lies in the arena of sustainable building design and green building innovation. Dennis’ recent project, The Mosaic Centre, is slated for completion in May 2015 and aims to be the crown jewel of sustainable building in Edmonton becoming the first Net-Zero energy commercial office building in Alberta; an example of Alberta’s oil and gas abundance igniting innovative sustainable projects.

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