Interview with Patrick O'Connor, Construction Manager
Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation
In October of 2006, Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) selected Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation as its preferred developer of Lot E - a joint residential and commercial development on Howe Street in downtown New Haven, CT. The 2.4 acre development, which is situated one block from YNHH's Smilow Cancer Center, consists of three components: a six-story, 236,000 square foot precast concrete parking structure with 845 spaces; a three-story, 53,000 square foot mixed-use (office & retail) building featuring architectural precast cladding; and 24 residential units.
We spoke with Patrick O'Connor, Construction Manager withIntercontinental Real Estate Corporation, about the planning, development and construction of the Lot E project, and how precast concrete played a major role in its successful progress towards opening in November, 2009.
PCINE: What initially led to your decision to use precast concrete for the Lot E parking structure and as cladding for the mixed-use building?
O'Connor: The design team always had precast as part of the vision for Lot E, and unanimously agreed it was the material of choice from the very beginning. We knew from experience that the entire process would be smoother and more cost-effective with precast versus cast-in-place.
PCINE: What benefits did precast offer you during construction?
O'Connor: The advantages of precast on this project were many. First and foremost, you get a better, far superior final product, both structurally and aesthetically. Because precast is manufactured offsite in factory-controlled conditions, you get absolutely perfect fit and finish. Plus, this helps a great deal with scheduling in the harsh winter conditions we have in New England everything can be stored offsite and staged for delivery and erection without interruption caused by weather. The parking garage alone took 525 individual pieces of precast, so you can imagine how crucial this is.
PCINE: What other attributes or benefits did precast offer on the Lot E project?
O'Connor: From a constructability perspective, precast makes it very easy to coordinate and manage all trades on site. For example, all mechanicals such as electrical and plumbing access and pathways are engineered right in. Everything goes together perfectly and quickly, and this contributes to overall quality and cost control.
PCINE: Did the sustainable nature, or life-cycle cost attributes of precast concrete contribute to your decision as well?
O'Connor: Yes it did. As part of our development agreement, the mixed-use office/retail building is to be LEED certified, and we will be able to achieve this because the architectural precast cladding will contribute points. Precast is much less invasive to the site during construction, which contributes to sustainability as well. Yale Facilities Management will maintain all of the Lot E structures, and we collectively know that precast is easier to maintain, and will remain structurally and architecturally sound over time.
PCINE: How did you involve the precast producer in the design and planning process, and how did this benefit your design team?
O'Connor: As I said earlier, our design team always had precast as part of the vision for Lot E from the start, so we partnered with them very early on. They helped develop and stick to firm pricing, scheduling and drawings. And because of this, we're going to hit both schedule and budget - it's beautiful. We never could have done this with cast-in-place.