construction

Here’s What’s Coming in 2022

Here’s What’s Coming in 2022 789 444 DMR Architects

DMR will deliver more than $500 million in public and educational facilities this year, providing a window into a robust development cycle that is largely fueled by public sector work.

School renewal is an on-going challenge as facilities and districts contract and expand, but perhaps the most telling insights come from the expanse of challenges facing communities as they evolve and variety of redevelopment solutions that are being deployed to resolve them.

“While there are many notable downtown redevelopment stories, we are just at the beginning of a cycle that will re-create the way New Jersey lives and works,” says Lloyd A. Rosenberg, AIA, President & CEO.  “Hundreds of municipalities are awakening to the need to update infrastructure, grow their tax base, or otherwise address activating their downtowns, and the pace of new programs will only continue to grow.”

Among the projects coming this year are:

 MUNICIPAL FACILITIES

When the Montgomery Municipal Center opens this spring, it will be a physical representation of the Township’s rich history and the result of a planning process that included the input from more than 200 residents and Montgomery Township and Somerset County Improvement Authority officials.

DMR’s planning and design teams knew that its representation of Montgomery’s identity was equally as important as the functionality of the 62,500 SF facility as the new home for municipal offices, the police department and council chambers and library.

“It is refreshing to work with a group of elected and civic leaders who take such pride in their community, and we’ve enjoyed creatively interpreting their functional and aesthetic needs,” said Pradeep Kapoor, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Chief Operating Officer and Partner. “Being able to work with so many of the project’s end users made presenting the final product particularly rewarding.”

Following a feasibility study to assist the Borough of Ridgefield in site selection DMR designed a 27,000 SF municipal complex to accommodate the municipal court, council chambers, police department and borough offices. When the facility opens this spring, the new building, located in the Shaler Boulevard commercial zone, will facilitate economic development and provide proximity to the community center, as well as provide a safe facility to municipal operations, once housed in an aging facility that was often forced to close.

“Ridgefield’s governing body has long recognized that it made economic sense to develop and construct a new municipal complex rather than continuing to put tax payer money into a facility that has outlived its useful life,” said Charles H. Sarlo, General Counsel and Partner.  “Our diversified expertise allows DMR to formulate targeted delivery methodologies that meet the goals and objectives of our clients.”

 EDUCATION

This September, Carteret teachers and students will move into the new Carteret Junior High School, the first new educational facility in the municipality in 40 years, the result of a successful $37 million referendum. The new school will accommodate approximately 600 seventh and eighth grade students and alleviate overcrowding through reassignment and realignment students in grades K-12.

The 60,000 square foot school will be arranged in a departmentalized environment, with 24 classrooms, enhanced art and music education spaces, a think tank and a STEM lab.

“We’re working with municipalities that recognize upgrades to facilities that improve quality of life for its current residents is a critical first step to placemaking initiatives designed to attract new residents, visitors and economic opportunities,” said Kurt Vierheilig, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Director of Design and Partner.  “We anticipate seeing more and more municipalities reviewing their administrative, law enforcement and educational needs to ensure that they can serve the people that choose to live there with the most forward-thinking options while still remembering the importance of meaningful gathering spaces.”

Timing and Process Is Key in Development Projects

Timing and Process Is Key in Development Projects 960 540 DMR Architects

by Lloyd A. Rosenberg, AIA, President & CEO

Delays in construction projects can be costly—but perhaps the most expensive delays are the ones that occur before construction even begins. Materials and labor costs continue to rise in the economic expansion, and the cost of projects can increase from 10-20% from the time they are approved to the time construction begins.

The political environment can be very cumbersome, and months or even years can pass between the time a project is originally conceived and budgeted until it actually breaks ground. We’ve worked with some townships on building plans as recently as two years ago that are now not in the budget anymore because they waited.

As we are currently working on more than 12 municipal building projects across New Jersey, we recommend that municipalities calendar a re-budgeting process every three months so that delays can be priced into the final budget; and that bidding for jobs take place as soon as possible after approval. Typically a consultant has been retained to assist in the bidding for the project during its design phase who can be tasked with regular estimate updates. All the costs associated with the project need to be affirmed at regular intervals if there are hang-ups in getting started.

Another important discipline is foresight into what happens with the project in the next generation. For example, if the municipality needs to house 50 office employees now, what happens if the number is 70 in 10 years? Or 30? With growth in government balanced by automation of some functions, requirements of today surely will evolve with time, and a conscious approach to how property assets can be repurposed will save challenges for the next generation.

And finally, the project managers on the municipal side need to be satisfied that they understand all the elements of the project and their ramifications before it commences and specifically articulate all of their expectations. Too often, both sides take it for granted that everything is understood by a review of the drawings. But the business issues are much deeper than the plans, and without a detailed examination of the architect’s buildings plans against the client’s plan for the building, disaster can strike in the form of surprises when the building is complete and it’s too late for alterations.

Challenge your architect to explain how the plans relate to regulatory and other requirements conditions, which will help reveal potential complications in timing, and budget impacts.

With so many elements going into the making of a new building, recognizing that there will be surprises during the construction phase that even your architect or contractor didn’t imagine, and accounting for that ahead of time can save municipalities both time and money. DMR, acting as the project manager for projects including the currently-in-construction Frank J. Gargiulo Campus in Secaucus, is using technologies that allow all contractors on the project to talk daily in real time about potential issues and practical solutions, keeping them on a tight budget and aggressive timeline.

There are risk-management processes that can deliver highly predictable and desirable project outcomes, but often timeframes and budget issues push even the most disciplined professionals off best practices. At every turn, people need to remind themselves to measure twice and cut once. Mistakes mean doing things over, and that is far more expensive than doing them right the first time.

This article also appeared on New Jersey Association of Counties Newsletter.