"We thought it was impossible right off the bat."
That's how Ledcor Construction's project team, headed by manager Jonathan Boyce, viewed the task of building a new 334,000 square foot Richmond Ikea store when contract delays shaved two months from the already tight timeline of 16 months.
“We originally thought we could push the opening date back two months,” said Boyce.
But, when Ikea considered the sales impact, it held firm to the April 25, 2012 opening date.
“We were a little bit in shock,” he said.
The ability to rally a team and meet the seemingly impossible deadline has earned Ledcor a Silver Award of Excellence from the Vancouver Regional Construction Association and placed it in the running for a Gold Award in the General Contractor over $40 million category.
Other silver awards winners on the project were Ocean Concrete (Manufacturers and Suppliers), Mott Electric General Partnership (Electrical Contractor over $2 million) and Whitewater Concrete (Chairman’s Trade Award).
The challenge was one of compressing the construction schedule.
Work was divided into excavation, foundation, concrete structure, steel, the envelope and finishing.
“Each group of subcontractors sat around the table with us and looked at where we could get the time down,” said Boyce.
“Everyone put ideas on the table and we went over them with the owner and consultants. It was not Ledcor that made all the decisions, it was a group effort, with the owner and the sub-trades and all of us working towards the same goal.”
So how did Ledcor make it work?
Communications became an integral part of the job.
Like in a fast-paced relay, each runner had to hit the mark with the other ready to grab the baton.
Monday scheduling meetings tracked performance and projected next week’s goals.
“It was very important that we knew exactly what everyone was doing and they completed their project so the next trade could follow,” he said.
The crews worked in a horseshoe pattern, with one sub-trade following hard on the heels of the next.
“We had a point where they were finishing the drywall on one portion and they were still standing steel on the last portion of the horseshoe,” he said.
Double shifting occurred when it yielded results.
“Steel crews were double shifted seven days a week, working 12 hours,” said Boyce.
The roofing crews, placing the thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) roofing membrane, started in October and November.
The first roofing crew hit at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. doing insulation so the next shift, arriving at 7 a.m. or 8 a.m., could top off with TPO welding as temperatures warmed.
Efficiencies were maximized.
Jim Twining, project co-ordinator, said that originally two mobile cranes were planned for steel and re-bar placement.
“We picked up a lot of time using a single crane,” he said.
This crane, one of the largest in North America, had a 250-foot boom reach that was able to load material anywhere on the building footprint.
Ingenuity also played a role as the clock ticked down.
When the excavation crew dug below clay for the elevator shafts, Richmond’s low water table gushed up with too much water to pump into the local drainage system.
Ocean dumping would have required a federal permit that would take months to obtain.
A de-watering and recharge system by Storm Guard Water Treatment Inc. provided the solution.
Water was pumped out of the shafts to drilled wells on site and recharged back to the ground.
“You keep the water on site,” Boyce explained.
Nearby Vancouver International Airport (YVR) also helped.
Eleven 5,000 to 9,000 pound HVAC units were needed on the top of the roof, but power lines made it difficult to use a conventional crane.
Twining said a Columbia 107 helicopter from YVR was able to work from the parking lot area.
YVR shut down their north runway for four to five hours while the helicopter worked.
The build also offers one of the largest uses of pervious concrete in the Lower Mainland, which is relatively new to B.C. and Canada.
“The benefit of this kind of concrete is that it allows water to permeate back into the native soil,” said Ocean Concrete’s product development and quality control manager Kyle Gilmour.<0x000a>It therefore lessens the impact on a municipality’s treatment plant.
A total of 287.4 cubic metres of pervious concrete was placed (with a six-inch thickness over 1,900 square metres) on pedestrian ways.
“You can empty a five gallon bucket of water onto the walk and in seconds, it is gone,” he said.