University of California, Irvine: UCI Medical Center
“There’s no question that Buzzsaw is making design-build even more effective by saving us time, keeping the project on track, and increasing accountability."
—Robert Fritch, University of California, Irvine
One of California’s premier institutions of higher learning, the University of California, Irvine (UCI) prepares its more than 22,000 registered students for careers in the arts, sciences, and business.To meet the educational needs of California’s ever-increasing population, UCI must expand to serve an estimated 30,000 students by 2010.The 2.5 million square-foot expansion plan includes new housing, educational and administrative buildings, and a new medical center.
Educating More Californians
A significant component of the expansion, the UCI Medical Center will include a seven-story, 410,000 square-foot hospital and is expected to cost approximately $335 million. “We are on track to open the new medical center in 2008,” says Robert Fritch, UCI’s Director of Construction. "Our efficient design-build process and Autodesk® Buzzsaw® have helped us to eliminate the inefficiencies and miscommunications that can cause lengthy, costly, and contentious delays on large projects.”
Closer Collaboration Required
Prior to implementing its design-build process in 1993, delays, cost over-runs, and litigation were not uncommon on UCI building projects. Contractors would bid on designs that were still being modified by design teams with whom they had little or no contact. When changes to the design impacted price or caused miscommunications, at best, the process was slowed, and, at worst, lawsuits ensued. In contrast, the current design-build process allows pre-qualified design-build teams to bid to complete the design and construction of projects based on a detailed set of design documents that spell out the intention of the project. UCI works in close collaboration with the winning bidder to make sure its needs are clear at every stage of the process, preventing costly confusion and delays after the bidding process is complete.
The design-build process was a success from the beginning, dramatically lowering costs, preventing delays, and significantly reducing litigation. However, its success depended on a complex bidding and design process and required close collaboration between the design and construction teams and UCI from the beginning of projects through to completion.Design documents also had to be shared and approved by a wide-array of UCI stakeholders.Though a vast improvement on the old process, keeping the process moving forward was incredibly time intensive even on modestly sized projects and would have been even more so on the large projects—such as UCI Medical Center—that were on the horizon. “As many as eight different document sets were being simultaneously coordinated and processed through our department,” Fritch points out. “We knew we needed a system to automate and track the flow of information to get the most out of our design- build process and keep projects on track as our work volume increased.”
Technology Powers the Process
In 2001, UCI spent three months evaluating technology options, including competing systems and developing a solution in-house, before selecting Autodesk Buzzsaw. The evaluation team felt that Buzzsaw’s ease of use, highdegree of functionality, and compatibility with AutoCAD made it the best choice. UCI now has more than 340 registered users on Buzzsaw, and 55 of those users are working on the UCI Medical Center project.
Given the size of the project, it’s no surprise that the UCI Medical Center Buzzsaw site is in constant use. The project’s many architects, engineers, and contractors collaborate and exchange the latest design documents in real time.With automated email subscription and notification, users subscribe to changes to drawing sets or individual drawings, keeping up-to-date on changes that impact their work without having to waste time reviewing modifications not relevant to their work. And by reviewing the activity log, UCI’s project managers can see whether or not team members are promptly reviewing and accounting for changes. UCI’s project managers always know whether or not delivery dates are being met and that everyone has 24/7 access to the exact documents they need, ensuring accountability around deadlines.
After two years with Buzzsaw, UCI upgraded to Buzzsaw Professional to better manage the construction aspects of projects. Buzzsaw Professional has all the capabilities of Buzzsaw, plus several features designed to streamline the construction phase of projects. UCI is currently in the process of customizing Buzzsaw Professional’s RFI forms to meet state-mandated workflow requirements and is integrating the bid manager with their third-party accounting system. “One of the great things about Buzzsaw,” says Fritch, “is that everyone, including the contractors, can collaborate. Contractors don’t have to purchase expensive software they’ll hardly use. With Autodesk Volo® View, they can costeffectively read and redline the drawings they access in Buzzsaw. When Buzzsaw Professional is fully integrated into our systems,we’ll be able to work with our contractors even more closely.”
The Result: Saving Time and Improving Design-Build
By combining the efficiencies of a design-build process with those of Buzzsaw, UCI is better able to take full advantage of both. According to Fritch, “Our design-build process is saving on all project expenses.Not spare change; it’s a huge savings, especially on a project the size of UCI Medical Center.There’s no question that Buzzsaw is making design-build even more effective by saving us time, keeping the project on track, and increasing accountability. Buzzsaw is reducing the administrative load on the UCI Medical Center project and reducing review time. But most importantly, it’s allowing us to keep improving and streamlining our design-build process.”