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No Medals Awarded for Olympic Construction

As the closing ceremony for the Summer Olympics unfolded, I reflected on how much fun it was watching the United States compete in a variety of different events. Swimming, track and field, basketball, gymnastics, volleyball, golf — there are too many to name them all.

In the excitement of rooting for our athletes and country, it is easy for most of us to forget all the construction issues plaguing this global event. As a professional in the construction industry, I have to ask the question: why were there so many construction issues leading up to the 2016 Olympic Games?

Hosting the World Is a Huge Project

The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro were awarded roughly seven years ago. While that may seem like plenty of time to design and construct dozens of facilities, there is an enormous amount of coordination, approvals, design, and construction details that are necessary to host the world. And just like the Winter Games in Sochi two years ago, issues with the Olympic Village were among the biggest challenges facing the Olympics.

Of course there were unforeseen circumstances (there always are). Labor shortages, material delays, purchasing the wrong products... we are human and we make mistakes! So, as an industry, how can we be better at hitting timelines, speeding up construction, staying within budget, and building a quality product?

My personal view is that as an industry we have gotten away from trusting the experts who focus on their part of the project. We need to be creating a team atmosphere where everyone is focused on their own role and working towards the ultimate goal of building a quality project that comes in on time and within budget.

Turning to Integrated Project Delivery

So how do we create a team atmosphere, and focus on expertise to get the job done right? I'm a big believer in the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) approach. This is where a team of experts comes together to deliver the best project possible, fitting within the specifications and requirements given by the owner.

“Integrated Project Delivery is a collaborative alliance of people, systems, business structures, and practices into a process that harnesses the talents and insights of all participants to optimize project results, increase value to the owner, reduce waste, and maximize efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication, and construction.”
Source: WikiPedia

However, our industry continues to rely on traditional delivery methods, doing things the same way we’ve always done it... and we wonder why we continue to run into the same problems time and time again.

It's Time for a Change in Construction

There's no need to wait for some brighter future, there are already new ways of doing things to improve speed, profitability and quality of the finished product.

Here are a few ways to improve the modern construction process:

  • Streamlining with component building
  • Using technology like BIM modeling to look for constructability issues
  • Building with innovative products to enhance energy performance or manage water more efficiently
  • Employing a team approach, like IPD
  • Consulting with third party experts who make and install products to help streamline the process

My hope is that during the Winter Games in PyeongChang two years from now, we are not reading more headlines about the unlivable and unsafe structures that are being constructed. There's no reason for that to happen again.

As an industry, let's start a new way of thinking about construction and how we approach projects. Start your journey into the future of construction with our resource library.

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