Focus Feature: Nick Fenton

11 November 2020
Nick Fenton web

In this Focus Feature, we sat down with Project Manager, Nick Fenton to discuss his years of experience and his advice for those interested in a career in construction. Nick joined Focus in 2018 and has worked on ground-up construction projects for Focus and third parties alike. In his past roles, Nick has tackled a lot of high-rise buildings and has worked as a structural engineer, bringing a unique perspective to his day-to-day. Our conversation below –

As a Project Manager, you’re responsible for making sure the project runs smoothly. What would you tell someone interested in joining the industry is the most important part of succesSFully managing any construction project?

It may sound cliche but having a high-level understanding of the architectural and structural drawings is key. Beyond just simply knowing what you are building, this lays the groundwork for building succesSFul project schedules and assigning the right team members based on their strengths and knowledge. By dedicating time to developing an intimate knowledge of the construction documents makes you an expert on the building before it even exists, setting you up for success right out of the gate.

Before becoming a PM at Focus, you worked as a Structural Engineer how does that experience impact day to day approach on projects?

Through my studies of civil engineering prior to entering the industry and by starting my career as an engineer I believe helped me to hone my analytical and problem-solving skills from the start. With construction schedules becoming more aggressive, it’s becoming increasing important for Project Managers and Superintendents to take a more active role in solving construction problems that may cause delays. With my past experience I’m able to add value to projects by developing solutions to problems that can be quickly reviewed and approved by the design teams.

You have a lot of experience with high-rise construction and are currently assisting on the 167 Green Street project, what would you say has been the most interesting part of that build-out so far? What makes the project unique?

With my background in engineering, I tend to geek out about parts of 167 North Green project that no one will ever see. In my opinion one of the most interesting aspects of the build-out has to do with the tower cranes used onsite. In order to efficiently use two tower cranes on the project, one of the cranes needed to be located outside the property line which conflicted with a proposed sidewalk vault. To avoid impacting the future construction of the vault, the crane foundation was designed to cantilever the 170-foot-high crane out over the property line. With regards to the building, having typical floors that are over 43,000 square feet in size is a rarity for new construction in downtown Chicago. The resulting one-acre footprint definitely demands your attention when driving through the Fulton Market area.

Can you tell us about your favorite or most rewarding experience on a jobsite and what made it unique?

One of my favorite parts of any job is the topping-off party. Not only is it a major milestone that celebrates the backbone of the building being completed, but it’s an opportunity to show the workers, that put in long hours to physically build the structure, that they are appreciated and respected. At the topping-off party for 167 N. Green, the sense of community was truly special. All of the ownership partners, major consultants and trade partners donated a set of prizes which were raffled off to all of the tradesmen and women who had participated in the build out while sharing a delicious meal on the very top-floor 167 N. Green.

Nick Fenton Lego

Your work at Focus is only part of the story, what else do you like to spend your time on?

Outside of work I am first a foremost a father and husband. I love spending time with my young daughter, watching her grow and learn new things is such a special thing. In addition, I feed my competitive nature by training and participating in triathlons thought due to the impacts of Covid-19 has taken more of a backseat. With the extra time as a result of quarantining, I’ve actually started working on a scale model of 167 N. Green… made completely out of Legos.

To learn more about Nick’s work or the experience of our team of construction professionals, please reach out today.

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