How to redevelop a mall while keeping the doors open.

28 July 2021

A conversation with Senior Project Manager Wade Giorno about the logistics of construction at an active mall.

We recently sat down with Focus Senior Project Manager, Wade Giorno to discuss the intricacies of managing an active constructionsite, at an operating mall. As the lead construction manager at the Domaine at Hawthorn Row, Wade is responsible for ensuring a smooth construction process, which gets more complicated when you factor in the need to keep stores open to the public. Read more about the process below.

When redeveloping a mall like Hawthorn, the process is tackled in phases, typically starting with a vacant anchor box at one end of the mall and moving along from there. How do teams adjust their approach to construction when the site is attached to an operating mall? What adjustments were made in consideration of the operating tenants that are still present at the mall?

Current mall operations are an important consideration during all planning and construction operations. Our goal is to build the building, while minimizing inconvenience to tenants and mall visitors. To do this, we are employing multiple tactics, some more involved than others. For example, we have deployed temporary directional signage to make it clear what stores are open. We are maintaining the parking areas for those tenants adjacent to the site and we’ve created a separate construction parking area. This helps to keep construction personnel and mall guests separate, which will require ongoing enforcement during construction. Lastly, most existing anchor tenants have multiple and complicated requirements outlined in their leases which directly affect construction. One such stipulation requires our staff to keep the onsite ring road open for guest traffic at all times meaning that all construction traffic must be coordinated separately, complicating material deliveries and equipment.

What sort of benefits arose for the project as a result of Focus’ integrated delivery model?

At Focus, we have a long history of planning projects from the beginning, which has multiple benefits. For one, we are able to assist in coordinating the design to better accommodate the needs of the retail and residential components, while improving things like schedule, materials and cost. We know what questions to ask in order to identify potential problems and prepare possible solutions. For example, we identified early on that the retail at Hawthorn Row and residential Domaine apartments MEP systems needed to be 100% separate. This required an early adjustment of the civil engineering plans, coordination with the utility companies, and the separation of MEP designs. All three are typically developed with the aim to serve the project as simply as possible but by identifying the problem early and we were able to isolate the systems in a cost-effective manner without any delay in schedule or surprise costs later in the project.

You were the Senior Project Manager on the Atworth at Mellody Farm across the street from Hawthorn Row. What knowledge gained from that project tranSFerred over to The Domaine? What lessons learned helped to differentiate your approach this time around?

Every project is different and presents different challenges, but by working through the problems that arise, we learn something new which helps us the next time a similar problem pops up. One example of this type of knowledge tranSFer at Hawthorn Row is related to the style of building both projects are, central parking garages with wrap style residential construction surrounding. This style presented challenges in how to sequence the foundation in coordination with the parking garage at the Atworth. We met countless times to work through the logistics and convinced reluctant trades to give a new method a try. Our plan worked well and so we carried the strategy over to Hawthorn Row where we wrote this nuance clearly into all contracts from the beginning. This saved valuable time and energy and allowed team members to focus on other aspects of the project.

One other example of this benefit related to the sheer size of these projects. The horizontal nature of the project means it covers a lot of area, and keeping things moving in an orderly fashion is key. The interior courtyard is a particularly tricky area as there is no direct access once the project goes vertical. To address this we will construct a temporary tunnel through a portion of the building to access the courtyard directly, a tactic used succesSFully at the Atworth which will enable teams to keep up with the pace of construction.

It is clear that Focus’ integrated model had clear benefits to the Domaine at Hawthorn Row. From specially designed MEP system to creative, temporary tunnels the project has benefitted from the knowledge of the construction professionals who staff our in-house general contractor. To learn more about the construction of Hawthorn Row or to discuss a project of your own, please reach out today.

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Next Article - Hawthorn Mall Begins Build-Out of Luxury Apartments, New Street-Level Retail

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