A University’s Role in Minimizing Disruption on Active Campus Construction Projects
A University’s Role in Minimizing Disruption on Active Campus Construction Projects

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The most effective campus disruption avoidance measures include a multi-pronged approach between the university and the construction manager. The following elements should be carefully considered and prepared in advance by the university to help create a seamless disruption avoidance plan:

  • Critical campus deadlines and events (e.g., finals, recruiting events, media interviews, scheduled entertainment, athletics, etc.)
  • Liaison and chain of command for contact
  • Coordination with campus security and other emergency responders
  • Construction throughout other parts of campus
  • Adjacent building sensitivities
  • Building vacancies for possible swing spaces

Identifying Critical Campus Events

Compiling a detailed calendar of campus events and activities that might be impacted by construction as well as expectations for the event experience are critical to maintaining campus operations and staff, student, and fan experience.  When establishing the disruption avoidance plan, construction managers can incorporate this information to create a phased program that accommodates events by either reducing or pausing activity if needed. If hosting an event or tour near an active construction site, alerting the construction manager in advance can ensure a presentable space, and even allow time for 4D modeling options and construction detour paths.

Select a University Liaison

From the chancellor to facilities department to department heads and beyond, there are many stakeholders involved in a campus construction project. A campus liaison can ensure internal stakeholder alignment while advocating for campus audiences and concerns in a succinct manner. This role can also help support and oversee a communication plan and timely distribution of construction updates to students, staff, and faculty.

Coordination With Campus Security and Other Emergency Responders

Just as important as coordinating with campus personnel, keeping campus security and emergency responders up-to-date on the latest construction projects, accessible roadways and egress paths is critical to the safety and wellbeing of campus and community populations.

Coordinating All Construction Projects

Beyond managing stakeholders, providing visibility into simultaneous construction projects can help ensure activities from other projects don’t clash, create scheduling delays or present conflicting road closures. Ryan McCrary, project manager with Mortenson’s sports group, makes sure his customers and other stakeholders have the up-to-date information needed to continue operations. “Universities are a 24/7 operation. Collaboration with security, janitors, facilities, and other construction companies can increase communication, speed, trust, and relationship building which can help avoid operational disruption all around.”

Determine Adjacent Building Sensitivities

Noise and vibration can be a major disruption to students trying to learn, but it can also be detrimental to the operations of adjacent facilities like laboratories, hospitals, theaters, and events. Establishing a list of facilities and local commerce can help provide the full scope of potential disruption and can inform rules about construction noise, quiet hours, or a need for noise and vibration mitigation options.

Select Possible Swing Spaces

If a department needs to be relocated during construction, identifying flexible or vacant areas as comparable swing space can provide continuity of operations. At The University of Pennsylvania Lasch Football Facility, Mortenson constructed a temporary training room and gym swing space that by many accounts was better than the original facility!

Eliminate Unplanned Disruption

Providing relevant information during preconstruction can help lessen or eliminate many common disruptions and frustrations that come with managing a campus project. For more information on disruption avoidance planning, visit our article here.