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Ten Years After

In 2008, Kaiser Medical Office Building 5 in Santa Rosa opened. Part of the Kaiser Santa Rosa Medical Center, the two story 98,000sf building is one of the finest buildings of its size in the Kaiser portfolio.

A planning and design process that started in 2003, MOB 5 was a product of a master plan of the Kaiser Santa Rosa campus and region lead by JenningsAckerley.

This project was designed, bid and constructed during one of the most hostel pricing periods for the construction industry in our time. Yet, this project defied those cost trends. While projects state wide were subject to 30-40% cost overruns, and being redesigned. MOB5 fell within the budget and only experienced slight cost escalation.

How did we do it? Our recipe was simple, and is a philosophy of idea we apply to every assignment.

- Take a “building first” approach to planning.

In the end, we are building buildings, no matter the architype, and the infrastructure and planning must work hand in hand. The more you can work to simplify structure, mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems, through planning, the more cost effective those elements will be. Strong planning is key.

- Design Build, LEAN and play catch:

After we completed design development, Stuart Ekblad (Kaiser Dir of D&C) strongly suggested we change the process to design build…and we did…and it was a brilliant move. The mechanical and electrical drawings were so well coordinated with the architectural and structural, they were nearly installation drawings…and all before BIM.

- Update your pricing expectations over time.

I say it all the time, money is not the enemy, time is the enemy. We insisted that Kaiser updated pricing and schedule expectations often. When it came time to bid, any escalation that occurred during design and approvals was captured.

- Purchase bid packages early.

When the GC bid the project, we recommended that Kaiser immediately buy several of the most volatile trade packages. And they did.

One of the brilliant moves by Gary Bankhead (Kaiser PM at the time) was to push through the purchasing of selected trades with-in 15 days of the bid. Not many clients would have that confidence or courage to lock in pricing.

- Strength through the process.

It’s easy to back off standards or get scared of your own convictions. When Kaiser had changed PM’s (again) our team was met with skepticism, doubt and ongoing criticism. But the design team and GC held together, unrattled, and continued with our values and strength of our processes.

On September 6th, I toured MOB 5 and interviewed medical staff, maintenance staff and patients:

“The building is clean, engineered well and easy to maintain” …” it’s a joy to walk down the spine at the end of the day and see the vineyards framed by the lobby glass” … “The Pre/post and OR is such a seamless flow, I would not change a thing (maybe one more sterilizer J )” … “I just love the skylights in the main corridor, such a joy to walk through”

It’s said, success has many fathers. MOB 5 has more than its share.

Many that showed up late in the process have taken most of the credit. It happens, I guess.

But the credit should go to those who laid the ground for success early, defiantly held to their standards throughout the process, were there from start to finish, and made this project the success that it is today…even 10 years after.

Will check back in 2028 for an updated report card.

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