Thursday, Nov. 28, Washington State’s Project Review Committee (PRC) unanimously approved a request from Walla Walla Public Schools to utilize the General Contractor/Construction Manager (GC/CM) delivery method for the Walla Walla High School bond-related capital improvements. Superintendent Wade Smith, accompanied by members of the district’s design and management team, presented plans to the independent committee as part of the approval process.
General Contractor/Construction Manager (GC/CM), often referred to as a “collaborative delivery model,” permits the district to hire the general contractor early on in the design phase, capitalizing on their ability to participate and partner through the pre-construction and design programming, rather than bringing on the firm after the design work is complete. According to Smith, who has successfully implemented a similar delivery model in Oregon for many capital improvement projects, the benefits are many.
“This procurement method allows the district to be much more involved in the selection of the general contractor, permitting us the opportunity to interview prospective firms, take into consideration their location, their outreach and willingness to include smaller businesses/subcontractors in the work, and past performance on similar projects,” said Smith.
Walla Walla High School will be the first project to break ground in the recent voter-approved $65.6M replacement bond that passed at a remarkable 73%. Smith says the proposed Wa-Hi plans overwhelmingly support the alternative delivery model.
“A project that includes complex phasing, construction at an occupied campus, specialized preservation work, safety and security considerations, and tricky environmental site issues with Yellowhawk Creek bisecting the campus, the GC/CM model is well poised to ensure a successful project,” said Smith.
“This not only allows the general contractor to provide cost-saving suggestions and constructability services early on, it also permits them to be actively involved with staff, scheduling, and devising prudent safety plans well in advance of the construction process,” said Smith.
With the early involvement of the contractor in the process, ongoing cost estimates and budget monitoring are also enhanced to ensure project plans stay within budget. In addition, the GC/CM process supports improved public transparency in subcontractor selection, allowing better oversight and involvement from the district’s independent Bond Oversight Committee.