Case Studies


 

Challenge: Extremely tight completion schedule

The Columbia University Aquatic Center had suffered a malfunction in their pool filtration system, flooding the area and causing the pool’s concrete basin to rise up like a ship in a dry dock. When the water subsided, the concrete basin resettled but severe cracks had formed in the base slab. In addition, after filling the pool, the university realized that the shift in the tile base could potentially cause harm to pool occupants.

Major reconstruction was required to repair the damage done, including:

  • Demolish the current pool basin.
  • Install a new subsurface drainage system.
  • Pour a new structural slab.
  • Replace the structural deck.
  • Install a new waterproofing system.

 

  • Re-tile the entire pool and the perimeter drainage system.
  • Coordinate and secure materials, including a customized Columbia University Lion logo.
  • Install, test, and fill the pool.

The challenge was to complete the project in just 12 weeks as work could not begin until the last day of classes in May and the pool had to be open in time for swim season in early August.

Several large general contractor and construction management firms said it was impossible to complete the project in such a short timeframe. But Lou Serrante, at the time a partner and chief technical officer in another construction company, knew that it could be done—and that he could do it.

Solution: Multiple work shifts & inventive scaffolding

Lou believes that the construction process requires relatively simple mathematical logic, and that with the right amount of time and manpower, and an economical construction plan, any project can be achieved.

Lou convinced the university’s decision-makers that he could meet the tight 12-week turnaround, using simple stick figure drawings to explain his pool reconstruction action plan, which included:

  • Conduct multiple shifts (with the university’s approval for overtime work).
  • Design a scaffolding system that allowed work to be done above and below the pool surface simultaneously.
  • Keep all parties apprised of the overall construction plan, progress, and tasks requiring completion, using Microsoft project scheduling software and diagrammatic plans.

As with most construction projects, there were unforeseen conditions—specifically, Lou’s team did not originally plan to replace the structural deck in the original 12-week timeframe. However, as the plan was clearly defined and communicated, the additional work was performed with minimal impact.

 

Result: The pool opens on time (and more pool projects for Lou)

Lou’s years of experience and can-do training allowed him and his team to calmly and methodically manage the project to completion within the 12-week deadline. He jokes that he fulfilled his commitment to fill the pool on schedule, “even though the water was green and needed to be treated.”

Columbia University was impressed by Lou’s ability to overcome obstacles and finish the project on-time.

Little did he realize at the time that this project would define Lou as one of the premier pool contractors in the NYC area. He was subsequently hired for several pool restoration projects including the YMCA of Prospect Park and the YMCA of Jamaica (North Brooklyn).

Goldman Properties had begun construction at 25 Bond Street, an eight-story, loft-style building of luxury condominiums, situated on a cobblestoned street in Manhattan’s NOHO area.

The building had several complex design influences including a hand-hammered Jerusalem limestone exterior, a distinguished10-foot Venetian bronze tilt and slide glass façade, Italian Luondi doors, and other unique high-end finishes.

 

Challenge: Taking Over A Project Where The Foundation Was Laid by A Previous Contractor

Lou Serrante first became involved in the project as a joint venture with another project management firm. With his years of field management experience, Lou was a natural to handle the field operations, and quickly put his Project Manager and back office team in place to handle the pre-construction process.

Before long, however, the Goldman team realized that things with the project management company were not working out as planned, and they asked Lou to run the entire project as the Construction Manager.

Although the foundation had already been started, the original contractor left the site excavated with the base mat slab in place.

Solution: Applied Construction Management Expertise

Lou’s experience had taught him that the construction process is dynamic and subject to abrupt, unexpected changes—such as having the contractor leave in the middle of the project. He also learned that the best way to handle these changes is through intelligent logistical planning, effective resource management, clear communications, and the development of reasonable action plans.

Working side-by-side with the Goldman management team, Lou and his staff assessed the situation, developed a new plan of action, and quickly brought the project under control. Daily site inspections and weekly reviews kept the project on schedule, while maintaining the high quality that the building required.

 

Result: An Award-Winning Project

The project was completed to the first-class standards that its designers had envisioned—from the building’s superstructure and shell to the fine interior details. In fact, 25 Bond Street won the prestigious AIA Multi-Family Dwelling Award for 2007, an honor that Lou and his team are quite proud of. “Being part of turning this amazingly thought-out concept into reality has been a highlight of my career as a New York builder,” says Lou.<

In addition, Lou has developed a trusted relationship with the Goldman Properties team and continues to do work for the company.