MBA Student Studies Management of Pentagon Renovation Project
Carnegie Mellon MBA student Casimer Kawecki spent this past summer working at The Pentagon in Washington, D.C., but it had nothing to do with defense systems and strategies for war.
Instead it had everything to do with construction management.
Kawecki, also a research scholar at Carnegie Mellon's Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics, was awarded a grant from the Pentagon Renovation Program (PENREN) to research and evaluate the performance of program manager Walker Lee Evey. Evey has led the ongoing 20-year, $2.1 billion renovation of the Pentagon, the nation's largest and most complex office building.
Since taking over the project in 1997, Evey has received wide acclaim for turning what was a notoriously recalcitrant operation laden with cost and schedule over-runs, excessive change orders and thick bureaucracy into a lean and vibrant organization. Today, the renovation project is on budget and on schedule despite the damage done by the terrorist attack last year and pushing the envelope for building quality and performance in the 21st century.
Kawecki is interested in how innovative management can help the real estate and development industry progress. He said the Pentagon Renovation Program represents one of the few, and perhaps most compelling examples of contractual and organizational change within the industry.
"While there, I discovered that the innovative management principles implemented by Mr. Evey are redefining the way the government does business and are lending valuable insight to private sector development as well," Kawecki said. "Evey is retiring and is interested in sharing and disseminating his knowledge with as much of the construction industry as possible.
"Based on the tenets of current business management theory, including flexibility, responsibility and creativity, the program is achieving unparalleled success in cost, schedule and quality relative to both the program's history and the current industry standard."
Among PENREN's innovative techniques are a design-build contract structure that creates single-source responsibility and minimizes the traditionally adversarial relationship between owner, architect and contractor, and performance criteria that give builders flexibility to modify the construction process by applying their knowledge and experience, rather than adhering to rigid pre-determined specifications.
The project also employs integrated product teams that foster communication and collaboration, a best-value source selection process to replace the traditional low-bid approach and an award fee structure that motivates the contractor. Although most of these concepts make common sense, they are seldom seen in the construction industry, Kawecki said.
The program's methods were put to the test by the September 11 attacks, which demolished most of the nearly completed Wedge-One renovations. Many of the Wedge-One structural enhancements implemented by the program can be credited with saving lives. The sophisticated blast-resistant windows, structural steel reinforcements and Kevlar inserts between windows helped prevent lethal projectiles and the general spreading of debris. Today, the impacted area has been fully repaired and reoccupied.
"Mr. Evey's leadership of the Pentagon Renovation Program is a forward-looking response to an industry that is resistant to change," Kawecki said. "Sound and innovative management have encouraged and inspired the dedicated team charged with bringing the many aspects of this vast renovation project to reality. The construction industry has much to learn from this approach."
For further information on the Pentagon Renovation Program, visit the Web at http://renovation.pentagon.mil
This Issue's Headlines || Carnegie Mellon News Home || Carnegie Mellon Home