Little Partners, Big Collaboration

Nordic PCL applies a collaborative approach to construction that has always guided projects to completion. Contractor, client, and subcontractors are involved from the beginning to ensure a project goes smoothly, but sometimes even more partners are required. On the Sullivan Center project at Iolani School ​​​in Hawaii, Nordic PCL realized there were about 2000 eager children and teachers who couldn’t be left out.

Iolani School art class students paint handprints along the construction fence.Iolani School art class students paint handprints
along the construction fence.

Webelos Cub Scouts comprised of Iolani School students tour the new Sullivan Center to earn their “Engineer” badgeWebelos Cub Scouts comprised of Iolani School
students tour the new Sullivan Center to earn their
“Engineer” badge.

Some as young as five years old, the students of Iolani School will return to class this fall to a new building on campus. It won’t surprise them; they’ve been involved in the construction of their school’s Sullivan Center for Innovation and Leadership since 2011, and their presence can be felt everywhere on the jobsite: from colorful artwork to child-height viewing windows, from guided site tours to poetry about Nordic PCL, the students of Iolani are more than just the recipients of this project; they are partners in its creation.
“The Sullivan Center will open this month in conjunction with our school’s 150th year,” said Head of School Dr. Timothy Cottrell. “Nordic PCL has been absolutely fantastic to work with to make the last thirteen months of construction feel inclusive for our faculty and staff. We’ve been invited to interact with the design and construction on many levels, and, despite unforeseen delays along the way, Nordic PCL has kept to the schedule.”


The Hawaiian concept of ohana, or family, is alive and well each time Nordic PCL starts a new job. To build a project with a client in the Hawaiian Islands is to become part of their ohana, and earning that designation requires trust and loyalty. Nordic PCL honors the concept of ohana by working almost exclusively with local subcontractors on island projects, and by ensuring everyone is involved and considered a partner. On the Sullivan Center project, over 90% of subcontractors are local to the island.
“We have a unique business climate in Hawaii,” said project manager John Baranski. “From material delivery to familiarity with the local culture, we’ve worked hard to garner respect and repeat business. We’re proud to be working with Iolani School again after our first project with them in 2003.”


Going back to Iolani School is a personal honor for Nordic PCL president and district manager Glen Kaneshige. “Iolani School is my alma mater,” he said. “Our graduating class in 1979 had the distinction of being the last class to graduate while Iolani was an all-male school which it had been since it was founded in 1863. In 1980, Iolani became co-ed and I do think that the change raised the level of academic programs that have made it a top private school in Hawaii.”
The new Sullivan Center will operate according to the principles of innovation, citizenship, communication, and discovery. If the students’ involvement in the center’s construction is any indication, Nordic PCL would add partnering and collaboration to the list.

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