In an operations-focused construction company like PCL, the emphasis is most often on building great projects. Traditionally we think of the tangible and lasting things completed when we think of construction: shopping malls, water treatment plants, bridges, and others too extensive to list. But what about the work that goes into the delivery of construction projects? According to Clint Jackson, senior project manager on the recently completed Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, there’s much more to completing a project than just building the structure.
The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is
330,000 square-feet of stunning design making it a
world-class performance venue.
The airy and open grand staircase at the Dr. Phillips
Center for the Performing Arts is an impressive
sight for guests.
Services to suit every project
PCL worked as program manager for the design and construction of the Dr. Phillips Center, which means not a single ounce of concrete was poured nor was a hammer swung by a PCL employee. Instead, the project team acted as the owner’s representative, mediating between all the financial investors and community leaders and visionaries as they came together in a public-private partnership to make the performing arts center happen. “We supported reaching a great end,” Jackson said. “It was a reminder to all of us that there’s more to a project than the actual construction work. It was a challenge working as a liaison between all of the parties involved, but you do what you have to do to guide the project to completion.”
So what does completion look like? The initial phase of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts features a 2,700-seat amplified theatre and a 300-seat multipurpose community arts theatre, all surrounded by a heavy-structure building with minimal finishes. “It’s all glass meets steel and feels very much like you’re outside,” Clint said. “On such a minimalist structure with so much glass, you really need to have a good design to hide all of the building’s inner workings; it was definitely something to work around!”
Of course, given all of the peculiarities involved with a program management role on the project, the team had to operate in a new way. But that didn’t mean they couldn’t apply the lessons learned and applied on projects across PCL. “We had to get all of the parties’ visions, expectations, and understandings in line,” Jackson said. “Once the honeymoon phase at the beginning of the project was over, there was a lot of team building and relationship building being done between all of the complex groups involved on the project. In the end I’d say we were pretty successful; those relationships are something I’ll definitely miss.”
Principles at the core of relationships
Perhaps the decisive moment that showed Jackson he had achieved his goal of managing the competing interests on the project came when Orlando Community Construction Corporation board chair and CEO of the Orlando Magic, Alex Martins sat down for a chat. “I really wanted to earn his trust,” Jackson said. “So when he went out of his way to come and tell me he was pleased with how we were handling the relationships between all of the interests on the project, it was one of those ‘Wow’ moments.” And what was the secret to Jackson’s success in such a complicated role? “It was really about being honest and showing integrity. Bad news or good, they appreciate when you share it honestly and respectfully.”
In the end, it seems PCL was able to achieve—in more ways than one—the kind of harmony you’d expect in a world-class performance venue.