“The Newark Civic Center project has been a big success,” says Ray Collier, City Architect for the City of Newark. “From the beginning of design work to the completion of construction, the design-build team of Webcor and Perkins&Will has done an excellent job and produced a facility that the community can be proud of.”
The project’s design-build team built three new buildings, a new public plaza featuring terrace seating, and a new parking lot. The new City Hall is modern and inviting and includes a new state-of the-art Council Chambers. The new library is roughly 10,000 square feet larger than its predecessor and offers a teen lounge and children’s storytime room, in addition to a large meeting space and a curiosity shop. The new police building consolidates all station operations in a single facility and includes an emergency dispatch center and property and evidence facility.
“The new civic center provides the Newark community a modern space to congregate for special events and interact with one another,” says Webcor Field Specialist Juan Ramos. “It’s a space to share, learn, grow, and properly manage a thriving city.”
Design-Build Model Enabled Success
Newark Civic Center’s design-build delivery model aligned perfectly with Webcor’s collaboration-centric culture. Under the design-build delivery model, an owner or developer enters into a single contract for both design and construction. This model shifts the design risk onto the contractor, as opposed to the traditional delivery method, which holds the owner responsible for that risk.
“With risk comes opportunity, and when you foster great working relationships with the owner, trade partners, and designer, you have the ability to thrive in that environment,” says Webcor Project Director Daniel Chavarria. “Overall, this has been the most enjoyable project experience of my career. When you’re able to be part of a team that delivers a quality project while providing a positive experience for those involved, it truly is a win-win all around.”
Design-build’s growing popularity among government agencies bodes well for Webcor’s strategic growth opportunities, according to Webcor Vice President Tolga Acar.
“The design-build model is new to many municipalities,” Acar says. “The fact that it has worked seamlessly at the Newark Civic Center project will hopefully encourage more cities to utilize the same model for their civic projects.
“If the success of the project had to be credited to a single factor, it would be how well Webcor and Perkins&Will functioned together as one powerful team. Under our design-build partnership, Webcor and Perkins&Will found the rhythm to play their respective roles to perfection.”
Collaboration Between Core-and-Shell and Webcor Craft
The civic center is a prime example of not only design-build collaboration, but also collaboration between Webcor’s core-and-shell group and Webcor Craft’s three self-perform divisions (Webcor Concrete, Drywall, and Carpentry). This strategic partnership, which united core-and-shell and Webcor Craft under the company’s One Webcor configuration, was key to the project’s successful, on-time delivery.
“Without One Webcor, this project might not have finished on time,” says Webcor Sr. Superintendent Justin Marsh. “The COVID-19 pandemic shut down our project for 27 working days in March and April of 2020. During that time, we met virtually daily to further develop and refine our plan for when the jobsite opened back up. I’m not sure how many other contractors would have put that much time into planning a project that was shut down without any real idea of when it would start up again. That level of planning enabled us to execute work more safely and quickly, which ultimately allowed us to complete the project within the original contract duration.”
The team completed Newark’s civic center on time, under budget, and with an exceptional safety record while in the midst of a global pandemic. As Marsh put it, the pandemic was “both a blessing and a curse” for Newark Civic Center’s delivery, as it gave the team more time to take a deep dive into the sequence and flow of work and execute tasks efficiently. At the same time, necessary safety measures such as social distancing, extra cleaning efforts, and reduced manpower due to quarantine protocols and longer lead times for materials resulted in additional inefficiencies.
“The solutions our team developed to keep the project open and operating safely and efficiently during the pandemic were paramount to its success,” Marsh says.
Nurturing Young Talent
The Webcor team that delivered Newark Civic Center was largely composed of recent college graduates who were entrusted with critical roles on the project, including the management of office and field operations for the extensive and complicated sitework throughout the project.
“The Webcor team behind the civic center was an excellent example of rapid development of young talent,” says Webcor Sr. Construction Manager Pat Reidy. “The team leadership on the project was exceptional, with Project Director Daniel Chavarria and Sr. Superintendent Justin Marsh managing the process and training the less experienced team members.”
Chavarria agrees and credits the project’s success to the young team’s outstanding work ethic and eagerness to learn.
“Every team member brought the right attitude and mindset to the project,” he says. “This was one of the most inexperienced project teams I’ve ever been a part of, but their willingness to learn and relentless work ethic are what pushed this project from good to exceptional. These projects are key to expediting early career development by exposing young engineers to more learning opportunities that may not present themselves on larger projects.”
Reidy agrees that smaller, fast-paced projects such as Newark Civic Center are ideal opportunities for Webcor leaders to train younger employees who are eager to learn and immerse themselves in the construction process.
“This type of project typically goes through the entire construction cycle, from demolition of existing facilities to turnover of the new building, in two to three years,” he says. “Experiencing the full construction cycle is immeasurably valuable to their career development.”
As the civic centers of smaller communities throughout California continue to age, Webcor anticipates a growth in demand for new or renovated facilities and looks forward to pursuing projects similar to the Newark Civic Center, such as the recently awarded Contra Costa Administration Building. Construction is expected to begin in early 2022.
“The relationships we built on the Newark Civic Center job was the catalyst for us landing the Contra Costa Administration Building,” Chavarria says. “We were able to bring almost the entire team from Newark onto the Contra Costa job since Newark’s completion lined up nicely with the start of Contra Costa. Keeping an entire team on two consecutive jobs is rare in our business, as the opportunity doesn’t often present itself.”
“Having a strong resumé of projects of this type demonstrates that we can successfully design- build and commission these buildings and turn over fully functional, efficient, aesthetically pleasing, finished products that will serve the community for decades to come,” Reidy says.