COAA-TX Owners Owners Forum - Galveston - Collaborative Problem Solving!

Posted By: Cynthia Harvey-Brown Education, Get Involved, News,

Collaborative problem-solving! That theme resonated throughout the COAA Texas Chapter’s Owners Forum on March 30 at The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston. Approximately 45 owners from 15 different institutions gathered in the warm, intimate setting of Open Gates, a luxurious, three-story neo-Renaissance style mansion completed in 1889, which UTMB converted into a conference center.

The opening session, “Keeping a Medical Campus Operational During Major Infrastructure Upgrades,” was presented by Tarek Thomas, UTMB’s associate vice president of design and construction, with his construction management team from Archer Western|The Walsh Group. The 10-year-long, $500+ million infrastructure upgrade project repaired/replaced/upgraded about 3 miles of piping. Key takeaways included: be flexible and willing to adjust your plan as issues arise; constantly communicate with stakeholders to manage expectations; you are the captain of your ship – take ownership of the project and team – promote collaboration and transparency in team meetings, budget, and schedule management.


The second session, an Owners Roundtable, continued the collaboration theme, when attendees dialogued about several topics currently top-of-mind with project leaders, including:

  • Generating subcontractor participation (multiple subs per trade)
  • Recruiting general contractors and project managers
  • MWBE participation on large projects
  • Strategies to mitigate material shortages
  • Pros and cons of the various delivery methods: Design Build, CM at Risk, Design Assist
  • Benefits, cost, pros/cons of laser scanning
  • Commissioning process
  • Equipment procurement and documentation approaches
  • Communication and collaboration with institutional leadership


During lunch, representatives from Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth shared the theory and execution of Integrated Project Delivery contracts. The hospital has engaged the same construction and architecture teams for several years. They standardized the IPD delivery method in a manner that takes project accountability, transparency, and team problem-solving to another level, financially incentivizing the project team to perform well. Cook Children’s presented two IPD projects, a clinic/parking garage; and a new patient tower.

After the presentations, attendees traveled by shuttle buses to UTMB’s John Sealy Hospital to tour the ongoing renovation of an existing patient tower built in the 1970s. The renovations include a new brick and glass façade, spacious family-centered patient rooms, updated technology, and new furnishings. Dialogue during the tour again focused on creative and collaborative problem-solving of unforeseen conditions and limited as-built documentation of the decades-old buildings.

Coming next for the Texas chapter ... an Owners Forum hosted by Texas Christian University in Fort Worth on April 13. Sessions will be similar to those at the Galveston event, followed by a tour of TCU’s new medical school building currently under construction! And Sept. 14-15 the Fall Workshop in San Antonio.