UND SMHS: Construction Technology

UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences

As we near the second year of planning, design and construction work on the new School of Medicine and Health Sciences, I am pleased to report:

  • The project is and will remain on budget.
  • Work is two weeks ahead of schedule, and slated to open July 2016.
  • Over 200,000 sf of construction has been completed, which is roughly the size of 18 hockey rinks (an appropriate comparison now that Grand Forks has been named America’s Best Hockey Town by SmartAsset).
  • Over 50,000 man hours of construction time have been logged without a lost time incident.
  • Over 200 North Dakotans have been passionately involved with the project.

Since I last wrote, the three main towers have been poured, allowing interior framing, mechanical, electrical and plumbing to occur.  On the East Tower, exterior masonry on the first level has been completed and roofing has begun, and stairs are now erected for mobility between floors.  Over 70,000 sf of exterior masonry is set – the equivalent of three-and-a-half football fields.

The construction process has been running very smoothly, in part thanks to the utilization of some of the most advanced technology in data tracking.  Using an iPad, any one of the trades is able to hone in on the smallest of details to ensure a system is being installed correctly and has met the architects’ design intent.  Bar-coded doors allow the Construction Manager and contractors to study each room individually to streamline the punchlisting, which is the process of checking off a list of contract items in order to be deemed “complete.”  An entire room has been dedicated on the job site to house the hub for all of this information, so that anyone in the field can attend a meeting and access all of the data from a single source.

Lest you think construction timing is due to luck or a surprisingly mild winter, the schedule has actually been closely maintained by PCL, Community Contractors, JLG and UND, and has included the addition of summer and Saturday work.  The team will closely monitor the schedule as work begins on the West Tower.

If you are interested in North Dakota politics, you will know that I proudly wear two hats: one as the President of JLG Architects, and another as a State Senator for District 43 in Grand Forks.  The 64th Legislative Assembly reconvened in January, and we are in the process of drafting, debating and voting on bills that will shape the future of North Dakota for years – and often decades – to come.

I have the same goal at JLG as I do in the Legislature: to make every day better for North Dakota.  All of us at JLG share the burning passion to elevate communities through thoughtful architecture, and there is no better opportunity to make us all healthier, happier and set a new standard for higher education in our entire region than at the new University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Healthcare delivery systems now rely on teamwork and the knowledge bases from many disciplines.  The new building will provide the academic and social areas to assist in developing the culture of collaborative and integrated health care education, which is exactly what students will find when they enter the real world.  I look forward to seeing how the professors, students and medical community at-large will thrive in their new home.