Building MaRS Centre Phase 2: Collaboration at its finest

Building MaRS Centre Phase 2: Collaboration at its finest

Note: This post was co-authored with Aaron Yohnke, Construction Manager, PCL Constructors Canada.

I’m sure you’ve all noticed the continued rapid progress on the MaRS Centre Phase 2 construction site. Work is currently being done on the 20th floor, with approximately 50% of the building complete.

I recently sat down with the construction manager on the MaRS Centre Phase 2 project, Aaron Yohnke from PCL Constructors Inc., to get a better understanding of just how much co-ordination and collaboration is required on a project of this size.

He answered the following questions for me:

How many companies have been involved in completing this massive building?

We have a total of 37 subtrades directly hired by PCL; however, the subtrades alone capture only a small aspect of the companies actually involved. Beyond the subtrades, there are material suppliers, equipment suppliers, testing agencies and consultants, and, in some cases, the trades themselves will subcontract the work to other firms. When you take all of this into consideration, the MaRS project likely has more than 125 companies playing a role.

How many workers will touch this project? 

To date we’ve had a total of 632 workers on this project. The largest one-day crew was approximately 260 people on the site (at one time).


How does PCL plan for the success of a project this size?

I like to think that with a development like MaRS, success can be drilled down to two key factors— relationships and communication. We try our absolute best to make sure that everyone involved understands what will make the project successful. We try to identify where the “goal line” is and make sure that we all agree on how to get there.

Relationships are very important. On a construction project there is always one thing you can count on: change. When change occurs—whether it’s a change to the building or to the schedule—it’s important that we keep the relationships sound so we’re able to get there together.

from l to r: Aaron Yohnke (Construction Manager, PCL), Ken Brown (Superintendent, PCL), Jerry Henry (Elevator Consultant), Shalana Morton (Project Coordinator, MaRS), Alex Stanichevsky (Architect, B+H)

Can you tell me more about relationships? For example, the relationships between the contractor, the owner and the architect?

Absolutely. On this project we are really blessed with a great owner (MaRS) and great consultants, including B+H Architects, Halcrow Yolles (structural engineering), The Mitchell Partnership (mechanical engineering) and Mulvey+Banani International (electrical engineering). The project has been very successful as the people at these companies are really first class. Our ownership representatives are always available and understand construction; the designers work tirelessly to ensure that our team has what we need to build; and we, in turn, are always checking to make sure that what we are building in the field matches the architectural vision.

The bottom line is that everyone involved understands that to be successful we have to support each other, communicate openly about opportunities and make sure that the project ends as a win-win for everyone.

My thanks to you, Aaron, and the whole PCL team. It has been great to see such incredible and consistent teamwork on the project. We all look forward to seeing the continued collaboration and finished project in the fall 2013!