Early in the process of building Florida Polytechnic University's $60-million Innovation, Science and Technology building, architect Santiago Calatrava expressed his doubts to Skanska USA Building's project leader, Chuck Jablon, about the ability of U.S. craft workers to deliver the quality the architect envisioned. Considering that the complex, glass-sheathed, 162,000-sq-ft structure—topped by a massive, 250-ft-long operable skylight system—was also Calatrava's first guaranteed-maximum-price contract, his doubts may be understandable.

Photo courtesy Skanska USA Building
Santiago Calatrava, right, discusses details with Skanska's Chuck Jablon during a visit to the Florida Polytechnic University project site.
Photo courtesy Skanska USA Building
The Florida Polytechnic University Innovation, Science and Technology Building won ENR's 2014 Best Of The Best award in the higher education category.

But not to Jablon. He took up the architect's challenge with fervor, motivating builders to collaborate like never before. As 30-year construction veteran Roger Webb, of Baker Concrete Construction, noted during construction, Skanska "engaged the design members into the construction process more than I've ever seen." And the byproduct of that intense collaboration has been more than evident, with the project earning multiple accolades.

Working together, the team achieved some lofty results, starting with the project's on-schedule, on-budget delivery, unlike several other recent Calatrava projects. There's also the architect's admission that his early skepticism was misplaced.

In a recent letter to Jablon, Calatrava noted the significant design, schedule and cost challenges that faced the contractors, commenting, "In my opinion, [the results] solidified your construction team as one of the preeminent builders in the nation."

Noting the architect's praise, Jablon told ENR, "This is the highest award a builder can achieve."

For leading the Florida Polytechnic team to successful completion of this landmark project, ENR recognized Jablon as one of this year's Newsmakers.


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