When Merlin Entertainment Group decided to build its newest Legoland theme park in central Florida—reportedly the company's largest in the world—it turned to the contractor behind Harry Potter's Wizarding World to conjure up a hasty revamping of the former Cypress Gardens site in Winter Haven.

PCL Construction Services provided design-build and general-contracting services for the project, which included the construction of 46 new rides, buildings and attractions; the renovation of 23 existing structures; installation of new infrastructure and upgrading of existing systems; and installation of hardscape and landscaping.

The contractor, working with Morris Architects, used the design-build method to fast-track the project, taking it from inception through design, bidding and completion of construction in just 15 months. According to PCL, the Florida theme park was built faster and at a lower cost than any previous Legoland project.

The utilization of the location's existing small wood-framed structures helped maintain the fast pace, with these renovations and the re-use of existing infrastructure saving about two years of construction time, Legoland Florida spokesmen told ENR Southeast in 2011.

The international aspect of the Legoland theme park experience added to the design-builder's challenges.

Several of the park's attractions had been previously designed and built for installation in other countries, requiring PCL and Morris to redesign and construct these structures to meet local and state building codes.

Also, while Merlin didn't require the use of building information modeling for the project, the design-build team used BIM to determine conflicts with the roller coaster ride's envelope and adjacent structures.

To keep subcontractors apprised of design changes, the team used a Web-based document vault for instant information access.

Also, to preserve the nature of the historic site—which was landmarked in 2003—contractors saved or relocated more than 640 trees, many of which are more than 150 years old.


Key Players

Owner: Merlin Entertainment Group, Winter Haven, Fla.

Contractor: PCL Construction Services, Orlando

Designer: Morris Architects, Orlando

Civil Engineer: E-Con South, Lakeland, Fla.

Structural Engineer: Allan & Conrad, Winter Park, Fla.

MEP Engineer: EXP Inc., Maitland, Fla.

Submitted by PCL Construction Services