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 the complex, glass-sheathed, 162,000-sq-ft structure, topped by a 250-ft-long operable skylight system, was Calatrava's first guaranteed-maximum-price contract, his doubts may be understandable.
But not to Jablon. He took up the 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."
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 letter to Jablon, Calatrava noted the project's design, schedule and cost challenges, 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."