The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 19, 2010

KV Associates sought for CCHS project manager

After interviewing the four finalists from an initial field of 12 firms last week, the Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) Building Committee has entered into negotiations to hire KV Associates (KVA) of Boston as the Owners Project Manager for the upcoming feasibility study for the CCHS renovation project. If voters later approve construction funding, the project manager contract may be extended through the construction phase.

Four companies, Atlantic Construction & Management Inc., KVA, Tishman Construction and Heery International, were interviewed by the committee. They were ranked on several factors: their experience building schools, experience with projects of this size, resources and experience working with Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). In addition, the committee considered the firms’ experience using either traditional construction techniques, or the newer “Fast-Track” method, also called “CM-at-risk”.

In the standard design-bid-build construction process, the three steps are sequential and the design is completed before a construction contractor is hired. In constrast, in the Fast-Track construction method the construction management (CM) comes on board early, before the design is finalized and all the budgets have been set. The construction manager’s expertise can influence design details and decisions for construction phasing.

When reached after the meeting, Deputy Superintendent John Flaherty said that the choice for construction delivery method will be made during the feasibility study. Flaherty explained that if the Fast-Track method is chosen, some site work can be done before the design is 100% finished. Currently, “We are only authorized to spend up to $1.3 million for a feasibility study.” A vote for funds for construction is tentatively planned for both towns for next fall.


KVA is currently working on Wayland High School, which is a similar project to that proposed for CCHS. They said that they are committed to controlling cost, schedule and quality and have the resources to manage the CCHS project. KVA has experience working with MSBA using both traditional and Fast-Track construction methods. CCHS Building Committee (CCBC) Co-chair Jerry Wedge noted that the regional school district would be eligible for 1% more in reimbursement from the state if the Fast-Track method is chosen.

KVA is using the Fast-Track construction method for the Wayland school project. In their interview with the CCBC, KVA used their Wayland schedule for their presentation of a schedule for CCHS. KVA said that CCHS would benefit by using the Fast-Track method because it would speed up the project. They said that the Wayland project had been shortened by eight months to a year and had saved that town roughly $1.6 million. This is due to the overhead cost of running a construction site, which they estimated at roughly $200,000 a month. KVA Executive Vice President Frank Vanzler said, “It’s faster and less expensive.”

Of the four finalists, KVA was unique in noting that they have a designated person, Johnathan Smith, doing all the permitting needed for the project. Vanzler said, “Permits need careful focus.” Smith will review all local ordinances and work with boards such as Concord’s Zoning Board of Appeals, Fire and Police Departments. KVA feels it is an advantage to have “one face, one voice” for all communication with the towns for permits.

The KVA team said they had insight into MSBA reimbursement practices and are familiar with what MSBA will and will not pay for. For instance, KVA cautioned that current CCHS furniture may need to be reused in the renovated school because there may not be enough money allocated to replace it through MSBA reimbursement. Also, MSBA does not pay for swing space, some demolition and “anything they feel is elaborate.” Swing space is temporary space needed to house students during construction. Only 8% of the project budget can be reimbursed for site work.

Vanzler said, “We have in-house cost-estimating experience. We will do all the cost estimates for this job . . . If the architect gets carried away, we’re going to be pulling back on the reins. The budget is the budget and we have to manage the budget. We will help to identify ways to save money” without sacrificing the design concept. Vanzler added, “It’s a favorable buyer’s market for construction,” but he felt prices would escalate as time goes on.

References praised KVA

CCBC member and Carlisle resident Stan Durlacher checked all KVA references and said he was astounded by all the positive feedback. He said, “I’ll tell you, I’ve been in this business for 30 years and I have never gotten a more glowing set of recommendations in my entire career.” He said that the contractors contacted said of KVA, “These guys know what things cost. They are fair. They are firm and they move the project along.” He said the superintendent at the Wayland School said that KVA learned the school culture and community and learned how the campus worked. The architect on the Wayland project told Durlacher that KVA was “the most pro-active set of people he’s ever worked with.” The only concern was from the chair of the Wayland School Building Committee who felt KVA’s relationship with MSBA has seemed strained.

The committee quickly came to the conclusion that KVA was their first choice. CCBC member Walter Birge said that the CCHS project is vastly complex and KVA has gotten rave reviews. “We should weigh this heavily,” he said. CCBC member Richard Waterman said that he was impressed that KVA had a person dedicated to permitting. The committee felt that the KVA relationship with MSBA could be managed. RSC Chair and CCBC member Louis Salemy noted their success in Wayland using the Fast-Track system.

KVA has been in business since 1990. Their website ( states they are building industry consultants with expertise in program management, owner representation and financial management. ∆

Owners Project Manager handles varied tasks

An OPM provides oversight and guidance through the building process, from feasibility study through design and construction. According to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) website (, OPMs are responsible for managing the daily administration of the building project; monitoring the schedule and cash flow; reviewing project designs; facilitating communication between contractors, architects and the building committee; maintaining records; monitoring the performance of the general contractor and the designer; assisting in procurement and contracts; and submiting monthly progress reports to MSBA. ∆

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