Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Convention Center Construction Rushed Controller Says

A report by Allegheny County Controller Mark Patrick Flaherty's office shows the construction of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center had issues involving budgeting, scheduling, and contracting.

It found that the county commissioned an estimated $215 million for the new building, but that costs of the construction were closer to $390 million. This was because of the "design-build" plan for the project. 80 percent of the building was planned through architectural design, while the remaining 20 percent was "built on the fly."

Flaherty says the project scheduled poorly as well. The Convention Center began to be booked for events during construction. Flaherty says a "design-build" project should not be subject to rigid scheduling.

Lastly, the report showed a problem with contracting. The Controller says that the building should have been done as an "at-risk" project like both PNC Park and Heinz Field, where the builder bears the risk of maintaining budgeting and scheduling. In the case of the Convention Center, the county bore the risk of any cost exceed the project budget and and problems incurred by missing schedule.

Flaherty hopes the report will serve as a teaching tool for future building endeavors. Currently, the construction of the $300 million new arena for the Penguins is underway. Flaherty says so far that project is following the recommendations made through the report.

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