The hard-fought goal of university construction reform took a major step forward Wednesday as Chancellor Eric Fingerhut announced sites for the three pilot projects commissioned in budget corrections bill HB318 (Sykes). Central State University, Ohio State University and University of Toledo will launch the Construction Reform Demonstration Project to test “alternative” forms of public construction management for greater flexibility and lower cost to the state, with total projected expenditures of nearly $668 million.


Public construction contracts guide the renovation and construction of state government, local school, and public university and college facilities. Current laws in Ohio governing public construction mandate “multiple prime contracting” and have remained essentially unchanged for 133 years. Under the multiple-prime approach, numerous contracts are bid and awarded for construction work, which some say makes the process more cumbersome and expensive.


University trustees became more vocal about construction reform last year, prompting discussions with the Ohio Board of Regents and chancellor. The Ohio Construction Reform Panel convened by Gov. Ted Strickland delivered its report to the governor and General Assembly in the spring, and Republicans took up the cause, calling for the insertion of public construction reform into HB318. Fingerhut followed with public testimony on the proposal in committee hearings. The governor and Democratic legislators agreed in the end to including the three-project pilot in HB318. 

Public construction accounts for nearly $3 billion annually in state spending with public institutions of higher education spending approximately $1 billion on construction annually.


“These three pilot construction projects will utilize new methods of construction while we measure cost and time efficiencies, minority business participation, and project quality,” Fingerhut said. “Higher education is dedicated to finding new efficiencies, and we hope to find opportunities that allow us to save money while increasing our capacity to educate Ohio’s future workforce and drive economic growth.”


Under HB318, the chancellor may designate three Construction Reform Demonstration Projects based on the following criteria:


– Each project will make use of one or more of the alternative methods of construction delivery described in the law.


– Each state institution of higher education has a comprehensive, credible funding plan for the project that does not rely on any subsequent state capital money.


– Each state institution of higher education has satisfied all internal requirements of the state institution of higher education that are necessary to allow bidding on the project to begin before the end of fiscal year 2010.


– Each project will qualify for LEED certification.


In addition, each project will have an EDGE (Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity) minority contracting goal: a dollar value computed by taking the construction reform projects’ EDGE percentage, as determined by the Equal Opportunity Division of the Department of Administrative Services, and applying it to the total project cost.


“Each institution will be expected to use best efforts to achieve their defined EDGE contracting goal,” the chancellor’s office said.


Fingerhut identified the following projects under the construction reform pilot:


Central State University – Emery Hall Renovations – Phase IV: $1.75 Million


EDGE Contracting Percentage Goal: 15 percent


This project is to preserve and restore Emery Hall, one of two remaining historical structures on the original campus of Wilberforce University. Constructed as a women’s dormitory in 1913, the building is included in the national historical register to preserve Emery Hall’s significant place in history.


The total preservation and restoration project is estimated to cost $9.55 million and is organized into five phases. Phases I, II and III were completed with $2.4 million in matching grant funds, and $1.75 million will help complete Phase IV in the preservation and restoration effort. This portion of the project will use the construction delivery method of “construction manager at risk.” Contracts for mechanical, electrical and plumbing will be awarded using an open competitive bid process based on complete design documents.


Ohio State University – ProjectONE Core Phases: $658.3 Million


EDGE Contracting Percentage Goal: 20 percent


ProjectONE is a $1 billion undertaking that will transform the medical center campus with a central tower housing a new Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute; a new Critical Care Center designed to facilitate better patient care and enhanced by integrated research and education space.


“This state-of-the-art transformation will make the medical center – already recognized as one of the nation’s top hospitals on the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll – a leader in innovation and a magnet for the best and brightest students, doctors and scientists,” the chancellor’s office said.


Ohio State has committed to attaining the 20 percent EDGE goal over the entire $1 billion core phase project.


Each of the six core phases is vital to the total project, said the chancellor’s office. Each phase will use one or more alternative methods of construction delivery authorized by HB318, including construction manager at risk and “design assist.” The phases include (1) constructing the Cancer and Critical Care Tower, (2) relocating and upgrading infrastructure and roadways, (3) upgrading current space in Rhodes Hall, Doan Hall, James Cancer Hospital and Cramblett Hall, (4) landscaping and urban planning initiative, (5) demolition of Cramblett Hall, and (6) constructing a South Campus central chiller plant.


University of Toledo – Center for Biosphere Restoration Research – Bowman Oddy Laboratories Building and Wolfe Hall Renovations: $7.8 Million

EDGE Contracting Percentage Goal: 15 percent


The University of Toledo (UT) plans to renovate a 21,291 square foot space in the Bowman-Oddy Laboratories Building and Wolfe Hall to create a facility for the Center for Biosphere Restoration Research (CBRR) and related “domino moves.” The CBRR will house the research teams of 13 faculty from UT’s Department of Environmental Sciences, dedicated to research and education “needed to secure an environmentally sustainable future.”


Constructed in 1966, the Bowman-Oddy building has undergone a number of refurbishment and renovation projects in the past 44 years, excluding the south wing, where the CBRR will be located.


Wolfe Hall, a science building constructed in 1997, will house the required “domino moves” involving the permanent relocation of four undergraduate science instructional labs and related support from Bowman-Oddy Laboratories.


The entire project will use the construction delivery method of construction manager at risk. Renovation will include new air and plumbing systems and wholesale reconfiguration of non-load-bearing walls, new finishing work, and new laboratory cabinets and office furniture.


The three Construction Reform Demonstration Project proposals will go before the Controlling Board on April 5, 2010.