Munilla Construction Mgmt.

As a major international transportation hub, it has been crucial for the Miami International Airport (MIA) to build, expand and renovate in order to better serve the thousands of passengers travelling through its grounds each day. As the airport has steadily moved its way into a new, more efficient facility it has benefitted from partnering with some of the most reliable names in architecture, engineering and construction contracting across the globe – one of those names being the Florida-based Munilla Construction Management LLC (MCM).

“Throughout this process, there have been many coordinated meetings to ensure complete focus on delivering total client satisfaction,” says MCM Project Executive Eugenio Jaramillo. “Everyone is always working together – between the architects, engineers and craftspeople – to find solutions.”

MCM, along with several other companies, has been intermittently involved in MIA’s capital improvement program since 1997, when the airport hired the firm as general contractor for the central collection toll plaza. The new centralized design includes eight entrance lanes and 15 exit lanes as opposed to the parking lot’s past sprawled-out entrance and exit points. From 2000 to 2003, the company completed shell and select finishes for one of the airport’s concourses. In 2007, when construction at the international airport ramped up again, MCM threw its name into the bidding process and has been working in a number of roles alongside the airport’s management authority and other construction team members. 

“While MIA has not been our only project, it is definitely one that we take a great deal of pride in as a company,” Jaramillo says. “It’s also a very complicated project, requiring scheduling and monitoring construction activities to guarantee that daily ongoing operations at one of the world’s busiest international airports are uninterrupted.  In fact, at one time, the airport’s aviation director called it the largest, most complicated airport expansion and renovation in the United States.”

Two Projects, One Goal 

This time around MCM is involved on two fronts, the North Terminal Development Program (NTDP) and the North Terminal Improvements (NTI) Project and has worked on contracts totaling $255 million. MCM is the trade contractor for four separate contracts on the NTDP managed by the Parsons-Odebrecht Joint Venture. The project is replacing the terminal’s old A through D finger concourse configuration with a 1.2-mile linear terminal.

The new design accommodates nine new gates, 20 refurbished jet bridges, 28 new jet bridges and a new federal inspection facility. It is expected to be fully completed in early 2012 and will increase the airport’s capacity from 40 million to 56 million passengers a year. It will be able to handle 500 flights and more than 100,000 passengers a day. 

MCM was awarded three contracts – structural demolition, concrete and steel – to re-form the terminal’s shell facing the runways. In its fourth contract, it partnered with Acousti of South Florida to renovate the Federal Inspection Services (FIS) area, among others, which houses offices for TSA, customs and border protection. The team performed architectural demolition and placed new ceilings, granite panels, new fireproofing and expansion joint covers, as well as applied stucco and paint. With FIS at 65 percent completion, Jaramillo estimates the work will be completed in early 2012.

As the general contractor for NTI, MCM formed a joint venture with Dragados USA to form MDJV. NTI covers the front-of-house operations – everything from the ticket counter outward to curbside. In October 2009, MDJV completed NTI’s first phase for terminals A through B, which included a 4-foot increased curbside with a rustic terrazzo finish and a new metal panel system with improved lighting and additional curbside ticket counters. New automatic entrance doors open to an epoxy terrazzo covered circulation leading to new ticket counters. Along with these renovations, the team installed new mechanical, electrical and fire sprinkler systems and installed new acoustical ceilings and built new bathrooms. The project team is repeating the same work for NTI’s C and D terminals all while continuing to work in a bustling airport.

“Building in a live airport is like changing the tile while somebody is in the shower,” Jaramillo explains. “We’ve had to pretty much build up envelopes everywhere we work so the public is protected and cannot see any construction work going on. We make sure to work behind the scenes.” Which is no easy feat on a large project that calls for major tasks. 

From the program director to the guy who is putting in the tile, there has been tremendous teamwork.

 

For instance, because of height requirements commercial vehicles cannot park on the airport’s first level arrival lanes; instead, the team had to park on the second-story departures level and run a 300- to 1,000-foot hose to whichever of five floors currently was being worked on to pump concrete.

“Most of our projects are new, where you build straight from the ground,” Jaramillo explains. “A school, a hospital, a new road or a bridge – there are people around you, but you’re pretty much isolated; here, you are within it.”

Though constructing while a building is in operation poses its challenges, Jaramillo says there hasn’t been a task the team couldn’t tackle. He also says this type of construction has a benefit new constructions projects do not.

“We have been able to eat the apple one bite at a time,” Jaramillo says. 

“We get to say, here are four new gates, go use them, and here are your new ticket counters. We do get to see our finished work and turn things over in little pieces, which makes it more manageable.”

Team International

Ultimately, however, what makes a project manageable is plain good management – which can get tricky when there are more than 100 international architects, engineers, general contractors and trade contractors involved at various stages. With so many firms and people from so many countries such as Colombia, Cuba, Israel, Germany and Brazil, constant communication has been vital.

“From the program director to the guy who is putting in the tile, there has been tremendous teamwork.” Jaramillo says. “The team that’s here is just as international as Miami is. This is an international team that gelled really well because that’s how our community is. If there were adversarial relationships, it would have put the project at a huge standstill.” MCM’s key partners include A1 All Florida Painting, Fred McGilvray Inc., John J. Kirklin LLC and Miami-Dade Aviation Department.

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