The Ryan Companies

For years, the GSA’s future tenant for the in-progress Phoenix Professional Office Building has been operating from one federal building and three leased facilities in Phoenix – a setup incongruent with its goals. “The existing facilities are incapable of providing the required square footage necessary to support new functions, and cannot meet enhanced IT infrastructure-sufficient space to meet its current requirements and allow for full compliance with Interagency Security Committee (ISC) guidelines,” the GSA explains. 

With an obvious need to improve and consolidate, the GSA set out to find a new Phoenix home but first needed a company up for the job. The GSA was in the market for an approximate 200,000-square-foot, LEED Silver and Level-4 ISC facility. To weed out those not up to code, the GSA initiated a design excellence request for bids – an internal design/bid/build process it uses to ensure “excellence in public architecture, engineering and construction.”

In March 2010, after a 14-month process, the GSA chose Ryan Companies to design, build and manage its new projects. It’s not the first time Ryan has worked with the GSA. “We have been awarded three federal courthouses projects in the Midwest for the GSA,” says Casey Cartier, construction division manager at Ryan and development project manager for the current GSA project, known as the Phoenix Professional Office Building. “We have also executed many leases in our buildings with them, and we are performing all the property management on this project.” Ryan’s work with GSA is consistent with the company’s slogan – “Building Lasting Relationships.”

Team Cooperation

That slogan doesn’t just apply to clients, especially on a project like this. The Ryan Companies is a layered outfit with the ability to develop, construct and manage projects, while never underestimating the importance of good designers and subcontractors. “With the nature of a design/build project, we involved subcontractors early in the pursuit of the project,” Cartier says. The Ryan Companies’ key partners include Maverick Masonry Inc.

Cartier says its subcontractors, “along with the designers AECOM, successfully partnered with us in achieving the win, and we were able to fold them into the construction of the building.”

The company partnered with AECOM because, like Ryan, it has past GSA experience, and the GSA’s procurement process begins with qualification-based selection. He insists that without AECOM and other key subcontractors – including electrical experts Delta Diversified, HVAC specialist Midstate Mechanical and licensed-plumber MJ Schneider – Ryan may not have won the Design Excellence competition, which is based on quality rather than price.

Together, the team designed a 225,000-square-foot, five-story shell with a conceptual interior design. The exterior of the building was designed as integral colored concrete paneled façade with 1-inch insulated, low-emission exterior glazing. Following the GSA’s awarding of the project, Ryan’s team set to completing interior designs. The site and shell design was unchanged. It also purchased the formerly GSA-controlled location where the project would be built – a client stipulation. Following lease negotiations, Ryan submitted the plans for city approval and began construction in October 2010.

Green Ready

As of May, the project was approximately 60 percent complete. Prior to ground-up construction, Ryan spent six weeks re-grading the site. “It was [owned] by a developer that had started work on it looking to put a retail site in place,” Cartier says. “The existing site conditions did not work with our project, so the team initiated a very large site development effort which required extensive re-grading and rock crushing operations. To realize the soil grade we needed, we had to crush a lot of rock and take the grade down.” All the major shell components are in place, and the construction team has moved to interior fit-out of what will be a LEED Silver contender.

Green features include long-term cost savers such as high-efficiency mechanical and electrical equipment and passive sustainable techniques such as exterior views for 90 percent of tenants. The views have a dual benefit of allowing light to permeate while enhancing the work environment. Materials were selected for indoor air quality and the design includes a 100 percent stormwater capturing system. To earn LEED construction points, the team is recycling more than 75 percent of construction waste.

The project is on track for a January 2012 completion and Ryan will stay on afterwards as the owner and property manager, looking after the GSA’s 20-year lease. Cartier explains that Ryan’s ability to act as developer, contractor and property manager was a definite advantage in this project. “Our mission statement is ‘building lasting relationships’,” Cartier says. “The essence of what we do is the ability to change our processes to match our client’s. We don’t have just a standard set of operations to our job.”

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