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The Epekwitk Assembly of Councils Building

RForm Case Study – Epekwitk Assembly of Councils Building

Managing the Many Layers of Funding, Construction, and Documentation of the Epekwitk Assembly of Councils Building

When Coast Design Inc. began the design of the new Epekwitk Assembly of Councils Building that would sit on the waterfront in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, there were several important considerations that guided the project. 

Owned, operated, and occupied by the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI, this building was designed to house several organizations that serve the needs and economic development of the province’s First Nations — the L’nuey initiative, the Mi’kmaq Confederacy, and Epekwitk Development — and to perfectly align with Mi’kmaq beliefs in preserving the environment for future generations, and that buildings must be an extension of their community and culture. 

The red tones of the building and the circles and curves used throughout the design recall traditional Mi’kmaq depictions of their land, with a circular tower housing conference rooms as an homage to traditional Mi’kmaq “Talking Circles.” As sustainability was a core mandate of the project, Coast Design Inc. used the Green Globes Eco-Rating Program in the design and construction of the Epekwitk Assembly of Councils. The building attained an impressive Four Green Globe rating.

Epekwitk Soffit

Managing a complex mix of funding and stakeholders

The Epekwitk project was funded by various levels of government and administratively construction was essentially broken into five mini-projects. When projects have multiple stakeholders and funding sources, project management can be very challenging. 

RForm was especially helpful with organizing all the different funding and communicating with the building committee as well as the owners and contractors. There were many layers to this project, and many reports that needed to be easily accessed by many different people. 

Coast Design Inc. Intern Architect Marie-Eve Roy worked on the project and says that RForm was incredibly useful as an administration tool for this project for many reasons. “For example, it allowed us to select which consultant or consultants we wanted to send a document or drawing to, and request approval from a specific owner representative,” Roy explains, “It also let us control who can or cannot access certain project files, depending on the nature of that information and level of involvement from each team member.”

When invoices needed to be paid and reports sent out to the various government agencies funding the project, RForm was able to generate reports with a click of a button and share them with the people or groups that needed them, and not every single stakeholder on this extensive project. 

Moving through the shut-down

A further complication was added when Coast Design Inc embarked on the construction of the Epekwitk Assembly of Councils Building as Covid-19 restrictions went into full force as the construction phase was beginning. 

There were concerns that this might slow down project progress. However, under provincial regulations, this project was considered essential construction so work could continue. Using RForm enabled Coast Design Inc to minimize the friction caused by the restrictions that the pandemic caused with regard to meetings, but also helped overcome the issue of people not wanting to meet in person even if they were allowed. 

Coast Design Inc was able to achieve everything they needed without meetings through using the RForm platform.”We could send information to the general contractor, for them to share with the subcontractors. The general contractor could also send us their questions on RForm, while having the other team members, including the owner, follow those discussions,” says Roy. “The various consultants — structural, mechanical or electrical — were also able to answer questions or add comments as needed. So that was a very interactive tool.”

As with any project, changes were requested throughout the construction process, and Roy says that RForm proved to be very useful when these requests came in. “RForm was a great communication tool, but also an efficient way to refer back to the previous change orders when searching for specific information, or looking for a revised drawing for instance,” Roy says.

Both the owners and general contractor readily embraced using RForm. Once the owners started using RForm they wanted to be more involved and enjoyed being able to see where all the project information was and how easy it was to access reports just before meetings. The general contractor found using the platform invaluable for increasing efficiency, so much so that they went on to adopt RForm for future projects.

RForm was a great communication tool, but also an effective and efficient way to achieve everything we needed without meetings.

Marie-Eve Roy, Intern Architect, Coast Design Inc. 

Process is the answer, now what’s the question?

Have you ever had to deal with:

  • Marking up a set of drawings, only to find out that really basic information is missing time after time; North arrows, references, sheet titles not matching the index page?
  • Each employee re-inventing the wheel or doing it their own way when it comes to contract administration forms? Everyone having their own special template or spreadsheet tracking system?
  • Looking for information on the office server, only to find out that it was saved locally on a personal computer and that the employee is not around when you need it?

Read More…

Can’t agree?

The renovation of a heritage building started with preparations to demolish some walls to accommodate a new room layout. Unfortunately, during the preparations the general contractor discovered that the building structure had deteriorated to the point where there would be serious structural problems if  the walls were removed.

This discovery would result in additional construction costs, and delay the project completion date. The architect with the consultant team drafted a Proposed Change Order. The general contractor provided a very expensive quote for the  work of the change, and a notice in writing of a delay claim.  The owner responded that he could not accept any change in the schedule and that the proposed change order quote was crazy and bordered on extortion!

What would you do, if you had a dispute that looked like it could not be resolved? There are 2 possible strategies that you could use. Read More…

Bonding or insurance?

des office

An addition to an existing school valued at around $1M was out to tender. This was Robert’s first major project after starting his own firm, and as a newly registered architect he was still feeling his way around the world of tendering and contract administration. This was also the first time he had written specifications by himself.  

Everything was going pretty well with the tender, until Robert received a call from one of the bidders on the morning before the closing. The bidder asked if  instead of providing a bid bond and the other bonds listed, could he just include a copy of his builder’s risk insurance policy?

It was a pretty good policy, he was paying a lot of money for it, so what was the use of doubling up on the insurance with bonding? The contractor explained that the contract security (bid bonds, performance bonds and labour and material bonds) were just different forms of insurance and that he could save the owner a lot of money by not having to provide them. “Trust me,” he said, “insurance was all that was needed.” Robert started to question himself and the spec he had written. What should he do? Read More…