Early in the planning stages of Texas A&M’s Health Science Center project in Round Rock, university leaders and the construction team recognized the importance of integrating technology infrastructure early for the 164,000-sq-ft anchor building, which was designed within a master plan to support several future buildings in the medical school.
“The infrastructure supporting IT systems is no less important in the design and construction of a facility than electrical service and water utilities,” John Jankowski, president and founder of Austin-based JanCom Technologies, tells Texas Construction. “Unfortunately, many decisions related to the construction of IT systems are delayed until costly revisions are required and compromises must be accepted by the owner and/or end user.”
Jankowski says the architect, Austin-based Graeber, Simmons and Cowan, asked his firm to develop the IT and AV strategy early in the design process.
“IT infrastructure turns into your fourth or fifth utility with mechanical, electrical, plumbing and waste water,” Jankowski says. “IT is a huge part of business today, and it will be costly if it’s not thought of early in the process. It can cause a lot of reworking and increase costs beyond the budget, and then we’re facing unacceptable challenges.”
Jankowski says the general contractor, Chasco Construction of Round Rock, was involved in the design review process, as well.
“There are a lot of underground utilities, which requires a lot of coordination,” he adds. “The architect was building this project with the future campus in mind. This is a model for how projects should be done.”
To meet the demands and address the complexity, Jankowski developed what he calls the “OneInfrastructure Process,” which encourages the design and construction teams to view a project’s IT infrastructure as an integral part of the entire design and construction process.
“This design team, from the owner to the general contractor, was proactive in identifying and coordinating all aspects of technology prior to the commencement of construction,” he says. “Weekly meetings including the entire team were held throughout the design process to facilitate rapid decision-making and complete coordination of related trades and systems.”