Memorial University is moving forward in the next phase of the new core sciences facility project.
Ann Browne, associate vice-president (facilities) at Memorial, has only been on the job for a few months, but she is already deep into the project. Formerly of Queen’s University and CIBC, Ms. Browne has spent 28 years in the business, which she believes will be invaluable experience on a project of this size.
“A request for proposals (RFP) went out in late October for the architectural and engineering design and it closed on the 22 of November,” she said. “This is for the prime consultant for the project, so we would like them in place to start the project in January 2014.
“It’s a very exciting time and I think it's going to be a wonderful project. We’ve gotten lots of interest from mainland firms. We have seen some really interesting joint partnerships with the local firms.”
With the RFP closed, the selection committee, made up of Ms. Browne; Darrell Miles, director of Facilities Management; Keith Hiscock, assistant director of Facilities Management (Development and Renewal); Peter Pickup, head, Department of Chemistry; Paul Marino, head, Department of Biology and Andy Fisher, associate dean, Faculty of Engineering & Applied Science; along with Keith Bowden, executive director (works), Department of Transportation and Works, and Mark Hunter, policy program specialist, Department of Advanced Education and Skills, both with the provincial government, reviewed the submitted documents and provided Ms. Browne with their scoring of each firm by the end of day on Nov. 25.
“I sat down with the selection committee on Nov. 27 and 28 and we did an internal review with them, where we went over every single firm and talked about how we rated them on each aspect of the RFP,” said Ms. Browne. “If someone gave a one for something where I have given a five, we talked about that to see why we were so far apart and why we were thinking that way.”
“What I love about selection committees is that you get a diverse thought process from different parts of the university, and they each bring a different perspective. If you are coming from marketing, you’re going to have a different view than I would.”
The shortlist of firms was notified of their status on Nov. 29.
“We gave them a week to get ready and set aside two days, Dec. 10 and 11, to have them all come here to do one-hour presentations in person for us,” said Ms. Browne. “Then the selection committee was given approximately 30 minutes to ask questions based on the presentation and the firms were given 15 minutes to ask us questions. We did that for each firm we have shortlisted.”
This process will narrow down the shortlist to a final candidate, which will then be put forward to Memorial’s Board of Regents to approve, with the goal of officially choosing the project architects before the end of 2013.
“Then we can come back after the holidays and jump right in,” said Ms. Browne. “The next stage after that is the design and development phase, which will see us sit down with our user groups and committees and start to work out what this building is going to look like and how it will work for the occupants.
“The Stantec report gave us a concept, but we are not being held to that. The architects can come in with a completely different idea and they’ll take that idea from cradle to grave.”
Ms. Browne hopes to provide an update on the project in January with the name of the selected firm and what timelines they have proposed for the design and development stage, which is expected to take anywhere from 12-15 months.