Madinat now fully finished

Most residents of Dubai will know by now that the third and final phase of the Madinat Jumeirah is now complete. With its shops and restaurants, the focal point of the resort, the Madinat Souk, is fast becoming one of Dubai’s most popular shopping and entertainment destinations. Construction Week visited the development to find out how such a large and complex project was delivered three months ahead of its scheduled completion date.

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By  Colin Foreman Published  September 25, 2004

Madinat now fully finished|~|40 Madinat Body.jpg|~||~|Phase 3 of the Madinat Jumeirah opened last month three months ahead of schedule. This is all the more impressive when you consider that the project was fast-tracked from the very start and began before the detailed design work was anywhere near complete. For many other projects this, combined with last minute tenant requirements and design modifications has resulted in severe delays, but with careful management the project team was able to deliver the final piece of the Madinat Jumeirah ahead of time. Phase 3 was not part of the original masterplan for the Madinat Jumeirah. The initial plans only included Phase 1, the Mina Al Salam Hotel, built in joint venture by Al Jaber Grinaker - LTA and Bu Haleeba Contracting LLC, and Phase 2, the Al Qasr hotel, built by Al Habtoor - Murray & Roberts. During the early design stages, Mirage Mille Leisure and Development Inc. realised the two hotels were only connected by the beach. The decision was therefore taken to divert the road further inland and incorporate Phase 3 into the development. “Phase 3 has successfully linked the entire development together. It has really worked out well from a development point of view,” says Kez Taylor, general manager (building), Al Jaber Grinaker - LTA. Unlike Phases 1 and 2, Phase 3 is not centred on the construction of a hotel. “Phase 3 includes the Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Fort Island, Madinat Arena, Madinat Conference Hall, a health club, and the Madinat Theatre,” says Tarek Al Hassan, project manager, Bu Haleeba Contracting LLC. The main contract for Phase 3 began on 1st March 2003, but could not proceed straight away as the main beach road still ran right through the site and piling works were still progressing. Once permission was given to move the beach road bulk earthworks began, and the road was diverted to where it is now. Around the same time the piling was completed so the pile caps could be trimmed and treated so that work on the raft and the structures could begin. “The structures cover a total area of 90 000 m2, using 70 000 m3 of concrete. The health club accounts for 3300 m2; the Madinat Jumeirah Souk 45 500 m2 (including 570 parking spaces); the Madinat Arena 7900 m2, the Conference Hall 9500 m2 (with 17 000 m2 of parking); the seven Souq Villas and restaurant 4 500 m2; and Fort Island 500 m2,” says Al Hassan. To get the project completed as quickly as possible, the joint venture adopted a very proactive approach and worked very closely with the designers during the construction process. “If there was a problem on site, the contractors wouldn’t sit back and wait for the designers to sort it out, they would sort it out with them. This meant that detailed design issues could be resolved very quickly,” says Taylor. This was particularly important given the fact that when the contract started the design was still very much conceptual with much of the detail design still to do. Design work continued in offices overseas while work was underway onsite and transferred via and FTP site to the site office, where it was downloaded and printed. This meant that all the issues involving the details of the design had to be resolved by the contractors and the design team on site. The architectural design work was done in South Africa and the interior design was done in the UK. “This job wouldn’t have been a success without the common approach adopted by the entire management team. If that common approach is missing and there will always be problems on contracts like this. I think it’s the way the problems are resolved that determines the ultimate success of the job,” says Taylor. For the Madinat Souk, the biggest challenge involved getting materials on site. By the time construction started, the souk was already effectively an island as it had been cut off on three sides by the canals that were flooded as part of Phase 2. “To get anything to the far corner of the souk alongside the canal took a lot of planning. We elected to work from that corner back to the road because everything we brought in would have to come through the rest of the project,” says William Edge, contracts manager, Al Jaber Grinaker – LTA. The strategy was to build the project in pockets to avoid the problem of bringing materials through areas that had already been completed. “The challenge then was to get all the design information for the corner sections as early as possible. We then tried to get it up off the ground and up to the top of each structure as quickly as possible so that finishing works could start,” adds Edge. When walking through the souk it is quite clear that it is not a simple structure. The lay out for the shops changes throughout the arcade, which meant that there was no repetition for the contractor to capitalise upon. The same is true of the finishes as each elevation is different to the next. wind towers The detailing was achieved using GRC and joinery components. For example, there are five different wind tower designs used throughout the development. “It went very quickly but it was very complex,” says Taylor. By January of this year the structures were complete, and by February some of the shops were ready for fit out. Instead of waiting for the contract to finish before handing it over to the developer, Al Jaber Grinaker – LTA/Bu Haleeba JV insisted that the developer take over certain plots ahead of overall completion. “We would get blocks snagged and de-snagged and hand them over to the architects who handed it over to the tenants from February onwards. This gave the tenants the opportunity to get into their premises early and complete their fit outs ahead of schedule,” says A. John Davey, project manager, tenant co-ordination, Al Jaber Grinaker – LTA. “Even though we have opened three months ahead of programme there are only four shops and restaurants out of a total of about 65 that are yet to open,” he adds. This was achieved by carefully managing the tenants. Each tenant was inducted and told how they were supposed to work along with practical advise about access routes. A point of contact was also given so that if the tenant had any issues or problems they could be resolved swiftly. “Even though it was not part of our scope of works, we took an interest it, because we realised that if the tenants didn’t complete their works in time for the opening of the development it wouldn’t be a success,” says Davey. “As a contractor we could sit back and claim delays, but we went the extra mile to make sure the job was done on time,” he adds. Access was a major issue again when it came to the fit out stages, because there was only one bridge connecting the souk to the road. Many of the tenants waited until the last minute to fit out their shops, and by then the canal had been flooded so only the bridge was available. “We flooded the canals as late as possible, which was 10 days before the hand over of the job. During the earlier stages of the project we had used the canal areas for truck access. But once the work on the actual canal lining began in June it could no longer be used for access,” says Edge. This meant that all the materials, and labour had to come across the bridge, which placed a great strain on it. “It was quite an effort to organise the logistics of it, but in the end it worked out pretty well,” says Davey. Although Phase 3 is now open some post contract works remain. “As with any development there are post contract instructions to correct things that don’t work quite as they should - not that they stop the development from operating. You need a presence on site for these instructions and we are busy working through them at the moment,” says Davey. “Given the latest instructions we have received, and the lead times involved for some of the materials, I expect that we will be here until the middle of October,” he adds. Opening a commercial development three months ahead of schedule is an impressive feat. especially given the job started as a sketch and was extremely complex and non repetitive. To stand any chance of completing the project on time the management team had to ensure that a common approach was used and that all the interfaces between the project’s interested parties were managed effectively. The fact that the development opened three months is testament to the effectiveness of this approach.||**||

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