Dubai Festival City moves ahead with newly structured contracts

Earlier this year, the Dubai Festival City project was converted from a lump sum tendering to fast track design and construct-type contracts. The switch appears to have made the world of difference; the project is moving ahead at a much faster pace and is now one of the busiest construction sites in the UAE. CW reports.

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By  Colin Foreman Published  June 18, 2005

Dubai Festival City moves ahead with newly structured contracts|~|DFC200.jpg|~|Design and construct contracts mean the contractor is able to work with the developer’s staff on the more detailed elements of the design. |~|David Glanville-Williams doesn’t like to see projects just stuttering along, which is why he wasted no time in transforming Dubai Festival City into one of the busiest construction sites in the UAE. The dramatic change in pace is largely due to the fact that the project was converted from simple lump sum tendering to fast track design and construct type contracts, earlier this year. The decision was made because the development team felt that full documentation was too time consuming and slowed down the whole construction process. “Full documentation was too slow. If you have all the time in the world you can achieve to 100% design resolution, have full documentation, send it out for tender and assess it when it comes back. If you are lucky about you will start pouring concrete a third of the way down the time line,” says David L. Glanville-Williams, managing director, Dubai Festival City. “That is simply too long winded and drawn out for this project,” he adds. Under the new approach, the first day that concrete is poured on site is critical since that is the first day that actual work begins, as opposed to just design work. Once the initial concrete is poured, the project is then driven so that it reaches completion as quickly as possible. “We now aim for to get the first yard of concrete into the ground as fast as possible,” says Glanville-Williams. With design and construct contracts, the contractor is able to work with the developer’s staff on the more detailed elements of the design like the performance specifications, and devise a solution that the contractor is able to build within the specified timeframe. The project has predetermined budget constraints, so the contracts are let as guaranteed maximum price contracts with pain and gain sharing type arrangements built in to encourage both sides to finish quickly and within budget, by providing clear and specified benefits. “The contracts are framed so that both sides effectively win if the job is able to finish faster, or lose if they finish slow,” explains Glanville-Williams. As far as suppliers and sub-contractors are concerned, the contractor proposes a list of preferred companies, although in some instances the developer provides nominated suppliers when a particular item that the local market tends not to offer is specified. Speed is also promoted when selecting building methodologies. Many of the contractors working on the project have been able to introduce time saving alternatives to the systems that would otherwise have been employed. “If a contractor can come up with something better that gets the job done faster, then that is of interest. For example, the towers for the hotels will be slipformed continuously over 24 hours, so we expect to slip a core in about 35 days,” says Glanville-Williams. The contractual changes have meant that the project is moving much faster than it was previously. When Construction Week visited the site last year the excavation work on Zone 8 was nearing completion, and the golf course along with 64 townhouses was nearing completion. The site has changed dramatically since then. Work is now clearly underway on Zones 1, parts of 2, 4, 7 and 8, with all aiming for completion by September 2006. Some, like the automotive component and the two schools, are scheduled for even earlier completion dates later this year. The works scheduled for completion next year are the main retail mall, a hypermarket, the golf course’s clubhouse, and the Intercontinental, Crown Plaza and Four Seasons Hotels. As the largest zone currently under development, Zone 8 — the retail mall — currently dominates the site. Sitting alongside the Creek, the mall has two levels of parking providing 6500 parking spaces below ground and will eventually have 120 000 m3 of retail space on the three levels above ground. The main contractor for these works is Al Futtaim Carillion. A footbridge from Zone 8 connects to another retail component, Zone 4. The atrium is being built by Higgs & Hill, while Al Futtaim Carillion will built the rest of the zone. Once complete, Zone 4 will be home to a new hypermarket and Ikea furniture store. The clubhouse next to the golf course has now been under construction for several months, with Khansaheb as the main contractor. Work has already reached the third level. Another clearly visible part of the site is the automotive component. The component was originally meant to be nearer to Garhoud than its current location, but it had to be relocated in order to make way for the fourth Creek crossing that is now under construction. A dedicated filter lane leading directly into the heart of Dubai Festival City will run from the bridge. Work is also underway on one of the most critical components of the development, the district cooling system. Drake & Scull is installing the system as part of Zone 10a, which is the largest operational contract at Dubai Festival City. The first phase of the works involves the installation of 50 000 t of cooling capacity, and the second is for another 30 000 t that will bring the total capacity up to 80 000 t. Off site, masterplanning work is currently underway on the 1500 houses that will be built on the 20 m-high man made elevation that flanks the golf course to the west. The designs for the Intercontinental Hotel by the Creek are now nearly complete, which means work will start on site soon. Further down the Creek towards town, a number of high rises have been designed, but the plans are currently waiting on a government decision that will determine the new height limits for buildings that are near to the airport. “At the moment we believe we can go up to 30 storeys, but we may be able to go as high as 60. It all depends on what decision the government makes,” says Glanville-Williams. And when that decision is made, it shouldn’t be too long before the towers are clear for take off themselves.||**||

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