College Students Visit Project Site
construction management, careers, college majors, wentworth, co-ops, interns
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Exterior photo of group of people in yellow safety vests and hardhats on a construction site gathered in a circle talking.

College Students Visit Project Site

Last week, a group of college students from the Wentworth Institute of Technology visited the Old Colony Phases 4/5 construction site to gain firsthand insight into the construction process. Senior superintendent Dave DeBellis, along with superintendent Jack Henningson and project manager Brenden May, gave the tour to the students who were part of a class taught by DeBellis’ former Wentworth professor. The students were studying soil compaction and machine depreciation. The tour provided the students an opportunity to witness the development and implementation of construction management plans.

After the demolition of seven existing buildings on the site, the Old Colony Phases 4/5 project aims to construct two affordable housing buildings designed by The Architectural Team. Beacon Communities’ development will create 208 units that meet Passive House and LEED Gold standards. Interior abatement for asbestos in mastic in the existing buildings was required before demolition. Remnants of granite seawalls and crockery as well as glassware from Boston’s past are being uncovered during the ongoing ground preparation, indicating the changes Boston’s waterfront has undergone.

Using the Old Colony Phases 4/5 project as an example, DeBellis detailed to the students the elements of a solid construction management plan, such as careful planning of logistics and schedules while considering budgetary impacts. The project includes three gates for getting equipment and materials in and out of the site, along with designated locations for parking, dumpster and fuel storage. The location of a fuel storage enclosure was selected away from any structure, and a muster point was established for emergencies, while the location of the Boston Fire Department Command Post was chosen with firefighting logistics in mind.

Since the two buildings in this project will be built simultaneously, communication between the teams will be critical, especially concerning crane locations, to keep both projects on schedule. Some subcontractors will work on both buildings, while others will be unique to each building. The changing workforce, particularly in the wake of retirements since the COVID-19 pandemic, also need to be considered when planning and scheduling projects.

The students were shown the start of three-sided mockups of each building. These mockups provide a visual reference for the city’s approval process and illustrate how the building materials will appear together. The approval process for the mockup is vital, as materials cannot be ordered until the design has been approved, and the lead times for building materials must be carefully considered in the schedule.

Delays in the mockup process, unexpected obstructions and weather delays can all impact the schedule, so contingency planning and creative solutions to accelerate schedules are crucial. DeBellis advised the students to always plan the jobsite several weeks ahead and over time to become an experienced superintendent capable of planning further into the future.

The tour was a fantastic opportunity for the students to learn about construction management plans, including logistics, schedules and budgets. The Wentworth students were engaged, asked insightful questions and left with a greater appreciation for what it takes to develop and implement a construction management plan.