DCAMM, UMass Amherst New Life Sciences Laboratory Building

New construction; DCAMM, UMass Amherst New Life Sciences Laboratory Building; RDK Engineers


Exterior/substantial completion. Courtesy: RDK EngineersEngineering firm: RDK Engineers
2013 MEP Giants rank:
DCAMM, UMass Amherst New Life Sciences Laboratory Building
Thatcher Way, Amherst, Mass., United States
Building type:
Project type:
New construction
Engineering services:
Electrical/Power, Fire & Life Safety, HVAC, Lighting
Project timeline:
June 2009 to May 2013
Engineering services budget:
MEP budget:


The scope of work for this project involved the design and construction of a 300,000-sq-ft R&D Science building on the UMass Amherst campus. The original scope of work was to completely fit-out one half of the building and leave the other half as a cold, dark shell. The intent was to fit-up the balance of the space in phases as grant monies or capital funds became available. DCAMM managed the project as a CM at Risk delivery method. There were two cost estimating consultants on the project: one employed by the design team and the other working directly for the CM.

The process was, for the most part, effective as proven out by the contractor bids. Each consultant delivered budget estimates during different phases of design, and they were in alignment. The design phase was at times impacted by the overabundance of VE items presented for consideration, followed by significant scope additions being added during the CD phase of design. Most significant was the addition of major air handling equipment and standby generator capacity for the shell space not originally included in the original scope of work, due to additional monies becoming available late in the design and even into the bidding phase.


It was a great benefit to have two independent estimators on board with cost reconciliations performed at each phase of the design, enabling the owner to weigh potential investments and maximize the quality of the project while maintaining project cost; the design was fine-tuned throughout each phase to match budget. From a design and scheduling standpoint, it would have been more efficient to include the air handling equipment and standby power requirements for the second phase of the project in the initial project scope. If there is a potential for additional scope to bring added value to a project, the use of well-defined, realistic bid alternates is an effective tool to ensure all achievable project goals are met.

See a presentation from RDK Engineers here.

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