Red Hat Headquarters: Rebellious, Refined, and Unrivaled
Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, selected Balfour Beatty as the CM at-Risk for their new global corporate headquarters in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. The LEED Gold project included the phased demolition and reconstruction of 365,000 square feet of Class “A” interior office space on twelve floors.
In an ideal world, Balfour Beatty would have been able to complete the upfit for Red Hat after Progress Energy had fully vacated the building. In reality, Balfour Beatty had to devise an innovative schedule, which involved both a phased move-in/move-out plan on every floor and the incorporation of substantial nighttime work to minimize disruption. Among Red Hat Tower’s difficult construction elements, the project’s intricate, phased schedule stands alone as the single greatest challenge that Balfour Beatty overcame.
Working with his knowledge of required end-dates and Progress Energy’s move-out plan, Jeff Munzenmaier, senior project manager, personally devised a prescriptive workflow formula that divided each project phase into four distinct subsets of work: demolition, MEP, finish, and furniture/punch-list. This logic was successfully carried through every phase to completion of the renovation. Despite the challenges of working in an occupied building and other issues resulting from a continuously changing set of construction documents, the project team ultimately delivered the building on schedule.
The project included twelve floors of renovation, which per the dictates of Progress Energy’s move-out schedule, made Balfour Beatty’s work in the building anything but linear. The project team was only able to work on adjacent floors during the first phase of work. Phases 2-6, on the other hand, required the team to perform concurrent work in different parts of the building. During some phases, the project team was working as many as nine floors apart! This created a substantial manpower challenge of ensuring subcontractors did not lose valuable time and productivity while moving between floors. To make matters all the more complicated, the building was equipped with only one freight elevator,
After Red Hat began moving its associates into the building, the owner requested substantial changes to the initial scope that affected every floor as well as the master schedule. This required Balfour Beatty to re-focus manpower in two ways. First, the project team had to dedicate unplanned resources to re-work needed on the completed floors. Second, they had to dedicate the proper manpower to the enhanced scope moving forward. This required a delicate balance to prevent losses caused by overtime fatigue and shift work.
According to scheduling manager, Joe Lauricella, “The Red Hat schedule absolutely ranks as a nine out of ten in terms of logistical difficulty. Because of the substantial scope changes, the project team was never really 100% done on a floor. It’s absolutely one of the most demanding schedules I’ve seen a team work through in my career.”
The project’s intricate schedule made quality control a continuous practice. Approximately 90% of punch work occurred after floors had already been turned over to Red Hat associates for occupancy. Naturally, issues arose with incidental damage, and finger-pointing between subcontractors and vendors initially threatened to derail the success of a project that very much depended on productive collaboration. Balfour Beatty became a consensus-building arbiter by incorporating all post move-in defects into the overall punch list and doing so without impacting schedule progress.
To make matters all the more challenging on a project of which it could be said “the devil was in the details,” Balfour Beatty inherited conditions from the existing building structure that were less than favorable. The drywall contained significant texture variations as well as faults in wall-to-ceiling seams that made obtaining the precise, straight line edge effect that Red Hat desired seemingly impossible. Because of the building’s maximal incorporation of ambient natural light, flaws in the existing walls were only visible at certain times of the day depending on the position of the sun. When the project team removed the building’s existing cove base, additional flaws were highlighted, revealing a flooring surface that was a far cry from level.
The existing building conditions challenged the project team to re-think the way they examined every project detail and to do so not from a construction manager’s perspective but from the owner’s perspective. As a result, the team devised a plan to create and track two separate internal punch lists – one during the day and the other at night. It was precisely this innovative and methodical approach to the CM role that resulted in a finished building that Craig Youst, senior director, Global Facilities & Real Estate for Red Hat, has called “epitomiz[ing] everything a corporate headquarters should be.”
Because Balfour Beatty understood Red Hat’s open source philosophy, the former Progress Energy building is today a clean-lined, beautifully lit, and collaborative workplace. It is both highly customized and highly flexible, a sustainable space conducive to creating the synergy and energy that come from unplanned collaborations. A space where knowledge becomes a renewable resource, open to all and free to use. Where interaction brings Red Hatters one step closer to generating that next game-changing idea. Where a building – alive with possibilities – breaks with convention to bring out the very best in a business.
What a difference a true construction partner makes.