One Size Does Not Fit All

Feb. 22, 2022
Leveraging program and construction management expertise to deliver solutions for airports.
Kevin Lohr, HNTB
Kevin Lohr, HNTB

When it comes to investing in airport capital infrastructure programs, a one size team or approach does not fit all, yet finding the best size and approach are the fundamental keys to success. Delivery methods being considered need to be right sized for the scope of the program and its complexity. 

Program management services include the airport owner, designer, contractor (builder), and specialized subconsultants, along with program and construction managers. The program and construction management team brings talent, innovation, creativity, resources, and a diverse skill set to ensure seamless project delivery, giving the project the best chance of a successful outcome.

Airport owners can employ a program management or construction management (PM/CM) approach, or a combination of both. To meet their individual goals, airport leadership can tap a broad range of services including asset and construction management, design, planning, operations, project delivery, quality, risk management and safety and security.

Airports must carefully evaluate their options and determine the best fit for their one-off construction projects, like designing and building a cargo facility, or a large scale, multi-year capital improvement programs to design and build new terminals, runways, roadways parking and rental car facilities.

An integrated program management team can be more efficient and provide increased accountability, both of which can result in potential cost savings. Program managers are highly skilled experts in integration and coordination of the complex interrelationships arising in typical construction projects. 

One of the benefits of utilizing program management services is that there is one main point of contact who has the responsibility and accountability for the project and can react to changing circumstances. One phone call can resolve unforeseen issues that often arise in complex construction projects. Communication silos can result in project disruption and be further damaged by indecision.

Airport owners differ in the level and availability of internal resources and capabilities, and thus the way PM/CM teams are integrated into a program can differ depending on these circumstances.

At Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, HNTB is providing program and construction management services for a diverse range of projects. These include additional airline gates and regional rail stations, both via Design-Build and Construction-Manager-at-Risk delivery methods; a state-of-the art operations center; terminal restroom renovations using prefabricated construction; and a new Department of Public Safety Headquarters.

For the John F. Kennedy International Airport Redevelopment Program, the firm is providing full-service program management support to assist in the development of design-build documents for roads, utilities, airport’s ground transportation and substation. The Integrated PM/CM organization at JFK also is managing reviews of third-party terminal developers design and construction planning, to ;overseeing developer leases and compliance during construction the services also include managing community outreach and leveraging local, small and minority business participation in the redevelopment program.

In addition to having single point of contact, PM/CM brings consistency and uniformity in processes and procedures, which are also beneficial. Diversity, equity, and inclusion offers new and different perspectives, and brings creative approaches, best practices, and innovative solutions to the table.  

As major infrastructure programs evolve across the country, the PM/CM approach is more adaptable for scaling up and down during the entire program lifecycle. With airport improvement programs encompassing multiple projects, coordination and communication among the team is essential and ensures that someone is always watching the gaps. Open and effective communication between all team members minimizes silos and ensures a successful project delivery

PM/CM teams embrace innovation to improve outcomes. They also serve as mentors to young professionals, both on the client and consultant side, so that tomorrow’s talent can be developed now with increased inclusivity and diversity. Our industry has an obligation to ensure adequate succession planning as the number of experienced PM/CM managers are decreasing. We must pave the way for the next generation of young professionals, so they succeed in future aviation-related careers.

Program and construction management services can benefit airport owners by maximizing the potential for successful project outcomes. A thorough understanding of the type of management support that may be necessary under various project delivery approaches is essential. By defining, developing, delivering, and/or operating a single large project or a multi-year major capital improvement program, PM/CM services can be scaled accordingly to bring consistency, additional resources, increased accountability, and innovative solutions to industry challenges.