Project Management Institute

Touchdown

BY MEREDITH LANDRY

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PHOTOS BY JEREMY BITERMAN AND ECKERT & ECKERT. COURTESY OF ZGF ARCHITECTS LLP

“We wanted to give the team, staff and fans what they wanted, but we also wanted the space to fit the needs of everyone who came after them.”

—Robert Snyder, ZGF Architects, Portland, Oregon, USA

Before it could reach the goal—a state-of-the-art U.S. football stadium—a project team first had to get past the hurdle: stakeholder input that threatened to foil the game plan.

Or rather, hurdles: Incorporating stakeholder feedback throughout the Football Performance Center project at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, USA meant the team had to design and construct parts of the building—and then do it all over again.

Even before the project launched in August 2009, coaches, players and fans gave the project team direction on what should and should not be included.

“We wanted to give the team, staff and fans what they wanted, but we also wanted the space to fit the needs of everyone who came after them,” says project manager Robert Snyder, an architect for ZGF Architects, Portland, Oregon, USA.

And the team had to do it all with very little time on the game clock. “We had an incredibly fast schedule,” Mr. Snyder says. “It's roughly 200,000 square feet (18,581 square meters); it was an enormous project, and it was all done in 18 months. We were designing, reviewing and correcting all in real time. We were in the field several days a week and in meetings several days a week. We never stopped.”

The ongoing changes and high expectations also meant the project manager had to carefully manage his own team members. “It put a lot of stress on everyone,” Mr. Snyder says. “As a project manager, I'm very aware of what people have to go through during the course of a project. So if I sensed that someone was near their ragged edge, I'd adjust their assignment load to provide some relief.”

The building, which opened its doors on 28 July, features 145,000 square feet (13,471 square meters) of meeting space, locker rooms, lounges, offices, fitness centers and dining facilities, as well as 55,000 square feet (5,110 square meters) of below-ground parking, cold-water recovery pools and a medical area adjacent to the practice field. While university officials would not release the final budget numbers, early design estimates placed the center's cost at around US$68 million, funded by Nike co-founder and University of Oregon alumnus Phil Knight and his wife, Penny.

The project team scored, and won: “We've heard from coaches and players how well the space allows them to flow from one activity to the next and how well it supports their day,” Mr. Snyder says. “If they're going from a practice session to a training session to watching film, all of that movement is well supported.”

MEETING ROOMS

Early in the project, two companies specializing in sports telestration—technology that allows for freehand sketching over a moving or still video image and is often used for instant replay—presented state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment to the coaching staff and its media group. The coaches selected cutting-edge technology for their meeting rooms, and Mr. Snyder's team implemented it. Other high-tech equipment, such as touchscreens, writable glass and hidden televisions, was also added to various rooms.

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LOCKER ROOM

Several rooms in the football complex had to be designed twice. Among them was the players’ locker room. The head coach had very specific needs, says Mr. Snyder: a room free of visual clutter, no visible hardware on the lockers, permanent seating, an air return system in the lockers to mitigate moisture and odors, locker doors that disappear when opened to avoid isolating players between lockers, and enough room to create a social atmosphere that can accommodate 120 players and their gear. “Based on feedback from the coaches, staff and fabricators, we had to go through a couple iterations to get it right,” he says.

But the redesign didn't drastically affect the schedule—largely because more time wasn't an option. “The finish line never moved. We were bound by the start of football season,” Mr. Snyder says. “We had to be nimble and turn things around more quickly.”

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“The finish line never moved. We were bound by the start of football season. We had to be nimble and turn things around more quickly.”

—Robert Snyder

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WEIGHT ROOM

The complex boasts Brazilian hardwood floors in its weight room as well as Italian couches, chairs upholstered in the same leather used inside Ferraris, walls covered in football leather, a custom art installation, hand-laid mosaics, a duck pond and certain rooms accessible only by a thumbprint security system.

WAR ROOM

The “War Room,” a restricted space accessible to fewer than 40 people, is primarily used for recruiting analysis and final game preparations. It was another twice-designed room: Because the client wanted to add more technology and expand the functions of the room, Mr. Snyder's team had to revise original plans. Thanks to the private funding source, he says, the team could make changes to the War Room, the locker room and other project components when necessary. “It just had to be right,” Mr. Snyder says.

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PHOTOS BY JEREMY BITERMAN AND ECKERT & ECKERT. COURTESY OF ZGF ARCHITECTS LLP

COACH'S OFFICE

About three months prior to completion, Mr. Snyder and his team spent half a day walking the coaches through their individual spaces and ensuring that everything was up to their standards. “Now was their chance to speak up and let us know if we'd gotten anything wrong,” Mr. Snyder says. That led to yet another round of changes: While happy with their offices, many of the coaches said they were uncomfortable sitting at desks for long periods of time due to old football injuries. So once again Mr. Snyder and his team adjusted: They added special components to the coaches’ walnut desks that allow them to sit or stand. PM

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

PM NETWORK DECEMBER 2013 WWW.PMI.ORG

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