« 9th inning for Yanks, Mets handouts | Main | New Jersey Nets might play preseason games at Prudential Center -- could permanent move to Newark follow? »

January 13, 2009

At web sites of engineering and facade firms working on arena, some stale information (and a hint about "value engineering")

Atlantic Yards Report

What the heck is "value engineering" and what does that mean for Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan? When the phrase du jour passes Marty Markowitz's lips in a WNYC News Radio interview, it's time for the rest of us to get a clue.

Norman Oder finds a bunch of stale information on the web sites of two firms involved with Atlantic Yards, but gets a primer on how, what and when value engineering is applied to your friendly neighborhood megaproject.

For those wondering about the concept of value engineering, WSP Flack + Kurtz offers its description:

Our philosophy is to identify realistic building system design criteria and the potential costs associated with making those criteria more stringent to determine the potential cost savings associated with relaxing certain criteria.

The firm offers an elaboration, with a warning about timing:

Value Engineering is most effective when it occurs during the conceptualization of a project, when design criteria are established and system concepts are developed to satisfy criteria.

Examples of design criteria and their impact are:

  • Levels of redundancy which impact the quantity and size of equipment and distribution strategies
  • Environmental conditions which affect the size and capacity of central equipment and distribution systems
  • Energy/life cycle performance which affect the cost and perhaps size of the equipment
  • Acoustics which affect construction techniques and materials; etc.

Once prudent and practical design criteria are established, together with appropriate budgetary allowances, the design should be able to be executed which satisfies both the criteria and the budget. The design and budget are then validated at the completion of Schematic Design and Design Development, however, by the end of Design Development, the systems and budget should be well established and fixed.

When "value engineering" occurs at the end of Construction Documents we consider it to be "de-value engineering". At this stage of the design process, there is the least opportunity to optimize the overall design, including architecture, structure, etc.. At this stage changes to systems or concepts usually impose major disruption to the design schedule, and potentially the construction schedule.

With our philosophy, the overall design concepts, including architecture, structure, and MEP, are optimized for the available budget so that the best value is achieved in an integrated fashion for the construction dollars expended. (Emphasis added)

Well, the arena may not have reached the end phase of Construction Documents which describe the design, location, and physical characteristics of building elements needed to convey to the contractor precisely what to build.

However, the arena is surely no longer in the conceptualization phase, when "value engineering" is most helpful, according to the firm.


NoLandGrab: One of the firms included the above image of "Miss Brooklyn" (aka "Building One") from 2006 on its web site.

It's fairly obvious that rendering wasn't released to the press, along with others from this phase of Frank Gehry's Atlantic Yards designs, because of the vantage point. This is the only rendering that we've seen, of any portion of the project, from street level. The fairly impressive sense of the scale of the building that Gehry once called "my ego trip" would definitely have freaked out more people at the time.

Posted by lumi at January 13, 2009 4:51 AM