Architect’s Follow Up on the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris and Creating Safer Work Environments #UnderConstruction #Safety #Design #Architecture #LessonsLearned #SafetyFirst #Design #Build #Architect #ilmaBlog

Follow Up on the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris and Creating Safer Work Environments

A few weeks ago on April 15th, 2019, a fire destroyed the roof and wooden spire of the Notre-Dame de Paris.

One of the most famous timber frame fires started just after midnight on the 2nd September 1666 in Pudding Lane. After burning for three days it destroyed nearly 90 percent of the inhabitants of London’s homes.

Getty Images

Possible Causes For Blaze

Although officials say that the investigation could last several weeks and nothing can be ruled out at this time, there is much suspicion that the blaze may have been started by a short-circuit near the spire.

The short circuit may have been possibly caused by electrified bells, or negligence by construction workers carrying out the ongoing renovations, a theory fueled by the discovery of cigarette butts.

Typical Sources of Ignition

Not related to the fire, but for a matter of reference, sources of ignition during construction may generally include: (1) Hot works – cutting, grinding, soldering, hot pitching; (2) Faulty electrical equipment – damaged sockets and equipment, service strikes, temporary supplies and halogen lighting; (3) Arson – works in high crime rate areas, protests and objections to the scheme, disgruntled employees or contractors; (4) Reactive chemicals; (5) Fire Loading; (6) Fire Spread – The Offsite Risks; (7) and Constrained sites.   It will be interesting to see what the investigators are able to uncover in the following weeks.

André Finot, the cathedral’s spokesman, pointed out traces of damage. “Everywhere the stone is eroded, and the more the wind blows, the more all of these little pieces keep falling,” he said. (Photo Credit: Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times)

Ongoing Renovations

Fallen stones on the cathedral’s roof. Experts say that the building has reached a tipping point and that routine maintenance is no longer enough to prevent rain, wind and pollution from causing lasting damage. (Photo Credit: Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times)
Masonry that has broken away or that was taken down as a precautionary measure has been piled up on a small lawn at the back of the cathedral. (Photo Credit: Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times)

According to the New York Times, the biggest renovation at the cathedral took place between 1844 and 1864 when the spire and the flying buttresses were rebuilt.  The most recent overhaul, however, was meant to be understated. “The idea isn’t to replace every single stone. I don’t want to give this cathedral a face-lift,” said Philippe Villeneuve, the chief architect behind the project.  The renovations, which are estimated to cost $150 million euro ($169 million) were still ongoing when the cathedral caught fire.  Most likely something to do with the renovations of the cathedral led to its temporary demise.

Design Input

The event, which occurred during holy week sparked an intense national debate on how the 856-year-old cathedral should be rebuilt.  The French public will get a say on how the fire-ravaged Notre Dame cathedral will be rebuilt, officials say. 

FYI: In a separate blog post, ILMA plans to do a write up on the current designs that are being suggested by Architects and designers around the world.

Construction Workers – Risk Management

As a matter of course, this heartbreaking occurrence give us pause to consider the threats that can occur during construction.  Some risks to workers that need to be managed during construction and renovations include the following: (1) Working at Height; (2) Slips, Trips and Falls; (3) Moving Objects; (4) Noise; (5) Manual Handling; (6) Vibrations; (7) Collapses; (8) Asbestos; (9) Electricity; (9) Respiratory diseases. (Sources: Top 10 construction health and safety risks) and OSHA’s Top Four Construction Hazards); From the perspective of keeping the building safe during renovations and/or construction and saving lives, the following should be considered:

Building Safety – Risk Management

  1. Installation of sprinkler systems and fire detection systems early on in construction
  2. Availability of standpipes
  3. Commissioning the sprinkler system
  4. Access to fire extinguishers
  5. Make sure your fire detection and warning systems work
  6. Maintaining means of egress; Building compartmentation and protected fire routes in as the building is constructed
  7. Protect emergency escape routes
  8. Secure the site against arson
  9. Protect temporary buildings and accommodation
  10. Store equipment safely
  11. Design out hot works
  12. Keep the site tidy
  13. Keep project site and equipment safe
  14. No smoking
  15. Increase security for the site – CCTV, Full height hoarding, signage
  16. Engagement of local fire departments – to assess water pressure and accessibility
  17. Proper fire risk assessment that considers fire loading and fire separation distances

Learning From the Tragedy of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris

As timber is becoming increasingly more popular in high rises it is important to consider the past when managing the risks of projects utilizing wood framing.  Although there are many studies and test on modern day timber/wood designs, it is still important to consider the risks that are present on any jobsite.  Spending the money to do construction the right way will help reduce the inherent risks with construction – both to safeguard people as well as the buildings that we cherish.

For more information on my take on what happened at Notre Dame, please consider checking out the original articles: Personal Reflection on the Tragedy of April 15, 2019 at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and What Makes Notre Dame Cathedral So Important as a Work of Architecture?.

Additional Reading:

We would love to hear from you about what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


What About Public Private Partnerships? #ilmaBlog #HigherEducation #P3 #PPP #University #Architect

Example of Stakeholder Team (Source: Servitas)

Background on Public Private Partnerships (P3’s):

Many institutions of higher education are facing mounting pressure on their mission to deliver high-quality, affordable education to students and perform world-class research. Reductions in public funding support and concerns about overall affordability present substantial near-term and longer-term budget challenges for many institutions.

Public institutions are predominantly affected, having been constrained by suspensions or reductions in state funding. State appropriations across the US grew by just 0.5% annually between 2005 and 2015. State funding has still not recovered to 2008 levels, the last year in which state funding decisions would not have been affected by the Great Recession.

(Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) — state appropriations revenue divided by total fall enrollment, 2005–15)

Public-private partnership models are continuing to proliferate as cash-strapped colleges and universities seek to replace or update aging and outdated infrastructure amid tight finances.

(Source: Proliferating Partnerships)

What is the P3 Delivery Model?

A public-private partnership, or P3, is long-term agreement between a public entity and a private industry team that is tasked with designing, building, financing, operating and maintaining a public facility. The past decade has seen a steady increase in the use of P3 structures, both inside and outside higher education. In 2016, something of a watershed year for P3, multiple high-profile projects came online in response to a variety of public needs, including a $1-billion-plus water infrastructure project servicing San Antonio, and a $300-million-plus renovation of the Denver International Airport’s Great Hall.

(Source: A Few Lessons About Public-Private Partnerships)

“Public” is a non-profit institutional or governmental entity that engages a “private” for-profit entity to pay for a particular project.

The “private” partner provides funding (and often expertise) to deliver (and often operate) the project used by the “public” entity to meet its purposes.

In return for its capital, the “private” entity gets a revenue flow from the asset it has paid for.

(Source: Should your University enter into a Public/Private Partnership – the Pro’s and Con’s)

The emergence of the P3 option is happening where it matters most: projects that would be otherwise unattainable under the traditional public-improvement delivery models. For instance, 10 years ago, only a handful of higher education P3 projects were up and running; today, we are approaching three dozen such projects.

The biggest challenge is, of course, the financing component, but P3 teams bring much more to the table than money — they give public entities access to expertise and innovation that can add significant value to projects at each phase of development.

(Source: A Few Lessons About Public-Private Partnerships)

Motivations for P3 transactions vary widely, but include:

  • Supplementing traditional debt instruments. These include private capital, using off balance sheet or alternative mechanisms.
  • Transfer of risk. Historically, universities have born all or most of the risk of facilities-related projects themselves. A P3 is a way to either transfer or at least share the risk.
  • Speed and efficiency. A P3 allows for a faster development process, and time to completion is generally shorter and on schedule. The sole focus of the private entity is to complete the project on budget and on time. University infrastructure tends to have competing priorities across all-campus facility needs.
  • Outsourcing provision of non-core assets. Outsourcing allows institutions to focus investment of internal resources and capabilities on those functions that are closer to the academic needs of its students.
  • Experience. Private partners often have much more experience and skills in a particular development area (e.g., facility architecture and infrastructure, student housing needs) and are able to better accommodate the needs of students, faculty, administrators, etc.
  • Planning and budgeting. Private partners offer experience and know-how in long-term maintenance planning and whole life cycle budgeting.

(Source: Public-private partnerships in higher education What is right for your institution?)

The four types of P3s:

  • Operating contract/management agreement. Short- to medium-term contract with private firm for operating services
  • Ground lease/facility lease. Long-term lease with private developer who commits to construct, operate and maintain the project
  • Availability payment concession. Long-term concession with private developer to construct, operate, maintain and finance the project in exchange for annual payments subject to abatement for nonperformance
  • Demand-risk concession. Long-term concession with private developer to construct, operate, maintain and finance the project in exchange for rights to collect revenues related to the project

Pro’s and Con’s of P3’s:

Since their emergence in student housing several years ago, P3s have become important strategies for higher education institutions because of the many benefits they offer, including:

  • Lower developer costs
  • Developer expertise
  • Operational expertise
  • Access to capital
  • Preservation of debt capacity
  • More favorable balance sheets and credit statements
  • Risk mitigation
  • Faster procurement and project delivery (It can typically take a university about 5 years to get a project built. With a P3, that process can be reduced to just 2 years. Additionally, P3s can save approximately 25% in costs compared to typical projects.)

Beyond the above, the indirect advantages of P3s in student housing are numerous, such as they:

  • Provide better housing for students
  • Expand campus capacity
  • Create high-quality facilities
  • Expand the tax base for both a city and county
  • Provide an economic boost to surrounding areas, which likely lead to private growth and other improvements

It is important to note that, while there are many benefits of P3s for higher education institutions, these agreements also have disadvantages that need to be considered, including:

  • High cost of capital
  • Reduced control for the university
  • Complexity of deals
  • Multi-party roles and responsibilities
  • Limitation on future university development

(Source: Student Housing A Hot Sector For Public-Private Partnerships)

A LOOK AHEAD

Where Are We Heading?

  • More political involvement and pressure to consider P3
  • Pre-development Risks – Many projects failing to close
  • Issues with Construction Pricing & Labor Shortages
  • An increasing number of developers are getting in the on-campus business; however, developers are being more strategic on which projects/procurements to respond to
  • Exploration of other sources of funds like tax credits, USDA, and opportunity zones
  • Shared governance continues to grow
  • Larger, more complex P3 projects including long term concessions, availability payment models, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Bundling of Procurements (food, housing (including faculty), academic buildings, hotel, energy, facility maintenance, etc.)

Further Reading:

We would love to hear from you about what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook