Staying on Critical Paths

Starting engagement early for building enclosures is benificial to projects, team

As building enclosure increase in complexity due to supply chain hurdles, esclastion and demanding energy codes, so do the associated risk factors. Healthcare institutions and program managers are finding solutions and managing these risks, with the help of some new faces at the table.

Early collaboration on the planning, design and construction of healthcare projects is not a new concept. Traditionly, medical building owners\ developer and healthcare program managers have engaged designers, consultants and mechanical, electrical and plumbing contractors early in tne planning process to ensure accurate information is used in developing program details. For the same benefits, building enclosure contractors are increasingly becoming part of these early planning and early procurement discussions.

Building enclosures are inherently on the critical path for healtcare construction projest schedules. A substantial amount of construction activities rely on the completion of the building enclosure to start. Establishing and managing an accurate enclosure schedule is crucial to the integrity of the overall project schedule.Enclosure partners typically have in-depth and real-time knowledge of material lead times, fabrications durations and sequencing. Using this information, critical milestone activities can be established and managed to maintain the project schedule.

Integrated project delivery methods can help

The construction industryu has developed several delivery models that allow for early engagement with MEP contractors proving successful for enclosure contractors, as well. Design-Build, Design-Assist and Integrated Project Delivery are a few popular models for early engagement and early procurement.

If funding is in place and the project is scheduled to move forward, with different commercial teams and varying degrees of responsibility and liability, this delivery models will have the benefits of getting an enclosure contractor on the project team early.

Volatility in material pricing in another risk factor that can be managed when the right stakeholders are brought on early. Using traditional Design-Bid-Build delivery models, procurement cannot begin until the design is complete and appropriate contractors are brought on board.

In the part 18 months, the industry has seen double-digit price increases on commodity materials in under 30 days. With early procurement models, an enclosure contractor can secure pricing on major materials, such as aluminum and glass, while the design is still in progress.

In the past 18 months, the industry has seen double-digit price increases on commodity materials in under 30 days. With early oprocurement models, an enclosure contractor can secure pricing on mahor materials, such as aluminum and glass, while the design is still in progress.

Early engagement solves technical challenges

Engaging with the right people in the planning process can also help solve technical challenges. Many healthcare institutions are expending on existing campuses and want to carry a similar aesthetic feel across the campus. Matching the aesthetics of a building designed and build 10 or more years ago, While meeting demanding energy codes, takes creative solutions. Having a team of stakeholder that understand what is possible and how to find those solution is key for successful design.

Through an early engagement process, building enclosure contractor may help an architect develop a specification for a product that meets the needs of a certain job.

Understanding the job schedule and bringing together the right people to develop a solution is crucial when deadlines must be met.

Prefabrication is gaining traction

Prefabrication is another opportunity for an enclosure contractor to add value to a project team in the planning and design process.

Prefabrication has a lot of variable that need to be considered during the design phase and can impact other aspects of the design.

Understanding where movement joints will occur based on size limitations of prefabricated panels and how the prefabricated system will install on the building are a few examples of the technical information required early in the design to ensure a successful project.

Early engagement in action

IWR North America has used early collaboration on a multitude pf healthcare project over the years. One of those projects was parkland Health and Hospital system with a major addition to its campus northwest of downtown dallas, Texas. The six-story clinic and office building were built east of the main campus. The expansion of more than 525,000 square feet began in 2019 and was completed in 2021.

IWR preformed the glass and glazing scope of work, which include unitized and firre-rated curtainwalls, store-fronts, doors asnd entrances and pre-glazed windows.
Through early coordination with multiple subcontractors, the design team and the general contractor, pre-glazed windows were installed on prefabricated exterior wall panels. This was completed in a prefabrication facility. The prefabricated wall panels were than installed on the building with the windows in and exterior wall panels on.The highly technical, fast-track exterior enclosure would not have been possible without the early collaboration of planners and implementers.

Project expectations of what can be accomplished need to bee managed in parallel with supply chain availability.With this shift in expectations and supply chain delays, early collaboration is becoming more common in medical construction project,especially involving building enclosure contractors.Having these discussions early will also allow relevant stakeholders to identify the key milestones that must be achieved to maintain the schedule.

Michael Smalley is the director of reconstruction at IWR North America.HE can be reached at


About IWR North America

Headquartered in St. Louis, Mo., IWR North America is one of the longest-standing specialty contractors in the nation, providing turnkey building enclosure and custom specialty metal design services coast-to-coast since the 1940s. With in-house design, fabrication and installation capabilities, coupled with access to preeminent providers of products and systems, IWR delivers value-added solutions as a single-source building enclosure partner. IWR is a subsidiary of MHS Legacy Group, a national holding corporation with roots back to 1895. For more information, please visit or call 314-633-4958.