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Engineering News Record Wins – Celebrating collaborative architecture

Top: Mayo Clinic | Arizona Bold Forward – East Expansion
Bottom: University of Arizona | Old Chemistry Building Renovation and “The Commons” Addition

Shepley Bulfinch was honored to receive two of Engineering News-Record (ENR) Southwest Region’s annual Best Projects awards. Our work on the Mayo Clinic East Expansion in Phoenix received the Best Project Award for Healthcare and The University of Arizona (UofA) Chemistry Renovation and The Commons in Tucson, AZ, received the Best Renovation/Restoration award.

At Shepley Bulfinch, we value creating customized experiences for clients, approaching each project with new and innovative design processes that directly address our clients’ unique program and design goals. Though the project recipients of the ENR awards differ in scope, both were recognized for creating safe, innovative, and quality design. Our collaborative, solutions-oriented approach drives our commitment to delivering human-based designs. For both the Mayo Clinic and University of Arizona Chemistry Renovation (affectionally called Old Chem), our process was guided by three central components that impacted the end results:

      • Dedication to design excellence  
      • Team trust  
      • Communication transparency
Mayo Clinic | Arizona Bold Forward – East Expansion

Dedication to design excellence  

With strong collaboration with the client, design, and contractor team members, both projects were able to meet their overarching goal: to execute a truly excellent design.  

The Mayo Clinic East Expansion entailed a three-story expansion of the outpatient clinic, a horizontal expansion of the logistics platform, surgical suite, and perioperative suites, as well as a kitchen and dining expansion. Focused on increasing patient capacity on campus and shaping the local community, our team was deeply invested in the culture and processes driving the design. For the University of Arizona Chemistry Renovation and The Commons, a renovation and addition to a National Historic Register listed building in the heart of campus, we were part of a design-build collaboration with Sundt Construction, Poster Mirto McDonald, and the University of Arizona. The project brings the historic structure up to 21st century efficiency standards through envelope and glazing upgrades that are invisible from the exterior of the building. The new addition optimizes structural possibilities, creating long, column-free spans that allow for the expansion of the flexible collaborative teaching and learning methods championed by the University of Arizona. 

Team trust 

On every project at Shepley Bulfinch, we commit to whoever starts a design sees it through construction. One of many ways we build trust among teams, this continuity provides stability throughout the project experience and avoids a disruptive process for the client and team members. 

A defining key to the Mayo Clinic Expansion’s success was our implementation of a Big Room, where we co-located with McCarthy, Mayo, AEI, MBJ Structural, and other design and construction partners in one space.

Mayo Clinic | Arizona Bold Forward – East Expansion

To kick off the Mayo project, one of the Phoenix campus’s largest projects, we invested in team building exercises to align project goals and create a trusting foundation. By giving special consideration to exercises like Strength Finders, the team built a rapport with each other, creating a strong foundation of trust that lasted through the extent of the four-year project.  

From early discussions on the UofA Old Chem, we coordinated full team attendance (owner, architect, contractor, engineers) at all project meetings, which was essential in a project designed and constructed during the pandemic. By developing open lines of communication between architect, owner and contractor, we could quickly turn issues into opportunities, avoid delays, and maintain the integrity of the project. Doing so successfully transformed the 85-year-old lab building into a 21st century collaborative learning space. 

Communication transparency  

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both projects faced new, unforeseen challenges that necessitated the need for even more open and transparent communication.  

At the Mayo Clinic, new safety protocols had to be followed. With our central priority focused on delivering an essential clinical space, we opened communication lines to incorporate staff feedback when framing our problem statement. Through consistent rapport, we worked closely with staff to understand each clinical discipline and which aspects were most important to them. While this took time to ensure the project and expectations were defined correctly, we remained dedicated to maintaining open communication. The team’s emphasis on a Big Room environment proved to be especially beneficial through this challenge as the safety protocols our team designed subsequently helped the facility’s leadership develop their own staff protocols.  

University of Arizona | Old Chemistry Building Renovation and “The Commons” Addition

At the University of Arizona, in addition to campus safety and remote work constraints, the pandemic created issues related to inflation and lead time. Working closely with our construction partner, Sundt, we were able to stay ahead of procurement issues by maintaining open communication with owners, trade partners, and product reps. Throughout the design process, the design-build team held weekly discussions on design changes and budget revisions. This allowed the team to accelerate the design and specification of products, and commence early procurement, saving the project 10-30% in escalation costs of certain materials.

At Shepley Bulfinch, we prioritize building partnerships with our clients, engineers, and contractor partners, to create a meaningful process as well as impactful final environments. We are honored to be recognized by ENR for our partnerships with the Mayo Clinic and McCarthy and University of Arizona and Sundt Construction, on projects that represent innovative approaches to teaming and design that serve our clients now, and well into the future.

University of Arizona | Old Chemistry Building Renovation and “The Commons” Addition

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