Osprey: Off-Site Innovation

A Model of Off-Site Execution
April 2019

Solving for X is the foundation of algebra. 

For contractors, the need to define “X” doesn’t end with grade school exams. In fact, our Osprey team in Atlanta, GA knows better than most the importance of understanding a project’s “X-Factor.” 

As the first project across Balfour Beatty’s US operations to leverage Prescient’s modular construction technology, Osprey teammates have instilled a learning culture to best leverage the system’s advantages. 

Off-site construction requires building panels to be designed to precise specifications and manufactured much earlier than with traditional construction, resulting in a far more efficient installation process. But, it is most effective when executed in close collaboration with successor trades such as the exterior skin and MEP subcontractors. Therein lies the “X-Factor.” 

Once Prescient arrives on a jobsite, there is a predictable and fast-moving sequence in which the structure is assembled from the first post to the last screw. For a project to be successful, successor trades must be equally predictable and nimble. 

“We discovered that the ‘X-Factor’ is understanding Prescient’s cadence to effectively allocate manpower, plan just-in-time deliveries and determine laydown areas for pre-stocked materials,” says Patrick Fleming, senior project manager. “When Prescient makes new real estate available, successor trade partners must immediately be ready to start work.”  

The Osprey team didn’t just seek to understand Prescient’s system from a 10,000-foot view. From preconstruction onward, they meticulously identified elements of the Prescient system successor trades needed knowledge of, such as the number of studs required in the jamb of a window opening or the location of switches and receptacles in relation to lateral bracing. 

It was this level of preparedness and precision that led Balfour Beatty to become the first contractor to go vertical with the Prescient system in Atlanta this past February. 

The Prescient system also possesses safety advantages. Because panels arrive on-site with perimeter protection already in place, it reduces the risk for falls from height, which is the leading cause of construction worker injuries and fatalities. 

Thanks to the successful efforts of exterior skin trade partners including Roswell Drywall, Window Traditions and Southern Walls as well as interior partners Century Fire Protection, Gill Plumbing and Titan Electric, the team is effectively putting work in place directly below the working deck according to plan.

“We’re plowing new ground in Atlanta,” praises Russ Brockelbank, project executive. “You can feel the energy and excitement in every member of the team.” 

As the project progresses, they’ll continue to become a model of off-site execution from design to final delivery. 

Osprey Team Set to Go the Distance
January 2019

Hall of Fame football coach Tom Landry once said, “Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.”

From the moment Balfour Beatty partnered with modular construction firm, Prescient, on the Osprey, the project team established many noteworthy goals for this mixed-use, multifamily development: accelerating the schedule to achieve the owner’s desired pro forma, seamlessly integrating the prefabricated structural installation with on-site labor and being among the first projects using the Prescient solution to go vertical in Atlanta.

But they knew none of these goals would be possible without a project plan that was both strategic and tactical, a plan that accounted for every contingency and mitigated every conceivable risk. For the Osprey team, that process began with perfecting the tower structure prefab design, working in early and close alignment with the owner, Toll Brothers Apartment Living; Brock Hudgins Architects; Prescient; and key trade partners. 

To develop shop drawings, the team examined every building element that tied back into the structural frame. From the layout of the roof condensers to the thickness of gypcrete and the gauge sizes of screws, they left no stone unturned. MEP coordination efforts were equally meticulous, helping ensure ductwork, plumbing drain lines and every single building system fit into the structural framework like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. 

Epitomizing lean thinking, the team also began planning installation of the Osprey’s prefabricated components more than 12 months before they were scheduled to arrive on-site. The team discovered that by pre-stocking select building components, they could accelerate the dry-in process, fully capitalize on work available and create a safer working environment for trade partners. 

“We’re a team that understands the difference between being productive versus being effective,” says Patrick Fleming, senior project manager. “We believe in getting the right things done and not just crossing items off our to-do lists.” 

As the Osprey team gears up for Prescient’s arrival on-site in early 2019, they remain committed to the ambitious goal with which they started the project: becoming a model of off-site execution from design to delivery and a catalyst for transforming the traditional construction value chain. United by a strong plan and clear purpose, this team is well on its way.