U requests Coffman renovation proposals

Erin Madsen

Coffman Memorial Union’s face-lift might finally begin spring semester with a few changes to the original plans.
The University sent out the Coffman Memorial Union Renovation Request for Proposal to several contractors Nov. 22.
The new RFP includes a change in the renovation’s delivery method from the former design-bid-build method to an innovative design-build method.
Maggie Towle, director of the Twin Cities Student Unions, said the new method is “the quickest way to get the project back on track.”
After Coffman’s renovation was halted in late September, University officials reconsidered the design-bid-build method they deemed typical and most efficient at the beginning of the bidding process. The method was cited as one of the main reasons initial contracting bids exceeded the University’s $32 million budget for hard construction.
Tony Armlin, owner’s representative for the Coffman renovation, said while the design-build method has previously been implemented at the University, it is still not an ordinary practice.
“Design-build is now becoming a more trusted and proven method in the public sector,” Armlin said. “It’s a new and emerging delivery system for public entities.”
The design-build method will allow the project architect and general contractor to work collectively, with construction beginning immediately after designs are made. The construction must adhere to the $32 million budget throughout the process.
Comparatively, the design-bid-build process originally used for Coffman resulted in bids that far exceeded the University’s budget, because contractors had to make bids on a set design.
Lance Patrick, president of the Twin Cities Student Unions Board of Governors, said the University is confident the new method will reduce such errors.
“With the design-build method, the maximum guaranteed price is set before the construction process begins,” Patrick said.
Priscilla Meckley, assistant director for Design and Construction Services with Facilities Management, said a controlled budget will allow the renovation to propel more quickly without the bidding process.
Armlin said once a general contractor is chosen, the new design for Coffman will be negotiated. The design may be completely new or a modification of the original design.
Towle said the University will announce a completion date for Coffman early in spring semester.
“Once a contractor is on board — hopefully (the announcement will be delivered) on the first day of classes,” Towle said.

Erin Madsen welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3233