- The Munich Isar Philharmonic Concert Hall delights its guests. The building, which was initially only intended as a temporary solution while Munich’s Gasteig is being refurbished, attracts more and more fans.
- As one of the few construction projects of this size, it was completed on time and within budget, while providing superior acoustics.
- In this project, TA Europe was commissioned to carry out the plausibility check of the cost estimates of the entrance hall, which contributed to a successful project completion.
Window frames and wooden beams lie around, soaked by the rain. Service providers from different companies shout at each other. Long desired material has not been delivered – yet no one has been informed about the delay. This is the reality on many construction sites – and exactly the situation to avoid. Inadequate coordination leads to wasted working time, causes delays that are often difficult to make up and drives costs.
Sometimes, however, there are projects where, quite fascinatingly, everything goes according to plan: This was the case with Munich’s ‘Isarphilharmonie’ – a concert hall which had been built as an interim solution while Munich’s well-known ‘Gasteig’, located in Rosenheimer Straße 5, is being upgraded. The concert hall is part of a cultural complex named ‘HP 8’, after its postal address Hans-Preißinger-Straße 8. In addition to the concert hall, the site provides a library, which has also been relocated from Munich’s ‘Gasteig’. It is supposed to provide a cultural space where visitors can mix and mingle.
The building was planned in the record time of three years and completed on time in only 18 months and within budget. What is more, critics have been praising the acoustics inside since the opening concert in October 2021. How come this project, which was actually a conversion of an old industrial building, namely a historic transformer hall, could be turned into an admired cultural building complex so smoothly?
“There is nothing mysterious about delivering a project on time, with the desired quality, and within budget”, says Ulrich Fritsch, Cost Expert at TA Europe, who checked the cost estimates of the entrance hall which leads to the main building. “In the end, it comes down to a few crucial factors which, when taken seriously, contribute to a successful completion of such a project.”
In the first place, there is the requirements planning. “We were very pleased that our client placed a high priority on the requirements planning in the first place”, explains Ulrich Fritsch. The cost expert, who looks back on a history of more than 25 years of professional experience with agile cost management, agile planning and agile project management, is definitely impressed with how focused the client acted throughout the various stages of the project.
“The greatest leverage can be achieved in the conceptualization phase. This is where the course is set. It is the phase where an in-depth assessment of the end consumer’s requirements takes place”, explains Ulrich Fritsch. “In this phase, the most crucial questions are being answered – for example, how many square metres are needed? Shall there be a cloakroom? If so, which capacity is truly necessary?”
The architect provides a cost estimate for which, according to Ulrich Fritsch, a general rule applies: “The more detailed the cost estimate, the better the base to start from.” The cost expert points out that, in this case, the responsible architects from Gerkan, Marg & Partner – even better known by the acronym gmp – already delivered a very detailed cost estimation, which greatly aided to a smooth plausibility check.
“Another decisive factor was that a strong relationship of trust prevailed between the parties, which is of central importance in the agile planning approach”, continues Ulrich Fritsch to explain. “Agile means ‘in motion’, and the most successful architects are those who have understood and really live agile design management. This is all possible within the framework of the HOAI – especially if the second part of the HOAI concerning alternative services is being considered.”
However, one has to bear in mind that the HOAI does not reward early project phases accordingly. In this early phase, only relatively small fees can be charged; after a service provider has been commissioned to carry out the project, the fees flow lavishly. But as already mentioned, the relevant decisions affecting the costs are made in the early project phases.
After that, usual procedures and work processes should not be followed rigidly; quite on the contrary, changing course and adapting to occurring changes is the way to achieve cost certainty. “There is courage required to do this”, says Ulrich Fritsch, “and that is because acting agile means leaving the safe ground of jurisdiction.”
According to Ulrich Fritsch, however, the HOAI is a reasonable framework, yet following the HOAI blindly is counterproductive – it prevents the parties involved from assessing and re-assessing the requirements in special and changing environments. In the end, clear and concise communication is crucial – as is discussing deviations and clarifying potential liability issues.
“In this project, we had a strong client with a clear understanding of the factors just described”, summarizes Ulrich Fritsch. “In particular, our client was very well aware of the fact that requirements’ planning and the definition of the project’s basics is the most important and decisive task. We started with a sound base of detailed cost estimates, defined project risks early on, which in turn led to realistic project budget. In addition to pure cost and schedule calculations, we openly discussed variants and implemented scenario planning as well as economic feasibility studies in a trusted atmosphere. This all helped to close this project with the desired quality, on time and within budget.”
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