Munich, 28 July 2022 – In construction projects, some investors are well aware that a lot of unpredictable things can happen– and yet, the investors are the ones who need to make sure their project becomes a success. This means that their individual goals are met – e.g. that the building project is completed with the desired quality, within the given timeframe and without exceeding the planned budget. For Munich’s office building “BLOOM”, our client Swiss Life renewed the contract with TA Europe as a project manager – to manage the expansion of the outdoor facilities, the underground car park refurbishment and the tenant-fit out of a new entrance, which now also operates a barista bar. TA Europe was also responsible for the management of the refurbishment of the lifts and the fire protection measures continue the monitoring of the life cycle measures.
“Project management, from my point of view, shouldn’t just be about defining and tracking deadlines, costs and qualities”, says Fotis Dimitroulas, Partner at TA Europe, who has been involved in the BLOOM project right from the start, “these parameters have to be in line with the client’s objective. A good project manager needs to understand what the client wants to achieve and act flexibly with these goals in mind rather than sticking to narrowly defined service packages.”
Classic project management, which has been offered for decades in Germany by external service providers with a standardised service profile, is indeed often unable to guarantee the achievement of the investor’s objectives. “Far too often, individual projects with specific requirements in special environments are not properly assessed”, says Wolfgang Schlicht, TA Europe’s CEO, “Instead, a standard service profile like ‘project management according to HOAI’ is imposed on them and then entrusted to the lowest bidder.” The result – a great number of construction projects are completed far too costly, much too late or simply different than desired: The parties involved become stressed and dissatisfied.
“With BLOOM, right from the start, we were committed to building a premium office for different tenants with specific needs – and that meant we needed a project manager who would bring with her the empathy to put herself in our place – and understand things from our perspective”, says Daniel Ziegler, Senior Manager at Swiss Life Asset Management GmbH. TA Europe was commissioned with the complete project management of various projects for BLOOM five years ago. Back then, the office park still belonged to BlackRock. TA Europe carried out the technical due diligence and was taken over by the new owner in the course of the sales process and the contractual obligations. A good working relationship was quickly established, which is why Swiss Life Asset Managers continued to engage TA Europe subsequently for agile project and cost management.
“A construction project is alive”, adds Daniel Ziegler, “there are always things that you cannot prepare for, even with the best team and the best intentions. When we were planning the outdoor facilities, it turned out, as we opened the street, that the street was laid out differently than expected, which meant we had to put in far more time than we had thought in the first place”, he explains. “It is a relief, then, to work with a project manager who can quickly help you readjust. What is more, the project managers we cooperate with from TA Europe work hand in hand, they coordinate smoothly and even manage to keep all service providers motivated.”
To Daniel Ziegler, empathy is not just a buzzword, but a crucial ingredient in working with so many different parties and managing unforeseen events – it is a skill often underestimated in the building industry. “Being tech-savvy is the foundation, for sure, but it helps so much if I know I have an empathetic single point of contact who will ensure the other service providers that their invoices are paid, who explains potential delays and simply reduces my mental load.”
“When I work with a client, I try to minimise risks as much as I possibly can”, says Anika Steiner, who has been managing various projects for BLOOM for more than three years now. “But if something happens we could not have planned for, I try to come up with solutions to take the burden off the client’s shoulders.”
At BLOOM, an extensive concrete renovation of the underground car park had to be carried out. The underground car park comprises 334 parking spaces, extending over three levels. In particular, damage to the existing reinforced concrete due to chloride- and carbonation-induced corrosion had to be eliminated.
“The corrosion damage had to be removed by means of ultra-high pressure water jets – anyone who has ever experienced this knows how extremely loud it can be”, explains Anika Steiner. “So we came up with a plan how to minimise the impact on tenants – as all renovation measures had to be carried out while the building was already in operation and the tenants were all there. We solved this by introducing strict rest periods during which no loud work was carried out, and partly switched to manual caulking in column and wall areas..”
“Being open and transparent while communicating is also extremely important”, stresses Daniel Ziegler. “It is never pleasant for tenants when there have to be construction works – but the TA Europe team made sure the tenants were informed by the property manager in advance and knew what to expect.”
The same applied for the customised barista bar, which was implemented in the entrance area of the building. The café bar was finished a few months ago and not only adds value to the office building itself – it also provides a protected area where tenants can come together in a rather informal atmosphere, have a great coffee and enjoy how beautiful their surroundings have become.
“Witnessing the progress at the construction site and then seeing how nice it all turns out in the end and getting feedback from a satisfied client is a great reward – and keeps my motivation going”, says Anika Steiner, who is looking forward to managing even more projects in an agile way.