Building Partnerships Through Smart Collaboration

Brand Story – Fourth and Montgomery project represents groundbreaking delivery model.

Share this article!

An office, medical and academic facility on an L-shaped block in downtown Portland at Southwest Fourth Avenue and Montgomery Street is more than what it seems. The building and its construction are a unique collaboration between four Portland institutions that will maximize efficiency and give each organization access to more resources than what each could access individually.

“I describe it as like ordering pizza when you’re in college and broke,” says Jeff Slinger with a laugh. He is senior project manager for lead contractor Andersen Construction. “If you can pool your money with a couple of buddies you can get more pizza than each person can get on their own.”

The $100 million building is much more complicated than pizza, but the concept of each organization contributing a ‘slice’ is the same. The seven-story, 175,000 square-foot building is a partnership between Portland Community College, the City of Portland, Oregon Health & Science University and Portland State University.

Portland Community College’s dental program and clinic will move from its current location on the Sylvania Campus to the new building. The location will house the city’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability offices, Portland State University’s College of Education and the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, as well as ground-floor retail.

MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions, a premiere Siemens Desigo provider and Controls contractor, managed and installed the facility controls and made what is typically a “thorny” part of the project easy and elegant. Rather than decide on a bunch of different systems that may or may not work well together because everyone wants different things and has different budgets, MacDonald-Miller mapped out needs, processes and design early on, so when the time came, all that needed to be done was implement the plan.

IT4A9854The collaborative Fourth and Montgomery project heralds the first use of Siemens Desigo Controls at PSU.

Slinger says the vision for Fourth and Montgomery was to have students, faculty and staff “colliding” in shared spaces where they can easily interact, rather than having separate student lounges, separate conference rooms and separate staff lounges.

“Students and workers today don’t want the corner office all by themselves,” Slinger says. “People want to be in a situation where they’re interacting with intelligent people from other organizations and other people of their same organization. I think this building is a model for future buildings, because everyone gets more for their money with a better outcome.”

This leading-edge construction project involves a form of the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) model, which gives weight to each consultant’s and contractor’s talents and expertise to maximize efficiency and value. The model fully integrates teams and aligns the owner, architect and contractor with a single contract. In this case, the teams were not bound by a single contract, but they embraced the collaborative agreement, nonetheless.

Initial sketches estimated the construction at $88 million, but through smart collaboration the team saved $8 million on the cost of the building. Just one example is the metal panel vendor who suggested using a different size panel which would allow him to cut taller pieces with a third less cuts.

IT4A9838MacDonald-Miller engineer Dermot Houston studies a facility schematic on his laptop.

“The heart of what we’re trying to do is involve people to bring value to the project early on,” Slinger says. “I’m a big believer in gathering smart people to look at a problem from all different angles to work together to do something better, easier, faster and provide better value.”

Not only did the project save $8 million, but it will also finish under budget and ahead of schedule, including absorbing all of the cost impact from COVID-19.

“The people at MacDonald-Miller are passionate collaborators with smart people,” Slinger says.

“We’re the first to install the Siemens Desigo Controls at PSU,” says Mike Johnson, Business Executive at MacDonald-Miller, “And with 15 local building control experts, hopefully, we are no longer the best kept secret.”

There is a notion in construction that teams come together for one project and when the last nail is pounded, they say goodbye. But given their past successes, this design and implementation “dream team” is already looking forward to the next project.

“We know what works and what doesn’t work, and we know where we can do things a little better next time,” Slinger says. “Construction like this is a team sport, and when you get a good team together, magic happens.”


Brand stories are paid content articles that allow Oregon Business advertisers to share news about their organizations and engage with readers on business and public policy issues.  The stories are produced in house by the Oregon Business marketing department. For more information, contact associate publisher Courtney Kutzman.