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April 19, 2012

Rental car facility runs smoothly, with consultants’ help

  • The project management team is headed up by a minority business enterprise, Shen Consulting.
    Shen Consulting


    The opening of the Consolidated Rental Car Facility (RCF) will be a demonstration of the success of the Port of Seattle’s small business initiative that is using minority-owned Shen Consulting as the prime project management consultant.

    Shen and its team of sub-consultants integrated with the port’s Project Management Group for final program delivery.

    The Shen project management team of CH2M Hill, Heery International, Elcon Associates and Unison CRS are an integral part of this GC/CM project.

    The team consists of local experienced project managers that are responsible for many major aspects of the program, such as design engineering and architectural management; public utility coordination; LEED certification; tenant build-out management; electrical and communications implementation; facility activation; and airport main terminal implementation.


    Our consultant team and the port have worked side by side for the last three years on a variety of design and construction challenges during the build out of the RCF. As always during a large construction project, many detailed decisions are made daily between the original designers, the construction contractor and the owner.

    Photo courtesy of Shen Consulting [enlarge]
    The Port of Seattle’s Consolidated Rental Car Facility is slated to open next month.

    In order to successfully meet these demands, our consultant team fit into the port’s corporate culture with relative ease. As a consultant team, it does not matter which firm we are with or how big of a company each of us came from. Our team is comprised of project managers from small, medium and large engineering firms and our approach of working and communicating collectively with the owner, designer and construction contractor brings the highest value to the program.

    Coordinating success

    The team is tackling many project details. Here are a few examples:

    • LEED certification. With this integrated approach of program delivery with the port, one of the major successes for the program is obtaining LEED silver status of the facility, the first of its kind for the Port of Seattle.

    • Utility coordination. Coordination between the owner, contractor and local utilities is absolutely vital to ensure that the facility will be fully operational and meet all building and fire codes.

    • Tenant coordination. Once the base building was completed, the rental car operators needed to begin construction of their own operations within the RCF while meeting the port’s requirements. The final coordination of the rental car operators is one of the major critical path items before facility opening, as all the installed building systems need to be fully ready for rental car operators.

    • Airport main terminal. The final successful piece of the program is not only the RCF and supporting operational facilities, but the airport’s main terminal itself. The main terminal needs to be fully prepared to handle the daily customers of the RCF. New bus curbs at the baggage-claim level of the airport and supporting signage within the terminal were installed prior to facility opening to ensure that airport passengers get to the RCF or return to the airport with ease.

    During the course of the program the entire team has endured not only the typical daily construction challenges, but also the economic recession of 2008 and occasional Seattle snow storms in the winter months.

    I would like to say that we used some novel high-tech, innovative project management approaches in delivering this program, but what I realized is that this is a project more about dedication, leadership and pure motivation of the owner and consultant teams. Constant meetings, daily communication, emails, phone calls, on-site design and construction coordination, scheduling updates and cost estimate reviews all encompass the project management philosophy that is required for successful delivery.

    Because of this project management team approach, the Port of Seattle will deliver a successful state-of-the-art facility that will support this region’s economic growth and the port’s new 25-year Century Agenda.

    Albert Shen is president and owner of Shen Consulting, a small civil engineering firm specializing in project management of large capital programs since 1999. Shen Consulting was awarded Small Business of the Year in 2009 by the city of Seattle.

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