Construction Favorite Project 2017

Q & A with Frank Montana, Project Manager
Making a Difference at Home and Globally

We often hear companies say our people are our greatest asset, and here at VIP we truly believe that. We had the opportunity to sit down with Frank Montana, a Project Manager here at VIP, for a quick Q&A session to learn a little more about a project that hits close to home for him.

Q: Masonic Labs. Our team refers to this project as a Black Unicorn. Why is that?
A: It is because this type of project, like a Black Unicorn, is very rare and unique.

Q: What makes this project so unique compared to other projects you have worked on?
A: The design of this lab and the research it conducts puts it in an elite category. It is one of three labs of this caliber globally, with the other two labs located in Japan. Upon completion of Masonic Labs, it will be the most advanced lab of its kind.

Q: What are some of the challenges you and your team are facing with this project?
A: Given that this building is a 60-year-old brick masonry building, we have had to overcome floor-to-floor heights and interior masonry walls. Thankfully our structural engineers identified these interior walls as non-load bearing, allowing us to open up the spaces to accommodate the new modern open lab design, which also brought its own set of challenges. The new equipment is so heavy that the floors had to be reinforced with steel beams and we had to create an exterior opening on an upper floor to bring in the equipment.

Q: It is my understanding that this project’s scope has changed quite a bit since the project began. How so?
A: The original project started out as a minor interior finishes renovation to the second floor. We are now doing a complete renovation to the entire 3-story building to support the vision of the new Director of Research, Maria Kontaridis, PhD. Dr. Kontaridis has had a great impact on the project and has been terrific to collaborate with throughout this design-build process.

Q: How has the VIP team responded to all the changes made to this fast-track project?
A: Our team has been amazing. I have really enjoyed working with this group. Ed Cesta, our Superintendent, has really impressed everyone at Masonic Labs. Our integrated team’s open line of communication, the sharing of ideas, and the “can do” attitude from our architects, engineers and construction professionals has allowed this project to answer the call to all the challenges and changes in scope. The team respects each other’s capabilities and we value what each member brings to the project.

Q: How does this project rank amongst all the other projects you have done over the years?
A: It’s high up there. Because of the extensive renovations, Dr. Kontaridis is able to expand her research capabilities that will help to tackle rare vascular diseases. One of the vascular diseases she will be working on a cure for is the same disease my wife has been fighting. As a family, we are grateful that this state-of-the-art research facility will be located close to home.