Google Spruce Goose interior MATT Construction

Photo credit: Google images by: Connie Zhou

Location

Playa Vista, CA

Owner

Google

Architect

ZGF Architects

Project Size

450,000+ sf (interior)
330,000 (site improvements)

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Google Spruce Goose Grand Opening: Evolving construction for high-tech building

Working with the innovative culture of a tech company, MATT Construction gave Google the space to iterate while delivering an on-time, on-budget Google Spruce Goose grand opening

Technology development meets real estate development

Software development has an agile culture of testing and incremental improvement through rapid, repeated iteration. When working with a tech client, the challenge is to facilitate that process in a context that is more (ahem) concrete. With the application of both best-in-class technology and a construction philosophy of service to the project, MATT Construction was able to create a healthy tension between exploration and decision and facilitate creativity for the Google Spruce Goose project.

Google Spruce Goose interior MATT Construction

Photo credit: Google images by: Connie Zhou

Thinking differently about the process

The typical process for a general contractor is to establish a preliminary schedule, utilizing parameters for the design part of the process, factor in 4-6 weeks for the output of the drawings, develop the final schedule and cost, and start building. The Google project process was different. In the dynamic design environment for this project, evolving ideas were being weighed against cost and schedule well into the first half of construction. “If, as a contractor, we had said, ‘the process has to go like this, this is the way we work,’ the project would not have been as successful,” says Senior Project Manager Kris Barr. “But at MATT, we think differently. We work in service to the owner’s goals. Once we understood that Google was going to explore alternate design options to meet their budget while maintaining the same final completion date, we structured the process to facilitate meeting that goal.”

“Working with Google catalyzed us to think about how to manage beyond plans and specs and evolve our process and procedures to be agile and fast,” says Kris.

“’How can we make everyone successful?’ is the way we looked at this job,” says Project Executive Randy Wallace. MATT facilitated a fluid process for the project. The team didn’t have all the answers at the outset, but they helped the client understand the minimum they needed to get started and track to their goal. “We were always aligned with the client on this job’s completion,” continues Randy. “We didn’t issue a ‘notice of delay’ if we were lacking information. We said, ‘this is what we have to do as a team to keep the project on schedule.’ That attitude of not stopping while working through ambiguity and of implementing individual solution action plans for the showstoppers cracked the code of collaboration and allowed the team to make decisions to keep the project moving forward.”

Google Spruce Goose interior MATT Construction

Photo credit: Google images by: Connie Zhou

Setting the project up for success

In order to facilitate forward progress under ambiguity, the team offered limits and boundaries for a range of possible decisions throughout construction. “This work is all part of our regular process,” says Kris. “We create a log of all the concepts and ideas and clearly list their impact to cost and schedule, positively or negatively. We also include a ‘must-order by’ date for procurement items that impact the schedule. That puts the client in the driver’s seat to make decisions. The process is quick, non-stop.”

Utilizing available technology helps. Given the immense complexity of the project, particularly underground where six miles of conduit had to run around 1,500 piles, MATT engaged Trimble Consulting (formerly Gehry Technologies) to manage the BIM process. Trimble synthesized all the information from the designers and subcontractors on MEP, framing, structural and design, and provided weekly model updates. This allowed the team to check any changes against coordination and schedule, and to take a handheld tablet with the most recent 3D model directly out into the field to compare the model with the existing conditions and identify conflicts or impacts to ongoing work.

Google Spruce Goose exterior MATT Construction

Photo credit: Google images by: Connie Zhou

Delivering a win for the team

“Our goal is the best solution for the project in any given situation,” says Randy. “We worked together to make that happen. Google is known for accomplishing great things with great teams. It took a great team to accomplish this great project. From the owner and their construction manager, to all the consultants, we all worked together to transform the Spruce Goose Hangar.”