CyrusOne Texas Research Park wins ‘Best Industrial Project’
Building two phases of a $26.2 million, 208,000-square-foot data center is never easy. Doing it on-time during a global pandemic that created staffing issues was an even bigger challenge. But Rogers-O’Brien Construction rose to the occasion for the CyrusOne Texas Research Park, meeting that deadline and winning “Best Industrial Project” in the San Antonio Business Journal’s 2022 Building San Antonio Awards.
The Dallas-based construction company broke ground on the massive project in October 2019. When fully built, the Texas Research Park will be one of our biggest campuses in Texas, servicing demanding financial and technology customers to allow them to continue to grow with confidence.
A few months after construction started on Texas Research Park, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and caused disruption for workers and on supplies. This included the impact of social distancing on the 120 electricians on the first phase, which finished in July 2020.
To complete the second phase, Rogers-O’Brien deployed workers in staggered work schedules seven days a week to accommodate social distancing requirements for the crew of 400 workers and used special equipment to let one worker to do side-by-side, multi-worker tasks, such as installing heavy cables.
CyrusOne was also involved in partnership with Rogers-O’Brien to help forge pandemic worker polices and strategies, according to CyrusOne Vice President of Design and Construction Danny Cowser.
“We worked closely with them to set up the policies around who needed to be tested and how the testing was done,” Cowser said. We also worked out how would get multiple trades in the same areas while adhering to social distancing recommendations. We helped quarterback and ensure they stayed on schedule. But at the end of the day, it comes down to Rogers-O’Brien.”
To work through supply-chain delays of vital components, such as exterior metal panels and elevator parts, the construction company used prefabricated construction to stay on schedule. It also built temporary walls to keep dust and debris away from sensitive installed equipment and constantly monitored temperature to make sure server rooms didn’t overheat.
The CyrusOne Texas Research Park finished on time in March 2021.
Rogers-O’Brien’s San Antonio Director John Archer told the San Antonio Business Journal the COVID-19 pandemic was difficult, particularly when constructing a highly specialized building like the CyrusOne Texas Research Park.
“But we have a group of data-center builders who’ve been together for the last six years and have a high knowledge of the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire systems that go into these buildings,” he told the newspaper.
Everything was different for the project due to the pandemic and supply chain issues, Cowser noted.
“We all worked together to put together the policies around getting people in and out of the site, how we cleaned the site if somebody tested positive and trying to minimize the amount of time we were being shut down,” he said. This was all new. And the biggest thing we always rely on a small group of true. Rogers-O’Brien is probably our best general contractor in Texas, along with Walker Electric, TDI and a few other trades whom we consider the A-Team. They were a big part of getting us through, being creative and certainly getting outside of the box to try to figure out solutions to things that were thrown at this every day during the pandemic.”
Cowser said CyrusOne is particularly proud of the Texas Research Park project because of all it had to overcome to come in on time and on budget. It couldn’t have been done without true partnership.
“It goes back to what I call a ‘partner of partners,’ not somebody that we hire to just get the job done,” he said. “We could hire a lot of people to do that. A partner is somebody that’s going to situations like this – whether it’s in the past, whether it’s equipment failures or supply demands like we’re fighting now –and not throw their hands up. They’re going to embrace the situation. We’re going to work together as a team to figure it out. We only talked about solutions.”
And along the way during the Texas Research Park project, CyrusOne picked up some key learnings that will inform future projects.
“In general, we learned how to sequence jobs differently so we’re not stacking people on top of each other trying to work in the same area, how to work in close quarters and how to get things done with but maybe fewer people faster,” Cowser said. “The scheduling aspect and the sequencing aspect have probably made us a little more efficient.”
CyrusOne also discovered how resilient its teams are.
“There’s really not anything you can throw at our teams that we can’t sort through and figure out a solution and how to make it work,” Cowser added. “Today, we’re fighting supply chain issues where things don’t show up on time or they show up in pieces. And everybody’s just keeping a positive attitude and working together with a lot more communication than maybe we’ve had in the past.”