Every construction project comes with its risks and rewards and the Corniche Park Towers in Doha, Qatar is no exception. "The project is 90 percent complete and the expectation is to have it substantially completed by mid-2024 and ready for a soft opening within the third quarter of the same year," says Project Director Sebouh Pamoukian at Hill International’s office in Qatar.
"The façade enclosure is almost complete, and fit-out works are at an advanced stage along with the MEP final fixes,” Pamoukian states, adding that podium floors joinery fit-out works are nearing completion as well. Testing and commissioning activities have begun, and the target will be to approach the Qatar government regulatory authorities in the first quarter of 2024 for inspections.
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For Hill International, its PM/CM services for Qatar Industrial Manufacturing Company (QIMC) in Doha will be remembered for multiple reasons.
“With the direction of the client QIMC’s [Qatar Industrial Manufacturing Company] leadership, we had to wear many hats to navigate through the multiple challenges and ensure continuity with project progress,” Pamoukian says.
The project comprises of three towers linked to a common core, built on top of a six-story podium with four basements below. The core is 43 floors, with the hotel tower 39 floors, the residential tower at 30 floors and the office tower at 25 floors. The total height of the project is 186 meters. Known earlier as the QIMC Tower—after the client—the Corniche Park Towers has a total gross floor area of 121,117 square meters.
The project is a mixed-use development comprising of four basement floors of mechanical rooms, car parking space and a hotel main kitchen, with six podium floors for food and beverage outlets, retail space and hotel public areas, on top which sits a hotel. There are branded residential apartment tower and a 25-story office tower, with QIMC’s own headquarters occupying the upper floors.
"From a design perspective it’s one of a kind and it sits on the famous Doha skyline along the corniche and will be part of the advertised emblem of the city," states Pamoukian."The project is also unique in Doha having all three functions of hotel, residences, and offices combined with high end interior finishes, offering such diversity of facilities such as retail, and F&B outlets. No other building in the West Bay area will offer similar options for purchase or lease of branded apartments."
Challenges and solutions
While the official handover and inauguration is being anticipated, the project team tackled the challenges head on. “We dealt with project re-design even as construction was underway and the contractor was already casting slabs and columns, while structural works were ongoing,” says Pamoukian.
The implications were huge, the challenge was to keep construction ongoing while the design was being redeveloped. “What we have learnt is that it is doable. But it comes with a cost and strains on the project management process.As a PM/CM consultant, Hill International had to be everywhere at all stages and involved in all elements all the time, while highlighting risks to the client and providing them with alternative solutions," Pamoukian states.
Another big hurdle was the financial difficulty that many contractors faced for various reasons, including the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the market, as well as the regional and international financial crises of recent years. In the midst of so many changes, many contractors faced unexpected challenges and could not overcome them all.
“That entailed the project team to rise to the challenge and take on additional responsibility of facilitating payments and keeping construction work ongoing to avoid delays and cost overruns. We have managed to keep the ball rolling and are heading to the finish line,” Pamoukian states, noting special attention was given to ensure that all of the client’s rights are reserved and interests protected.
Hill International is also working closely with the client and funding banks to streamline payments and ensure no stoppage in works at site. Pamoukian adds that it’s a joint effort led by QIMC management.
As a global PM/CM firm with proven expertise in turning around troubled projects, there were major takeaways from the Corniche Park Towers project.
“We need to be more than consultants under certain circumstances where Clients expect us to be doers and not just advisors”, Pamoukian says, "Navigating through projects’ 'storms and difficult stages' is a specialty and requires special talent to 'take the hits' and see how we can turn it into something positive."
In a post-Covid pandemic world, several major elements of the global construction industry have changed with common elements such as the supply chain crisis on materials and skilled manpower resulting in elevated project risks.
"The drastic changes bring up the question for project managers whether there is a need to revisit the way we do business going forward. Contractors, suppliers, shipping agents, and banks are not the same as they were before the pandemic, and there might be a need for us to standardize and restructure our processes of how we deal with them, while customizing our approach to the geographical area of our operation and move forward accordingly," states Pamoukian.
The verdict is to be determined, but in the meantime, the biggest challenge in the global construction industry is financial risk, with the onus lying squarely on clients. Pamoukian adds that times have changed, and risks continue to increase, threatening some of the previous principles, emphasizing greater coordination and accountability are required from all parties to ensure a project is delivered to the satisfaction of a client.
With increased engagement and bringing on board new skill sets, Hill remains determined to complete the project in line with the client’s satisfaction and expectations.