News about the construction industry typically includes safety violations, fraud cases, contractor/owner disputes, and other less-than-cheerful stories. To counter this perception of the industry, construction professionals often tout their charitable nature and aim to draw attention to the positives in the business.
Mark Knight, incoming Associated General Contractors of America president and president of Foothills Contracting, told Construction Dive last week, "One thing I love about contractors — they're willing to give back. That's one of the things that happens within our industry. You have to be that type of person. If you want to succeed, you have to have those qualities of wanting to give back."
That aspect of the industry was highlighted last week, when the AGC Charities organization and dozens of construction firms joined together for the "Extreme Give" effort to build Morgan’s Inspiration Island, which they called the first-ever ultra-accessible water park, as an addition to non-profit Morgan's Wonderland theme park in San Antonio.
Building Morgan's Inspiration Island
The project involved the construction of a new main building, five new pump houses and a lighthouse for the water park. AGC Charities raised more than $350,000 to fund construction costs for the project, which was led by general contractor Linbeck Group and AGC of San Antonio. The construction "blitz" took place last week in tandem with the AGC National Convention in San Antonio.
"We have a tremendous giving community. They are in to make it work," Patrick Byrnes, a senior cost analyst with Linbeck and the project manager for Morgan's Inspiration Island, told Construction Dive. "(The workers) understood what it meant to be a part of the project. "
Construction of the water park addition to Morgan's Wonderland — which park officials said is the world's first theme park designed with special-needs individuals in mind — began in January and is expected to open in spring 2017.
Despite the fact that this project was the largest ever for AGC Charities — in scope, dollar amount and number of workers — it has still faced some obstacles during the construction process, according to Byrnes.
The building blitz last week involved vertical construction by the AGC firms, before site work and utilities were completed. "This project was assisting an ongoing construction project. Some of the milestones that the onsite work was supposed to do didn’t quite get there because of their own surprises, like underground utilities, caused several delays," he said.
In addition, "Some folks had committed saying they would provide materials, and then as time went on, for one reason or another, they backed out," Byrnes said. "That was unforeseen."
Despite these challenges, Byrnes said that he was proud of the work they accomplished and the contractors involved with the project. "There was such tremendous compassion and desire to be involved with the community. To me, that speaks to more than just San Antonio," he said.
Byrnes added, "And nobody said it couldn't happen again. Yes, it's the largest one that's occurred in the history of the charitable (organization), but nobody dismissed it happening again. It's more of a setting of the bar. No matter if it takes place in Vegas or California or Puerto Rico, it's something that really shows that the construction community can come together and make it happen."