Louisville, Buffalo teams receive national recognition for VA Canandaigua project

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District
Published Oct. 14, 2020

The project delivery team responsible for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ major construction project at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center in New York has earned national recognition for their efforts. 

The project, which is being completed in partnership between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Louisville and Buffalo districts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will provide state-of-the-art healthcare facilities for about 65,000 veterans living near the greater Canandaigua area.

USACE recognized the joint team as the 2020 Project Delivery Team of the Year for Honor. 

Each year the Corps recognizes only three project delivery teams across the nation for either excellence, honor or merit. Being named among the select group is a very significant accomplishment, according to Melody Thompson, USACE Louisville District DVA program manager, who nominated the team. 
“The effort of this team cannot be overstated,” Thompson said. “We are proud of the Canandaigua project and this team who is helping provide world-class healthcare facilities for our Nation’s Veterans.” 

Congratulating the team, Thompson said, “I know we push hard, and this is definitely a complex project; but I also want everyone to know that your efforts have been recognized.”

USACE Headquarters commended the team for exceeding project delivery expectations.

“The PDT’s meticulous vetting of DVA’s 100 percent design prior to project acceptance, customized application of active risk management practices, and expanding collaborative partnering to include piloting joint risk registers and change management boards has enabled project successes to be showcased as a model to be replicated,” read the award memo signed by USACE Program and Project Management Community of Practice leaders, Stacey Hirata and Donald Johantges. 

“The PDT’s focus on delivering quality facilities to the stakeholders is a credit to Louisville District, Buffalo District, the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, and the entire Corps of Engineers,” the memo read.

The team delivered the Corps’ first new construction contract award for the Department of Veterans Affairs major construction program in 2018. Then, they used lessons learned to successfully award Phase II of the project in 2019 for a combined project total of approximately $349 million.

The project includes construction of a new outpatient care clinic, a new 120-bed community living center, and a renovated 50-bed Veteran’s assisted living facility integrated into the historic VA Medical Center. Both phases require extensive campus infrastructure improvements, including new underground utilities, roadways, sidewalks, landscaping and other site improvements.

With construction taking place on an active healthcare campus, the project must also meet rigorous health and safety standards, further adding to the project’s complexity. 

“All of the medical facilities and infrastructure must be kept operational throughout construction, which requires providing temporary swing space and synchronizing multiple movements of staff, patients and equipment,” Thompson said. 

Additionally, the team went to great lengths to preserve the historic façade on Building 2 so it will blend seamlessly into the historic campus. 

Innovative problem-solving and collaborative partnerships have been key to success. 

“The USACE and VA construction teams sit together in the same jobsite trailer and have built a unique relationship of trust and collaboration,” said Gerry DiPaola, USACE Buffalo District project manager. 

“The mission-focused partnership extends to the medical center staff, the contractor and the designer ensuring everyone is in sync and driving the project forward.”

Another key component is the application of holistic risk management practices. 

Thompson said this is a Headquarters USACE-driven pilot project for a nationwide effort toward implementing risk management practices.

“From design to project acceptance, we integrated risk management practices into every step of the process,” said Tara O’Leary, Louisville District’s lead risk manager. 

The team continually addresses daily challenges regularly updating a joint risk register with all stakeholders to identify and mitigate project risks to both schedule and cost.

“Our team has been recognized in the DVA/USACE community as leading the way on risk management processes for this program,” said Thompson.

Phase I of the project is nearly 45 percent complete and making strides toward five percent completion in Phase II. Both projects are estimated to be completed by 2023.