Flexible Construction Schemes
E-collaboration also has enabled Webcor to build different types of buildings for less. When computer games maker Electronic Arts Inc. began planning its new $66 million headquarters in Redwood City, Calif., Webcor thought it was going to be just another pair of Silicon Valley office towerssteel frames, eight and five stories, 25,000-square-feet floors and power conduits hidden in the ceiling. Three years later, however, those two buildings, scheduled to open in June, have turned into a single, four-story building with enormous 75,000-square-foot floors. Instead of a steel frame building with dropped ceilings, the building has a concrete frame with raised floorsa type of cutting-edge construction used in Japan and Europe that is almost unheard of in the U.S. Raised-floor concrete costs about $7 a square foot more on average than traditional steel frame.
Webcor's aggressive use of databases, Internet communications and Web platforms not only made the design change feasible, it also helped to keep the EA project on schedule and on budget. Managers were able to calculate that concrete was, in fact, a better deal once the six-month waiting period for steel and concrete's long-term cost efficiency were factored in. Cost estimates that once would have taken 15 hours were set in minutes as managers accessed Webcor's online databases. "The ability to challenge our ideas in real time helped a ton," says Dick Madden, Electronic Arts' director of capital projects. "Without the constant input and review we had, we would have probably stuck with a steel frame. We wouldn't have known concrete was a better solution."