The scheduling aspects of the CM discipline became central to how we functioned as Construction Managers on several public sector projects as well as the Hancock Center, Renaissance Center, and the twin World Trade Center towers. By the end of the 1960s, I had convinced many decision makers that in the future, all major construction ought to be supervised by means of the Construction Management approach.
The Jacob Javits Federal Building in Foley Square, Manhattan, one of our many public-sector projects after we convinced the Public Buildings Service of the CM approach.
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Perhaps the most important difference between CM and general contracting is that the Construction Manager is a professional who possesses an expertise and who relates to the client in a manner exactly like that of other professionals—doctors, lawyers, architects, and accountants. When as a client you go to a doctor, you don’t shop around for the lowest bidder of medical services, you seek out the best and you don’t argue with the doctor about his or her fee. Ditto, when you engage a lawyer. Whether the lawyer charges you as the client $100 per hour or $200 per hour is less important to you than whether the lawyer is expert enough in his or her field. When a client chooses someone to manage his or her construction project, the process should be similar: the client should look for someone who knows what he or she is doing, not for the lowest bidder who can provide the service.
Our professionalism was the clinching argument, I believe, on a key private project for us, Texaco’s northeast headquarters. It came about in the early 1970s, when we were looking for an anchor tenant for the Tishman public corporation’s 1166 Sixth Avenue. We learned that Texaco was planning to move out of its corporate headquarters in the Chrysler Building and was looking for substantial office space in New York. But when I discovered that the president and chairman of Texaco seemed inclined toward moving the headquarters to the northern suburbs where they each lived, rather than staying in Manhattan, I shifted my goal to becoming the Construction Manager for their new building. But first I had to make my case.
Someone suggested to me that the best moment to approach the executives was during their annual convention in Houston, and I flew down to Texas for that purpose. One of their top vice-presidents asked me to wait in my room for a call to a meeting that would happen around nine in the evening, after their annual banquet. By eleven that evening, when no one had called me, I decided that the meeting was not going to take place and put on my pajamas. Not five minutes later the call came, and in my haste to get to the meeting I put my clothes on over my pajamas. Those awaiting me included the president, the CEO, and a slightly lower-ranked executive named Jim Dunlap, who clearly knew more than the others about construction.
I made my spiel, and could tell from the body language and the questions of the executives that they responded best to my assertion that we would be providing to them a professional service in the same way that we provided it for projects that we were building for the portfolio of Tishman Realty & Construction.