“There’s not much we can’t do,” says Scott McNeill, director of project development at the Giffels location in Southfield, Mich. “We’ve basically tried to establish one-stop shopping.”
Giffels, an Ingenium Group Company, is a multi-disciplined architectural and engineering firm recognized for capabilities in the design of facilities requiring complex design solutions.
With a staff of over 1,200 professionals in the United States, Canada and select international markets, the Ingenium Group strives to deliver a high level of client service focused on quality, performance to budget, and on-time completion.
“Clearly we are setting ourselves up to be a very highly structured management operation,” says Bob Gallant, NORR principal of commercial projects based in Toronto.
Gallant says Ingenium (made up of Giffels, NORR, CION and PMA) comprises a team whose goal is to provide integrated consulting services from a single-source provider. “We’re trying to expand,” explains Gallant. “To grow a multinational clientele.”
Besides Toronto and Southfield, the Ingenium Group has offices in Abu Dhabi; Calgary, Alberta; Cambridge, Mass.; Detroit; Dubai; Edmonton, Alberta; Hong Kong; Montreal; Ottawa; Raleigh, N.C.; Tampa, Fla.; and Vancouver, British Columbia, among other cities.
“The diversity of work we’ve done most recently includes the Motor City Casino and Hotel, to major industrial projects,” McNeill says. “We just finished the design for the new Honda Plant in Greensboro, Indiana. We did the total engineering - all the building design. Almost 2 million square feet of industrial assembly.”
Since the 1920s, the firm has provided professional services for a range of projects - areas of expertise include industrial manufacturing, institutional, government, retail, commercial, research and development, education, manufacturing, and aviation.
Giffels team of LEED-accredited architectural and engineering professionals incorporates in-house software to complete life cycle energy analysis and building life cycle costs. According to Gallant, LEED designed building fosters sustain-ability by lowering operating and maintenance costs, improving employee productivity and lessening the negative impact on the environment.
“The keys for us in sustainable design is taking an integrated approach to the whole design process,” Gallant says. “We make every effort to integrate our disciplines.” Giffels also utilizes Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability, which allows cost and “environmental friendliness” comparisons of building materials and proposed building related systems “We are applying technology that may come from an industrial or manufacturing environment and applying it to a commercial environment,” McNeill says.
Giffels recently set a milestone for the Ford Motor Company’s Rouge Heritage project, which won the AIA Michigan Honor Award: Most Sustainable Building Project in 2004.
“The Rouge project is a green building,” says Michael Pacheco, director of operations for the Southfield office. “The Rouge project incorporated all of our in-house disciplines as well as outside experts to create a building that meets or exceeds many of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED concepts for design and construction.” The Rouge project includes an extensive green roof that covers 10 acres and set a Guinness Book of World Records mark for the world’s largest green roof.
“There’s a funny story on that,” notes McNeill. “The body shop at the Rouge Heritage Project was ticketed last year because they didn’t cut the grass on the roof. There’s an ordinance in Dearborn for maintaining property. They let it grow too tall.” Building materials for the Rouge were selected based on their environmental advantages. Recycled materials included steel, ceramic and rubber tile flooring, linoleum, gypsum board, and low-VOC paints and coating systems. Also, engineered storm water management systems with landscaped swale filter strips were employed to reduce and treat storm water runoff. And “skylight loops” were incorporated into the design of the new Assembly Building to allow natural sunlight to penetrate workspaces at the process floor level.
“We use cost-effective materials, recycled materials, or materials that are friendly to the environment,” Pacheco says. “You look at maintenance, life expectancy, energy usage, and ways to reduce those costs and operate at a more efficient way to save the customer money in the initial construction costs.”
Giffels is a leader among architectural and engineering firms in 3-D modeling.
“We design everything in 3-D now,” Pacheco states. “We have over the last two years. It allows us to eliminate waste and reduce interferences, and helps expedite the project.”
At Giffels, 3-D technology helps compress design and construction schedules, allowing clients to get their products to market in a quicker time frame.
Giffels also provides the 3-D service on projects ranging from tank farms and tooling stations to wind tunnels. The application has been used for small to large sites and facilities with an unprecedented level of detail, speed and accuracy. Pacheco says each in-house discipline at Giffels is highly skilled in 3-D virtual design, model development, model integration, construction, and as-built modeling. For renovation projects, laser scanning combined with 3-D modeling builds accurate models of existing buildings and their systems, says Pacheco, noting 3-D creates a model of the existing architectural, structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.
For Green Field projects, a 3-D design allows for a more complete detailed design that allows contractors to provide more accurate cost estimates, according to Pacheco.
Besides the Rouge Center Site Revitalization Ford Motor Company project in Dearborn, Mich., Giffels has a long list of completed engineering projects across the globe. They include: Assembly Plant for Honda of America in Greensburg, Ind.; Lab One for General Motors Corp. in Pontiac, Mich.; Automotive Assembly Plant for Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Woodstock, Ontario; North American R&D Headquarters for Hyundai KIA America Technical Center Inc. in Superior Township, Mich.; Robert Bosch Corp. Office Building and Technical Center in Farmington Hills, Mich.; Motor City Casino expansion in Detroit; Atlantis Hotel & Beach Resort in Dubai; Atlantis Hotels, Conference, and Digs & Snorkel Lagoon in Dubai; Universal Studios Dubailand in Dubai; Hotel at Exhibition Place in Toronto. “As NORR, we designed the new addition to the Motor City Casino and Hotel in Detroit,” says McNeill, noting Gallant was the project executive.
McNeill says most of Giffels’ list of completed projects is industrial in nature, but the diversity of all the Ingenium brands shows a tremendous portfolio outside the traditional client base. “We are currently doing a project in Mobile, Alabama, the largest steel fabricator in the U.S.,” McNeill says. “It’s in a high hurricane zone, built on a river’s edge.”
“On the other end of the spectrum we’re the architects/engineers of CVS pharmacies throughout the United States,” he continues. Over the last two years, Giffels has completed well over 300 CVS stores along with a variety of other projects. “A few years ago, if you said Giffels would work on a casino, people in this building would have thought we were crazy,” McNeill says. “Using the NORR portfolio and staff, we gave our presentation to the Illitch representatives, and had a hand-shake deal that day.” Giffels and all the Ingenium brands have not lost sight of its history, rather they have moved ahead in technology, design and management to be a top performer in today’s competitive market.