Q&A with the City of Boston's Joseph Mulligan: 'Capital requirements don't take a holiday'

Joseph I. Mulligan
             

Joseph I. Mulligan, III,AICP, is the City of Boston's Deputy Director for Capital Construction, where he oversees $300 million of capital-funded projects. Prior to joining Mayor Thomas M. Menino's administration, he was a project architect with the Boston Redevelopment Authority. He serves on the boards of the West End House Boys and Girls Club and the Brighton Allston Historic Association. He has a BA from the College of the Holy Cross, a BArch from Boston Architectural College, and an MPA from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.



BD+C: What is your department's role?

Joseph I. Mulligan: We're responsible for the design and construction of every municipal facility in the city, including new schools, police and fire stations, community centers, branch libraries, senior centers, and administrative offices—any repair work or construction over $100,000. We have a staff of 60 project management professionals, with a burn rate of $80 million a year and $300 million in open design or construction contracts.

BD+C: What's foremost on your mind these days?

JIM: Retaining staff. We haven't had any layoffs, but we've eliminated all overtime, and there's a salary and hiring freeze. My concern is making sure we have the professional support to fulfill the mission, because capital requirements don't take a holiday. Leaky roofs continue to leak, building envelopes don't improve with time, and the needs of users don't diminish.

I'm also concerned about possibly having to cut scope in projects that are in the pipeline, without jeopardizing life safety in any of them. So far, that hasn't happened in any of our projects.

BD+C: What's your most exciting project?

JIM: Dudley Square, in Roxbury. The Mayor has announced plans to locate a new municipal administrative building there, refurbish an existing library, and build a new police station. Dudley Square is one of the city's historic urban centers and it has some economic challenges, but it's a transit-oriented hub, and the Mayor sees this as an initiative to trigger revitalization. The police station will go out to bid soon, and we're going to have an RFP out in the spring for a design competition for the administrative building.

BD+C: Mayor Menino recently shelved plans to sell City Hall and build a new one on the South Boston waterfront. Where does that stand?

JIM: We're taking a multi-tiered approach. We're testing the geotechnical capacity of the seaport site, looking at the possibility of sending some services to Dudley Square, and seeing how we tackle this existing asset at City Hall. In a city that's constrained on three sides by ocean, the Mayor sees this as an opportunity to do something visionary—to use a new City Hall as an economic generator for the seaport district and as a way to deliver municipal services more efficiently.

BD+C: Are you using BIM on projects?

JIM: We don't require BIM. All our projects are done through the Designer Selection Process, a very rigorous state-mandated procurement process for design and construction. To date, we haven't had a project using BIM, but if we find that BIM helps facilitate coordination of work on the site, we'd look forward to using it.

BD+C: What about green building in Boston?

JIM: The Mayor's green building ordinance requires new municipal buildings to achieve LEED Silver. We just completed a LEED-certifiable police station in Charlestown and a William Rawn-designed library in Mattapan. We're going for LEED-CI for a new police station in Dudley Square. We've also done projects that would be LEED certifiable but have not gone through the certification process. One reason for that is that our department loses control of the buildings once another department takes ownership.

We also are exploring LEED for renovation projects. The majority of our projects are renovations, but the scope of work does not qualify for LEED certification. The Mayor is also working on incorporating LEED concepts into various aspects of the zoning code.

BD+C: How can AEC firms work most effectively with your department?

JIM: First, you have to have an intimate knowledge of the public procurement processes, which are complex. You have to be able to design to a budget, and you have to provide comprehensive services. Over the years, I've found that architects have tended to offer less and less to their clients—things that in the past would have been done as a matter of course, like contract administration or commissioning, are now an extra. We're trying to spell those things out in the contract, to establish expectations from the outset and insure that firms are compensated fairly and services are delivered promptly and expertly.

BD+C: What's your verdict on the Big Dig?

JIM: Well, as someone said, it was like performing open heart surgery on a patient who insisted on playing tennis during the operation. But it did accomplish what it set out to do. It has poised the city for growth through the next century, and it makes Boston a better place to do business.

         
 

Comments on: "Q&A with the City of Boston's Joseph Mulligan: 'Capital requirements don't take a holiday' "

Comments

Hello

Joe: I taught you as a Assistant Professor at Holy Cross; wondered what had happened

to you after all these years. I'm a tenured Professor at Loyola Marymount University

in Art and Art History for the last 21 years. Left the Jesuits and now a parish priest

as an Administrator in an inner-city parish in L.A. Glad to know you are doing well and

in your element. FMT