Ruby Falls team sets expectations through mock-ups
EMJ’s Chattanooga team recently performed a polished concrete mock-up for the Ruby Falls project, giving the client and the team and a better understanding of what’s to come during construction.
A mock-up is a full-size structural model made with the exact construction techniques and materials that will be used on a project.
“Mock-ups serve two purposes: to extract expectations from the client and to communicate what your team will deliver,” said Jonathan Horne, EMJ’s Director of Quality Assurance. “Mock-ups allow us to get the client’s feedback on our work at the preconstruction stage rather than after the task is completed on the project.”
The mock-up gives clients, contractors and project teams the opportunity to assess a three-dimensional representation of a design, so that functionality, aesthetics and quality can be evaluated down to the smallest detail.
“We want to present the true expectation so our client understands what they’re going to get when we are finished,” said John Rudez, Superintendent of Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, who showcased the mock-up in a recent video.
Although creating a mock-up may seem like an additional expense during preconstruction, it could end up costing more to skip this step and later repair unforeseen errors.
“Any time you have a specialty finish it’s a good idea to perform a mock-up,” said Matt Elliott, Project Manager at Ruby Falls. “It not only aligns expectations but also ensures that the finish matches the consistency and pattern the owner desires.”
Understanding the difficulty of translating polished concrete to the client, the Ruby Falls team determined that a concrete slab mock-up, among several others, would be beneficial during their quality management planning meeting. They then reached out to the learning team to document the process.
“We wanted to take the client through the process and outcome, and then realized that documenting it also served as a learning opportunity for our other construction teams,” said Elliott. “We knew that mock-ups were the best way to ensure that what we intend to deliver will meet and hopefully exceed expectations.“
Still in the early construction phase of the Ruby Falls project, EMJ’s team is beginning to focus on the end product, but with proactive techniques like mock-ups at the forefront of construction, our client experience is sure to exceed expectations.
“There is great value in mock-ups for our team by building trust, expanding knowledge and improving the client experience,” Horne added. “We know the risk of an unhappy owner is far greater than the cost to do it.”
Above: The EMJ team mocked up a wall section of the building to convey building envelope details, aesthetics, and more for the client at Ruby Falls.