Turner Construction to bring Cleveland’s medical and convention center to completion three months early

May 03, 2013  |  Dan Rafter  |  Print Article  |  Email this Article


The Global Center for Health Innovation and Cleveland Convention Center — a joint venture by Ohio’s Cuyahoga County and project owner MMPI — is a key building in the efforts to revitalize downtown Cleveland.

And this project, which will bring both a permanent showroom of medical and hospital goods and a convention center to the city’s downtown, is opening early, three months early. The credit for this goes to the $465 million project’s builder, Turner Construction Company, a national builder with an office in Cleveland.

Turner relied on such technology as Building Information Modeling — better known by its abbreviation of BIM — and on-site iPads to not only complete the project early, but to also do it under budget.

The center, formerly known as the Medical Mart and Cleveland Convention Center, is expected to open June 1, an opening date that is a full three months ahead of schedule.

“Communication is vital in a project like this. And Turner did a great job of communicating with my company as the owner and with eacsh other,” said Dave Johnson, director of public relations and marketing for MMPI.

This was no simple accomplishment. In addition to working with Cuyahoga County, the city of Cleveland and MMPI, Turner Construction also had to communicate with the 300 or so different firms that played a role in bringing the convention center and medical facility toward its early completion.

Part of this can be attributed to Turner’s use of BIM technology. Before Turner even broke ground on the project, company officials use BIM to model its plans, a process that helped Turner determine site logistics and construction schedules.

Thanks to BIM, Turner was able, too, to order pre-made mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, which significantly reduced construction time.

Turner also made a bit of Cleveland history when its workers became the first construction crew members in the city to use iPads on-site to call up documents and communicate with each other. This ability to instantly check project specs and answer questions also helped shorten the center’s construction time.

For Johnson, the opening of the Global Center for Health Innovation and Cleveland Convention Center gives the city yet another tool to bring more business and acvitity to downtown.

Cleveland has always struggled to attract convention business, Johnson said. This isn’t because the city doesn’t offer the amenities that convention-goers seek. It’s because the city has never offered enough convention space.

The new convention center will change this, Johnson said.

“The convention center puts Cleveland back in the game as far as the city being a convention destination,” Johnson said. “We haven’t had the facilities in the past. Planners look at a host of factors when locating their conventions. But first they look at whether there are competitive facilities in a given city. We haven’t been able to get over that. But we will once the convention center opens.”

And with a convention center in its downtown, Johnson said, Cleveland can compete with any city for convention business. That’s because the city offers professional sports teams, thriving cultural institutions and plenty of entertainment. The city is safe, too, and easy to get to.

The convention center, even though it hasn’t even opened yet, has already booked 80 conferences and events, Johnson said. These events are expected to pump about $200 million into the local economy.

“It is going to be an educational process for the convention industry to think of Cleveland as a convention destination,” Johnson said. “The city hasn’t been on the rotation or the radar of meeting planners for years. But here is what we have found: If we can get meeting planners to visit us in Cleveland, they will book an event. The important thing is to get people to the city to see what we have to offer.”

And with the opening of the Global Center for Health Innovations and Cleveland Convention Center this July, this job should be an easier one.

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