Collaborative Construction Management ensures its projects’ success by employing a time-tested formula
with key trade partners and consultants.
By Bianca Herron, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media
Collaborative Construction Management (CCM) was founded in 1997 with the idea that successful results are achieved by combining creativity, craft and commerce.
Twenty-one years later, the New York City-based company has earned a reputation in the industry as a pioneer of adaptive reuse. CCM has converted 37 former commercial properties – nearly 8 million square feet – into more than 7,600 residential units.
CCM has completed some of the most complex and large-scale conversion projects ever undertaken in New York City, transforming many iconic landmark buildings into today’s most functional and luxurious environments, according to President Michael Siciliani. “We are the undisputed leader in commercial to residential conversions,” Siciliani says. “We tackle large-scale, unusually challenging logistical puzzles. We understand how to work in and around an existing building, sometimes even while occupied.”
With every project, CCM “takes what the existing building gives and employ our unique expertise and creativity to overcome the various infrastructure issues that are inherent in this type of work,” Siciliani says. “Oftentimes, the most elegant solutions are very simple, but you may need an uncommon way to look for them. We have a well-curated bag of tricks.”
Keys to Success
CCM’s expertise dates back to the 1980’s when Siciliani started working in the industry. He and his dedicated staff have developed highly specialized techniques and methodologies over the years by working with various structural elements found in older buildings, such as brick and timber, terra cotta arch, cast iron, steel, concrete and glass.
CCM attributes its success to being transparent throughout the entire process. “In many cases we start out as owners’ representatives,” Siciliani explains. “We hire and manage all the consultants and make informed decisions throughout the design process that effect not only the construction, but also the long-term maintenance, management and operation of the asset.
“We provide a cradle-to-grave alternative to conventional construction managers and general contractors,” Siciliani adds. “In fact, we’ve been doing this so long that we’ve already converted two buildings for the second time, for different owners, 20 years apart.”
As “pure construction managers,” CCM subcontracts everything, Siciliani notes. “We understand that you are only as strong as your weakest link, and we take great pride in the fact that many of our subcontractors and consultants have been working together with us from the very beginning,” he says.
All of CCM’s clients are repeat customers, which speaks to the company’s level of integrity, according to Siciliani. “I think it also speaks directly to the trust that people place in our unique skills and ability,” he says. “We look at things holistically from the owner’s perspective. We steer the systems design and material to ensure flexibility for operations and maintenance in the future.”
Making It Happen
As construction managers, CCM takes on three to four projects at any given time, working with anywhere from 600 to 700 on-site tradesmen. Its in-house staff is comprised of 25 employees, most of who have worked together on various projects for more than twenty years. CCM enjoys a unique position in its market. “While we work on very large scale projects, we are a boutique firm that has grown organically, our culture is naturally all hands on deck, and our clients really appreciate that level of responsiveness,” Siciliani explains.
One of its latest projects is 180 Water Street in New York City. The 30-story, 517,000-square-feet former office building has been converted into 573 rental apartments. CCM started the conversion process in 2015 and completed it spring 2017.
“The original 1970’s office building had a curtain wall with fixed windows, drab metal spandrels, and mechanical ventilation,” Siciliani explains. “Residential buildings require operable windows, so when we replaced the windows, we also re-skinned the spandrel panels with glass, creating a completely new, modern façade.”
The existing footprint was an 18,404 square feet rectangle, measuring 172’ x 107’, and did not present itself as a viable candidate for residential conversion with such a deep floor plate, according to Siciliani. However, the developer and architect solved this problem by designing a 30-foot by 40-foot interior atrium open to the sky, allowing for a double loaded corridor with inward facing units. The demolished floor area was reconstructed atop the old buildings roof, creating a dramatic metal and glass addition, featuring a sky lounge and outdoor swimming pool.
One of the many complexities CCM encountered during the project was not being able to obtain a crane permit. “All of the new steel, generators, cooling towers and water tanks had to be hoisted and erected by hand,” Siciliani says. “This project reminds us that there is always a solution – you just need to be creative enough to find it and daring enough to execute. Ultimately, the finished product is absolutely stunning, and the market has received it very well.”
Another project of CCM’s is 443 Greenwich Street in Manhattan. The landmark 250,000-square-feet building was built in 1883, of brick-and-timber construction. It was initially a six-story industrial loft building until CCM converted it to residential with a two-story penthouse addition, and 52 condominiums. CCM started converting the building in 2013 with new residents taking occupancy in 2016.
“The structure had fallen into disrepair over time, and a decision was made early on to remove all the wood joists and replace the floors with long span metal deck and concrete,” Siciliani recalls. “Additionally, we dug out the basement several feet to gain necessary headroom for parking and other amenities. This required extensive foundation reinforcement and waterproofing, all while maintaining the landmark facade intact.”
The enhanced building now features private elevators and swimming pools, a spa, gym, drive-thru parking, state of the art home automation systems and a wine cellar. The one-acre site is comprised of two adjoining “U” shape buildings that form a spectacular landscaped courtyard with historic metal window shutters. Much of the wood that was removed has been meticulously restored and repurposed throughout the building.
CCM had 250 workers on-site at its peak, and worked with a wide variety of specialty contractors. Siciliani describes the company’s relationships with its tradesmen as “collaborative,” especially when it comes to meeting consumers’ changing needs.
While the company is well known for its’ prowess in the residential conversion sector, it has always retained a presence in the commercial interiors world and has recently completed its first hospitality project, a 137-room boutique hotel, aka. Wall Street.
Another CCM project is the Assemblage NoMad, where the company completely gut-renovated a long vacant 40,000 square foot 1920’s gem into a communal work/learn/wellness center. The building features state of the art AV/IT systems and offers a unique blend of office suites, conference rooms, multi-media event space, commercial kitchen, and rooftop garden to its subscribers.
Building on the success of the subscription access office model, CCM is currently completing its second Assemblage offering. The 130,000 square foot building located on John Street will be the home of its first co-live/work space offering modern office space with a twist. In addition to the fully fit out, flexible and functional co-work environment, members will have access to 79 newly constructed hotel rooms.
Culture of Safety
For CCM, safety is invaluable. “We put a tremendous premium on safety,” Siciliani explains. “The safety rules change frequently, and we want to respond immediately,” Siciliani says. “We work with several third-party specialists who provide site specific plans and training for us on each project.
“My father was a tradesman, and I place a very high value on craftsmanship,” he concludes. “We believe that when you provide a clean and safe environment to work in, that’s the first way you show respect and appreciation for the tradesman.”