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Carnival Cruise Line Science And Technology Building
South Florida Business Journal :

Modular Contractors of Miami recently completed the $10 million, 28,000 square foot Carnival Cruise Line Science and Technology Building at St. Thomas University. Begun in 2006, the fast track project was completed on time and within budget due to extensive planning, staging and coordination. Including design, permitting and construction, the entire project lifecycle was less than two years. Modular Contractors’ Principal Shaun Nowrouzi states, “Planning and staging this type of high technology project went far beyond the typical construction process.”

The project’s mechanical and electrical systems, ductwork, piping and power requirements are extremely unique. Modular’s approach hinged on first understanding from the user’s perspective the operational principles and interrelationships of the building’s systems and components. Dr. Edward Ajhar, Dean of the School ofScience & Technology commented, “The Modular team’s understanding of the ‘why and how’ behind every facet of the building was key to the successful outcome.”


The building features teaching laboratories and teaching support facilities for biology, chemistry, computer science, and physics.All laboratories were constructed with scientifi c builtin cabinets and casework outfi tted with acid-resistant utility service and accessories (air, gas, vacuum, cap sinks, electrical and data ports). Each chemistry/ biology laboratory is equipped with high technology laboratory furniture and a series of fume hoods connected
to a central exhaust system which constantly
cycles negative airfl ow.The exhaust system,fresh air intake systems and chilled water systems are all monitored and actuated by phoenix valves and JohnsonControl System.


Shaun Nowrouzi comments, “If I could sum this project up in one word it would be team. We came together as a team. We worked as a team. We succeeded as a team.” Nowrouzi concluded, “Every person who played a part in bringing this project to fruition should feel good about their accomplishment. This structure will benefi t the University and this community for years to come.”


“It is our belief that the more students we are able to prepare for careers in the in-demand fields of science and technology, the bigger the impact we will have on the students’ communities,” said Rev. Monsignor Franklyn M. Casale, President of St. Thomas University. The Carnival Cruise Line Science and Technology Building at St. Thomas University—Flawless!


The Story of Great Planning and Flawless Execution

Carnival Cruise Line Science and Technology Building at St. Thomas University
The Story of Good Planning and Better Execution!

by Gregory T. DuBose, Bella Group, Inc.

Construction is construction is construction, or so the popular thought process goes. Combine four walls, a roof, an interior build-out and a few aesthetic touches, and some people would say you have a completed construction project. In reality, some projects present much more of a challenge.  The $10 million, 28,000 square foot Carnival Cruise Line Science and Technology Building at St. Thomas University serves as a prime example of a successful, albeit challenging construction project.

Projects from the science and technology sector require the skills of many disciplines. These projects succeed only under careful direction, planning and staging by a team with a wealth of experience in this niche market space. The team’s lead professional, no matter how knowledgeable, must be willing to learn. Every one of these projects, no matter how similar, is equally dissimilar.  New challenges abound, and so too do new opportunities. The basis for success with these projects must reside plainly and firmly in fundamental planning measures.

Modular Contractors of Miami, Florida, has proven itself time and again as the preeminent construction manager and general contractor to facilitate these complicated and multi-faceted projects. Modular Contractors’ Principal, Shaun Nowrouzi, states, “One must understand that planning and staging a project such as this goes far beyond what the typical construction process encompasses.”  The approach to this type of high-technology, user-specific project is to first understand from the user’s perspective, the operational principles and interrelationships of the many systems and components. Among the things that make these projects so different are the mechanical and electrical systems, ductwork and piping, power requirements and other features which will ultimately yield the optimum facility for the end-user. Correspondingly, the completed project must manifest an utterly safe and secure environment.  Every effort is taken to protect students, the public and the environment.

Dr. Edward Ajhar, Dean of the School of Science & Technology, commented, “Modular Contractors has been magnificent since day one. The entire team has proven ultra-sensitive to the University’s needs.” Ultimately, these are the science department’s, faculty’s and students’ needs. He continued, “The Modular team’s understanding of this project was clearly evident. Their understanding of the ‘why and how’ behind every aspect of the project has been key to a successful outcome. That understanding afforded Modular the ability to know when it was feasible to value engineer a system or component in the project and when there was no possible compromise.”
An easy example is the scientific cabinetry in the building. Dr. Ajhar commented, “Irrespective of price, we simply couldn’t go to a typical cabinetmaker. Modular understood this because they understood scientific casework necessitates strict adherence to specific standards.”  Conversely, truly understanding the project also allowed Modular’s team to propose alternatives which otherwise would not have been considered.

Begun in 2006, this project was on an extreme fast track schedule and could not have been completed on time without the extensive planning, staging and coordination of the entire interdisciplinary team. The entire project lifecycle was approximately two years—a nearly unbelievable start-to-finish timeframe encompassing design, permitting and construction. Equally astonishing is the fact the project was completed without any change orders to the Guaranteed Maximum Price (“GMP”). This was made possible by Modular Contractors’ proactive approach to value engineering and their understanding of the unique demands, challenges and opportunities this project presented. 

St. Thomas University’s Science and Technology Building consists of computer science laboratories, chemistry and biology laboratories, advanced chemistry and biology laboratories, as well as advanced research laboratories and general classrooms.  In order for Modular Contractors to complete the project to specification, the company had to first possess an intimate understanding of every aspect of the Science and Technology Building’s functionality requirements. Shaun Nowrouzi commented, “We brought the entire user group together so we could learn firsthand how each of the building’s rooms and labs would be used. These sessions proved invaluable. Rather than interpreting the intended use based on a set of preconceived beliefs and guesswork, we were getting the information direct from the users.” He continued, “At its core we were able to further customize an already exceedingly custom build-out.  The advantage of getting everyone on the same page and staying on the same page is improved value engineering. We weren’t looking to make any component or system ‘cheaper’ we were looking to bring the University greater value through efficiency, durability and longevity.” This is what Modular Contractors refers to as working with the owner’s mindset.

Scope of Work—Concept 

To understand the intricacies of the project, an understanding of the scope of work is required. All laboratories were constructed with scientific built-in cabinets and casework outfitted with acid-resistant utility service and accessories (air, gas, vacuum, cap sinks, electrical and data ports).  Each chemistry/biology laboratory is equipped with high technology laboratory furniture and a series of fume hoods connected to a central exhaust system that constantly cycles negative air flow.  The exhaust system, fresh air intake systems and chilled water systems are monitored and actuated by hi-tech air control systems known commonly in the industry as Phoenix Valves. These systems work in tandem with occupant load sensors dedicated to each lab, as well as an advance control system that actuates efficient and balanced negative air flow.

Pre-Construction Phase—Planning

With a clear understanding of the scope of work Modular Contractors moved confidently into the pre-construction phase. Nowrouzi, describing the process stated, “This is where the project really began to take shape. Armed with the understanding of scope we took as much information as possible from the design team and other team members to prepare our budget. We constantly reviewed preliminary drawings for constructability, budget tracking and value engineering.” 

Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP)—No Turning Back

Preparing the GMP pricing package for subcontractors was an intense period in the overall project. Nowhere is the subcontractors’ understanding of a project more important than with a technology-intensive project such as this.  With drawings and specifications at 80% completion, Modular Contractors brought together a team consisting of their own estimator, project manager, superintendent and an independent consultant hired to review plans and specifications. Subsequently, the team drafted independent “critic sheets” to clarify any ambiguity in documents for the bidding process.   This method, termed scrubbing, was essential to Modular’s ability to interpret and convey the vision of the project for bidding purposes at the subcontractor level. Again, it was important the subcontractors not just review a set of plans, without fully understanding the intended uses for the completed project.  Only after first gaining its own understanding from the user group could Modular properly convey the project particulars.

Conflicts in scope of work among trades are avoided with this methodology and the project timeline benefits exponentially. Not crossing tasks makes projects flow smoother and faster. Working within such a tight timeline, every one of the small but important steps Modular made initially, added precious days and weeks to the schedule. Eliminate just one of these steps and the completion date of July 30th would have been jeopardized. For St. Thomas University’s Science and Technology Building the actual construction phase may have been the easiest (if this is fathomable) piece of the pie. Because of excellent project planning and a team approach, many potential sticking points were avoided. Avoiding these project bottlenecks was the key component in completing a seamless project on time, within budget and without the all-too-frequent start/stops of indecision and confusion. Terry O’Connor, St. Thomas University Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, states, “Budget and timeframe were our biggest worries. From day one you got the feeling that Modular knew the project in a way that almost guaranteed success. The team knew the project. They were committed to the project and they stayed on time and on budget. I highly recommend Modular Contractors.” He continued, “It was the manner in which they conducted themselves. They displayed a committed focus to getting the job done right.” 


With so much work having gone into the planning, pre-construction and scrubbing stages of the project, the process of actual construction was a seamless and rewarding affair. “This is where we saw the fruits of our efforts. Here, it was abundantly clear that the deliberate and methodical approach we took with this project was the only approach that could have given the University the project they’d envisioned, and given it to them in the timeframe they required,” states Nowrouzi. The construction phase centered squarely on project coordination, quality control, staging and communication at all levels of the project team.

Communication was highly interactive and culminated in each day’s activity review. Again, this real-time, ongoing and constant monitoring of the project’s progress was essential to completing the project in the allotted time frame. The danger of not conducting a daily review was the potential to allow even the smallest factor to run off schedule. Doing so would have surely resulted in a missed deadline. To understand the full breadth of the feat Modular Contractors accomplished with this project, understand this:  permitting took three months.  The full construction lifecycle start to finish lasted a mere 13 months.


Not the fast track lifecycle, nor the excellent planning, nor even the finished product tells the full story of this multifaceted project. Shaun Nowrouzi comments, “If I could sum this project up in one word it would be team. We came together as a team.  We worked as a team. While the list is too numerous to name, I must mention both consulting engineer Frank Moses and architect Jack Ponikvar. Frank designed the mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems. Jack was the architect in charge of all architectural elements for the project.” Both played an integral role in completing this project on time and within budget.

“I take great pride in the quality project this team has facilitated. I believe every person who played a part in bringing this project to fruition should feel good about their accomplishment. It is quite an achievement to have delivered a structure that will benefit the University and this community for years to come. The contributions these students will make to their fields are endless.”  The Carnival Cruise Line Science and Technology Building at St. Thomas University—a story of good planning and better execution!


AIA Florida 2005 Award of Excellence

Trelles Architects. Jorge, Maritere and Luis Trelles. Modular Contractors. Carrollton School of Sacred Heart. Junior Highschool Addition. Miami, Florida.


Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami


New Building transforms Florida Memorial's aura

by Beth Dunlop
The Herald, Sunday, December 16, 2001

Florida Memorial College's newest building is an exquisite study in history, metaphor and craft. It is a building that is both picturesque and pleasing - delicately scaled, finely proportioned and carefully detailed.

It's a building that seems to stand still in time. Stucco parapets with a simple baroque scallop reach skyward. Three arches beckon you through wrought-iron gates. Walk through and you are in a loggia, shaded and looking out into a courtyard.

Each element was meticulously designed and clearly articulated - the column capitals, the rafters, the arches, even the bas relief lion heads that are the primary ornamental element (the lion is the school's mascot). There is refinement and a profound sense of architecture as art here.

The materials are spare, but authentic - stucco, wood, plaster, glass - and the color palette simple. Walls are a pale cream color. Ceilings, rafters, brackets and eaves are painted in one of four hues of blue. It is a welcoming building, a "please touch" building (so much so that the school actually posted a sign asking students no to do so in the interest of preserving the pale cream-colored stucco walls). Benches - for staff on coffee breaks, students awaiting appointments or for anyone wanting a rest - are built into the wall.

The building is the product of the young Miami architects Juan Carruncho, Frank Martinez and Ana Alvarez; it is their first work built in Miami, though their earlier "tennis cottages," villas and courtyard apartments in Windsor, Fla., garnered them national attention. In a society that lies to label, they have been called "new traditionalist," and it is perhaps an apt tag, as their work does derive from a host of historic architectural conventions, not the least of which is to create buildings that are beautiful to behold.

The beneficiary of this is Florida Memorial College. Founded in 1879, Florida Memorial once occupied a stately campus near St. Augustine, one with graceful Spanish Mission-styled buildings tucked beneath the live oak trees. For decades - almost a century, in fact - the college offered young black students both education and hope.

Then by the 1950s, virulent racial turmoil began to shake northern Florida, not the least of which was the 1951 slaying of the much-admired civil rights leader, Harry T. Moore and his wife Harriette, in the nearby town of Mims. Ultimately, Florida Memorial moved to greater Miami to a site adjacent to the industrial sprawl of Opa-Locka Airport.

A year ago, the 50-acre campus could have been generously described as nondescript, its buildings banal, at best. It also was devoid of landscape. But slowly but surely, this school is being transformed from the mundane to the elegant. Today, you approach and see a stucco wall that might befit a grand estate. There's a little jewel of a gatehouse. Look to your right (don't look left, at least not for a few years yet) and there, just past a formal green, is the new Student Services building.

Carruncho, Martinez and Alvarez set out to transform Florida Memorial from the kind of "driving campus" that characterizes the life of so many South Florida colleges to one in which students walked leisurely and sat outside under shady trees to study - an old-fashioned campus, that is. They drew on their knowledge of local and regional history and formal campus design to conceive of a kind of college-in-a garden, one where buildings wrap around courtyards and open out onto great quadrangles and are connected to one another along landscape allees of tees.

Almost immediately they planted hundreds of oak trees, rows of royal palms, clusters of Washingtonian palms - more than 1,200 trees in all, and began "civilizing the streets" within the campus by adding curbs and gutters. (Curbs are not common in South Florida cities, having somehow inexplicably been branded as a "luxury," but they go along way toward shaping space and defining place.)

Then came the Student Services building. It is a cream-colored stucco structure with a metal seamed roof and sets of parapets marking either end. It is reminiscent of historic Florida buildings - particularly, it calls to mind the superb old Seaboard Coast Line railroad stations designed in the 1920s by the West Palm Beach firm of Harvey & Clarke - but it is not a copy of anything.

The allusions are intended to conjure images, though not explicit ones, of the school's historic St. Augustine campus, to its Spanish-influenced architectural heritage. The architects also looked to European monastic buildings, with their internal courtyards, as a reference.

Florida Memorial took a chance, and the chance paid off. Carruncho, Martinez & Alvarez is a three-architect firm without many buildings in its dossier, making it an impressive choice. Too often, educational institutions rely on the same-old firms with fat portfolios of boring buildings, and the results are predictable. There's really nothing much drearier than a campus full of big, badly built modern buildings. In recent decades, the aspiration to architectural greatness has been much diminished, for an array of reasons - from faulty notions of economy to the inflated ambitions of mediocre architects to the misapprehension of the way in which buildings and landscape relate to each other.

There is tragedy in that. The American college campus is one of the shining achievements of our country, of our culture. Think of the great campuses and you will think of the shimmering Spanish Colonial buildings of Stanford (or in Florida, Rollins) or the evocative "Collegiate Gothic" architecture of Yale or Duke.

Florida Memorial is following that path in pursuit of a campus that will follow the greatness of history. The new Student Services building shows that it can be done in a way that pays homage to yesterday, today and tomorrow, and does so with diligence and elegance.


Broward General Cancer Institute
Catering to the special needs of cancer patients

For building contractor Shaun Nowrouzi, building the latest expansion of Broward General Cancer Institute was more than a job, It was a lobor of love. During an early planning meeting for the construction of the Cancer Institute's new adult and pediatric outpatient treatment areas, Cancer Center director Jan Tuthill discovered that Nowrouzi, president of Modular Contractors, Inc., was no ordinary fellow.

"He spoke up and said he'd like to make a contribution to the project," says Tuthill. It was clear that he was willing to do more than build the facility. "I felt that this was an opportunity for me to do something besides being just the project's contractor," says Nowrouzi. Nowrouzi's life has been touched by cancer. Cancer claimed the lives of both his mother and brother. And he, too, is a 20-year cancer survivor. He knows firsthand the anxiety of arriving for treatment.

Nowrouzi, who has two children, said he couldn't stand to think about small children going through chemotherapy and radiation. "Rather than having a plain vanilla space, I wanted them to have more," he says. "I wanted to help create an atmosphere beyond a clinical area." By donating materials and labor - and by encouraging other companies to do the same - Nowrouzi has helped make the center a bright, soothing place. His fund-raising efforts have outfitted each pediatric treatment room with a television cabinet complete with TV, VCR and lots of video games. Broward General Medical Center has a long history of catering to the special needs of cancer patients.

More than 10 years ago, Broward General became the first hospital in Broward County to be recognized with an approved cancer program by the American College of Surgeons. This national accreditation recognizes Broward General's multi-disciplinary team for providing high-quality comprehensive cancer services to the community. This includes prevention, detection, treatment and ongoing management of cancer. Broward General has maintained this accreditation through the years, and in 1996 the Cancer Institute received another three-year approval.

The recently completed work expands the Institute's cancer services to include adult and pediatric outpatient areas for treatment, screening, education, support and follow-up care. The main adult treatment area is a large room with a full wall of windows looking out on swaying palm trees, home to a family of green parrots. Dark green and mauve wall borders and accents throughout the area give the center a homey look.

"I wanted the patients to have a warm and cheery area where they can look out and see the bright sunshine," says Tuthill. Tuthill is excited about the project and especially grateful for the contributions of Nowrouzi and his co-workers. The children's area, which includes a separate waiting area and five treatment and exam rooms, will have a jigsaw-puzzle theme. "We'll have young adult patients too, and we wanted a theme that was appropriate for all ages," says Tuthill. "Everyone likes jigsaw puzzles."

The mauve, blue and teal moldings around the ceiling of each tretment room, installed by Nowrouzi's crew on their normal days off, look like intricate puzzle pieces fitted together. Even the television cabinets and the carpeting have a jigsaw-puzzle theme. The new area also has administrative offices, physician offices, a conference room and a patient/family library and education center full of books and videos about cancer. The Tumor Registry, which keeps statistics on all cancer patients and reports them to the state, will also be housed there. And the Prostate Diagnostic and Treatment Center as well as the Pain and Symptom Management Center will also be within the area.

Through yearlong fund-raising efforts, including the auxiliary's annual Season of Lights campaign, private donations and the dedication of the project's general contractor, Broward General Cancer Institute has once again made a commitment to first-rate, convenient, compassionate cancer care.