The Power of Partnerships: Our Recent Work with UMKC

December 17, 2020

This COVID-19 era is a new frontier to us all, which is why relationships are especially important when facility owners are navigating unforeseen challenges and needs. When you’re in the midst of a historic and unprecedented global pandemic, who do you turn to when important work still needs to get done? A trusted partner — and that’s what the University of Missouri-Kansas City did this year. 

Odimo’s portfolio of architectural and design services includes an emphasis on higher education, which makes UMKC a natural fit with Odimo. We’ve been grateful to work with them as Owner’s Technical Consultant for transformative projects like the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center, a $32 million state-of-the-art research and laboratory building scheduled to open this fall that will give both the UMKC campus and the surrounding Kansas City community a place to pursue innovative, high-tech research and development.

Three recent Odimo projects with UMKC are an example of how our continued partnership has helped the university turn uncertainty into opportunity.

Accelerated Delivery of CARES-Funded Projects

A number of universities have realized an urgent need to make permanent changes to the campus environment to better respond to the health and safety of their students and faculty. When UMKC needed to complete a series of retrofits to make the campus a safer, hands-free environment, they knew they could count on Odimo to not only design and document rapid, campus-wide upgrades on a tight timeframe, but also make the process easier. 

Those improvements, funded by the CARES Act, included:

  • Replacing drinking fountains with sensor-equipped bottle fillers in 39 campus buildings
  • Adding card reader access to 11 buildings to help with hands-free access and more efficient contact tracing

Through our on-call contract, we collaborated daily with the UMKC Facilities staff, their job order contractor Brown & Root, and our engineering partner Antella to document, price, and execute these upgrades as efficiently as possible. We set weekly calls with the UM System Architect and their code consultant to assure we were on pace to deliver each building renovation on schedule and in alignment with the latest ADA and code requirements.

Shifting Delivery Methods to Keep a Project on Track

We were thrilled to receive the commission for renovation of two classrooms in the UMKC School of Law Building in early 2020. The Dean and facilities leadership selected Odimo with the recognition that as a toolbox firm, Odimo could expedite complex renovation work without learning curves or false starts, while bringing an inspired design to a much-needed classroom refresh.

That ability to smoothly switch gears helped keep the Law Building renovation on track. Near the end of the design phase, which included interior renovations of two lecture halls to ensure ADA and code compliance while also creating a dynamic classroom experience in line with today’s teaching flexible pedagogy, we quickly changed the project approach from a bid-build to a phased job order contract project. This approach enabled UMKC to minimize the number of contractors on campus during Kansas City’s stay-at-home orders. And while other projects went on-hold or were delayed because of mid-pandemic obstacles, the law school updates were completed on time and on budget.

‘The Voice of Our City; The Eyes and Ears of Our National Collaborators

Here’s another thing about relationships — they’re with you through the good and the bad. There’s no doubt that the pandemic struggle isn’t over, yet all of us at Odimo are keeping our eyes on the future, working toward what’s ahead — just as many of our clients are doing. 

For our firm, that includes a momentous opportunity with UMKC: supporting renowned national architecture firm Ayers Saint Gross on the university’s 2020 masterplan, a comprehensive blend of short-, mid-and long-term projects to address specific UMKC campus needs and fulfill priorities including:

  • Attract students
  • Strengthen faculty innovation
  • Elevate undergraduate education
  • Accelerate research growth
  • Support health sciences
  • Explore innovation in online and blended coursework
  • Expand and improve on-campus housing

We were invited to join the ASG team this fall as an added team member due to the continuing travel limitations we all are experiencing. As a Kansas City-based firm, we’re on the ground to help facilitate an understanding of Kansas City and the UMKC campus for the nationwide experts who can’t currently spend time here. Despite travel and other restrictions, we can help keep the master plan moving forward as the voice of our city and the eyes and ears of our national collaborators. We have also found that our relationships and knowledge of the city are a further asset for our national team to better consider the future of our hometown’s premier university. 

We’re proud that our ongoing partnerships with clients like UMKC have given us the opportunity to bring their vision to life. In return, we take the time to learn the intricacies not just of the project, but of the university’s operations and systems as well. The better we understand the goals, needs, and success measures of our clients, the bigger impact we can have in our work for both small and large projects alike. 

When the world feels uncertain, there’s nothing like the power and comfort of partnerships to affirm that you’re not alone, left to fend for yourself. Instead, there’s perpetual potential. And it’s that potential that keeps all of us at Odimo committed to bringing out the best in our partners by bringing our best to the table.