There are always a number of different teams that collaborate on a property renovation in a variety of ways. In the case of Rob Blanchard, Senior Project Manager at Shawmut Design and Construction, he helps The New York Palace’s changes come together seamlessly.
With 17 years in the industry, Blanchard knows a thing or two about designing and building new structures. Having been inspired by the fast pace of the construction industry, he enjoys the rush of delivering the highest possible level of quality on every project he works. As a part of the Shawmut team for the last nine years, he believes there is a great satisfaction in completing world-class projects and being able to tell someone, “Yeah, I built that.”
In the midst of the many projects at The Palace like our room revamps, we caught up with Blanchard to chat about his career and his thoughts regarding working on such a large project.
The New York Palace: What aspects of the construction are you involved in?
Rob Blanchard: I’m in charge of the overall project along with two other project managers and three project superintendents. On the project management side, we are primarily responsible for contracts, procurement and financials, while the superintendents are accountable for coordinating trades and the assembling of the project.
The New York Palace: What is different about the renovations at The New York Palace as opposed to other sites you’ve worked on?
Rob Blanchard: The biggest difference between The Palace and other hotel projects I have been involved with is that The Palace is a “live” renovation. The hotel has to stay fully operational during our construction activities. We continually changed the barricades during overnight hours so we could work on different parts of the space without affecting the guests. In my experience, it’s rare to be able to keep the whole hotel fully operational with a renovation of this scale taking place.
The New York Palace: Since the hotel is still open, what adjustments have been made to ensure the hotel guests are not disturbed?
Rob Blanchard: We work very closely with the hotel operations staff to ensure that work is planned well in advance and phased meticulously so that there is minimal impact to the guests. There are a series of quiet days that we need to observe and we make sure that no work is scheduled for these days. For instance, temporary reconfiguration of the lobby happens at night and between events so that guests are not disturbed.
The New York Palace: What is the best thing about the hotel undergoing renovations?
Rob Blanchard: The lobby and new canopy are the most exciting components of the renovation for me. The intricate design of the stone floor has a huge wow factor and will undoubtedly make a splash at the new opening. Some of the new bars will also be very cool destinations for guests looking to unwind at the end of the day.
The New York Palace: What is the most exciting part of your job?
Rob Blanchard: The crescendo is the day before turnover. It is usually a flurry of activity with people putting the finishing touches on a space that has taken months to put together and will be in service for decades. Everyone wants their particular portion of the work to look the best it possibly can. Each team member individually and collectively tries to do their best to achieve perfection.