Nashville Business Journal Feature on the Music City Center

Keith Pyle leads Brentwood-based Bell & Associates Construction, one of three construction teams partnering to build a 1.2 million-square-foot convention center south of Broadway in downtown Nashville. The center is expected to be up and running by 2013. The Business Journal asked Pyle what it's going to take to get there.

How did you land the convention center?

We formed a strong diversified team that includes Bell Associates, a well-known firm with vast local experience; Clark Construction Group, a national firm with extensive convention center experience; and Harmony Construction Group, a diversity business enterprise firm with a strong knowledge of construction and local practices. The Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency, which is overseeing the project, saw the value of our team's experience and collaborative approach, and we are very glad that we were chosen.

You're teaming with Clark Construction Group, based in Bethesda, Md., and Harmony Construction Group on the project. Describe Bell's specific role.

Our joint venture is set up in such a manner that we all share in the responsibilities of managing the construction of the convention center. Bell will participate in all levels of the construction process, just as the other two firms will. We have carefully created an organizational matrix that blends the expertise of the three participating members of the team.

Are there projects Bell has worked on similar in scale and cost to the convention center?

In our 39-year history this is our first opportunity to participate in a project of this size and cost. Recently, some of our larger scale projects include the completion of a $162 million correctional complex in Morgan County, Tenn., along with the state's largest transportation project in Knoxville at approximately $200 million. Bell's experience and knowledge of the local subcontractor/supplier market, coupled with the vast convention center construction portfolio of Clark and the commitment and energy of Harmony, make us an outstanding team.

When do you expect final plans and funding for the center to be approved, and when it is, what's your next step?

The drawings have reached the schematic design phase, and our next milestone is design development, which we hope will be completed this summer, and then final drawings. Funding for the center will be determined by the mayor and Metro Council.

What will be three keys to getting this project done on time and on budget?

The first and most important key has already been accomplished, and that is getting all stakeholders to buy in to a collaborative approach, where the success of the project is the ultimate goal that everyone is focused on every day. Second, it is important to develop a realistic schedule including responsibilities of the designer and owner and seeing that all parties are accountable for their respective deliverables. And third, develop a transparent budget as the design progresses, providing accurate information to the local community. Last, but not least, is the execution of the construction process. This is where our most important contributions come into play.

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