Episode 171 – Raising the Palace Theater – The TSX Broadway Project

Episode #171
Original Air Date: 02.17.2023

31 Minutes

Listen Here

Our Guest This Episode: Robert Israel

“If you can plan well, you’re going to be successful in project management.” These are the words of our guest Robert Israel, an Executive Vice President at L&L Holding Company. Times Square in New York is undergoing an extraordinary renovation and expansion project. What is unique about this project is that a historic landmark, the 1,700-seat Palace Theatre, has been raised 30 feet to make room for commercial space below. The goal of the project was to preserve the historic theater box, which was built in 1913, and raise it to its new home on the third floor of TSX Broadway.

TSX Broadway is a $2.5 billion hotel, retail tower, and a first-of-its-kind full-building promotional platform. From the vision for the project, to relationships with stakeholders, constraints, logistics, and schedule issues, Robert explains how they navigated the many challenges they faced. These included the complexity of maintaining a structurally sound building, the multiple design elements, and maintaining safety for all the workers. Robert explains how they managed the collaboration of over 150 people who were integrally involved in this unique project, and he stresses the importance for project managers to plan every detail well!

Robert Israel leads and directs all aspects of the TSX Broadway project developments design and construction activities including all decisions as it relates to execution and team development. Previously, Robert Israel was the co-founder of Solid Development Group, and he served as Project Director for RFR Holding. From 2000 through 2013 Robert served in various roles at CBRE, which included Managing Director - Project Management.


Favorite Quotes from Our Talk:

"I think the most important thing that I have been successful at is planning. If you’re a good project manager, you know how to plan. And if you can think three steps ahead of where you need to be, you’re going to be a successful project manager. "

- Robert Israel

"The most important lesson that I learned from this project, ...is that you can never collaborate enough. You can never have enough discussions and making sure that all of the stakeholders are at every meeting as much as possible. "

- Robert Israel

Share With Others

The podcast by project managers for project managers. Situated at the most heavily trafficked public space in the world, Times Square in New York is undergoing an extraordinary renovation and expansion project.  Hear how the iconic Palace Theatre was raised 30 feet to make room for commercial space below. The goal of this complex project was to preserve the historic theater box, which was built in 1913, and raise it to its new home on the third floor of TSX Broadway.

Table of Contents

02:16 … Intro to the Project
03:12 … Raising a Theater
04:42 … The TSX Broadway Project
06:56 … Seeing the Vision
08:34 … Major Stakeholders
10:24 … Retained Slab Project
11:47 … Effective Collaboration
14:26 … The Hydraulic Lifting
18:58 … Project Timeline
20:27 … Kevin and Kyle
22:00 … Monitoring the Lift
24:53 … A Coordinated Effort
25:38 … Lessons Learned
27:40 … Advice for Project Managers
29:08 … Find out More
30:39 … Closing

ROBERT ISRAEL: But I think the most important thing that I have been successful at is planning.  If you’re a good project manager, you know how to plan.  And if you can think three steps ahead of where you need to be, you’re going to be a successful project manager. 

WENDY GROUNDS:  Hello, and welcome to Manage This, the podcast by project managers for project managers.  Thank you for joining us.  I am Wendy Grounds, and in the studio with me is Bill Yates.  If you like what you hear, we’d love to hear from you.  You can leave us a comment on our website, Velociteach.com; on social media; or whichever podcast listening app you use.  If you have any questions about our podcasts or about project management certifications, we’d love to hear from you.

Our guest today is Robert Israel.  He’s an executive vice president at L&L Holding Company.  Robert leads and directs all aspects of the TSX Broadway project development’s design and construction.  Previously, Robert was the cofounder of Solid Development Group.  He has also served as a project director for RFR Holding, and he has served in various management roles at CBRE.  But it’s his project that we are most excited to hear about.  And I’m going to let Bill tell you more about that.

BILL YATES:  Oh, man.  We are so excited about this.  We are delighted to have Robert as our guest because he has been instrumental in this $2.5 billion TSX Broadway project.  And the piece that we want to focus on is the raising of the Palace Theatre.  So we’ll talk about all aspects of it, but especially this historic theater, it’s a 1,700-seat theater that was opened in 1913, and it was on the ground floor.  Well, Wendy, it’s not on the ground floor anymore.  This thing has been raised 30 feet.  We’re going to talk about how you do that in a very busy Times Square with a historic building and all of the complexity that went into that.  Robert was right in the middle of it.  He’s got some amazing tips and tricks and advice that he’ll share.

WENDY GROUNDS:  And also it’s not just the raising of the theater, which is the main thing we talk about; but it’s all the other components that are going into this building in New York.  Hi, Robert.  Welcome to Manage This.  Thank you so much for talking with us today.

ROBERT ISRAEL:  Thanks for having me.  Appreciate you guys inviting me on.

Intro to the Project

WENDY GROUNDS:  Yeah, we’re looking forward to hearing more about this project.  Just as an introduction, can you tell us a little bit about L&L Holding and how long you’ve been working for the company?

ROBERT ISRAEL:  Sure.  I’ve been working at L&L Holding for just over five years.  I came onboard with L&L in 2017, just as we were sort of awarded the project, TSX Broadway.  And we spent two years in preconstruction, essentially, and started construction with TSX on the beginning of 2019.  But L&L overall, we own approximately 8 million square feet in New York City, mostly office/retail.  This is our first foray into the hospitality world, really.  And, you know, it has been an exciting addition to our portfolio.

But yes, L&L’s been in business over 20 years.  It was founded by Rob Lapidus and David Levinson.  Great place to work, great culture, and we manage like a family.

Raising a Theater

BILL YATES:  So you joined the company, and they toss you this small little, you know, side project; right?  This is the first one you’re working on with L&L.  That’s huge.

ROBERT ISRAEL:  Yeah, before I was actually hired, I met with David Levinson and Rob Lapidus several different times and a couple other folks from the company.  And they actually sent me a set of these plans.  It wasn’t called TSX back then.  It was called 1568 Broadway.  And they wanted me to review the plans and come up with some questions and comments relating to the plans when I was interviewing with them.  I wouldn’t call it a test, but they probably would.

And, you know, so I got this set of drawings which was quite large, and I reviewed them, and I had to actually look at the plans multiple times to make sure that I was actually looking at them and reading them and understanding them and interpreting correctly.  It showed us actually lifting the theater.  I wrote it down several times on my notepad, “lifting theater.”  I said, no, it must be a mistake.  No way.  And, you know, sure enough, I went into a couple of different meetings with them, and we were actually going to lift a 1,700-seat theater that’s landmarked from an interior perspective, 30 feet from its original elevation.  And we’ve actually done it as of today.  We actually completed it.

So yes, it was quite the daunting aspect.  And the amount of complexity associated with this project from start to finish, even as of today, everything we do is complex.  So yes, it was a very small project they asked me to start with.

BILL YATES:  That’s great.

The TSX Broadway Project

WENDY GROUNDS:  Can you give us just a little background as to what the whole vision for this TSX Broadway project is?  Part of it was lifting the theater, but there’s a whole lot else that’s involved.

ROBERT ISRAEL:  Sure.  I mean, look.  We live in New York City; right?  And obviously real estate is quite expensive.  But who in their right mind would first of all be able to stand out front of what was originally a 47-story building that was owned and operated by a real estate manager, that had a hotel component in it, had a retail component in it, had a theater in it?  And stand there and say, all right, we’re going to pay $1.1 billion for an asset, which included also signage assets, and we’re going to knock this asset down that was less than 30 years old, okay, and then rebuild.

Number one, it’s going to take hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild and knock down, and then ultimately have a mixed-use development in New York City and own and operate it.  There’s not a lot of mixed-use developments in New York City.  They’re usually office, they’re usually condo, they’re usually multifamily.  There’s not a lot of comingling of uses in New York City.

And this project is a mixed-use development.  It has hotel, hospitality.  It has theater.  And it has retail.  So there’s a huge set of complex circumstances in order to just understand and manage and design that so it all works together so that everybody can get in and out of the building safely, and all of the three uses can comingle and operate in a single property and do what they’re each meant to do.

Theater can do performances.  Hotel can sell rooms to guests.  And this retail is unique because it’s not only just regular retail space, but also we’ve designed into the property a stage space with an opening in our LED signage, which by the way is one of the largest signs in the world, in Times Square, which has a 30×30-foot opening in it that, if you’re standing out front, you’re looking at a sign, you don’t know that there’s an actual door there.  And it will then open to a stage space where performers will be able to either be performing indoors, or then as the doors open can be performing outdoors to the Duffy Square/Times Square world.  So a unique part of the property is our stage.

Seeing the Vision

BILL YATES:  That is fantastic.  Because this is the historic Palace Theatre – it opened in 1913 – and you raised this thing 30 feet.  And then through this, one of the things that surprised me was you opened up 100,000 square feet of retail space as a part of this project.  The complexity of it is just mind-blowing.  The vision of seeing, okay, we have this incredibly lucrative space for retail, if we could just get to it.  How can we get to it?  Let’s raise the theater.  As you were looking at the blueprints, meeting with the owners, you must have been thinking, okay, there’s a bit of insanity here.   How are we going to pull this off technically?

ROBERT ISRAEL:  Well, yeah.  And just to show you how positive we thought the project was going to be, opening up that retail space by lifting the theater was the only way we could do the this project.  The financial implications of getting that space and making it available to us as a developer, it made the project.  Yeah, the hotel’s a hotel, it’s 600 rooms, it’s going to do what it’s going to do.  The theater we don’t own.  We’ve bought the right to condo it and then lift it.  It’s still owned by the Nederlander family.

So the retail space makes this project, 100%.  Retail in Times Square is a unique set of circumstances.  Again, if you look at our corner of 47th Street and Seventh Avenue corner, pre-pandemic, pre-COVID, there were over 400,000 people passing by that corner a day.  We’re almost back to that now, post-COVID.  We’re probably somewhere between 80 and 90% of that right now.  But if you walk out in Times Square, you’ll see it.  You’ll feel it.  It’s back.  Tourists are back to New York City.  And again, that’s one of the reasons that we think TSX Broadway will be one of the most successful mix-used developments in New York City.

Major Stakeholders

WENDY GROUNDS:  Who are your major stakeholders in this project?

ROBERT ISRAEL:  Ah, we have quite a few because we have a very complex set of circumstances when it comes to design.  We have an architect, Mancini Duffy.  We have a structural engineer who designed the base structure of the building, which was Severud. And we have Cosentini, who’s our MEPS engineer, doing all of our mechanical and electrical and plumbing sprinkler design.  But we also have a Landmark Theatre that we had to renovate and spend over $100 million in renovating.  We had PBDW as our historic architect.  We had Theatre Projects Group who helped us design all of the back-of-house spaces and all of the specific theater-related special equipment that we needed in order for the theater to be renovated and completed.

You know, it’s going to be a pretty unique theater from the perspective of obviously the theater orchestra level’s at the third floor of the building, and all of the trap space and the back-of-house areas are in and around that.  But our loading dock is at the ground floor.  We have what we call a pit lift which enables the theater to, when they were loading in and loading out, actually load in the entire orchestra pit in sort of one delivery, I’ll call it.  They construct that orchestra pit at the loading dock level, and that pit lift raises the orchestra itself up to the trap level so that it sits there in one complete move.  We’re not moving individual instruments in and out.

And when, as many Broadway shows do, the theater does instrument changeouts, especially for long-running shows, literally they just have to drop that pit, and they can change out the instruments in a very unique and efficient way.  So that Theater Projects Group helped us do that.  We had multiple structural engineers.  Then we had a shoring stability structural engineer because, again, one of the other complex design elements of this project is what we call a “retained slab project.”

Retained Slab Project

Now, what a retained slab project is, in order to maintain our overbuilt condition based on 2022 zoning laws, if we were going to build this building today, let’s say, or back in 2017 when we filed it, we would have had to build the building say 84,000 square feet smaller.  But since we maintained 25% of the existing slab, which was approximately 90,000 square feet of the existing building, maintained it in its location, so it couldn’t move, it can’t be replaced, it has to actually stay there during the construction process.  We then are able to, based on the New York City zoning law, maintain our overbuilt condition.  We can build a building that’s 84,000 square feet bigger than zoning would allow in today’s zoning laws.  That’s huge.  84,000 square feet on a rentable square foot basis is absolutely a monumental amount of money.

That’s why we chose to do this project like that, and that created this complexity and a huge, you know, cost in order to maintain, number one, a structurally sound building; number two, design it in a way that it works for us going forward.  And number three, while we were doing the work, maintain safety for all the men who were doing the work.  That was Howard Shapiro & Associates.  They were our structural stability and shoring engineer.  We spent millions of dollars of money to shore and make sure that we were doing this work correctly in order to maintain those slabs, to reap the benefits of that 84,000 feet.

Effective Collaboration

BILL YATES:  That’s fantastic.  Robert, one of the things, thinking of how you orchestrated the collaboration of all these distinct groups, the different disciplines, you have mechanical engineers, you have historic architects, you have all this brain trust.  I see them in a room fighting over what needs to happen, what priorities take place.  How did you get everybody to collaborate?  What are some of the takeaways you had regarding that?

ROBERT ISRAEL:  That’s a great question.  So when I came to L&L I pitched to David and Rob that in order for us to be successful, number one, I needed a team, a fairly sizable team.  And number two, we needed to collaborate with the design team and the construction team.  In order to do that, we made the commitment, we actually created a project site office.  It’s over 45 seats. And it’s approximately just under 10,000 square feet.  It’s in – the location’s Tower 45.  It’s approximately two and a half blocks from the site, so very closely located.  When we were procuring the architectural, the engineering, all of those consulting contracts, we required full-time onsite presence by all of the major stakeholders and all the consultants that were associated with our project.

BILL YATES:  That’s so smart.  That’s so smart. 

ROBERT ISRAEL:  In order for us that when we were doing the typical construction administration process of our project, and all of the pre-con, and all of the coordination, that we did not lose time.  If you’re involved in many typical projects, and you don’t have the ability, the budget, or the vision to collaborate like this, projects are delayed because of that lack of – I wouldn’t say lack of collaboration, but just lack of ability to work together quickly and efficiently.

So, you know, we have 45 seats here that are filled every day and have been filled for the last three and half years.  Plus I’ll give you the way I kind of gauge on how many people are actually working on this project every day.  I have a holiday party every year.  The guest list is about 150 people.  That’s how many people who are integrally involved in this project every day.  Approximately 150.  So that’s how we collaborated.  It’s a firm-wide thing.  We’ve taken this model and sort of pushed it out to all of our other major projects that we’re doing right now.  We all have a large site office presence with full-time architectural and engineering presence in those offices and sit directly with the contractor with the project team.

BILL YATES:  That’s such a smart setup for L&L.  I would encourage you, I’m sure you guys are doing this, take lots of picture, lots of videos of what’s on the walls, what the space looks like, because that’s going to be something that will be important for you guys to duplicate on future projects that are of this size.  That’s a great idea, having people onsite like that.

ROBERT ISRAEL:  Yeah, yeah, we totally understand that firm is brought into that at 100%.

The Hydraulic Lifting

BILL YATES:  Briefly describe these 34 pillars, the hydraulic lifts that took place to move this 1,700-seat theater up.  We don’t have video going here, so I just want people to get the picture from you, Robert.  Just describe how you guys did that.

ROBERT ISRAEL:  Yeah, so remember, the theater was at ground level.  There was one basement level that was original to the theater.  So picture that, right, that’s the theater box itself, right, and the theater is a box.  It was spanned by a truss that had a tabletop and legs, and a tower sat above it.  So when we figured out how to lift this theater, we brought on one of our most important partners, which is our theater lift engineer.  And that was Urban Engineering. 

Now, when we bought the project, there was one design.  When we actually went to implement the project based on field conditions, constraints, schedule issues, access to the basement in the theater, the plan changed many times.  But we were able to bob and weave with those plan changes and ultimately get a plan that we could implement, and we started implementing.

Now, you asked the question of how did we actually do this.  Well, we actually had to build an access ramp which is basically we removed the back of house from the theater, the stage area.  And that’s where we drove our excavation equipment down into the existing cellar of the theater in what we called our “HOV lane,” when there was only a 13-foot – which is not a lot of feet – to drive equipment down in there and start the excavation process.  The first step was to drill our caissons.

If you’ve ever seen a caisson drilling machine, it usually has an 18-foot head height.  Urban actually started the project with that typical configuration, and we had to chop holes in the slabs to allow for that to actually happen.  But by the time we had finished the project, we had created multiple pieces of equipment which we called the “Red Dragon,” which was a caisson drilling machine with a circumference of 46 inches, which, you know, that’s 46-inch diameter caisson, a large caisson, but only had a head height of less than 12 feet.  And they were able to be moved quite easily on skids in and around the basement with obviously steel overhead.

Not only did we drill the temporary caissons, but we also drilled the permanent caissons.  Some of them are filled with concrete, and some of them are filled with, in the case of our lifting posts, steel beams, I-beams, that were spliced together.  We drilled these caissons 65 feet into the bedrock in order for them to, number one, support the existing structure ultimately; but number two, have the length that when we were going 30 foot in elevation, that’s what actually raised the theater was this steel within these steel tubes that was able to be pushed up with jacks in six-inch increments.

And once we finished the caisson drilling, then we removed the portions in the existing foundation in order for us to be able to pour a five-foot-thick “ring beam,” which was a reinforced concrete beam that had steel within it, as well, and plates in order for us to line up with our 34 lifting posts.  And once that concrete beam was installed around the entire circumference of the existing foundation, essentially, we hadn’t transferred the load yet because we had to support it temporarily while we did the concrete beam, once all of that concrete ring beam was in, and the caissons were all in, we did an actual load transfer where we transferred the load off of the existing foundations onto the new temporary lifting post caissons so we were ready to lift.

So that’s the process we followed.  And again, all of this was done in an existing basement.  As well as that going on, we were also digging a new subcellar level.  So we had to not only support the foundation from, its original subgrade level, but then we took it down again.  And that’s sort of the coordination we had to do with all the existing and new caissons.  So a huge amount of coordination and effort that it took with Urban Engineering Foundations in order to get that to happen.  It’s very difficult to describe in words.  It’s available out there in the media to show exactly what we did and how we did it.

BILL YATES:  Yeah.  Those videos are amazing.  And it gives me a sense of just how tight the quarters were.  And of course that’s, you know, Times Square is such a tight area anyway, a densely populated urban area like that whenever you bring in cranes, whenever you bring in big earth-moving equipment, you’re going to disrupt stuff.  There’s so much coordination has to take place so that you and your team can make good progress without making all your neighbors furious because you’re interfering with their business and creating a situation for them.

Project Timeline

ROBERT ISRAEL:  As unfortunate as COVID was and the pandemic was, we were fortunate enough from the perspective of we were hospitality so we got deemed an essential site.  So we really only had about three to four weeks of no work onsite.  We were back up and running within three weeks, obviously under COVID protocols and what the state mandated.  But we were working throughout the entire pandemic. 

When I went back to work in August of ‘20, running around the city back then, every day was like a Sunday.  It actually helped us from a logistics, deliveries, I mean, there were other challenges, supply chain, manpower.  But your point about Times Square being a hugely logistical issue for construction, it absolutely is, and it is now back to where it was.  But back then in 2020 to say ‘21, we had a bit of pass when it came to logistics.

WENDY GROUNDS:  So how did that affect your timeline?  Were you able to stay within the timeline?

ROBERT ISRAEL:  Although we were deemed an essential site, although we were allowed to go back to work, we definitely felt the pain of COVID.  We did take a delay because of the COVID-related issues that we had.  You know, we shut down.  We had to make the building safe because we didn’t know how long we were going to be shut down for.  Then we had to get people back to work and redo what we had made safe.  So we ended up with a fairly substantial delay when it came to the overall COVID impact based on what we had to do and how we had to do it, even though we were working.  We weren’t working as efficiently as we would have been if we had just had no COVID issues to begin with.

Kevin and Kyle

WENDY GROUNDS:  Let’s hear from Kevin and Kyle.  What have you guys been up to?

KYLE CROWE: Thank you Wendy. When you start a project, do you create a communication plan and a stakeholder management plan?

KEVIN RONEY: Not really, have you been doing so?

KYLE CROWE: I find it to be a very helpful practice, especially if you want to streamline team communications. Communication is the glue that keeps everyone together.  Basically, in a project communication plan, you are outlining what, when, and how you share information with your team and stakeholders. You have a written guide for things like status updates, task-related questions, meeting details, and so on.

KEVIN RONEY: This reminds me of something I read.  George Bernard Shaw said: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  So having a good communication strategy can help to solve most major communication breakdowns before they happen. It establishes expectations for everyone involved in the project.

KYLE CROWE: If you think about it, you may have some stakeholders who want to receive regular email updates, and then you may have team members who are more comfortable with texting if a task is time-sensitive. It could cause a communication breakdown if you don’t have everything properly laid out. A communication plan will establish these professional boundaries and project expectations. You can safeguard your client management and maximize the chances of delivering the best project to meet the needs of the organization.

KEVIN RONEY: I know Velociteach has a great InSite course called PROJECT PLANNING – COMMUNICATIONS AND STAKEHOLDER MANAGEMENT. This course covers all the components of communication and stakeholder management.  It has helpful lessons on managing communication methods and relationships with key stakeholders. You will also find some downloadable templates with example content and the Stakeholder Analysis Assistant tool. Thanks for the chat Kyle!

Monitoring the Lift

BILL YATES: Thanks for that info Kevin and Kyle. Let’s go back to our podcast. Robert, one of the areas of this that was fascinating to me was the timeline for the lift.  You know, obviously once you get everything in place you don’t just hit the button, and let’s just move this thing up.  You have to do it very gradually.  And I understand that tilt became a big four-letter word for you.  You and some other team members were monitoring that tilt to make sure that it stayed within the quality specs that you guys knew would lead to success.  Talk to me about that.  How stressful was that for you and your team as you guys were monitoring that lift?

ROBERT ISRAEL:  Yes.  So as far as the lift goes, when we were ready to lift, we had a whole protection element that we performed in order to protect the theater and make it ready to lift.  Not only the structural piece, but remember we have historic plaster throughout this theater that we had to preserve.  And we went through a huge monumental effort to preserve the plaster and prepare it to be lifted because, again, we’re lifting this whole structure, 14 million pounds, 30 feet in the air, and Landmarks required us, as well as the theater owner, to make sure that their “jewel” was protected.

So prior to any of the lifting, going on, we created a signoff process.  Then, when we were actually ready to lift, we did it in two ways because remember, we’re lifting a building that was a separate building, but we all know when a building is built over, and there’s an overbuild, it’s not truly separated.  Yes, there’s air space.  But ultimately there were still things that we could see that were problematic to release the theater from where it had been and get it on its journey.  So we decided together as a team that we were going to bump, what we called the “bumping” of the theater.  Which basically was going to lift it the first six inches.

And, you know, there were over 50 people in the site that were specific to the lift.  That includes manpower for Urban to make sure the jacks were operating correctly, technicians to make sure that our digital control center of the jacks, was operating properly.  And then there were over 25 consultants in various areas of the theater, below the theater, in the theater, above the theater, to assure that as we lifted this theater, after we lifted it, they went around and every six-inch increments we’d do an investigation of the entire theater with all of these consultants to get their conveyance that we were allowed to keep lifting.

So we did that six-inch bump.  There were some sounds in that theater that I wouldn’t want to repeat, of the theater releasing, steel banging.  But we made it through with little or no damage when we did the first six-inch bump.  It was a historic moment, obviously, for the project.  And then we did that bump and, oh, actually stopped for about three weeks to do some more demolition above the head to finish the pocket.  And then starting the end of January we moved forward what we called the “production lift,” which was, lifting until we were done.  Which took approximately six weeks to lift in the six-inch increments.  I think the most we did was 39 inches in a day.

A Coordinated Effort

BILL YATES:  Robert, this reminds me just having all those different groups that are responsible for a specific aspect of this project, you know, getting the okay for launch.  It reminds me of a NASA launch and just kind of the classic scenes from the ‘70s, the Apollo missions, where you have to have every group give the green light, raise the thumb and saying everything looks good, go for it.  That’s a very coordinated effort.

ROBERT ISRAEL:  Just like working a real estate transaction.  Like, when you’re doing a large sale of a building, and you’re actually getting the money transferred, requiring all those signoffs.  Similar.  But in the bricks-and-mortar space people are actually there together.  It’s more about digital these days.  This is actually doing this, in hand, standing there.  It was a great moment for us.  Everybody involved in the project, you know, really took a lot of pride in being able to do this and doing it safely.

Lessons Learned

BILL YATES:  One of the quotes of one of the interviews you gave just as I was researching this project, you said this was by far the most complex project that L&L has undertaken.  And everything you’re describing just echoes and amens that.  I love this idea of the project site office and the collaboration that that set up.  So important to be near the site and have those seats filled with key stakeholders.  There are so many lessons learned that I’m hearing.  Are there additional lessons learned that you want to bring out that you or your team have picked up on that you’ll probably use in future projects?

ROBERT ISRAEL:  I think that the most important lesson that I learned from this project, it is that you can never collaborate enough.  You can never have enough discussions and making sure that all of the stakeholders are at every meeting as much as possible.  Now, that becomes cumbersome, don’t get me wrong, because some of these meetings can be long and drawn out, and a lot of these stakeholders are probably not active during the entire meeting process.

But I’m telling you, many times that I was managing issues that came up because of certain stakeholders not being advised or not being involved in the discussion, which they could have been, and it created issues.  We managed through them.  But that is ringing in my head that key stakeholders being advised and being in the know of everything that is going on because, even though a project might take three and a half years, four years, things move very quickly in the project world.  And every minute counts, especially in a project like this, where expenses are high.

Again, making sure that I check the boxes or my team checks the box, with making sure that all of the people that need to know an issue has come up and get their opinion. And we don’t end up doing something that ultimately we have to redo because they brought up an issue that nobody thought about, and they’re actually right.  That’s really the biggest lesson learned that I have.  And we collaborate really well, but there could never be enough of it.

Advice for Project Managers

BILL YATES:  Robert, you’ve worked some incredibly complex and impressive projects.  I can’t let you go without asking, do you have any advice for project managers who they may be early in their career? They may be middle or near the end, and they could use some inspiration or a tip from you.  What would you share?

ROBERT ISRAEL:  I’ve done this for around 28 years now.  Started out in the construction business directly, working for a large contractor, and worked for large real estate companies, worked for large owners.  I would tell you this.  Our industry is a very talented industry, and it spans all types of people, all types of backgrounds, all types of education.

But I think the most important thing that I have been successful at is planning.  If you’re a good project manager, you know how to plan.  And if you can think three steps ahead of where you need to be, you’re going to be a successful project manager.  And that’s the most important thing.  That’s the most important thing I see in my team, the ability to plan and the ability to go beyond sort of that being reactive.  We need to be proactive in this industry.  And if you can be proactive, and you can plan very, very well, and very detail oriented, you’re going to be a successful project manager, number one, at the beginning of your career; number two, at the end of your career.  If you can plan well, you’re going to be successful in project management.

Find out More

WENDY GROUNDS:  I think that’s definitely stood out in the whole of this project.  Everything you’ve said has just reflected on the amount of planning and just how well this project has been planned.  And I think that speaks to its success.  How can our audience find out more about your work and about this project?  Where can you direct them to?

ROBERT ISRAEL: You can google TSX Broadway.  We have our own website.  There’s lots of things out there on the Internet.  All of our media, most of it is on our website.  So TSX Broadway is trademarked by us.  That’s the easiest way to get information out.

BILL YATES:  Robert, thank you again so much for your time and just sharing your expertise with us.  I know you’re an incredible busy man.  You have a project site office that you need to attend to.

ROBERT ISRAEL:  Thank you for having me.  This was great, had a great discussion.  Thanks so much.

BILL YATES:  I appreciate what Robert’s sharing about plans that we start with, and then we have to change them.  You know, Wendy, I’m thinking of the Ocean Cleanup Project and the description of how they had this big horseshoe contraption that was in the ocean that was going to capture all the plastic. And how they went through different iterations because things kept breaking or just didn’t work, and they had to change those original plans.  I also think of our conversation with the guys that worked on the Mercedes Benz Stadium. They went in-depth about the way the roof was designed and how it got redesigned and redesigned and redesigned.

WENDY GROUNDS:  Right.  It’s never the original plan, yes.

BILL YATES:  Yes, yes.  So that flexibility on huge, very public, very visible projects is a great lesson to me.


WENDY GROUNDS:  That’s it for us here on Manage This.  You have just earned your PDUs, your Professional Development Units toward recertifications by listening to this podcast.  To claim them, go to Velociteach.com, choose Manage This Podcast from the top of the page. Click the button that says Claim PDUs, and click through the steps.  Thank you for joining us.  Until next time, keep calm and Manage This.

2 responses to “Episode 171 – Raising the Palace Theater – The TSX Broadway Project”

  1. Davee israel says:

    Absolutely fascinating—Robert is fabulous , knowledgeable, clear in explaining everything. I almost feel I could do it myself. When will the project finish? And what will Robert do next?

    • Wendy Grounds says:

      This is indeed an incredible project. I believe it should be finished sometime this year. You’d have to ask Robert what his next project is ! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *