Best Estimate Challenge Runner Up: |
The Westin Book Cadillac Hotel Restoration
by Marous Brothers Construction And Jenkins Construction
By Lynn Murray
The Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit,
Mich. was constructed in 1924 and cost $14 million to build. It was
the tallest building in Detroit and the tallest hotel in the world
at that time.
From Ruins to Riches
There are projects that present challenges, and then, there are CHALLENGING
The Westin Book Cadillac Hotel and Condominiums in Detroit, Mich., is a definite
contender for the latter. It’s also the runner-up in Design Cost Data™’s Best
Project Estimate Challenge for the joint work of Marous Brothers Construction of
Willoughby, Ohio, and Jenkins Construction Inc. of Detroit.
Built in 1924 as a flagship hotel for the “Fifth Avenue of the West,” the Book
Cadillac Hotel was a symbol of opulence and prestige. It cost $14 million to
build and contained 1,136 guest rooms, making it the tallest building in Detroit
and the tallest hotel in the world.
The hotel, which has hosted presidents, executives, athletes and royalty,
operated successfully until the Great Depression. It changed ownership several
times through the years, purchased by hotel chains and developers, and was owned
briefly by the City of Detroit, which kept the hotel open despite declining
In 1986, the property was shuttered for the next 20 years, falling victim to
time, the elements, and vandalism. An effort to revitalize the structure began
in 2003 but was abandoned several months later when the developer realized the
extent of damage.
In 2006, the Cleveland, Ohio-based Ferchill Group announced plans to renovate
the Book Cadillac into a Westin Hotel and Condominiums. Marous Brothers
Construction was called in to offer a fresh approach to value engineering and
The estimating team began with little to go on: a few conceptual layouts, a set
of design drawings from a previous failed attempt and the Westin Hotel
construction standards. For a year, Marous Brothers Construction worked in
weekly design meetings with Jenkins Construction to evaluate the most
appropriate and cost-efficient methods and technologies. Their estimators walked
the building, performing on-site analysis, and developed a creative budget that
incorporated schedule compression and cost-savings through work performed by the
company’s Carpentry and Interior Finishes Division.
The once opulent hotel had fallen
into despair and had been shuttered since 1986 when in 2006 the
Cleveland, Ohio-based Ferchill Group announced plans to renovate the
hotel into a Westin Hotel and Condominiums.
The challenges were extensive. Ballrooms were rebuilt from scratch, using
original drawings, historic photos and plaster casts of decayed details. More
than 60 percent of the millwork material cost was applied to rebuilding the
once-heralded Fourth Floor, and 25 percent of carpenter’s hours for the project
were allocated to installing more than 2,000 new windows.
“As the building was being cleared out through demolition, construction was
ongoing both above and below on floors which had previously been demo’d,” said
John Herold, Field Operations Manager, Marous Brothers Construction, and lead
superintendent on the project. “This involved constant coordination, continual
updates to various floor schedules and clear communication with subcontractors.”
Marous Brothers Construction and Jenkins
Construction worked together to complete the $200 million project in
October 2008. The project completed on time, included ballrooms rebuilt
from scratch using the original drawings and historic photos along with
the installation of over 2,000 new windows.
Marous Brothers Construction recommended and implemented several design features
that not only improved the hotel but also resulted in cost-savings to the
developer. Bathroom exhaust was filtered so that the heat could be saved using
Energy Recovery Units, and energy-efficient kitchen hoods also provided a quick
“We were especially sensitive to challenges regarding budget, schedule and
quality, focusing our efforts to find proactive solutions to project challenges.
Ideas for cost efficiency, constructability, durability, reduced maintenance and
operational cost, construction labor reductions and other features were
developed as a team and implemented into the project,” said Herold.
The $200 million project was completed in October 2008 and today serves as a
catalyst for development in Detroit.
“Despite being four months behind before they ever started to work on the
project, the Marous Brothers/Jenkins team never waivered on meeting the date for
opening the hotel on time,” said Kevin W. Weigand, Project Manager, The Ferchill
“For me, the Book-Cadillac was my project of a lifetime,” said Herold.