Requesting a Capital Project

Capital improvement projects, which include new construction, renovations, and infrastructure and information technology improvements, enhance the physical assets of Columbia University Medical Center. CUMC Facilities Management initiates and manages all campus capital construction projects, regardless of cost.

How does the process work?

After you submit your project initiation request, our department reviews it to make sure we're the right team to handle your work. If so, a representative from our office will contact you within two business days. A director will also assign you a project manager and project number.

Is my project feasible?

We provide a wide range of services to assist CUMC faculty and departments with evaluating the feasibility of new construction, renovation, or building reuse projects, including:

  • Procuring and managing of consultant services for feasibility study projects
  • Developing existing conditions information and planning or regulatory history of parcels or buildings
  • Testing of potential programmatic uses or design options
  • Analyzing implementation considerations including regulatory and public approvals requirements, campus design, and physical planning guidelines; transportation and parking needs; and project costs
  • Preparing written materials to compare advantages and disadvantages of alternative scenarios

When examining your budget, keep in mind that our project management fee is six percent of the total project cost. If architectural services are provided in addition to project management services, the fee is 10 percent of the total project cost.

To engage with us on the feasibility of your project, select the relevant box in the project initiation request.

How is my project approved?

Depending on the project cost, it will follow one of the schedules below. The approval process for projects is determined largely by the total estimated project cost.

For more information, see the Capital Project Approval Process policy, though this policy doesn't reflect recent changes to the approval process.

Funding Levels

Projects Under $50,000

Since the University’s capital threshold is $50,000, projects that cost less than this amount will be expensed up front through a transfer from your department's chart string. After the project is completed, Capital Project Management will provide you with a reconciliation summary and transfer any remaining balance back to the department.

Projects Costing $50,000 to $249,000

These projects are approved by a funding memo prepared by Capital Project Management and signed by an authorized department representative. Upon approval, we'll establish a chart string for the project and your department will be charged the authorized funds in advance. These projects can be approved at any time once the funding memo has been signed and funds secured. No work or design efforts will begin unless 100 percent of the budget is transferred.

Projects Over $250,000

The approval process for these projects consists of three phases and is contingent on the approval schedule of the Business Issues (BISS) Committee of the Trustees. BISS approvals for projects costing $250,000-1,999,999 take place on a monthly basis. Project requests that exceed $2 million follow a two step process: after BISS approval, the request is reviewed and approved by the Trustees of Columbia University. Trustees approvals take place on a quarterly basis

What are the phases that a project will go through?

Feasibility Study

Funded upfront, this phase provides cost estimates and a better understanding of the magnitude of the project. We'll assess the project's financial impact and review increased revenues and expenses resulting from it. Costs for this phase cannot exceed $250,000.

Design Phase

The design and development phase consists of requesting authorization to proceed with the design of the project. A Project Document needs to be prepared and approved before this phase can begin. See the project document process below.

Construction Phase

This phase takes place once design drawings are completed. We recommend also receiving firm construction bids to gain a higher certainty of project cost. The Project Document will need to be amended and approved before the construction phase can begin—see the process below.

Project Document Process

CUMC Facilities Management and Campus Services is responsible for preparing and presenting the project document for approval, but you can assist us by providing program information and a narrative.

Project documents include the following categories:

  1. Statement of purpose and need
  2. Project scope
  3. Project budget
  4. Project financing
  5. Maintenance and project costs
  6. Energy considerations
  7. Sustainability
  8. Safety and security
  9. Consideration for the disabled
  10. Mode of accomplishment
  11. Certificate of occupancy
  12. Project schedule

The project financing section must identify a source of funding for the full estimated cost of your project, including a reasonable contingency amount. Before a project document can be submitted for approval, all funding must be in a University account and available to be transferred to the project.

The project document includes a signature page which requires the electronic signature of the respective dean or designee.