The views expressed in this article are strictly those of Max Wideman. Published here March 2014

Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked - the Project Environment
What We Liked - the Construction-execution Approach | Downside | Summary


The first edition of this book, Total Construction Project Management was written by George J. Ritz and published by McGraw-Hill Education, LLC, back in 1994. This second edition was in progress when sadly George Ritz passed away. McGraw-Hill selected Sidney Levy to complete this task. George Ritz observed throughout his book that the human element and relationships people form and build on will continue to define a successful project. Sidney Levy recognized this imperative and followed this advice in completing the work of publishing this book.[1]

In the introduction, the authors observe:

"If one is going to practice project management within an industry, it is a good idea to define the arena in which management techniques will be applied. We really need to know just what business we are in to evaluate our present goals, find out where we have been, and see where we hope to go from here.

"The theme of this book is the practice of management across all facets of project execution in construction. It is important for many reasons to master the basic technology applicable to your specialized field of construction. Knowledge and understanding of construction operations and technology are key to running a successful project; mastery is an essential ingredient in progressing up the ladder and improving your professional standing."[2]

And further that:

"One must apply all the techniques presented here over the life of the construction project to be successful. Superficial utilization will not meet the goal of effective construction project management."[3]

As we shall see, this is a very comprehensive and thorough book on the art of construction project management. In many ways it mirrors a very similarly extensive and detailed book that we reviewed not too long ago: Project Management, Tenth Edition, by Dennis Lock, 2013. As we observed at the time, Lock's book was "published for the benefit of practicing project managers, and their supporting teams, working in the trenches of any industry involved with projects." (Emphasis added.)

So what is the difference? Lock's book was written from the perspective of a project manager working essentially for the project's owners and therefore covered the many varieties of projects encountered in the business environment. Authors Ritz and Levy, on the other hand, focus in depth on one particular type of project, namely construction in all its forms, though not necessarily in all its technological practices. However, similar to Lock, Ritz and Levy adopt the project life span as their basic book structure and like Lock they carefully weave the essentials of project management into the work sequence of construction technology.

Obviously there are overlaps between the two books, but the perspectives tend to be quite opposite and complementary. Further, Lock's book was essentially aimed at the European market, while Ritz and Levy's book is not only written for the North American market, but especially for those expecting to manage the work intimately involved in site construction. That means actually being "on site" for most of the time acting as the manager of construction, i.e. "Construction Manager" (CM), a third-party position between the owner of the works and the design consultants. Of course this label can also be used to refer to the owner's representative agent,[4] and both titles can get mutated into yet another project manager on the site.[5]

Having said all of that, we suggest that this book also represents a valuable reference source for the owner's staff involved in overseeing the various aspects of large construction projects.

About the authors

George J. Ritz was a leading expert in construction and project management, with 40 years of experience in executing projects in the US and abroad. He worked on a variety of projects ranging from schools for physically challenged students to world-class petrochemical plants. George was a registered professional engineer and a frequent lecturer on project management and related topics. He wrote the first version of this book back in 1994.

Sidney M. Levy has 35 years experience as a senior executive in a major general-contracting firm in New England. He is the author of 30 books on construction means, methods, and operations in the US and abroad. He has lectured to industry groups in the US, Mexico, Europe, Japan and Korea. His book Project Management in Construction was awarded the British Chartered Institute of Building Silver Medal. Sidney currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland, where he is an independent construction consultant.


1. Ritz, George, J., & Sidney M. Levi, Total Construction Project Management, McGraw-Hill Education, NY, 2013, pp xvii-xviii.
2. Ibid, p1
3. Ibid.
4. Instead of "Project Manager", a better term for this "Owner's Representative Agent" is Project Director.
5.Such is the confusing state of the discipline of project management.
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