Across DPR Blog

July 31, 2014

DPR Hardin Volunteers Support a Green Cause in Atlanta

Demonstrating that volunteerism is often a win-win proposition, some 18 DPR Hardin Construction employees recently participated in a volunteer effort that not only delivered needed improvements to the nonprofit Lifecycle Building Center (LBC) but also built teamwork and shared purpose among all who came to help out.

The Atlanta area volunteers helped spruce up the appearance and organize the stock of the community-based nonprofit organization during the half-day volunteer event July 25. Since opening three years ago, the Center has been dedicated to increasing the Atlanta community’s sustainability through educational outreach and salvaging materials from renovated or demolished buildings. The Center resells the materials to the public and donates a portion to nonprofits and schools.

DPR Hardin became a sponsor of LBC last year and continues to support the organization in various ways. When the need for aesthetic and functional improvements to the facility became apparent, DPR Hardin volunteer coordinator Andi King-Wieczynski saw a unique opportunity for employees looking for a hands-on, skill-based activity that also provided a valuable community service.

“It was a great turnout,” King-Wieczynski commented. “We helped them pull weeds, planted new flowerbeds and just made it more aesthetically pleasing for people to come into the store. We also helped them reorganize their stock so people can find what they need.”

The work was performed under less than optimal circumstances. Temperatures climbed to 95 degrees-plus with high humidity in the non-air-conditioned environment. Still that didn’t deter a larger-than-expected turnout that included everyone from marketing and regional management to preconstruction, safety, jobsite personnel and others.

“It was a good way of getting people together who don’t typically spend a lot of time with each other to work for a good cause,” King-Wieczynski noted. “I think it was a really good team building activity for us.”

King-Wieczynski expects the hands-on volunteer day to become a biannual event, with plans already in the works for the next one.

July 21, 2014

Students Learn Math, Science and Fun of Construction in DPR-Taught Peninsula Bridge Classes

What does it take to successfully create a bridge out of popsicles, use BIM to craft a logo out of Legos, or mix and mold a full-sized concrete hand? A group of fifth- through eighth-graders in Peninsula Bridge’s summer program can let you in on the secrets, thanks to their participation in classroom sessions led by DPR volunteers.

During the five week program, DPR taught at several program locations in the San Francisco Bay Peninsula area. The hands-on classes were designed to strengthen the children’s math, science, critical thinking and teamwork skills, while providing a fun and safe environment for learning.

Volunteer Brian Bangs led a session on concrete mixing and forming, where students created a concrete item such as a life-size hand, cup or concrete-stamped handprints. Seeing the joyful reaction of one particular fifth grade girl upon learning she’d get to make something to take home was a highlight for him. “Being able to do something the kids were really enjoying was very rewarding.”

Madeline Ziser spearheaded another new session this summer, leading seventh graders in an activity to create a DPR logo out of Legos by following a BIM model. “This was not an easy activity,” she pointed out. “The students are constantly challenged to complete the next step; there are all these mini-milestones as they work their way through it.”

“I’m constantly amazed by these kids,” Ziser added. “They are really smart and just fun to work with.”

Daniel Berson, who led a session on engineering, building and testing Popsicle stick bridges, said the biggest reward was “being able to show them the fun side to engineering.” There was special satisfaction breaking the stereotypes surrounding engineering and construction. “A lot of kids don’t see the teamwork that goes into construction or the level of thought required,” he said. “It’s nice to show them the fun side of both these fields.”

Since 1990, Peninsula Bridge has grown to provide academic enrichment programs to more than 350 low-income middle school students each year from the San Francisco Bay Peninsula’s under-resourced school districts.

July 19, 2014

DPR Hosts Cornhole Summer Classic to Raise Funds for Autism Tree Project

Sometimes the best ideas can spring from something as simple as a friendly office game of cornhole toss.

That’s where the idea initially arose for the First Annual DPR Cornhole Summer Classic hosted by the San Diego office June 19. The goal: hold a social event that brought together members of the design and construction community for an afternoon of networking and fun, while also raising money for a worthy cause.

The event far exceeded initial expectations, raising $10,000 for the Autism Tree Project Foundation in a single afternoon. Some 200 people flocked to DPR’s San Diego office for a backyard barbecue-style gathering featuring food, beer, networking and a cornhole tournament that would likely make the American Cornhole Association (yes, there is one) proud.

Players have their game faces on.

DPR Manager Ian Pyka, who introduced the game to the San Diego office, floated the initial idea and spearheaded the planning.

“Part of our goal is to become more integral to our community, and this was just one way to do that,” Pyka said. “This idea really fit in our wheelhouse – it’s fun, different and I think we all just always thought there was potential. We just didn’t realize how much!”

Tournament organizer Ian Pyka has everyone's attention as he lays out the rules of the game. 

The Autism Tree Project Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting with education, advocacy, screening and mentoring for families impacted by autism in the San Diego area. DPR employee Eric Cusick sits on its Board.

Approximately 20 DPR volunteers helped prepare for this event in various ways, doing everything from helping make the 32 sets of game boards/ bags to helping run the tournament. Every participant received an event shirt sporting the names of subcontractors who stepped up as sponsors: ClarkDietrich, General Coatings, Norman S. Wright Mechanical Equipment, Abbott Engineering, California Sheet Metal, Culinary Concepts, Armstrong Ceiling & Wall Systems, United Rentals and Vision Systems.

July 17, 2014

Topping Out in Downtown Austin

The team on the new Colorado Tower office building in downtown Austin celebrated a major milestone this month. Roughly 330 construction workers, developers, architects and engineers turned out for a traditional topping-out ceremony, watching from the 20th floor as the final 30-foot steel beam was hoisted to the top of the new tower. In keeping with the topping out tradition, an evergreen tree, an American flag and a Texas state flag were perched on top of the beam, which was decorated with colorful autographs of employees and construction crew.

DPR thanked the subcontractors and construction crew for their long hours of hard work and dedication. Jason Frost, vice president of developer Cousins Properties, Inc., also spoke. He thanked DPR for keeping the project on target for completion in December 2014.

This 30-story, 775,000-sq.-ft. Class-A office building and parking garage will include 10,000-sq.-ft. of ground floor retail, 372,000-sq.-ft. of rentable office space and a 12-level, 880-space parking structure. The building is designed to an Austin Energy Green Building Two Star rating.

July 9, 2014

DPR Volunteers Support Girls Inc. Participants Along Path to Successful Future

Whether it is providing needed supplies and support for girls on their way to college, mentoring young women seeking a future in the engineering-related fields or employing summer externs, DPR is taking an active role helping at-risk girls find a path to professional success through its partnership with Girls Inc. of Orange County.

“Girls Inc. and DPR have had a great partnership over the past two years,” said Orleda Azevedo, Director of Volunteer Services for Girls Inc. of Orange County. “DPR is one company who believes in the power of community involvement and giving back. (They) have been involved at multiple levels here at Girls Inc. The great employees at DPR help support us in maintaining a safe, nurturing and learning environment for hundreds of girls throughout the Orange County community who walk through our doors.”

Several female professionals at DPR are serving as mentors to college-bound Girls Inc. participants interested in engineering and construction fields. The girls gain valuable insight and support for the transition to college process from the mentors who help them prepare for this important next step into their educational journey, according to DPR’s liaison with the organization Melissa King.

“They don’t have built-in support with their families, so oftentimes the girls don’t know the challenges they will face, like understanding what it’s like to be homesick or how hard finals are,” she said. “We’re giving them another outlet or another person to talk to.” In June, DPR volunteers participated in Girls Inc.’s fourth annual College Shower, which celebrated the 25 girls from their chapter who are headed to college in the fall. Each girl received a giant basket of school supplies, dorm room needs and more.

Girls Inc. participants received school supplies and dorm room necessities at the recent College Shower.

In addition to its current work with high school and college bound girls at Girls Inc., DPR employees have provided a variety of outreach services with younger elementary school age girls in the organization as well. With a goal to expose the girls to opportunities in engineering and construction, DPR participates twice yearly in the National Engineering Week and summer STEM Programing efforts. They have also been an on-call resource for maintenance and repairs to the organization’s aging building. This summer, DPR is employing a Girls Inc. extern in the Newport Beach office.

“We appreciate all that DPR has done and continues to do for our agency and our girls,” Azevedo concluded. “We look forward to continuing to build together.”

June 30, 2014

‘School of Construction’ Event Brings Together Youth, Volunteers for Inspiring Afternoon in Phoenix

Learning by doing is a proven method to engage the imagination and capture the interest of youngsters – and never was that more true than at the first ever interactive DPR “School of Construction” event in Phoenix June 18th.

Nearly 100 grade school students from two local at-risk youth programs that DPR supports – ICAN: Positive Programs for Youth and Future for Kids – assisted by 42 volunteers from DPR and the two youth programs added an extra buzz of energy and excitement to the already bustling Phoenix office. The students journeyed to DPR’s office from Chandler and Scottsdale, Ariz. on the field trip to learn about design, construction, and jobsite safety as well as construction industry career opportunities, all while helping to create four unique doghouses that were donated to a local animal shelter.

The School of Construction event was the brainchild of DPR project manager Tim Hyde, who was inspired by a similar event to create a similar hands-on experience for youngsters to learn about the construction process. Over the past several months, a 12-person task force comprised of representatives from both youth organizations and DPR carefully planned out every detail of the afternoon event that was partially funded by the DPR Foundation.

Summer campers ready for a fun version of summer school.

DPR staff welcomed the children with an opening session that included an intro to DPR, stretch and flex time, a personal testimonial from DPR design professional Jose Garcia and group discussion about what lay ahead. Garcia shared his story of how hard work and dedication took him from humble beginnings similar to many of the children in attendance to a successful career as a design professional.

The students then divided into four groups and rotated through 20-minute sessions. Under the tutelage of DPR professionals using carefully thought-out lesson plans and interactive participation, the youngsters took the doghouse project from start to finish. At the first “snack and safety” station they learned about jobsite safety, including personal protective equipment, the importance of hydration and proper nutrition, the role of stretch and flex and even saw a scissor lift demo. The youth learned how to draw a rendering and designed their project at the next station, then moved on to create a mock-up of the doghouse at the third station using pre-cut wood to assemble it. The final station was to actually build the project, assisted by four volunteers.

The first lesson was on the importance of jobsite safety.

The campers used blue prints and balsa wood to create mock-ups of their dog houses.

The dog houses were built and decorated by the campers, then donated to an animal shelter.

A closing session wrapped up the day with a group discussion about the project. The children shared what they learned about construction and the keys to success of any project. During this session, some of the students’ descriptions of what the word “construction” now brought to mind – including “be safe,” “don’t give up,” “be prepared,” and “education” – offered insight into what the day had delivered.

Said sixth grade participant Kyndle, who now aspires to be an architectural engineer, “I think it was fun that we got to build things instead of just learning about it. It was very interactive – I liked that they showed us how to build a dog house and then we got to create it.”

Second-grader Eva had this to say: “They (DPR) were nice and helpful to us. I got to build a dog house. I want to be a builder and designer just like them.” Eva wore her hard hat to ICAN the very next day.

At the end of the day, all of the youth walked away with a hard hat to keep, new knowledge about how to complete a project and construction industry opportunities, and a sense of accomplishment at having helped create the doghouses that would benefit rescue dogs at the local Friends for Life Animal Rescue shelter.

The benefits of DPR’s first School of Construction event weren’t felt just by the students, either. In a plus/delta session immediately following it, volunteers offered their assessments and feedback that included many comments on the personal rewards of being part of such a unique learning opportunity. It was truly a day filled with inspiration on both sides of the aisle.

 “Through a remarkable collaborative effort from all three firms, we developed an incredible event that helped expose young children to the construction industry,” said Hyde. “Our ultimate goal was to inspire a strong work ethic and continued education for future career success.”

June 6, 2014

San Diego Youth Learn New Skills, Build Gifts for Mom

DPR San Diego employees rolled up their sleeves to help participants in the La Colonia Boys & Girls Club – San Dieguito give their moms something they always ask for, a handmade gift.

Approximately 85 children ages 4 through 17 turned out for the after-school event, where they had the opportunity to hand-craft a special gift for their moms for Mother’s Day. Some 15 DPR employees reaped the reward of giving by volunteering their time to plan, prepare and then assist the children in making the Mother’s Day gifts.

They had the choice to make either a planter box that they then filled with flowers, or a custom-crafted cutting board stamped out in various shapes such as a whale, pear, heart or leaf, which they then sanded and oiled to a smooth finish.

The DPR Foundation provided special grant funding for the project. The coordination and planning efforts were extensive, according to Sarah Williams, DPR San Diego office liaison with the organization.

“It was a pretty big undertaking; we had several meetings ahead of time,” she commented. Volunteers prefabricated and cut pieces of the planter boxes for easy assembly and spent many hours coordinating the day so it would go smoothly.

By all accounts their efforts paid off, and the event was a big success.

“The children loved it,” Williams said. “Afterward they were really happy and many told the Boy & Girls Club leaders how nice it was to be able to give their moms something like that – many for the first time ever.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito is one of 15 youth organizations nationally awarded a total of $900,000 in grants by the DPR Foundation in December 2013. Over the past six years, the Foundation has awarded more than $3.2 million to 22 different organizations focused on providing community support to grade school and high school-aged children.

May 27, 2014

San Francisco Office Makes Big Green Move—First Net Zero Energy Office in the City

It really is greener on the other side of the street—or in this case a few blocks away.
 
DPR’s San Francisco office made a big move this month from its long-time home on Sansome Street to a new net-zero-designed space at 945 Front Street. Recently featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, the office space is on track to be the first net zero office in San Francisco and one of only a handful in the nation.

Lobby of DPR's new San Francisco office featuring a living wall (Photo: Drew Kelly)

While the previous DPR San Francisco digs were LEED certified, this new space pushes green building further. The office boasts a host of unique green solutions, including recycled products throughout, dynamic glass that tints to let in the appropriate amount of light, fans to circulate air, and solar panels to convert San Francisco’s sunlight to power, which should generate more electricity than the building needs—about a third of the amount that a typical San Francisco office building uses—to run comfortably over the next year.

For more features and details read the full press release.

May 27, 2014

Raising the Roof for Seven Tepees at 19th Annual Fundraiser

DPR Foundation-supported Seven Tepees held their annual fundraiser in San Francisco recently, bringing in $280,000 from more than 150 supporters in attendance. Steve Grandin, DPR’s liaison to Seven Tepees and incoming co-president of the organization’s board of directors, said “it was really exciting to see the generosity of the crowd.” A live auction with professional auctioneer added additional motivation to give.

The fundraiser also showcased a highly articulate eighth grader, Ceci Vigil, who described what the program has meant to her and her family. She led an engaging Q&A with the organization’s founders, Judge Daniel Weinstein and Hully Fetico, about the mission and activities of Seven Tepees.

“Ceci was fabulous,” Grandin said. “Her brother, Jose, was an intern with us last year and is going on to college next year.”

Helping shepherd youth from middle school through high school graduation – and helping them advance to college or career, all while guiding them stay on the right path along the way – are major objectives of the program, Grandin noted. “This organization is really about providing options to our youth. There are 68 participants in our direct program, but we reach out to several high schools and touch well over 1,000 youth through our overall program.”

For the second year, DPR’s San Francisco office will host two summer interns from Seven Tepees. Grandin explained that the internship program is not geared so much to teaching youth about construction, as it is about “familiarizing them with professional work environment.”

“We teach the kids how to shake hands, how to show up on time, how to finish a task once you start it and how to be organized,” he said. “It helps them learn what flies in the real world.”

The numerous hands-on activities sponsored by Seven Tepees can require an intensive time commitment for those most closely involved. Grandin estimated that DPR employees average 400 cumulative hours a year, while he has easily logged more than 100 hours as a board member and vice president of the board this year alone and countless more throughout the past four years.

While it is not always easy to balance volunteer work with the demands of managing projects throughout San Francisco, the personal benefits of volunteering and making a difference with underprivileged youth are well worth it to the employees who dive in, he said.

“It’s really rewarding,” he added. “I love the kids, and we’ve got a phenomenal team that has made a huge impact with these youth.”

Seven Tepees is one of 15 youth organizations nationally awarded a total of $900,000 in grants by the DPR Foundation in December 2013. Over the past six years, the Foundation has awarded more than $3.2 million to 22 different organizations focused on providing community support to grade school and high school-aged children.

May 12, 2014

Sacramento Youth Tour DPR Office For Teen Center Design Ideas

From the unique art and decor on display in its offices across the country to the collaborative, innovative approaches of its project teams, DPR showcases its core values of integrity, enjoyment, uniqueness and ever forward in a multitude of ways.

This spring, youth from the Roberts Family Development Center (RFDC) looked to DPR as a source of inspiration and ideas as they were planning ways to redecorate their teen center in Sacramento. Approximately 15 teens and support staff took a tour of the DPR Sacramento office to spark their creativity.

In addition to seeing how DPR visually communicates its corporate values and ideals, the teens also spent time talking with various DPR employees. That included an interactive discussion with estimator Rodman Marquez who talked to the youth about their personal career goals and how they planned to achieve them.

The teens walked away with fresh ideas as to how they might express their collective goals, objectives and core values for their own center through new decor, according to Sandi Graham, who serves as liaison to RFDC.

“We talked to the kids about how they could work together as a team to determine what they displayed on their walls, and explained what core values are in terms of our company,” Graham said.

The DPR Foundation has supported the center since 2008, with grants totaling $240,000. RFDC is a community-based organization that takes a holistic approach focusing on early childhood and family education, economic empowerment and technology. RFDC’s goal is to nurture personal growth, strengthen families, and enhance community development and civic involvement.