July 29, 2015

Phoenix’s 2nd Annual School of Construction Scores Another Success

When 100 elementary school aged youth from two local programs descended on DPR’s Phoenix offices recently, many of them had a general idea of the types of projects that contractors build. But very few could identify even one of the many career paths available in the construction industry.

DPR was determined to change that. Over the course of two hours during its second annual School of Construction event June 17th, students from the ICAN and Future for Kids organizations joined together with more than 30 DPR volunteers for an afternoon of learning, building and inspiration. By the end of the session, the children took home not only a planter box that each one had built, but also new knowledge and insight into the many promising career opportunities in the construction industry.

DPR project manager Tim Hyde, the brainchild behind the Phoenix office’s first school of construction last year, again organized this year’s event. More than 30 volunteers worked the day of the event and six worked for months prior as part of the planning taskforce.

“Only 23 percent of our participants were interested in a career in construction beforehand, many of them saying “no way!” or “never!” in their responses [at the start of the day],” reported Danielle Gilmore, program assistant with Future For Kids. “That number more than doubled to 47 percent following the trip and resulted in answers like ‘definitely!’ and ‘I’m so excited!’,” she commented. “I think we can all agree that the field trip was amazing, and it really had an impact on the kids.”

The School of Construction day started out with an introductory session that spotlighted five different DPR employees with diverse jobs, including an estimator, accountant, marketing professional, project engineer and superintendent. Superintendent Raymond Espinosa led a motivational discussion with the students about his own path to a successful construction career after his dream of playing professional sports was waylaid by an injury.

After the kickoff session, students split into four groups and rotated through work stations to construct their projects. In the first station, they assembled planter boxes, learning about tongue and biscuit assembly methods using wood pieces that DPR volunteers had prefabricated. Next, they proceeded to stations where DPR employees clad in full personal protective equipment helped them nail their boxes together. They finished off their planter boxes at a decorating station. DPR provided dirt, seeds and a plastic drip tray and packaged them with the boxes to take home. Interspersed in the planter box construction stations was a DPR technology showcase. At that station, volunteers demonstrated the latest in construction technology including laser scanning, 3D modeling, 3D printing and a drone demonstration.

At the completion of the two-hour session, Hyde gathered the children for a closing wrap-up talk, circling back around to the questions asked at the beginning regarding what kinds of construction jobs they now knew about and how many were now interested in pursuing a construction career path.

“They knew a lot more this time – the answers just started coming out,” Hyde said. “That was really cool.”

All in all, Hyde called the day another resounding success by raising awareness about the opportunities in construction with the next generation. “I said before the event that if we can get one more kid interested in a path in construction, this would be worth it. We got six,” he commented. “And it was just really, really fun.”

July 28, 2015

Is a Net-Zero Energy Campus Possible?

When it comes to higher education facilities, how attainable is net-zero energy? 

During the Florida Educational Facilities Planners’ Association, Inc. (FEFPA) 2015 Summer Conference, I joined industry leaders Nick Ertmer with DPR Construction, Stella Perico with Leo A. Daly, Scott Robinson with AEI Consultants, and Buck Martinez with FPL on a panel to discuss sustainable design and construction strategies, and lessons learned from prior campus projects.

Here's a summary of what we discussed:

  • Change starts early. And it starts with all of us inspiring and challenging industry professionals to push themselves and help their customers consider incorporating sustainable options, such as Architecture 2030’s “2030 Challenge.”  Imagine if we could meet the goal of all new buildings being carbon neutral by the year 2030!
  • Consider the human impact on sustainability. The next phases of green building will be as much about people as technology. To evolve to the next level of green, the industry needs to embrace using energy models and building owners need to commit to collecting post-occupancy data. Facility managers can then compare data to the energy model to verify that the building meets the performance metrics it was designed to achieve. To bridge the gap from construction to efficient operations, the campus facility manager can participate in design discussions. Why? Through early education, the facility manager can use the energy model to establish a performance baseline, and have a solid understanding on how to maximize the building’s performance to track each year.
  • Success stories. While we can use technology to measure successful sustainable practices, one thing will always affect the bottom line, and that’s the end user. Consider Florida International University’s Academic Health Center 4. Completed in 2013, the team on the 136,000-sq.-ft. project used the energy model and as a result, was able to modify the building controls to make sure the building performs as designed. In just one year, the university saved $77,000 in gas and electric costs.

By challenging ourselves, our project teams, and by raising awareness on lessons learned from others on the path to sustainable campus design and construction, net-zero energy can be attainable.

Learn more about DPR's green and net-zero energy experience here.

(Left to Right) Buck Martinez, Scott Robinson, Stella Perico, Kirk Stetson, Mouji Linarez-Castillo (blog author), and Nick Ertmer speak on a panel discussing ‘Is a Net-Zero Campus Possible? What Others Have Done and What the Payoff Can Be’ during FEFPA’s 2015 Summer Conference 

July 25, 2015

Raleigh Summer Camp Teaches Teens More than Just Construction Skills

Nearly two dozen teenagers from Durham, N.C. had a chance to gain not only construction skills, but also some life and social skills during a DPR-sponsored camp June 25.

DPR’s summer construction camp held at the Raleigh offices drew 20 13- to 18-year-olds from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Durham. The day was day full of tangible lessons on team dynamics and the importance of planning and communication, in addition to instruction on how to correctly swing a hammer and construct a project from start to finish.

Photo courtesy Mindy Gray

De’Lisa Stringer spearheaded the camp that highlighted DPR’s corporate mission and approach while giving the students exposure to the construction industry. “DPR not only aims to build great buildings but we aim to build great people, relationships and develop attributes that are skill-based,” Stringer commented.

“The students are at a pivotal age where their everyday observation skills can help determine the decisions that they make,” Stringer added. “They understand right and wrong; now let’s teach them how to make better decisions, critical ones.”

To further that goal, the day kicked off with an ice breaker activity that promoted observation and discussion of the people and things around them. That activity bridged into a focus on team dynamics. The teens spent the morning working on a logistics plan paired up randomly with another teen participant that they might not normally sit or talk with, with each pair devising a plan for how they would build their project. They then presented their plans to the group – the first time that some of them had been asked to make a formal presentation.

“At the end of the day we asked them what they learned, and the responses went all the way from having good team morale and communication to having effective presentation skills,” Stringer commented. “One group was having some conflicting ideas. The student told me ‘we had to step back and reevaluate and came to the conclusion it wasn’t about using my idea or her idea, we just needed to use the best idea for the project.’ That was exactly the whole intent of the activity, so that was awesome.”

In the afternoon, teams of five students each built four picnic tables, which were all donated back to the Boys & Girls Club campus. A high volunteer to student ratio meant that every student had a chance for hands-on involvement and learning, and no one was left on the sidelines.

Photo courtesy Mindy Gray

“The volunteers showed the students how to use a drill, take out a broken screw, the proper way to wear gloves when dealing with raw wood, etc.” Stringer said. “They were excited to not only be using tools but also really learned how to comprehend and follow written instructions.”

Throughout the day, DPR volunteers including Stringer maintained an open dialogue with the kids to see what they had learned following each activity. “I think what was most impactful for me was listening to their responses and seeing their development and growth,” she concluded. “Twenty students left with social, life and hands-on skills that they can start applying to their life right now to help them get to where they need to be, while also piquing their interest in construction.”

Photo courtesy Mindy Gray

July 24, 2015

Transforming Higher Education at SCUP Conference

Last week, the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP)'s 50th annual conference took place in Chicago.

DPR's Tracy De Leuw attended the conference and reported, "The theme was around strengthening and transforming education. Attendance was at an all-time high, hitting 1,800. In addition to the central theme, the conference highlighted the concept of integrated planning as a sustainable approach. The concepts of building relationships between schools and preparedness for change also resonated throughout the sessions."

He continued, "SCUP is a great platform to catalyze transformational planning in higher education."

Projects within the higher education market require helping college and university customers determine the best strategy for minimizing budget and maximizing results on renovations, upgrades and new construction.

With close to 400 education/classroom space projects completed to date (and growing), DPR is proud to build spaces where teachers can shape young minds. For example, here's one we're currently building in downtown Austin for the University of Texas.

*This blog post is part of a series that celebrates DPR's silver anniversary and focuses on 25 great things from the company from over 25 years.Here's the first one. Follow #DPR25 on social media to learn more.

July 23, 2015

Troy Metcalfe: A Safety Legend

Affectionately known as “Big Daddy,” Troy Metcalfe retired last year after working more than 50,000 injury-free hours at DPR. Troy has been with the company since its infancy, and has always perfectly embodied the spirit of DPR’s Injury-Free-Environment throughout his 23 years with the company.

In 1999, Troy was the first DPR craftsperson to reach 10,000 injury-free work hours. This milestone inspired the creation of the regional Troy Metcalfe Safety Award and since then, almost 200 awards have been presented to Bay Area craftspeople.

The epitome of DPR excellence, Troy was not only recognized for the exceptional safety example he set in the field, but also his genuinely warm personality. Doug Woods—the "D" in DPR—said it best at last year's craft celebration, “Troy is what you want in an employee. He is a true ambassador for DPR, even beyond safety.”

Read more about Troy here in the latest issue of the DPR Review and watch the video starring “Big Daddy” himself. 

Photo Credit: Rosetti Photography

July 22, 2015

Second Annual Cornhole Classic Scores Big for Local San Diego Charities

A cross-section of more than 200 industry professionals, including subcontractors, owner’s representatives, design professionals and DPR employees, gathered at DPR’s San Diego office June 11 for the region’s second annual Cornhole Classic. The event featured plenty of down-home, backyard fun, friendly competition and networking – all while raising at least $16,000 for two local charities.

Photo courtesy Emily Robertson

Cornhole has become a staple in the San Diego office since it was introduced there six years ago, according to Ian Pyka, who spearheaded the effort. He said the game offers a fun way to relieve workplace stress and offers an alternative to the ubiquitous golf tournaments favored by many industry groups.

“Golf tournaments can be kind of exclusive, and there are so many of them in this industry,” Pyka said. “We wanted to make the cornhole event down home, in our own backyard, so anybody can play and have fun.”

Photo courtesy Emily Robertson

This year the DPR Cornhole Classic supported two local charities, each of which will receive at least $8,000 from the fundraiser. The Autism Tree Project Foundation (ATPF) is a charity for which DPR provides ongoing support and was also the beneficiary of last year’s event. A second charity added this year, the San Diego Art Institute’s youth program, brings art to under-resourced youth in the San Diego area. This spring DPR helped that organization convert a storage room in their Balboa Park gallery space into a small art classroom for the youth.

A highlight of the day was when DPR employee Eric Cusick shared his family’s journey with an autistic child and how ATPF has benefited his family. “That really hit home with everybody and provided a real inspiration for the whole tournament,” Pyka commented.

Based on the positive feedback from participants, Pyka sees the event continuing to grow in the San Diego region. And based on their success, cornhole is spreading to other DPR regions including Sacramento, which held its first cornhole classic this May.

“We have big plans to grow in future years, but it’s always going to be kind of a downhome, backyard, just come-have-a-good-time kind of event,” Pyka added. “I think if we continue to do that and stay focused on the real reason why we’re doing it, it’s going to continue to be a big success.”

July 17, 2015

Special Guest at Ronald McDonald House at Nemours Children’s Hospital Jobsite (Video)

On Wednesday, July 8th, DPR Special Services Group (SSG) team received help from a very special guest at the Ronald McDonald House at Nemours Children’s Hospital jobsite in Orlando.

Two-year-old Isabella Davis, along with her parents and big brother Skyler, joined DPR team members and project leaders to place the final tiles into a mosaic heart, symbolizing the official start of construction. The art piece will be incorporated into the House, tying back to its theme, “The House that Love Built.” What made the event even more symbolic? Isabella had just received her last chemotherapy treatment at Nemours!


Read an update on the House in the Orlando Sentinel here.

Learn more about the project and Ronald McDonald House here.

July 16, 2015

DPR Ranks No. 21 in the Nation

Over 25 years, we've learned that while some things change, some things stay the same...like DPR's rank on Engineering News-Record's 2015 Top 400 Contractors list. We first broke into the Top 50 in 1997 and since then, we've consistently remained among the Top 50 general contractors in the nation. 

DPR first broke into the Top 50 18 years ago at No. 46. This year, DPR placed No. 21 in the nation. We also ranked in the following categories on the 2015 list:

  • #8 in telecommunications,
  • #11 in domestic building and manufacturing,
  • #17 in industrial, and
  • #20 in new contracts.

According to ENR, the Top 400 contractors generated $331.94 billion in contracting revenue in 2014, an increase of 2.4% from 2013’s $324.16 billion. Domestic contracting revenue accounted for the Top 400's overall increase this year, rising 7.8% in 2014, while international contracting revenue fell 15.6%. 

DPR's Mike Ford was also featured in The Top 400 Dialogue section: "Our strategy in uncertain times is to focus on the types of projects and markets where we have the most experience and insight and to invest heavily in our talent, making sure DPR continues as a great place to work."

About 25 Years, 25 Great Things

To help celebrate DPR's 25th birthday, we thought we'd share some tidbits, taking a look back at where we've been. Be on the lookout in the coming weeks for more 25 great DPR things from over 25 years that we'll be sharing for the remainder of this year. Founded in July 1990, we’ve seen the world change as we’ve grown from the vision of three construction veterans to the national technical builder we are today


Follow #DPR25 on social media to learn about some of the great DPR things of the last 25 years.

July 15, 2015

High-Stakes Medical Center Project Exceeds Expectations

“No surprises” was the DPR team motto on the St. David’s North Austin Medical Center expansion project. In one of the most complex and high-stakes projects that many DPR team members had ever taken on, careful planning and communication were crucial for reaching intense schedule milestones.

This $34 million, multiphasic project included an intensive 95,000-sq.-ft. vertical expansion of this fully operational hospital in Austin, Texas. Some of the work was often directly in the middle of the most sensitive areas of the hospital, such as the neonatal intensive care unit.

Although confronted with many challenges, the team not only completed the work on an accelerated 12 month schedule, but also took extraordinary measures to minimize impact on the medical center’s existing operations. The team truly lived its motto, delivered predictable results and exceeded the owner’s high expectations on the project.

Get the full story here and learn even more in the extended case study.

Photo Credit: Brian Mihealsick

July 8, 2015

Project Awards, Milestones, and More Across DPR

The last several months have seen lots of good news from all over DPR. Check out a snapshot of company news, including project milestones, community outreach, industry events, and awards in the Across DPR section of the latest DPR Review newsletter.

Some highlights include:

  • The 1.2-million-sq.-ft. luxury JW Marriott Austin hotel (the largest JW Marriott in North America) is completed ahead of schedule for an early opening;  
  • DPR wins an Excellence in Safety Award for the 12th year in a row with an incident rate of 1.07 compared to the industry average of 3.8;
  • The 878,000-sq.-ft. UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay opens on schedule;
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes DPR's company-wide 31 percent reduction in greenhouse gases with a Climate Leadership Award in Excellence in Greenhouse Gas Management; 
  • Arizona Commercial Real Estate (AZRE) magazine honors DPR with three Real Estate Development (RED) awards this year, bringing the total wins since 2009 to eight.

The JW Marriott Austin had more than 520,000 room nights reserved through the year 2021 before it opened.