Across DPR Blog, Page 3

December 2, 2014

What Gets Measured Gets Done

Measurement is key to getting things done. This is especially true when it comes to creating smarter, better functioning buildings to bridge the gap between predicted and actual building systems’ performance.

To achieve net-zero certification, for example, organizations such as the International Living Future Institute look at a building’s annual performance to ensure that it produces all of its energy (examples include DPR's Phoenix Regional Office and the Packard Foundation Headquarters). 

However, at DPR, we believe that there needs to be an energy measurement for all buildings beyond LEED, not just net-zero buildings. This will help building owners and users compare results to improve building performance. 

Learn about what DPR’s Management Committee recommended for the industry to benchmark energy usage. 

(Hint: It's a metric called energy use intensity.)

November 20, 2014

DPR Volunteers Help Brighten Day for Youngsters at Recent ABC Fall Festival

From joining in with a group of preschoolers in a giggle-filled potato sack race, to helping guide the children through a maze of other activities including a ping pong toss and face painting, DPR Tampa volunteers spent time recently to help at-risk youngsters enjoy a fun-filled afternoon at the Fall Festival for A Brighter Community (ABC) preschool in Tampa, Fla.

DPR’s participation in the annual festival is illustrative of the region’s new partnership with the preschool, which offers a safe haven and provides support to economically and environmentally at-risk children age 3 to 5 years old.

DPR Tampa employee Amye Bailey is the Tampa office liaison for the organization. “Our focus as volunteers is directly interacting with the children, assisting with building maintenance and providing donations for fundraising activities,” she explained.

In addition to volunteer time, DPR employees contributed pumpkins for each child to participate in a pumpkin drawing event during the festival that featured about 10 activities over the course of the afternoon. They included: the potato sack race, “can knock down” game, ping pong toss, face painting, bean bag toss, pumpkin drawing, apple netting, dancing and the grand finale piñata whacking. “It was a beautiful day and a whole lot of fun for everyone,” Bailey said.

On the horizon, the Tampa office has plans to help the preschool by providing contributions to their holiday tree and donating profits from their annual spring golf tournament.

November 18, 2014

Showcase Highlights Trending Construction Technology

DPR's Phoenix office recently held a Construction Technology Showcase to highlight the latest technology trends in construction. The showcase was held in conjunction with the Phoenix office open house, and was modeled after similar events in other regions.

DPR's technology enthusiasts staffed booths with live demos and models, explaining the technology and possible applications, as well as how we can use it to add value to our customers. 

Featured technology included:

  • real time laser scanning,
  • virtual reality using Oculus Rift headsets,
  • 3D printing, and
  • BIM 360 Glue.

Technology isn't just a magic bullet. It's not the technology alone, rather it's the skilled application of that technology and technical expertise of the builder using it that provides predictable results.

From L to R: DPR Engineers Jiun Chiang, Jose Diosdado Garcia, Andres Sanchez Hernandez, Chidambaram Somu, Andy Marks, Casey Helburg, and Brent Elliott.

Photos Courtesy of Chidambaram Somu

What's the most interesting construction technology you've seen or used lately?

November 4, 2014

Cutting Down Schedule from Months to Weeks

Want to learn how DPR is maximizing efficiency while improving safety and accuracy?

One way is through a pilot program that the Self-Perform Work (SPW) group recently completed. Outlined in an article–"Opportunity Knocks"–in the latest DPR Review newsletter, the SPW group's method of prefabricating and assembling doors offsite is saving time and resources. 

Photo by Everett Rosette

While normally assembled at the jobsite, moving door production to a warehouse provides a more controlled environment. The crew then takes the fully assembled doors to the jobsite for installation. This has proven to be helpful in projects both large and small. 

On one project, the group's use of this method reduced the installation schedule from 8 months to 8 weeks!

Due to its success, this door assembling pilot program has now morphed into a new best practice.

October 30, 2014

Teams Showcase Creativity, Teamwork in Annual Leap Sandcastle Contest

Demonstrating their creativity, teamwork, competitive nature and penchant for fun, hundreds of Bay Area school children, contractors, architects and engineers descended on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach Oct. 11 for Leap’s 31st Annual Sandcastle contest. Leap works with Bay Area public schools to provide arts education programs.

DPR participated on two of the 30 teams in this year’s competition. The contest joins A/E/C professionals with students from throughout the region to raise significant money  – more than $300,000 this year alone.

The theme for 2014, “Food, Glorious Food,” inspired an array of unique creations that transformed a wide stretch of beachfront for the day.

Brad Griffith, project engineer for the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital project, spearheaded the efforts of the DPR team that included volunteers from Stantec and around 50 fourth graders from Central Elementary School in Belmont, Calif. Planning for their project began several weeks ahead with visits to the school. Their creative vision: a pizza sitting next to a spilled beverage.

“We took the opportunity to tie in what we’re doing throughout this (sandcastle build) process and relating it to how we as architect, engineers and contractors build and design on a daily basis,” Griffith said. “The ultimate goal was just to get them excited about learning. Tying their school curriculum and construction and the sand castle build all together was huge.”

Brittany Gilroy and Andrea Walker helped lead the second team, which partnered with Gensler and Ulloa Elementary School for the twelfth year in a row. Planning began three weeks prior, when Gensler and DPR representatives began weekly visits to the school. They led the students in brainstorming and sketching their ideas and developed a model to follow on competition day. Their creation: a “wiener” dog in a hot dog bun, being walked by bottles of ketchup and mustard.

About 15 students and a dozen volunteers from DPR and Gensler teamed for the big day, and the excitement in the air was palpable. “When the buzzer first sounded, the children were really excited,” Gilroy said. “It was great to see everyone kind of dive in.”

Teamwork was the essential ingredient to pull it together, according to Walker. “At one point we had a chain of children in the sand passing water from the ocean. It took a lot of teamwork, and really got everyone involved.”

October 28, 2014

So Cal Community Champion Honored By NAWBO-OC For Leadership

Having the opportunity to put your professional skills to work helping others is one of the many perks of working for DPR. Being recognized by a major business organization for the impact you’re making, well that’s just icing on the cake.

DPR’s Melissa King was honored by the National Association of Women Business Owners, Orange County (NAWBO-OC) on Oct. 16 at their annual Remarkable Women Awards Gala. King was nominated by Girls Inc., a DPR Foundation-supported organization, where she serves in a leadership role for Women for Girls (a Girls Inc. support organization), and as a hands-on volunteer since 2011.

Melissa King, from DPR's So Cal office, shown here with her mother Jeanne Bargman, volunteers with Girls Inc. more than 100 hours annually and has arranged cash and service contributions to the organization of nearly $300,000 since 2011.

Girls Inc. nominated King for the honor, citing her increasing personal involvement as well as her ability to bring DPR’s resources – financial, volunteers and industry relationships – to make an even greater impact.

“Melissa is ensuring that 5,000 girls in our community become strong, smart and bold,” said Orleda Azevedo, Director of Volunteer Services for Girls Inc., in the nomination form. “Melissa is a true role model not only for girls but for our staff and volunteers as well.”

October 21, 2014

Opening the World of Possibilities Through Seven Tepees Career Day

Providing young people with a window into the “real world” of work and showcasing the many, diverse career paths they can pursue were key goals of DPR’s recent Seven Tepees career day in San Francisco.

Photo courtesy Kedyn Sierra

The fourth annual Career Day brought together nearly a dozen high school youth and Seven Tepees staff members with several DPR employees. Throughout the day, employees shared their personal journeys that led them into their careers with DPR.

Steven Grandin, DPR’s Seven Tepees liaison and incoming president of its board of directors, spearheaded the event. It began with a tour of Autodesk’s offices at One Market Street (built out by DPR with Gensler Architects), where students had the opportunity to learn about 3D imaging, 3D printing and graphics development. They went on to visit a DPR jobsite at Pier 9 where they talked with project engineer Dylan Swallow and superintendent John Bloomfield. Next, they headed over to DPR’s San Francisco offices where they learned about the intricacies of creating a net zero building, LEED building practices and 3D modeling, and other things.

Photo courtesy Kedyn Sierra

Throughout the day DPR employees spoke with the youth about how they got to where they are in their careers. In some cases, those employees’ journeys and the challenges they had faced were similar to challenges confronting the Seven Tepees students.

One of the participating students, high school junior Kedyn Sierra, has been part of Seven Tepees for the past five years and plans to intern with DPR next summer.

“Having now been on two career days with DPR, I can attest that these experiences offer a sense of what the “real-world” is going to be like,” Sierra said. “Seven Tepees has brought me a new way of viewing my future. Beginning when I was in the sixth grade, this organization has helped me step out of my comfort zone in many ways that include immersive leading experiences. Personally, being exposed to the outdoors is what I’ve taken to heart from this program, because I do not have access to such locations in my everyday life.”

Seven Tepees high school program coordinator Ashley Allen was a participant in Seven Tepees as a youth, and then returned to the organization as a staff member after finishing college. 

“I am 100 percent a product of the many benefits of being in this exceptional program, from my knowledge and respect of the environment to my passion to giving back to the community,” Allen said. She received her degree in community studies from UC Santa Cruz with a minor in sociology. “I believe in life journeys coming full circle and wanted to commit myself to a space that was truly impactful to me,” Allen said.

The career day achieved its objective to expose the youth to possible careers and spark their interest in planning for their future, according to DPR’s Grandin.

“My main goal is teaching the youth about maintaining options,” he said. “The best plans don’t always work out, so you should have a backup. This day introduces them not only to construction, but encourages them to look at careers in whatever they want to pursue.”

Photo courtesy Kedyn Sierra

October 15, 2014

Mentors Participate in ACE All Schools Day

On October 11th, Southern California DPR employees participated in the ACE Mentor Program's All Schools Day, a competition for all Los Angeles and Orange County schools that participate in ACE. DPR employees across the country volunteer their time for the program, which brings together architecture, engineering and construction professionals with high school students in a formal extracurricular enrichment program. 

The DPR mentors, who work with Century High School students in Santa Ana, were Brennan Cooke, Brandon Fullam and Ocean Van. Ron Rendina also participated with the Pasadena team. Josh DeStefano and Alison Lind also mentor at Century High, but could not attend this event.

The challenge was to build a cantilevered platform from popsicle sticks, pasta and hot glue within a two-hour time frame. Mentors could help with design, but not build. Each school was judged on load the platform could carry, efficiency and overall performance. 

L to R: Brandon Fullam, Ron Rendina, Brennan Cooke, and Ocean Van.

October 7, 2014

Big Business Tools + Small Business Know-How

On Friday, October 3 DPR's West Palm Beach office kicked off the first of a three-part Contracting Series at Palm Beach State College’s Boca Raton campus. The series is geared toward emerging contractors searching for new opportunities to grow their business. Part one focused on valuable tips, tools and resources to assist subcontractors in generating new revenue streams. DPR’s overall objective is to help Palm Beach Stage College’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provide a valuable educational series from the commercial contractor’s perspective.

Attendees gained insight on how to market and grow their business, with first hand feedback from what customers expect before working with a new firm in the Construction and Engineering arena. Debbie Lanford, the International Trade Specialist at the FSBDC at Palm Beach State College, commented, “The presentation was one of the best I have seen. Relevant, informative and engaging.”

For DPR, this is an opportunity to get involved in the community and seek out qualified Small Business Enterprises (SBE’s) and to help Palm Beach State College SBDC fulfill their mission “To impact the small business community with world-class quality services that make a measurable contribution to regional economic growth and prosperity.”

Series #2 will be held November 7th and targeted towards small businesses that have been up and running for at least one year and are looking to establish relationships with the right resources (CPA, legal counsel, bonding, insurance, and banking) to grow their business.

Series #3 will be held December 5th and will focus on retaining talent and managing business growth. Topics covered will focus on HR, company policies and retention.

(L to R) DPR's Krista Luther, Mouji Linarez Castillo, Adrian Barrios

October 6, 2014

Whitepaper Watch: Getting the Most Out of BIM

When VDC apps are used correctly, project teams have the opportunity to improve productivity, reduce rework in the field, enhance building documentation, and feed into management systems that can result in lower long-term facility operating costs.

In light of these potential benefits, it can be tempting to think of software as a “silver bullet” to the solution to the many complex hurdles that project teams face. But even the very best software is simply a tool and is only useful if the person (or team) who wields it, does so effectively.

In a new DPR white paper, “Getting the Most Out of BIM: The Secret Guide to VDC Apps,” DPR’s Andrew Fisher addresses those issues and more. The educational guide for owners and users describes what major apps can do and which ones currently lead the market in six functional areas: BIM authoring, coordination, visualization, analysis and measurement, sequencing and estimating. 

For coordination, Autodesk Navisworks Manage stands out for its clash detection capabilities, while Autodesk BIM 360 Glue is also gaining popularity. Tapping into the power of the “cloud” to access the model, BIM 360 Glue works with iPads in the field.

For other BIM functions, some of the top applications include Lumion 3D for visualization, Solibri Model Checker for analysis and measurement, Synchro for sequencing, and Vico for estimating, to name just a few.

Understanding how to select and fully utilize the best BIM tools to their potential can create the most direct benefits to a project team’s processes, productivity and overall performance on a job.

The whitepaper was highlighted in the latest edition of the DPR Review, and can be viewed in full here.