June 29, 2016

DPR Helps Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay Expand Program

A recent DPR-led volunteer project that renovated classroom space at a Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay facility is fulfilling a vital community need by enabling the Club to expand its program offerings and ultimately, to serve more local youth – just in time for the students’ summer break.

The involved approximately 15 craft and administrative workers from DPR’s Tampa office, who put in a collective 189 hours to make improvements to a key area of the aging clubhouse. The project renovated and converted a single, long room used for program space for K-5th graders – space formerly subdivided by thin paper curtains – into three separate classrooms. The rooms are now visually and acoustically separated by solid walls, and each room has its own door for separate egress.

Before the volunteer-led renovation the Club had a single, large room for youth programming.  

The renovation transformed the large space into three classrooms, allowing the Club to host more academic enrichment programs at the same time.

In addition to constructing new walls to subdivide the classroom space, volunteers also painted the walls and trim, installed new baseboard and new ceiling tiles and stripped and re-waxed the floors (the latter contributed by a local flooring company). Additional DPR funds are being used to purchase new furniture to outfit the space and for several computer monitors.

The much-needed project will allow a greater number and diversity of classes to be offered simultaneously to the many local students who rely on the Boys & Girls Club facility to provide safe, secure and enriching after school and summer programs, according to DPR’s MaryAnn Skok.

“They can now have more academic enrichment programs going at the same time,” she pointed out.

The DPR Foundation awarded the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay $15,000 in grant funding at the end of 2015 and has recognized it as a key community partner.

DPR volunteers were joined by volunteers from FleischmanGarcia Architects, as well as a local Sherwin Williams, the latter of which donated all of the paint.

Chris Letsos, President and CEO for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, said the willingness of local businesses to partner with them makes a huge difference for the Club and their ability to provide vital services to the local community.

“It is only through the dedication of community partners, such as DPR Construction, that the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay is able to provide a world class Club experience for the youth that need us the most,” Letsos said. “The Wilbert Davis Belmont Heights Club is a beacon for the families living in the surrounding neighborhood, providing a safe space where young people can spend time to learn, grow and be productive. The recent project completed by the team at DPR Construction will allow us to expand programming and serve more youth, more often.”

The new space will be used for a variety of hands-on, interactive learning activities and enrichment programs, including programs such as a “healthy habits” program, street smart program, arts and crafts and other offerings. 

June 28, 2016

DPR Survives the Big One! Six-Story Steel-Frame Building Withstands Earthquake Simulation

On the world’s largest outdoor shake table at the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego), DPR erected the tallest cold-formed, steel-frame structure ever to be tested on a shake table. As engineers, scientists, earthquake experts and media watched, the six-story building withstood a simulation of 150% of 1994’s 6.7-magnitude Northridge, California earthquake, shaking and rocking, but remaining structurally intact and safe.

“What we are doing is the equivalent of giving the building an EKG to see how it performs after an earthquake and a post-earthquake fire,” said principal investigator and UC San Diego structural engineering professor Tara Hutchinson.

The project is part of a $1.5 million three-week series of tests, analyzing how cold-formed steel structural systems perform in multi-story buildings located in high seismic hazard zones. Prior to this test, the largest building ever studied was a two-story residential structure in 2013. The structure experienced accelerations of 3.0 to 3.5 G’s at the upper levels, putting a tremendous amount of demand on the “light-gauge” structural frame. Lighter than a concrete, or hot-rolled structural steel building of the same height, the cold-form, light-gauge panelized structure is strong and flexible, thus able to move with the shaking instead of against it.

“The introduction of light-gauge structural systems in areas of high seismic hazard offers owners a superior option over traditional wood framing construction from economic, quality, safety, sustainability and overall building performance standpoints,” said DPR’s Zach Murphy, who is part of DPR’s cold-form steel prefab operations team. “We believe the results of these tests and future projects will continue to prove that this is the better way to build and create higher quality, safer structures in a cost-effective manner.”

In 2015, DPR constructed the MonteCedro senior-living community in Altadena, California, using prefabricated light-gauge panels. While the direct costs were close to wood-frame construction, additional savings were realized through faster schedule, better fire resistance and higher quality framing. DPR also recently built student housing at Otis College in Los Angeles using cold-formed structural framing. 

Full video of this week’s shake test can be viewed below: 

 


Scott Reasoner (DPR), Steve Helland (DPR), Tara Hutchinson (UCSD), James Atwood (DPR) and Kelly Holcomb (Sureboard) celebrate the performance of the prefabricated light-gauge structure in San Diego, California. 

June 7, 2016

Watch DPR Transform An Empty Classroom Into Three Sound Studios

DPR's Community Initiatives team in Austin, Texas turned it up to 11 to transform an empty room at Kealing Middle School into three new sound studios over spring break. 

June 6, 2016

Touchdown! Clemson Coaches Offer a Sneak Peek of Football Operations Building

It's safe to say Clemson football is excited for its new Football Operations Building

A tiger may never change its stripes, but it can put on a DPR safety helmet. Head coach Dabo Swinney recently pulled off an epic trick play, disguising himself as "Fred," a laborer from Albuquerque, as part of Clemson's version of popular reality TV series “Undercover Boss.” 

Watch ESPN's video to see if his plan to get a sneak peek of the new facility while it's still under construction works. 

Coach Swinney wasn't the only surprise visitor on the site, as defensive coordinator Brent Venables also stopped by to "coach" the construction crew, bringing his trademark intensity along with him. Check out the video and see what happens.

But for now, back to the building.

This new facility, which Swinney calls "the epitome of Clemson" due to its fun and unique nature, will set the bar high for any future athletic facility in the college football arms race.  

The 142,500-sq.-ft. operations building will include coaches’ offices, team meeting rooms, recruiting areas, locker rooms, weight rooms, training rooms, a hydro-therapy area, equipment room, dining areas and associated support spaces.  All of which will allow Clemson’s Athletic Department to better serve the needs of its student-athletes.

Coach said it best when he said, “Clemson is going to be the envy of the entire country when this thing is finished.”

Go Tigers!

May 31, 2016

Can Your Project Really Afford Any Contractor Default?

The economy has finally bounced back from the trough caused by the subprime mortgage crisis, and construction dollars are being spent in increasing amounts as more structures are being built across core markets.

Our customers are pushing for even faster schedules. Time-to-market is critical. We are putting teams together based on proven track records, and they are performing well, given the limited skilled labor available in most markets.

According to Engineering News Record, contractors are three times as likely to fail in an economic recovery period than in a downturn. How can that be, and how can we avoid this through careful planning, talent management and leadership?

Several factors contribute to this high default rate during economic recovery periods, including:

  • Skilled Labor Shortages: After the downturn of 2008, many experienced construction tradesmen left the field—for good. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, skilled construction employment is down 19 percent from its 2007 peak, with the decline particularly stark in areas strongly affected by the housing bust. Now with construction roaring, many new, inexperienced workers have entered the job market, and – as with any new employees in any industry – need time to train and develop.

  • Talent Management: When contractors move into unfamiliar geographies or product types, they often engage in joint ventures with other firms that have either the local or product type knowledge. From a talent management standpoint, contractors need to balance winning new business with being able to accurately staff projects with the “right whos.”

  • Cash Flow: In a hot market, contractors are increasing their spending month over month as they take on more work – for labor, materials, equipment and subcontracts. In a contracting market, spending becomes less and less. Schedule pressure is also causing contractors to put more people on their jobs, increasing payrolls and putting a heavy strain on the contractors’ cash flow. 

Even though challenges still exist in times of economic prosperity, what separates the good from the great general contractors is how they mitigate these known issues through careful planning, talent management and budgeting. 

Conventional wisdom today says the bigger, more established contractors are “okay” and can’t fail. According to Monthly Labor Review, 20% of new construction firms fail in their first year of operation, and 70% have failed by the end of their seventh years. A Bizminer study of the 986,057 general contractors, operative builders, heavy construction contractors and special trade contractors operating in 2011 found that only 735,160 were still in business in 2013 – a 26.24% failure rate.

Image courtesy of Zurich

Today’s projects are moving fast and with the potential in an upturn to be 3X greater for contractor default, can you really afford to have even the smallest contractor on your job go down…let alone a big one?

History tells us now is the time to be vigilant with every project and endeavor, putting a consistent and objective process in place to create the right team to best serve the needs of your project. The process should take into account a number of factors, including past work history, safety records, default claim history and financial stability, to help reduce risk and ensure success.

May 27, 2016

Standing Together, Standing Down

On May 2nd, 9,402 participants across 129 DPR jobsites and offices joined together to take part in OSHA’s 2016 National Safety Stand-Down campaign. As OSHA’s third National Safety Stand-Down—and our third year participating—we grew our involvement by more than 2,700 people, raising awareness about fall protection in the construction industry. 

As one of the safest contractors in the nation, we’re committed to promoting and nurturing an Injury-Free Environment (IFE), with the goal of achieving zero incidents on every project. Participation in the annual Safety Stand-Down is a way for us to strengthen our culture of safety.

Check out the following video capturing Stand-Down events spanning DPR jobsites and offices across the country. 

May 26, 2016

Community Initiatives Team Transforms Programming Space for AbilityFirst

On May 14, some 100 DPR volunteers in Southern California put the company’s focus on skills-based volunteering to work, transforming a neglected outdoor space into a fully landscaped haven for nonprofit AbilityFirst. The organization serves children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities and special needs. The newly landscaped space provides AbilityFirst clients with additional room for programming and provides a visual boost from the previously overgrown, unappealing site.

The landscaping overhaul provides AbilityFirst with additional programming space, allowing them to provide more services for more clients. Photo courtesy Brennan Cooke.

The results speak for themselves, according to Maddie Schotl, who organized the community service project for DPR’s Southern California offices. She described the end product as a “complete transformation.”

The project entailed a variety of demolition components to prepare the area, including tree removal, stump grinding, and fence and structure removal. Crews then completely reworked the space, adding hundreds of new plants, a new irrigation system, two new shade structures, a renovated shed and numerous planter boxes, among other things. Working side-by-side with DPR, subcontractor BrightView stepped up to volunteer material and services involving the larger landscape elements, new plants/trees and the irrigation system. Local waste company Recology donated dumpsters and sent 10 volunteers to help out on the workday as well.

DPR’s concrete and drywall crews played an integral role with the major landscaping and renovation elements, including preparing or completing various aspects of the work in the days and weeks leading up to the volunteer workday project. Photo courtesy Brennan Cooke.

 “We ended up doing a complete overhaul,” Schotl noted. DPR not only executed the carefully crafted landscape plan that AbilityFirst had devised, but also added additional touches that contributed to creating a highly appealing outdoor space. DPR’s concrete and drywall crews played an integral role with several of the landscaping and renovation elements, preparing or completing various aspects of the work in the days and weeks leading up to the volunteer workday project. All totaled, DPR donated an estimated $35,000 in skilled craft services leading up to the volunteer-led workday.

Photo courtesy Brennan Cooke.

The skills and expertise of DPR craftsmen are fully displayed in the finished product. Among other components, they designed and crafted several ADA compliant “tree hugger” benches, which enabled people in wheelchairs to garden underneath them.

 

DPR's self perform craftsmen designed and built ADA compliant tree-hugger benches, which allow people in wheelchairs to garden underneath them. Photo courtesy Brennan Cooke.

“The clients’ eyes really lit up when they saw the finished product; it made it all worth it seeing how excited they were,” said Schotl. 

May 25, 2016

Bloomberg Takes Viewers Inside Facebook’s Sweden Data Center

Status updates, comments, likes, photos, videos... they all require data and need to be accessible within just a few clicks, 24 hours a day, by Facebook's 1.65 billion monthly active users around the world.

That calls for large quantities of data, strong processing power, and a lot of cooling. This is why the seaside town of Luleå, located on the edge of the Arctic Circle and considered Sweden's Silicon Valley, was a perfect location for Facebook to build one of its massive greenfield data center developments.

At 300,000 sq. ft., Facebook's Luleå Data Center is one of the largest and most efficient data centers ever built. The data center, like Facebook's other facilities built by DPR in Oregon, North Carolina and Texas, features a super-efficient design that uses 100 percent outside air to cool the data center. This eliminates the need for power-hungry chillers to cool the tens of thousands of servers that run around the clock. Excess heat that is generated from the servers is pumped back into the building to keep the office space warm for employees. Power is provided locally by a reliable, 100 percent renewable energy source: hydroelectricity. Hydroelectricity is so reliable that Facebook has been able to eliminate the number of onsite backup generators by 70 percent.

As part of Bloomberg's "Hello World" video series, in which journalist and best-selling author Ashlee Vance explores the tech scene in various countries, Ashlee finds out where "all [his] embarrassing photos live" while he takes a guided tour of the facility with Joel Kjellgren, Facebook's site manager. 

DPR completed building one of Facebook's Luleå development, aptly named "LLA1," in 17 months through a joint venture between NCC Construction Sweden and Fortis Construction in Portland, Oregon. LLA1 achieved LEED-NC Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council and received top honors with the "Innovation in the Mega Data Center" award at the Datacenter Dynamics EMEA Awards in 2014.

May 20, 2016

Plan. Provide. Train

In 2014, there were 349 fatalities from falls in the construction industry – almost one worker per day – according to OSHA. These are fellow workers, trying to build a better future, no different than each one of us.

DPR is proud to participate in OSHA’s third annual National Safety Stand-Down on May 2nd. Following OSHA’s plan to raise awareness on preventing falls in construction, our offices and jobsites across the country took part in the campaign educating trade partners, owners and DPR employees on the importance of fall protection:

PLAN ahead to get the job done safely. Take the time to plan out your work each day.

PROVIDE the right equipment. For all employees, for all tasks.

TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely. No matter how small or minor an issue may seem, it isn’t Nothing can be taken for granted when it comes to safety.

Fall protection saves lives. At DPR, we’re committed to promoting and nurturing an Injury-Free Environment, with the goal of achieving zero incidents on every project. Because at the end of the day, there is someone that counts on you to come home safe. 


Employees and trade partners watch fall protection demonstrations in Tampa, Florida. 


On the same jobsite in Tampa, workers share family photos as a reminder on the importance to make it safely home each day. 


A jobsite team in Virginia stands down during OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down campaign. 

May 12, 2016

Elementary School Receives Needed Boost From DPR Leadership and Rebuilding Together

DPR’s commitment to be integral and indispensable to the communities where it works starts at the top. That point was driven home recently when 45 individuals from the executive management committee and unit leaders from DPR offices across the country came together for a service project at an under-resourced Bay Area elementary school.

During an annual four-day business summit, the DPR leaders took an afternoon off April 12 to get their hands dirty working on a project that delivered needed improvements for students at Webster Elementary School in Daly City.

The workday started off with a Stretch & Flex session. Photo courtesy Everett Rosette. 

The project was coordinated through Rebuilding Together, a community based organization that DPR works with across the U.S. The service project illustrated DPR’s emphasis on skills-based initiatives that tap into employees’ core competencies, namely building and engineering, to make a difference in local communities.

It also was just plain fun, according to Rena Crittendon, community initiatives coordinator for the Bay Area region.

“There was a lot of feedback about what a great time they had, how it was a great bonding experience and how good it felt to get out there and make a difference for those children,” Crittendon said. “This project was a highlight of the summit and really got them motivated to take the inspiration back to their regions to pursue these types of initiatives.”

Photo courtesy Everett Rosette. 

The work entailed adding a bench and planters in three quad areas of the school grounds, repairing and painting school benches, and freshening and repainting a host of games on the blacktop, ranging from four square to basketball courts.

DPR’s concrete crews will be returning to the school next month to form and pour a 100-ft. pathway that the school also requested, as part of the partnership initiative with Rebuilding Together.

Photo courtesy Everett Rosette. 

In addition to their longstanding focus on safe and healthy housing, Rebuilding Together is positioning itself as a leading provider of community revitalization efforts. Projects like this for Webster Elementary elevate the quality of life for individuals area-wide, leading to a more safe, healthy and thriving community.