Across DPR Blog, Page 3

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 18, 2014

DPR And Subcontractor Partners Stand Up For Youth With Outreach Center Renovation

DPR employees and generous subcontractors traded the fast-paced, technical environment of their usual jobsites for an equally fast-track renovation of an outreach center for StandUp For Kids in San Diego. The volunteer team was able to perform demolition, electrical, concrete and interior finishout of the new space quickly, meaning there was no lost service time for the youth.

Before: Renovation in full swing.

After: Comfortable and safe sanctuary for youth living on the streets.

DPR has worked with StandUp For Kids for several years, awarding cash grants through the DPR Foundation and assisting with facilities needs and events for the youth.

StandUp For Kids is a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to homeless and at-risk youth throughout San Diego County. The organization’s two San Diego County outreach centers provide homeless children a safe environment and a wide range of services such as food, clothing, hygiene products, educational assistance, counseling and job referrals. Additionally, the nonprofit offers assistance to youth through street outreaches and educational programs in elementary and middle school classrooms. Founded in 1990, the Atlanta-based organization has programs in a number of states and is run almost entirely by volunteers.

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.

May 9, 2014

The Net-Zero Energy Building Challenge: Who Will Be Next?

Recently, Ted van der Linden and I published an article with USGBC, "The net-zero energy building challenge: Who will be next?".

The article outlines DPR's approach to "deep green" construction, highlighting our San Diego and Phoenix offices, which have both achieved ZNE status. Getting to ZNE is a a tall order, but as we've proven twice over, it's attainable with an owner and project team who are committed to the goal. Contrary to a common misconception, highly sustainble buildings can actually cost less to operate over the long term, and can be achieved in both temperate and severe climates.

Our new San Francisco office will soon join our San Diego and Phoenix offices as ZNE, LEED-Platinum renovations.

Photo: DPR's Phoenix regional headquarters has been certified net zero energy.

May 1, 2014

MMYC Recognizes DPR For Long-Term Support

‘Model’ Partnership Stresses Active Involvement in Making a Difference with Youth

Through a combination of ongoing grant support and front-line, active volunteerism, the DPR Foundation has forged an extremely successful partnership with the Maryland Multicultural Youth Center (MMYC) over the past six years, and counting.

MMYC and its parent organization, the Latin American Youth Center, recently honored DPR’s Mid-Atlantic office for its ongoing support with a Community Impact Award. The organization presented the award to DPR during its annual fundraiser event May 1, 2014, entitled “Gala 2014, Educating and Empowering Youth.” DPR was feted at the Gala along with Capitol One Executive Vice President Steve Linehan, a longtime member of the MMYC board who has also served the organization for many years.

DPR Mid-Atlantic office liaison Dianna Petitt, who was among those on hand to receive the award, called the recognition a significant honor from one its long-term partners. MMYC was one of the four original organizations that the DPR Foundation tapped to support when it was founded.

“While we so appreciate the funding DPR provides, what sets them apart is the active engagement of their employees in our programs and with the youth.”

“The essence of the award was to recognize us as a partner both financially and operationally,” Petitt said. “Getting involved working with the youth I think goes to the heart of the Foundation’s mission. We want to work with organizations that use our talents effectively and leverage more than just the grant dollars.”

Award ceremony photo courtesy of Maryland Multicultural Youth Center

MMYC Director Luisa Montero estimated that over the past six years, DPR has helped the organization serve more than 800 young people, including 500 youth in the after school program and more than 300 youth in the summer programs. That service has included everything from college tours, camping, bike trips and sports clinics to lunch and learn workshops, first aid classes, computer hardware and software assistance and basketball outings, to name a few. DPR Foundation grants to MMYC have totaled $355,000 since 2009.

“While we so appreciate the funding DPR provides, what sets them apart is the active engagement of their employees in our programs and with the youth,” Montero commented.

The relationship that DPR has forged with MMYC and the organization’s work with the youth it serves have set a high standard, according to Jeff Vertucci, who has been actively involved with the organization from the outset, initially while working as regional manager for the Mid-Atlantic region and now as senior manager overseeing DPR’s East Coast work.

The organization serves as a model for what DPR would like to see with its volunteer partnerships, Vertucci said. “MMYC has been one of the most exemplary organizations that we support,” he commented. “They are very disciplined in how they measure their results in terms of how the youth do, their test scores and how they keep them on the right path and out of gangs and out of trouble.”

DPR places a heavy emphasis on hands-on involvement. In addition to many hours logged working with the youth in their after school programs, DPR employees have shared their skills or passions with the MMYC youth by teaching clinics on golf, football and baseball, offering Zumba lessons and much more. Every summer DPR has hosted a camping trip that is a major highlight for both volunteers and the youth.

Whatever the forum, volunteers make an effort to impart not just their own particular sports expertise or technical knowledge, but to add a broader perspective that includes life lessons as well.

“There are so many different ways that we can use our own skillsets and talents to support the organization and engage the kids,” Vertucci said. “Youth we saw as middle-schoolers are now in college. Many of them have done really well in school as a result of this program.”

MMYC, which provides educational support/tutoring, cultural enrichment, nutrition, summer programs and physical active ties to middle school youth, is a member of the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) family of organizations. LAYC is a multicultural, regionally based organization whose mission is “to support youth and their families to live, work and study with dignity, hope and joy.” Founded in 1968, LAYC was incorporated as a nonprofit in 1974 for the purpose of serving “at-risk” immigrant Latino youth. Since its inception, the agency has grown from a small grassroots recreation center serving primarily for Latino youth to a nationally recognized organization with a broader focus encompassing all youth and families across the District of Columbia and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in Maryland.

April 25, 2014

The Unknown, Hidden Secret of SSG: Self-Performed Work

DPR Special Services Group (SSG) incorporates Self-Performed Work (SPW) in just about all of our projects. Why do we do that? The obvious benefits often cited are: time, budget, quality and safety. But there’s another dimension to SPW, a single defining idea that holds together the process and makes it a golden strategy for project success. That aspect is, in a word, communication.

We’re continually interested in innovative approaches to improving work method. Over the years, we’ve discovered that SPW can help the process in making jobs run smoother, by opening up and facilitating the channels of communication, as it monitors the interactions and intersections of every trade at work on a job. It turns out that high awareness and connection can both improve project completion, not to mention client satisfaction. As we have evolved our understanding of how this happens, we’ve experienced excellent results. Managing relationships definitely improves performance.

Classically, benefits in time can result. Owing to improved lines of communication, there is less wait for biddable documents.  Early estimating, logistics and scheduling means work starts earlier in the field. SSG and SPW are perfectly suited for projects that require completion on the fast-track.  Adjustments are made quickly to compensate for changes in conditions and scope of work. The size of teams can grow or shrink according to need. We more effectively stay on-track for delivery dates with everyone in the communication loop.

Budgets are more closely monitored because SPW engages the design team earlier than it traditionally occurs in projects. This allows greater influence in the project outcome. It translates into efficiencies and savings, among them smarter production details and the ability to specify cost-saving alternative materials.

It’s no accident that a safe workplace contributes to the overall success of a project. We find that our crews working onsite provide a consistent reminder of the company’s high expectations as they interact with other subcontractors. These teams also serve as an extra set of eyes on the project site. Despite the urban myth that safety means a sacrifice in productivity, DPR has found that with proper planning, production increases as jobsite safety increases.

You can easily quantify the benefits of SPW in time, budget, quality and safety. And it’s true that SPW improves the client experience. But the core concept of how it works comes down to simple relationship building.  It is no coincidence that relationship-building is a core tenet of DPR philosophy. The beauty of SPW is that it succeeds by promoting a commonality of goals, heightened communication and a great result for our clients.

SPW Photo Courtesy of David Cox