April 25, 2016

DPR Improvement Project Makes Lasting Impact at Milagro Center

When it comes to DPR community initiatives undertaken in markets across the country, the immediate benefits are often apparent. Whether it’s a low income family moving into a new home that DPR helped build through Habitat for Humanity, or underprivileged kids getting their first bikes via DPR-supported Turning Wheels for Kids, DPR’s diverse community outreach projects meet many vital community needs.

But what about the longer-term effect of these service projects? For an example of the lasting impact that DPR initiatives can have, look no further than a youth center improvement project completed for the Milagro Center in Delray Beach, FL last fall.

The DPR-led initiative entailed supplying and installing about 100 feet of computer countertops at Milagro Center’s Teen Center, working in concert with local trade partners. The goal: to create a more spacious, organized and appealing space for students to do their homework utilizing new computers that were also donated around the same time.

Anthony Bacchus, Milagro Center’s Teen Leadership Program Director, said the improvement project set in motion a series of positive outcomes for both the teens and the Center.

“Now that we have the new workstations the center looks more studious and the presentation is more attractive to the teens, teachers, parents and our sponsors,” Bacchus said. “It’s a better work environment, and they take more pride in it. When you have a good work station you stay more organized. We’ve had teens whose grades went from ‘F’ to ‘A’ over the last school semester.”

Bacchus added that the new countertops, along with new computers donated by The Batchelor Foundation, make the Center more appealing for future investment by community donors. “Every little change makes a difference,” he said. “It’s also helped with our focus on trying to get parents involved. They can look at our environment here and see it looks good. We have teens come from as far as Boynton Beach High School to do their homework and get tutoring here.”

The renovated homework space has resulted in improved grades among teen center members. Photo courtesy Luke Stocking.

Luke Stocking, DPR liaison to Milagro Center, spearheaded the project. He noted that while the countertop installation project only took a few hours to put in place one morning last September, the measurable benefits – both tangible and intangible – continue on.

“I think it’s been a confidence boost for the kids themselves that the center is becoming more professional looking,” Stocking said. “It not so piecemealed with left over tables and chairs. They take their time here more seriously than maybe they had been doing before.”

The teens themselves say that the project has made an impact in how they feel about spending time at the center after school each day. “By (DPR) putting some nice counter tops, now I can do my work without interruption and I finally have my own work station to do my homework and research in peace,” commented Milagro Center teen Ferrari Bernadotte.

Teen Marc Charles, who also uses the Center after school each day, said, “My first time coming to the Milagro Center I already had the feeling I was it was going to benefit me. The counter tops were clean and I saw lots of kids on computers doing homework. It (gave) the benefits I need like space, concentration and my own little working environment without having to be distracted by others.”

April 20, 2016

Community Celebrates Grand Opening of Chinese Hospital’s New Patient Tower

On a narrow street lined with excited community members snapping photos and craning their heads for a glimpse of the stage, Chinese Hospital unveiled its new Patient Tower on Monday with a grand opening and ribbon cutting celebration.

Local dignitaries including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, former mayor Willie Brown and San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin gathered on Monday for Chinese Hospital’s grand opening, celebrating its long-standing heritage of care, located in the heart of the community it has served for generations.

“We have been here to provide healthcare for over 100 years,” Brenda Yee, CEO of Chinese Hospital, told the crowd. “And we will continue for another hundred years!”

The day’s festivities included a traditional Buddhist blessing, a Catholic blessing, lion dancing, a performance by Beach Blanket Babylon and public building tours led by DPR team members, subcontractors and Chinese Hospital volunteers. The ceremonies were fueled by palpable excitement from the community, many of whom gathered in their nearby shop windows or even traveled to San Francisco from other parts of the country specifically to witness the historic grand opening. 

The last remaining independent institution of its kind in San Francisco, Chinese Hospital was truly built by the community and for the community. The most densely populated area west of Manhattan, San Francisco’s Chinatown provided a vibrant, bustling and logistically challenging setting for the DPR team since the project broke ground in 2012.  Delivery timelines were scheduled around food trucks and neighborhood vendors, operating merely feet away from the new structure.  

Along with sweeping views of the bay, from Coit Tower to the Transamerica Pyramid, the new Patient Tower features:

  • 100,000-sq.-ft. over eight floors
  • Expanded emergency treatment center
  • Expanded cardiopulmonary unit & diagnostic imaging department
  • 4 additional operating rooms
  • 45 private acute care patient rooms
  • 6 intensive care unit beds
  • Skilled nursing unit with 23 beds
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) unit
  • Expanded pharmacy

Demolished to make way for the new seismically sound acute-care facility, the original Chinese Hospital building opened its doors in 1925 and was the birthplace of martial artist and film star Bruce Lee. With the new Patient Tower, Chinese Hospital is positioned to continue to thrive – both supporting and supported by – the community it has always served.  

Beach Blanket Babylon, another San Francisco classic, helps ring in the Chinese Hospital grand opening. (Photo credit: Osman Chao)

Former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown explains Chinese Hospital's importance to the community, as Chinese Hospital CEO Brenda Yee and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee share a laugh. (Photo credit: Osman Chao) 

Hospital officials and local politicians are surrounded by media and supporters as they cut the ribbon in front of Chinese Hospital's new Patient Tower. (Photo credit: Haley Hirai) 

Chinese Hospital was blessed with both Buddhist and Catholic ceremonies. (Photo credit: Haley Hirai)

Following the ribbon cutting, the hospital opened up for public tours of the facility, including operating rooms like the one shown above. (Photo credit: Haley Hirai)

From many patient rooms, Chinese Hospital offers sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay, from Coit Tower to the Transamerica Pyramid. (Photo credit: Haley Hirai) 

April 6, 2016

DPR, Spotify, Rebuilding Together Help Austin School Get Its Groove On

A cool new beat can be heard coming from Kealing Middle School in Austin, Tex. these days – all thanks to a major community service initiative undertaken by a partnership of Spotify, DPR and Rebuilding Together to deliver new sound studios and a bounty of music mixing equipment to a local school.

DPR volunteers and self perform work crews turned it up to 11 to transform an empty room at Kealing Middle School into three new sound studios over spring break. Photo courtesy Angie Weyant.

Spotify, well-known for its streaming music service, conceived of the charitable project as a way to make a lasting, positive mark on the Austin community in the wake of the annual South by Southwest festival held in early March. They decided to donate the extensive sound equipment, furniture and art from their popular “Spotify House” from this year’s festival to a local school’s music program. Spotify reached out to Rebuilding Together to help find the right candidate and the means to deliver their vision. 

Kealing Middle School – a magnet school and comprehensive academy in a diverse, under-resourced neighborhood – was the perfect fit. It already had a modern, organized music program in place and a strong vision for how it could grow. Knowing DPR’s strong community commitment and based on their longstanding relationship, Rebuilding Together brought DPR on board to help design and build three brand new recording lab studios that would house the Spotify-donated equipment.

Angie Weyant, DPR’s community service liaison and a leader in the Austin region, helped manage what turned out to be a major undertaking from start to finish.

“We took the whole project from conception to construction to make it happen,” she said of the design-build services that DPR donated – totaling an estimated $25,000 in materials and labor, not counting the unpaid management time. While planning, budgeting and preconstruction for the project began early in the year, construction of the new production studios could only take place over the school’s spring break. The work required over 800 man hours, with DPR Drywall and Paint Self Perform Work crews working long hours to complete the work in just under 10 days.

This mural, from the Spotify House venue at the South by Southwest festival, was created by New York Artist Shantell Martin. It depicts all the types of music that can be streamed on Spotify. Photo courtesy Angie Weyant.

To meet the acoustical engineer’s design specifications for the new production studios, DPR crews hung some 7,174 square feet of drywall in the three rooms – three layers on each side of the wall and ceiling. “It was more drywall than we’ve ever installed on a project of this size – ever,” said Weyant.

And like any building project, this one required various custom and sometimes on-the-spot solutions to keep it moving forward. For example, DPR devised a custom frame to hang the 22-footlong canvas mural that had formally adorned the Spotify House.

The contractor faced an even more pressing logistical challenge tracking the new doors and windows that were being delivered by trucks which got stuck in a snowstorm. Even though the material arrived late, finishing the job late was not an option. Instead, laborers worked from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. over the weekend to complete the job in time for the return of students Monday. 

DPR Drywall and Self Perform Paint crews put the finishing touches on the studios. Photo courtesy Katie Hughes.

In the end, the project was a major undertaking – but well worth the effort, according to Weyant. “The best part was being able to use our core skills, doing what we do every day, to help youth in our local community. That was pretty awesome,” she said.

From Spotify’s standpoint, “We couldn’t have done this project without DPR Construction,” said Kerry Steib, Director of Social Impact. “It wasn’t just their expertise in the pieces of the project they were leading, it was their willingness to find creative solutions, to take on problems as they arose and to push toward creating the best project possible for these students.”

She added, “There were a few moments along the way where we were met with interesting, unique and last-minute challenges. And every time, DPR approached them with positivity and collaboration. I feel fortunate to have worked with every member of that team.”

While there was no “big reveal” at project completion, Steib described the impact the new space is having bringing diverse groups of youths together through music and helping Spotify fulfill its goal to “unlock the power of music for everyone.”

 “My favorite moment was about 4 p.m. afterschool Wednesday, the third day the studio had been opened,” Steib said. “I was leaving the space and there were two kids in the classroom space using the computers and Ableton software, one kid playing the guitar in a studio, and two more collaborating on a song in another. They were voluntarily staying late to hang out and work on something they were into. That was magic.”

March 31, 2016

Is This Virtual Reality’s Turning Point?

The first consumer-ready Oculus Rift headsets (commonly called Head Mounted Displays, or HMD’s) available to the public are shipping this week, a momentous milestone for the growing use of virtual reality (VR) technology, which is experiencing a resurgence after failed experiments in the 80’s and 90’s. Since recapturing the public’s attention on a large scale in 2014 when Facebook purchased Oculus VR, virtual reality has never been widely available to consumers – until now.

We started experimenting with virtual reality around 2010. Back then – just six years ago – the only option was to hire VR developers to build very custom commercial applications. The early days of VR were limited by both location and cost. You often had to physically travel to a VR company’s special room in order to step inside your virtual reality, as well as pay for the custom VR development and room rental.

Fairly common within the industry today are virtual mockups – small scale, highly detailed BIM models representing the same details or rooms that we’ve historically created as physical mockups. These limited virtual mockups have to be communicated via computer screen or projector, and they essentially take 3-D information from a BIM model and flatten it back down to a 2-D presentation. The result is a mockup that you can view, but not experience. Adding virtual reality, by way of a HMD, to a virtual mockup promises to give end users more of a ‘feel’ and connection to a space than a 2-D drawing ever could. It also opens up participatory design discussions with opportunities to virtually insert end users into a 3-D space that they can walk around and experience.

For example, at a major renovation project for Virginia Commonwealth University Health System (VCUHS), DPR was faced with the challenge of showing the design and layout of operating rooms within the 85,000-sq.-ft. project to doctors, nurses and other hospital staff who were constantly on call at the Level 1 trauma center. There was no space in or around the hospital for a physical model, so DPR created an immersive virtual reality mockup by using the Oculus Rift. All we needed was a laptop and a headset, which allowed us to put our end users inside a full scale, highly detailed operating room environment. This allowed us to solicit invaluable design feedback from the people who would be using the hospital most.

The way virtual reality develops within the next year, and how the industry reacts to it, will shape VR’s place in the construction and design process. Maybe in five years or so, doing live design modifications (moving walls, furniture, finishes, and more) within virtual reality environments will become a commonplace within our industry, further enabling opportunities for creative design. Today, VR is most commonly used for visualization, but in the future, it could be leveraged more for real-time analysis and problem solving. It could be ubiquitous, an integral part of every construction process.

This week is more than a turning point for virtual reality – it’s just the beginning. 

A staff member at VCU uses an Oculus Rift headset to view the design and layout of the renovation. 

An example of a VCU virtual reality mockup that hospital staff members were able to virtually experience. 

March 29, 2016

DPR MicroVention Project Crew, Playworks Team up to Help Local School

The construction team at DPR’s MicroVention project site in Aliso Viejo, Calif. partnered with youth in Playworks’ junior leadership program to transform a 12 x 12 foot barren dirt lot on the school grounds into a colorful space for gardening and creativity. Playworks, a nonprofit organization committed to promoting safe, fun and healthy play at schools across the nation, is based in mostly underfunded schools, so the landscape enhancements were needed by both Playworks participants and the community.

Photo courtesy Maddie Schotl

On the afternoon of March 10, 10 DPR team members came to the school and, together with 15 Playworks participants, transformed the space. The children helped level and prepare the dirt site. DPR crews and the students then moved into place six planter boxes, which had been prefabbed by MicroVention team members earlier that day.

Photo courtesy Maddie Schotl

Working with the DPR crews, the students brainstormed how to create a functional space. They put their math skills to work computing how much dirt would be needed to fill the boxes and got dirty placing and filling the boxes with rock and topsoil readying them for plants that are to follow.

Photo courtesy Maddie Schotl

The construction team at the MicroVention site are already planning their next project with the Playworks youth. 

March 21, 2016

Christine E. Lynn Women’s Health & Wellness Institute: Built By Women, For Women

Congratulations to the Boca Raton Regional Hospital Christine E. Lynn Women’s Health & Wellness Institute project team for winning a National Excellence in Construction Pyramid Award from the Associated Builders & Contractors in the category of Healthcare, $10-$25 million. The awards program honors high-quality merit shop construction projects that include innovation, quality workmanship, and the highest safety standards.

It’s not every day that you have a facility designed and constructed by women, for women, especially when the percent of women in the construction and architecture industries accounts for only 12 percent of the workforce (2014 US Bureau of Labor Statistics). However, from DPR’s early involvement in preconstruction, it was clear that the team of architects, designers and owner’s representatives – which just so happened to be a 90 percent female team – shared a vision for creating a facility with the patient in mind.

The final product is the strikingly beautiful Christine E. Lynn Women’s Health & Wellness Institute. This 46,000-sq.ft. facility offers the expertise of renowned clinicians, the most advanced imaging technology in the region and a myriad of holistic and educational programs and support groups, providing women in South Florida with a continuum of care.

Perhaps summed up best by Dr. Kathy Schilling of the institute, “Our goal is to meld our leading position in breast health with the significant expertise Boca Regional has in such areas as pelvic health, cardiovascular disease and other important specialties,” said Dr. Schilling. “In the new Christine E. Lynn Women's Health & Wellness Institute we have done just that and now offer a spectrum of services, all in one place and at one time.”

DPR Construction, the HKS Architects team, as well as designers and owner’s representatives are all proud to have worked on a project which will leave a truly lasting impact on women’s healthcare in the community. 

Kali Bonnell (R), project manager, and I accept the pyramid award during the 26th annual Excellence in Construction awards ceremony.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Thompson)

March 11, 2016

Setting the Course for Safety Success

Creating an environment that encourages each person on the jobsite to be responsible for not only themselves, but for others around them, is vital to successfully completing an injury-free project. DPR’s Mid-Atlantic region recently completed two projects—a data center in Ashburn, Va. and the Inova Ashburn Healthplex— where safety was clearly communicated as a value throughout the project, which set the teams up to reach a combined 21 months of work injury-free.

To provide insight into how these projects reached completion injury-free, Project Manager Josh Bronitsky and Superintendent Bob Akers shared their thoughts on what they believe contributed to their success.

Overall, both project teams identified communication, discipline and a project-wide commitment to safety as major factors in creating an injury-free environment.

“Communication with the workers on site, specifically regarding the standards and expectations we have, is necessary,” said Bob. “In addition, it’s important to create a disciplined zero tolerance for unsafe behavior approach. If a rule is established during the initial job orientation, you must follow through and be consistent. Fairness matters to the men and women working. Whether it is different subcontractors or jobsite visitors, make sure everybody is held to the same standards.”

Both Josh and Bob believe that to create this safety-centric environment, everyone tied to the job in any way is a key player. Josh saw that to be successful, the individual workers must first believe that safety is a value, followed by the commitment from crew foremen, project leadership and all subcontractors on site.

“We were able to establish trust with our subcontractor partners around safety concepts early on,” said Josh. “They understood that our desire for a safe work environment was more than just a motto on a sign. When any hazardous conditions presented themselves, the subs reported immediately to DPR for direction. DPR was able to provide a safe alternative for the owner as well as educating them as to why we considered the situation hazardous.”

To create the culture of safety as a value, Josh and Bob also utilized practices such as daily meetings with the foremen to discuss safety issues, worker orientations, online safety inspections through Safetynet, and even hiring at least one full-time laborer focused on keeping the space tidy. In addition, Bob made sure to get to know the individual workers on a personal level and to communicate the overall goal of the project so they could understand the importance of what they are doing.

“One interesting practice we implemented was requiring the subcontractor’s safety professionals to report to the DPR trailer and submit their safety report face-to-face,” said Josh. “Often, these professionals come out to the jobsite, meet with their crews, suggest improvements, and then leave. We felt it was an opportunity we’d be missing out on to grow the relationships and learn from each other if we did not utilize their trade-specific expertise to understand what they felt needed to be improved. This is something that I’ll carry with me to future projects.”

At the end of the day, creating an injury-free environment will not be successful without the commitment from every person on the job. Because of that, the DPR Mid-Atlantic teams found that it is most important to have everybody on the jobsite feel like they are truly part of a team and how they are making a difference. Beginning with that, the culture of putting safety first spreads and ultimately helps ensure that every person goes home safe.

March 3, 2016

DPR and Future For Kids Demonstrate the Power of Community Partnership

For the past six years and counting, DPR and its Phoenix region employees have invested substantial resources and volunteer hours in support of Future for Kids (FFK), a community service organization serving local at-risk youth. In addition to over $200,000 in financial support in the past three years alone, DPR employees logged nearly 1,900 volunteer hours from 2013-2015 helping with FFK fundraising events, sports camps, its School of Construction and much more.

But perhaps nowhere has the depth of DPR’s commitment been more apparent, or the importance of community partnerships better illustrated, than in a recent fast-tracked, major new office finish-out completed for FFK through volunteer time and material donations.

The project became necessary when FFK found out they needed to quickly relocate their Scottsdale headquarters after a new developer bought the space. Future for Kids board member Bruce Shapiro of Arizona Partners generously offered up space in one of his retail buildings in Tempe – but the unfinished property needed a complete build-out to be useable.

DPR project manager Tim Hyde, current president of FFK’s board of directors, recognized that the project presented an opportunity to leverage their core building skills and capabilities on behalf of an important community partner. This was our opportunity to have a tremendous impact their mission,” Hyde commented.

Future for Kids' office renovation was completed in less than a month with volunteer labor and material donations. Photo courtesy Tim Hyde.

According to FFK’s Executive Director Madonna Bistany, the volunteer finishout project exemplifies the strong partnership that FFK and DPR have cultivated over the years – one that has been integral to their success.

“DPR Construction has stood alongside Future for Kids for over six years, supporting and strengthening our work with youth in the community,” she commented. “Having the support of a strong company like DPR allows FFK to focus on the important work of our mission. That is truly the power of well-established, philanthropic corporate relationships.”

Collectively, Phoenix employees logged some 236 hours on the project. That included a major effort by DPR self-perform crews, who donated nearly 100 volunteer hours on the job. Hyde estimated that DPR and other community partners put in place an estimated $50,000 worth of work – all at an out-of-pocket cost to FFK of around $8,000.

Volunteers from DPR's self-perform group framed up walls for the new office. Photo courtesy Tim Hyde.

The support was literally a godsend to FFK, according to Bistany.

“Our organization runs nine outreach programs each week serving 450 youths and three large scale camps around the Phoenix area,” Bistany said. “Having to move was a scary and complicated process. After sharing the location opportunity along with its challenges with our Board Chair, Tim Hyde, he immediately had the vision and know-how to make something from nothing.” 

Reviewing plans in the empy shell space; volunteers in action; completed restroom. Photo courtesy Tim Hyde.

March 1, 2016

Making Safety Personal

When it comes to safety, good or even great is never enough. DPR projects across the country continually look for safety ideas that encourage teams to change behaviors and achieve DPR’s zero incidents goal.

At the Arizona State University (ASU) Arizona Center for Law and Society (ACLS) in Phoenix, the team is going above and beyond to optimize jobsite safety by implementing creative new practices. For example:

  • Plus/delta sessions: Lunch-time brainstorming sessions where safety ideas are discussed, such as making filtered water more readily available to workers for hydration in the hot Arizona weather to procuring a specific knuckle boom lift that helped the plumbers do their job more safely.
  • Safety recognition stickers: On regular safety job walks, the ACLS leadership hands out stickers to those who demonstrate exemplary safety practices in the field. 
  • Acting on leading indicators: Before performing work, the crews fill out a pre-task plan that outlines how they will execute their assigned task in the safest manner possible. At the end of each week, these plans are reviewed and the three that demonstrate the most thorough safety action plans are awarded with free lunches. Those winning pre-task plans are then shared with the rest of the project team as an opportunity for learning. 

Safety results on the project speak volumes for the success of the team, as they make safety a value on site. In October, the team held a safety milestone barbeque for 270 people, celebrating 300,000 hours worked with a zero lost-time incident rate.

Read more about safety on the ACLS site here

February 24, 2016

LinkedIn Goes West

When you think of Portland, you might think of coffeehouses or the infamous Pacific Northwest rain. But did you know Portland is also quickly becoming a technology hub with a flourishing economy and countless new opportunities for innovation?

This very fact is one of the reasons LinkedIn has decided to build its newest data center in Hillsboro, a suburb just outside of Portland. With existing data center sites in Virginia and Texas, this new west-coast site will allow LinkedIn to achieve their goal of establishing data centers in varied regions across the United States. 

Additionally, this location enables LinkedIn to have direct access to green power. For 200 days out of the year the data center will utilize free cooling, reducing their overall energy usage. The location will also allow LinkedIn to explore new options for renewable energy and sustainable sourcing, leading to the company’s ultimate goal of 100 percent renewable energy usage.

So why the need for another data center? In the last year, LinkedIn’s storage and processing needs have increased by 34 percent. Working to stay ahead of this rapidly growing demand, LinkedIn is adding more capacity in order to maintain the consistent and reliable service LinkedIn members are expecting.

Construction of the data center will be completed in two phases. Phase 1, the build-out of data hall space for LinkedIn in an existing Infomart colocation facility, is comprised of 15,000 sq. ft. of white space and 3,000 sq. ft. of ancillary space. This will be DPR’s second time working in this facility, with the first time being in 2012 for Fortune Data Centers (now known as Infomart Data Centers).

Phase 2 is the construction of a new 100,000-sq.-ft. data center shell, 15,000 sq. ft. of which is confirmed for LinkedIn. Once both phases are complete, Infomart’s entire facility will be served by 16 MW of IT Critical Power.

Due to LinkedIn’s rapid growth and need for quick deployments, fast-track delivery is crucial for this design-build project. Even with the record-breaking amount of rainfall the area is experiencing, the project team remains confident in their scheduled completion dates.

LinkedIn’s latest data center will go online late 2016. 

The LinkedIn Data Center Services team breaking ground on the new facility in Hillsboro, OR with the help of the Infomart team and the Mayor of Hillsboro.