November 12, 2015

Offices and Projects: From Sea to Shining Sea

For 25 years, DPR has been serving customers across the nation by bringing our technical expertise to a regional level through our 20 offices. These regional offices allow us to support customers wherever we are needed and respond to the frequently changing needs of the construction industry.  

Throughout these regions, DPR and its customers have been hard at work. Curious? Here's a peek at some of the many exciting projects being accomplished, from sea to shining sea:

  • In Texas, we broke ground on the Capital One Plano campus. The 5,900 employees on campus will be glad to hear that this four-story building will include a game room, collaboration spaces, cafeteria, and training rooms. This will be the seventh building on the Plano campus and is expected to be complete by early 2017. 
  • In the Mid-Atlantic, we continue to be part of the growing data center presence and recently broke ground on the 45-acre Equinix Ashburn North Campus. This will add 1.2 million sq. ft. of data center space to the area in Northern Virginia referred to as “Data Center Alley,” where up to 70% of the world’s internet traffic flows through.
  • In Florida, we are renovating the Boca Raton Gloria Drummond Physical Rehabilitation Institute. This project will make it possible for patients to receive speech therapy, assisted daily living, cardiac rehabilitation, wound care, aquatic therapy, diabetes treatment and more.  
  • In San Diego, the next generation of nurse scientists, educators, and practitioners are continuing their education at the University of San Diego Beyster Institute for Nursing Research.  This new building, complete with a simulation facility featuring computerized mannequins, was completed in just 16 months and is now a national model for nursing education.

The list could go on, but we'll keep it brief. While this is just a glimpse of what we're up to, DPR's strong national presence allows us to continously embark on many amazing projects such as these and provide a consistent experience for our customers every time. 

*This blog post is part of a series that celebrates DPR's silver anniversary and focuses on 25 great things from the company from over 25 years. Here's the last one

November 6, 2015

What Makes a Workplace Great?

If you’re sitting in your office reading this, take a moment and look around. What do you enjoy most about your workplace? Is it something specific, or is it something a little less tangible? What is it exactly that makes a workplace great?  

  • According to Gallup, the average American adult works 47 hours a week, which adds up to 2,256 hours of your life per year. That is just one of the many reasons why CEOs, HR departments, and psychologists across the country have put in so much time and effort into researching what makes a workplace great.
  • Ron Friedman, a psychologist and business consultant, recently published a book called, The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace. In his book, Friedman suggests that one of the best things employers can do for their workplaces is to challenge their employees, without overwhelming them. With the right amount of challenge, employees will feel empowered to come up with their own best approach or solution to a problem.
  • In addition to empowerment, people need to feel like they are part of one culture. When Fortune magazine spoke to China Gorman, the CEO of the Great Place to Work Institute, she said companies succeed when they create one consistent culture throughout the entire organization. By doing so, employees will be better equipped for collaboration, which ensures customers will have a consistently excellent experience.  

DPR strives to not only build great things, but to build great people – and it shows.

For five consecutive years, DPR has been awarded a spot on Fortune’s Best Places to Work list for reasons such as our open culture and our environment of trust that empowers employees at all levels to make decisions in the best interest of our projects, our customers and our company. This feeling of empowerment can be felt throughout all of DPR’s regions. In 2015 alone, the Triangle Business Journal, the Dallas Business JournalFlorida Trend, and the San Francisco Business Times have all given DPR top spots on their lists of the best places to work.  

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

November 3, 2015

DPR’s Mid-Atlantic Region Makes a Difference with Playworks in D.C.

There couldn’t have been a better backdrop than national “Make a Difference Day” Oct. 24 for DPR’s Mid-Atlantic region volunteers to undertake a community service project designed to bring more healthy fun to inner city youngsters in Washington, D.C.

About 10 DPR-affiliated volunteers along with 25 volunteers from local TV station WUSA 9 came together at Malcom X Elementary School to make quick work of a project focused on creating fun. The end product: 12 mobile “wall ball” courts for Playworks, a nonprofit organization that works in under-resourced schools to achieve its goal to transform recess and “create a place for every kid on the playground to feel included, be active, and build valuable social and emotional skills.”

The building project was custom made for DPR’s unique skill set, and it marked their first community event with Playworks in the D.C. region. DPR currently maintains relationships with Playworks in the Bay Area and Phoenix regions as well.

It was rewarding for all involved according to DPR’s Graham Parks, who helped set up the outreach to Playworks and organize the event. Hearing the school principal’s gratitude about their effort drove home the impact DPR had, doing what it does best – designing, building and delivering a needed project that benefits the local community.

“The principal got up and really thanked us for donating our time and energy. It made my day when she said that when the kids showed up Monday it would be like Christmas for them,” Parks commented. “We really did feel like we were making a difference.”

DPR volunteer Chris Hoffman added that working alongside the friendly, engaging volunteers from WUSA 9, Playworks and AmeriCorps while taking the lead in translating initial design into useable wall ball courts for the school’s approximately 220 youngsters was particularly rewarding. He helped create a mock-up and prefabricated 11 additional mobile courts off-site for easy assembly by volunteer crews on the workday. In addition to about 120 volunteer hours, DPR’s Mid-Atlantic office donated some $2,000 in materials for the courts as well as the various other small projects undertaken by the volunteers, including painting lines on the asphalt playground for basketball and Four Square.

“This event was a good kickoff to what will hopefully be a long-term partnership with the Playworks organization here in the Mid-Atlantic region,” Parks added.

October 30, 2015

Treat Yourself Safely - Happy Halloween!

Safety is a value at DPR Construction. Whether it’s on the job or at home with family and friends, we want you to have a spooktacular time. Following are a few safety reminders as you head into the night in search of treats or a good holiday fright:

 Walk Safely: Flashlights will not only help you see, but help others see you. On average, twice as many child pedestrians are injured on Halloween compared to any other day of the year. Look both ways before crossing the street and use crosswalks wherever possible.
 Treat Safely: Examine all treats for choking hazards, tampering and allergy risks before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.
 Dress Safely: Wear well-fitting masks, costumes and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips and falls. Consider adding reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for increased visibility.
 Drive Safely: Children may be hard to see in costume. Reduce any distractions inside your car so that you can concentrate on the road, and be alert for children or little monsters wandering into the street.
 Carve Safely: Use the right tools and do the decorative work before taking off the top of the pumpkin to reduce the likelihood of hand injury. Also use a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle in your jack-o-lantern. Be cautious of lit candles (don’t leave them unattended).

Did you know? 
Halloween is more than 2,000 years old. The origins of Halloween have been traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which was celebrated on Nov. 1 as a time to honor all saints. The evening before (Oct. 31) was known as All Hallow’s Eve and later Halloween. People would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.

DPR Construction is 25 years old. The origins of DPR have been traced back to a temporary workspace off of Embarcadero Road in Palo Alto. In November of 1990, DPR moved into its new office in Redwood City, where Peter Nosler and Peter Salvati built the wall behind the front lobby desk—DPR’s first self-perform work. Everything was new and being invented to ward off the status quo.

Thank you for helping to move the industry forward and turning a vision into reality.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

October 29, 2015

UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay Wins ENR Award

In the last month or so, there's been a flurry of activity around the integrated UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay project:

  • The 878,000-sq.-ft. medical facility won ENR California’s best healthcare project in Northern California.
  • Members of the project team spoke at the 28th annual Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo, held October 6-8 in Chicago, IL. Professionals from all areas of healthcare facility delivery came together to examine the latest trends, perspectives, products and solutions in the market sector. This year’s theme: the intersection of design and wellness. 

At the Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo, DPR’s Ray Trebino joined J. Stuart Eckblad, director, design & construction for the UCSF Medical Center’s Mission Bay Hospitals project, and Stantec’s Laurel Harrison, to lead a session on the $1.5 billion UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay project. The session’s focus: How they brought together a community of more than 1,200 individuals to deliver one of the largest healthcare projects ever completed in the U.S. ahead of schedule and under budget – all while creating an optimal healing environment. Fostering a culture of shared values, vision, behaviors and processes, the team took healthcare delivery to the next level on this world-class project that opened on Feb. 1 this year.

Starting in May 2009—more than a year and a half before construction began—more than 250 architects, engineers and contractors co-located in the Integrated Center for Design and Construction (ICDC) on the 14-acre site to build a high-performing team focused on “first, doing what’s best for the project.” The result is one of the greenest urban hospitals in the nation, which received LEED Gold certification prior to occupancy. The facility was delivered eight days early despite implementing nearly $55 million in changes and passed the California Department of Public Health’s licensing inspections with “no deficiencies” in 2 days, which is unprecedented among new California hospitals (which average 30 days for this process). 

Photo Credit: Rien van Rijthoven

And it seems certain that many healthcare projects will continue to comprise a growing share of the healthcare market landscape in the near future. It’s been three years since DPR published its “Future of Healthcare” study, but the findings and implications from this yearlong survey of executives and leaders in healthcare and the A/E/C industry remain highly relevant.

As we look to the future of healthcare, we also look back at the close to 1,300 hospital/medical center projects that DPR has completed in the last 25 years (since our birthday in July).

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

October 28, 2015

DPR Puts Building Skills to Use in Volunteer Effort for Baja Challenge

DPR San Diego employees’ construction skills, along with their generous spirit of volunteerism, were put to good use on a recent community service endeavor. The project: building a house for a family in need as part of the 2015 Baja Challenge.

About 15 DPR employees along with friends and family members traveled across the border on Oct. 3 to Tecate, Mexico, where they set about building a home for a preselected family. It was DPR’s 15th year participating in the home building effort that is sponsored and organized by Project Mercy, a not-for-profit relief and development agency that promotes education, healthcare and other community development projects. The annual event relies on participation from San Diego based real estate and construction companies like DPR who are looking to make a difference.

Photo credit: Matt Pranzo

DPR’s San Diego office donated funds for materials, then brought their own tools and supplies to completely assemble and finish the prefabricated, 16x20 foot house during one long day of construction.

While the project’s physical location is only about 50 miles from San Diego, the area’s lack of basic infrastructure such as electricity and plumbing and its high poverty level set the two regions seemingly worlds apart.

“Having the opportunity to interact with and lend a hand to the families living in this area really puts the things we take for granted into perspective,” said Sam McAllister, DPR San Diego office employee who helped lead DPR’s work on the project.

Photo credit: Matt Pranzo

An array of DPR employees, from craftsmen and project engineers to carpenters and senior management, participated in the build day. They gathered early in the morning and then caravanned down to the jobsite where they put in a long day constructing, painting and finishing the house for one very grateful family.

Photo credit: Matt Pranzo

Emily Robertson, who helped organize the volunteers, said the Baja Challenge is an event that resonates with everyone involved. “It really hits home with a lot of folks,” she commented. “We’re so close, but you go over the border and find many people are pretty much living in cardboard shacks. We’ve got a lot of resources that can go toward something like this. It’s a great opportunity for us to use our skills sets to improve the community.”

October 27, 2015

Data Center Alley Grows with DPR’s Newest Data Center Project

Up to 70 percent of the world’s internet traffic flows through Loudoun County’s nearly six million sq. ft. of data centers each day, dubbing the Northern Virginia region “Data Center Alley.”

Since 1999, DPR has been part of the growing data center presence in Virginia and is continuing its role in the economic development of the county with its newest project, the Equinix Ashburn North campus, which broke ground October 15th.

Photo courtesy of DPR's Oksanna Kozyra

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Secretary of Commerce and Trade, Maurice Jones, and Buddy Rizer from Loudoun County’s Department of Economic Development were among the nearly 100 attendees at the jobsite’s groundbreaking ceremony.

Comstock applauded Equinix and DPR for contributing to the growth of Loudoun County, noting that projects like Ashburn North help to bring more jobs to the area, contributing to the fact that Loudoun County is one of the best places to live in Virginia.

Rendering courtesy of Equinix, Inc.

The 45-acre Equinix Ashburn North campus will add 1.2 million sq. ft. of new data center space, contained within five new data centers, adding to Equinix’s existing stock of 10 data centers in the North Ashburn area. Major components of the early phases of the project include the mass earthwork, wet and dry utilities, paving and landscaping – set to be completed in early 2016.

Here is some media coverage from the ceremony and the project:

October 23, 2015

ENR’s Annual Sourcebook: Rankings, Trends and Industry Insights

Recently, Engineering-News Record (ENR)—a publication often referred to as the “bible” of the construction industry—published its Sourcebook for 2015 (subscription needed for link). The results show that the U.S. construction industry is generally moving in the right direction. ENR Sourcebook supplements the initial Top 400 list, which is published in June.

Slow but steady growth seems to be the overall market tempo, according to ENR. 

As a whole, ENR described 2014 (the source year for its 2015 rankings) as a “pretty good year” that saw contracting revenue increasing 2.4% from 2013 to a sum total of $331.94 billion for the Top 400 U.S. builders. In addition to the rankings, the ENR Sourcebook offers a wealth of industry insight and analysis on the growth drivers, market movements and current challenges facing our industry. Among the trends this year: Doing more with less.  

In its analysis of the booming office sector, ENR quoted DPR’s Mike Ford who noted that the strong cycle in the office market sector is expected to continue for at least three years.  “All of our [geographic] markets in office are strong right now,” Ford said. Last year, DPR more than doubled its national revenues in the commercial office market from the year prior, thanks to a boom in that sector and supported by our expertise in helping clients meet and exceed their green and sustainable building needs, among other things.

For DPR’s part, we continue a multi-year trend of being ranked among the top five to ten percent or so of U.S. construction firms by overall volume on the ENR’s annual Top 400 Contractors List. Holding steady with the year prior, in 2015 we again came in at spot #21, backed by $2.66 billion in 2014 revenue.

DPR also was ranked on a number of market specific sub-lists that were called out within both the ENR 2015 Sourcebook and the Top 400 list. Among these, we were ranked:

  • #3 in Pharmaceuticals
  • #6 in Data Centers
  • #7 in Commercial Office 
  • #8 in Healthcare  
  • #8 in Telecommunications
  • #9 in Aerospace
  • #11 in Green Building Contractors
  • #16 on the Top 50 contractors by volume in the General Building category
  • #18 in Industrial Process
  • #20 in Hotels, Motels, and Convention Centers
  • #32 in Manufacturing

While ENR’s annual Sourcebook offers a chance to “check out the numbers," at DPR, we understand that our most important measures of success include how satisfied our clients are, how predictable our project outcomes are, and how much we are pushing our project practices “ever forward.” 

Our 25 year anniversary offers the chance to reflect not just on all the projects we've delivered since 1990 (as shown in the image below)—but more significantly, how we continuously work to create and sustain highly satisfied customers along the way.

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

October 20, 2015

25 Days In The Community: Big Impact Coast-to-Coast

How much can a contractor armed with hundreds of community-minded employees accomplish during 25 consecutive days of volunteerism?

Plenty, if DPR’s recent 25 Days In The Community initiative is any gauge.

In Phoenix, DPR completed renovations throughout the UMOM New Day Center campus. UMOM is the largest shelter for homeless families in Phoenix, and offers wrap-around social services to help their clients get back on their feet. Photo courtesy Tim Hyde.

Held as part of DPR’s 25th anniversary celebration, the initiative took place during the month of September in DPR offices coast to coast, putting the spotlight on DPR’s 2030 vivid description to be ‘integral and indispensable to the communities where we work.’ While the concentrated effort drew extra attention to DPR’s commitment to community involvement during the challenge month, it also served to highlight the skills-based volunteering and relationships that DPR regional offices maintain year round with organizations.

Over 25 consecutive days that began September 8th, DPR volunteers focused their skills, energy and resources on initiatives ranging from remodeled youth centers to upgraded facilities for homeless families, youth education programs and more. Altogether, DPR volunteers tallied about 5,000 hours in planning and executing initiatives to fill vital community needs.

In West Palm Beach, FL, DPR hosted the first of a two-part Construction School for youth at the Milagro Center. DPR has supported Milagro since 2011 through volunteer time and donations from the DPR Foundation. Photo courtesy Adriana Martinengo-Rosenberg.

While each outreach event was unique, collectively the results of the 25 Day initiative included:

  • 15 single and multi-family residences were renovated for veterans, families transitioning from homelessness and other deserving individuals, enabling them to live safely in their homes.
  • 5 youth centers that serve hundreds of teens and children in under-resourced communities were renovated to create inspiring, comfortable spaces to do homework, create art and enjoy being a kid.
  • 8 organizations received generous supplies of clothing, food and household items to better serve their clients.
  • 4 youth groups received hands-on mentoring from DPR volunteers on construction careers and other educational topics.

DPR Foundation president Gavin Keith pointed out that all of the organizations benefitting from DPR’s outreach efforts last month represent long-term relationships. 

“All the organizations we worked with during the 25 Days event are groups that we work with all year round,” he commented. “We focus on going deeper with these organizations rather than working with many different groups. We try to provide the best possible assistance to really well-researched organizations that we know are doing a great job in their communities.”

DPR's Raleigh, NC team completed major renovations to apartments used by PLM Families Together to provide short-term housing for homeless families. Photo courtesy Mindy Gray.

While the social issues DPR’s regional offices focus on vary across the country, they particularly seek out projects that can benefit from their collective expertise as a hands-on builder, Keith added. Building a house for a homeless family in Baja, renovating a veteran’s home in Austin and making improvements to a children’s center in Tampa are just a few of the projects DPR employees completed during the 25 Day in the Community initiative that illustrate the unique value DPR employees bring to the table. 

A major component of DPR’s regional Community Initiatives is the DPR Foundation. Founded in 2008, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit’s mission is to support organizations that assist economically disadvantaged youth.

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

October 16, 2015

25 Days In The Community: A Lesson in Concrete for Some Sacramento Youth

When the Roberts Family Development Center (RFDC) asked DPR for help building a small concrete pad needed on its Sacramento campus, DPR was happy to comply – but quickly devised a way to expand the community service project into a learning opportunity for the youth served by the center.

As a result, approximately 35 first-through-seventh graders learned about concrete construction in a fun, hands-on session led by eight DPR volunteers on Sept. 22.

The RFDC children added a creative touch to stepping stones as part of their lesson in casting concrete. Photo courtesy Megan Valles. 

The after-school class taught students about the concrete process, from design and grading to formwork, reinforcement, concrete placement and finishing. The hourlong learning session included a PowerPoint presentation featuring actual DPR jobsite pictures as well as hands-on activities that allowed the children to get their hands dirty casting small concrete stepping stones. The young participants received small DPR gift bags filled with DPR notebooks and snacks.

The class was a hit with the children, according to Megan Valles, who organized the project for DPR.

“I was really surprised that everyone in the room, from youngest to oldest, was engaged for the entire time,” she commented. “I think the neatest part for me was the kids who reached out and mentioned they had family members in construction. You could just tell the sense of pride for them and how they personally could relate to the volunteers in the room and what was being presented.”

The event offered a chance for the DPR superintendents, project engineers, project managers and other volunteer staff to interact directly with children who benefit from the DPR Foundation-supported Center. “It was great that even a couple of our newer employees participated and showed they are eager to get involved with some of our community efforts,” Valles added.

Photo courtesy Megan Valles.

DPR hopes to engage the youngsters in a second phase of learning about concrete construction when it completes the second phase of this initiative, prepping and pouring the concrete pad, sometime within the next few weeks.