August 25, 2015

Southern California’s Dave Seastrom Talks Trends

“Our job is to advise our customers about potential risks and mitigation factors,” says DPR's Dave Seastrom. “Planning, safety, quality and schedule are not independent activities, but all connected," he continues. "Upfront planning in preconstruction, which includes procurement strategies and construction sequencing to address changing market conditions, allows us to provide creative solutions and deliver projects that meet our customers’ needs.”

With 33 years of industry experience, Seastrom currently serves as regional manager of DPR's Southern California region. He grew up fascinated with his father’s industrial engineering work and went on to earn a degree from USC in civil engineering with an emphasis in construction. However, it was not the calculations or engineering design he was passionate about, but the actual implementation. 

Since joining DPR in 2004, he has seen exponential improvement in the construction industry. 

“Even after all these years, I still marvel at the progress project teams make on a job in a day, one week, or a month,” says Seastrom.

Learn more about Seastrom and the evolution of the industry here


August 21, 2015

330 Third Street South Residences Topping Out in St. Petersburg, Florida

In late July, the DPR project team at 330 Third Street South Residences in St. Petersburg, Florida, celebrated with a traditional topping out ceremony. The ceremony marks the occasion where the team puts the final beam in place, signifying the end of structural steel erection.

More than 400 people—subcontractors, neighbors, local business owners, community leaders, project design partners and owners—joined the DPR team for a lunch celebration, safety presentation, and the ceremonial raising of the beam.

Located on an urban, three-acre site in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg, the 625,394-sq.-ft., 19-story residential tower will include 17 residential stories and a rooftop with an amenity deck. The rooftop will serve as the amenity level with a sun deck and pool. Other amenities located throughout the tower will include a fitness center, business center, clubroom with exhibition kitchen, and observation deck. A detached five-level parking structure will provide 596 vehicle and 100 bicycle spaces for both residences and patrons.

Completion is scheduled for Spring 2016. 

Nick Nieto (right) and I (left) highlight the project's success

Attendees listen to the safety presentation

Here I am again, signing the beam

Close-up of the topping off beam with happy team members

The beam is ready to head to the top!

The final beam makes its way to the top of the 17th story

Photo Credit: Dave Weathers 

August 18, 2015

DPR Hardin Fulfills Savannah Girl’s Wish with Dream Playhouse Project

This summer, DPR Hardin welcomed the opportunity to put their skills as builders to use in the community, working with Make-a-Wish to build a deluxe playhouse for a deserving youth. Spearheaded by the Savannah, GA project teams, the house was planned over the course of several months and built in a marathon four-day session while the recipient was out of town.

Danielle Newman of DPR Hardin Savannah led the charge in organizing the meticulously planned play house. She spent approximately 40 hours over the last few months ironing out the administrative details of how to make the playhouse a reality, working with Make-A-Wish Savannah. The planning culminated in mid-July, when a team of 10 Savannah-area DPR employees, assisted by several subcontractor employees, came together over four consecutive days to create a dream playhouse in the corner of Rachel’s backyard.

Photo courtesy Andi King

Also contributing were subcontractors Sobman Landscaping, which landscaped around the structure, and Alpha Painting, which contributed both materials and manpower to help paint the structure, along with a handful of other subcontractors from the DPR Hardin Outlet Mall of Savannah and Broughton Street Renovation projects who donated time, money and materials.

Photo courtesy Andi King

More than 100 people, including local news crews, neighbors, friends, family, DPR employees and subcontractors along with representatives from Make-a-Wish Savannah, converged in Rachel’s backyard to witness Rachel’s first look at the new playhouse during the “wish reveal.”

The excited crowd formed a human tunnel shielding the playhouse from Rachel’s view until she passed through to see the finished product: a beautifully finished and inviting two-story playhouse featuring a loft inside and an L-shaped porch on the front, complete with porch swing.

Although all that attention proved a bit overwhelming for Rachel initially, she soon climbed into the pint sized swing to enjoy the view from the front porch of her new domicile. “She was having a ball,” Newman said. “And her older brother Joshua just fell down, face first, when he saw the playhouse – he was wowed. It was pretty cute.”

August 13, 2015

BD+C Giants 300 Report Reveals Trends, Ranks DPR No. 11 Contractor In Nation

Curious about the future of the architecture, engineering and construction (A/E/C) industry as well as forward-looking trends within various building sectors? Building Design+Construction (BD+C) magazine's 2015 Giants 300 Report, released earlier this month, reveals that and more. According to the comprehensive report, DPR ranked No. 11 on the list of the largest contractors, as part of its ranking of the largest A/E/C firms in the nation overall, based on revenue.

Sector Rankings 
This year, in addition to the No. 11 spot, DPR ranked in the following sectors so far:

  • #7 in healthcare
  • #9 in office
  • #9 in green
  • #13 in BIM
  • #13 in reconstruction
  • #17 in university
  • #27 in multifamily
  • #44 in government 

Other rankings, such as data centers, will be coming soon.

Building and Sector Trends, Insights

  • According to the construction report, the industry can "expect spending for nonresidential construction to rise in 2015 by somewhere in the 6.4–7.7% range." 
  • In an assessment of healthcare, the report revealed that "hospital and medical office construction [is] facing a slow but steady recovery." The report also mentions that "in Florida, where healthcare construction is up 20% from 2010, DPR Construction recently started on the 33,000-sf Gloria Drummond Physical Rehabilitation Institute for Boca Raton Regional Hospital. Working with architect HKS, the contractor is renovating existing therapy spaces, upgrading exterior features, and adding an aquatic therapy center."

A Dream + 80 Million Hours
Delivering great projects and great value to clients has led to DPR's consistently strong ranking on the BD+C's Giants 300 report. Living proof that giant dreams can yield spectacular results, DPR was built on the dream of its three founders 25 years ago, and as of today, employees have put in some 80 million work hours total since 1990. Suspending the laws of nature, it would take a single, very tired, person around 9,000 years to do that (if they worked nonstop).

The Self-Perform Work Component
Part of the 80 million hours is self-perform work, which makes up a growing proportion of DPR's total work hours. As a general contractor and builder with its own crews performing trade work, including concrete, drywall and doors, this helps us maintain control over schedule, quality, safety and cost on projects. It also gives the flexibility to explore and adopt innovative ways to work and source materials, delivering better projects and better overall value to clients.

*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.

August 7, 2015

Understanding Cybercrime and Ways to Reduce Risk

Have you used your phone to respond to email or search online in the past few days, hours, or minutes? The answer, for most of us, is a resounding "yes."

As a data center builder, DPR knows the importance of data protection. Last year, DPR and a handful of partners hosted the second bi-annual Data Center Technical Summit (DCTS). The event was geared toward data center end users and the theme was “Managing Your IT Risk: Data Center Innovation in a Rapidly Evolving Industry.”

The keynote speaker was U.S. Navy veteran turned CEO and founder of GovCloud Network, Kevin L. Jackson, who spends his days fighting cybercrime and helping businesses leverage cloud computing.

In a recent article, Jackson stresses the fact that understanding the ins-and-outs of cyber security is more important now than ever before. He says the biggest barrier to the adoption of cloud computing on an enterprise level is a lack of understanding around the advancements made in cloud security in recent years. Jackson offers practical advice about managing both personal and corporate risk online.

Read the Q&A to get the full story.

August 3, 2015

DPR Shines Spotlight on Construction Career Opportunities at Girlstart Toolbox Build Event

When it comes to girls learning about the opportunities available to them in the STEM (science, technology, math and science) careers, there may not be anything quite as impactful as hearing directly from other females already working in those fields.

As a way to share their experience in the field of construction, a half-dozen women from DPR’s Austin office took time out from their workdays July 7 to participate in a Toolbox Build event for 28 fourth and fifth grade girls who were participating in a Girlstart summer camp.

Photo courtesy Sharlym Aquino Gil, Director of Community Relations, Girlstart

Founded in Austin, Texas in 1997, Girlstart is the only community-based informal STEM education nonprofit in the nation specifically dedicated to empowering and equipping girls in STEM through year-round STEM educational programming. Girlstart programs are open to girls in grades K-16. The organization focuses on serving girls of minority backgrounds, who live in low-income or nonurban environment, and/or who are considered at risk academically by the Texas Education Agency.

Angie Weyant, who herself has an engineering degree and had been looking for a way to get involved in a volunteer effort with Girlstart, organized the toolbox build session. She said the summer camp session provided a great way for Austin DPR employees to share the many benefits and paths of construction careers.

“We had a really great cross-section of people who came out to share what we do, including someone from marketing, from preconstruction and a project executive, among others,” she said. Building the individual tookbox kits allowed hands-on interaction with the girls and the opportunity to talk about safety and other construction-related issues, she added.

The girls took home their assembled toolboxes and DPR-logoed safety goggles so they can continue working on their skills at home.

Photo courtesy Sharlym Aquino Gil, Director of Community Relations, Girlstart

“The girls all seemed to have a really good time, and we got to interact with them a lot during the building exercise,” Weyant added.

Girlstart later tweeted about the day, saying, “Thanks @DPR Construction for working with our girls at camp today!” They included a comment from one of the girls who participated, who said: “Now I can work with my dad with my own tool kit!”

All in a day’s work planting the seeds to build the next generation STEM workforce – one girl at a time.

July 30, 2015

18 Years of BIM

The industry has evolved in the last 25 years since DPR was founded. Building information modeling (BIM), however, has been a part of DPR since the early days of the company. As a long-established leader in virtual design and construction (VDC) and BIM, we know that it's not just the technology alone, but the smart use of technology that can help the right project team deliver predictable results and improve project efficiency.

We used an early version of BIM in 1997 on a project in the Bay Area for basic site logistics, visualization and construction sequencing to identify time/space conflicts.

Ten years later, DPR achieved a major breakthrough on Sutter Health’s Camino Medical Group Mountain View campus, which completed in 2007. Camino was the first DPR project to use a combination of BIM, integrated project delivery (IPD) and lean methodology.

On the Camino project, the team's strategic use of BIM on the 250,000-sq.-ft. outpatient medical center resulted in an estimated cost and time savings of at least $9 million and six months over the traditional CM-at-risk approach. Since then, the benefits and services of BIM have continued to evolve.

Now, almost ten years after the start of the Camino project and 18 years since we first started using it, we use BIM on 85% of our projects before work even begins in the field.

*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.

July 29, 2015

Phoenix’s 2nd Annual School of Construction Scores Another Success

When 100 elementary school aged youth from two local programs descended on DPR’s Phoenix offices recently, many of them had a general idea of the types of projects that contractors build. But very few could identify even one of the many career paths available in the construction industry.

DPR was determined to change that. Over the course of two hours during its second annual School of Construction event June 17th, students from the ICAN and Future for Kids organizations joined together with more than 30 DPR volunteers for an afternoon of learning, building and inspiration. By the end of the session, the children took home not only a planter box that each one had built, but also new knowledge and insight into the many promising career opportunities in the construction industry.

DPR project manager Tim Hyde, the brainchild behind the Phoenix office’s first school of construction last year, again organized this year’s event. More than 30 volunteers worked the day of the event and six worked for months prior as part of the planning taskforce.

“Only 23 percent of our participants were interested in a career in construction beforehand, many of them saying “no way!” or “never!” in their responses [at the start of the day],” reported Danielle Gilmore, program assistant with Future For Kids. “That number more than doubled to 47 percent following the trip and resulted in answers like ‘definitely!’ and ‘I’m so excited!’,” she commented. “I think we can all agree that the field trip was amazing, and it really had an impact on the kids.”

The School of Construction day started out with an introductory session that spotlighted five different DPR employees with diverse jobs, including an estimator, accountant, marketing professional, project engineer and superintendent. Superintendent Raymond Espinosa led a motivational discussion with the students about his own path to a successful construction career after his dream of playing professional sports was waylaid by an injury.

After the kickoff session, students split into four groups and rotated through work stations to construct their projects. In the first station, they assembled planter boxes, learning about tongue and biscuit assembly methods using wood pieces that DPR volunteers had prefabricated. Next, they proceeded to stations where DPR employees clad in full personal protective equipment helped them nail their boxes together. They finished off their planter boxes at a decorating station. DPR provided dirt, seeds and a plastic drip tray and packaged them with the boxes to take home. Interspersed in the planter box construction stations was a DPR technology showcase. At that station, volunteers demonstrated the latest in construction technology including laser scanning, 3D modeling, 3D printing and a drone demonstration.

At the completion of the two-hour session, Hyde gathered the children for a closing wrap-up talk, circling back around to the questions asked at the beginning regarding what kinds of construction jobs they now knew about and how many were now interested in pursuing a construction career path.

“They knew a lot more this time – the answers just started coming out,” Hyde said. “That was really cool.”

All in all, Hyde called the day another resounding success by raising awareness about the opportunities in construction with the next generation. “I said before the event that if we can get one more kid interested in a path in construction, this would be worth it. We got six,” he commented. “And it was just really, really fun.”

July 28, 2015

Is a Net-Zero Energy Campus Possible?

When it comes to higher education facilities, how attainable is net-zero energy? 

During the Florida Educational Facilities Planners’ Association, Inc. (FEFPA) 2015 Summer Conference, I joined industry leaders Nick Ertmer with DPR Construction, Stella Perico with Leo A. Daly, Scott Robinson with AEI Consultants, and Buck Martinez with FPL on a panel to discuss sustainable design and construction strategies, and lessons learned from prior campus projects.

Here's a summary of what we discussed:

  • Change starts early. And it starts with all of us inspiring and challenging industry professionals to push themselves and help their customers consider incorporating sustainable options, such as Architecture 2030’s “2030 Challenge.”  Imagine if we could meet the goal of all new buildings being carbon neutral by the year 2030!
  • Consider the human impact on sustainability. The next phases of green building will be as much about people as technology. To evolve to the next level of green, the industry needs to embrace using energy models and building owners need to commit to collecting post-occupancy data. Facility managers can then compare data to the energy model to verify that the building meets the performance metrics it was designed to achieve. To bridge the gap from construction to efficient operations, the campus facility manager can participate in design discussions. Why? Through early education, the facility manager can use the energy model to establish a performance baseline, and have a solid understanding on how to maximize the building’s performance to track each year.
  • Success stories. While we can use technology to measure successful sustainable practices, one thing will always affect the bottom line, and that’s the end user. Consider Florida International University’s Academic Health Center 4. Completed in 2013, the team on the 136,000-sq.-ft. project used the energy model and as a result, was able to modify the building controls to make sure the building performs as designed. In just one year, the university saved $77,000 in gas and electric costs.

By challenging ourselves, our project teams, and by raising awareness on lessons learned from others on the path to sustainable campus design and construction, net-zero energy can be attainable.

Learn more about DPR's green and net-zero energy experience here.

(Left to Right) Buck Martinez, Scott Robinson, Stella Perico, Kirk Stetson, Mouji Linarez-Castillo (blog author), and Nick Ertmer speak on a panel discussing ‘Is a Net-Zero Campus Possible? What Others Have Done and What the Payoff Can Be’ during FEFPA’s 2015 Summer Conference 

July 25, 2015

Raleigh Summer Camp Teaches Teens More than Just Construction Skills

Nearly two dozen teenagers from Durham, N.C. had a chance to gain not only construction skills, but also some life and social skills during a DPR-sponsored camp June 25.

DPR’s summer construction camp held at the Raleigh offices drew 20 13- to 18-year-olds from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Durham. The day was day full of tangible lessons on team dynamics and the importance of planning and communication, in addition to instruction on how to correctly swing a hammer and construct a project from start to finish.

Photo courtesy Mindy Gray

De’Lisa Stringer spearheaded the camp that highlighted DPR’s corporate mission and approach while giving the students exposure to the construction industry. “DPR not only aims to build great buildings but we aim to build great people, relationships and develop attributes that are skill-based,” Stringer commented.

“The students are at a pivotal age where their everyday observation skills can help determine the decisions that they make,” Stringer added. “They understand right and wrong; now let’s teach them how to make better decisions, critical ones.”

To further that goal, the day kicked off with an ice breaker activity that promoted observation and discussion of the people and things around them. That activity bridged into a focus on team dynamics. The teens spent the morning working on a logistics plan paired up randomly with another teen participant that they might not normally sit or talk with, with each pair devising a plan for how they would build their project. They then presented their plans to the group – the first time that some of them had been asked to make a formal presentation.

“At the end of the day we asked them what they learned, and the responses went all the way from having good team morale and communication to having effective presentation skills,” Stringer commented. “One group was having some conflicting ideas. The student told me ‘we had to step back and reevaluate and came to the conclusion it wasn’t about using my idea or her idea, we just needed to use the best idea for the project.’ That was exactly the whole intent of the activity, so that was awesome.”

In the afternoon, teams of five students each built four picnic tables, which were all donated back to the Boys & Girls Club campus. A high volunteer to student ratio meant that every student had a chance for hands-on involvement and learning, and no one was left on the sidelines.

Photo courtesy Mindy Gray

“The volunteers showed the students how to use a drill, take out a broken screw, the proper way to wear gloves when dealing with raw wood, etc.” Stringer said. “They were excited to not only be using tools but also really learned how to comprehend and follow written instructions.”

Throughout the day, DPR volunteers including Stringer maintained an open dialogue with the kids to see what they had learned following each activity. “I think what was most impactful for me was listening to their responses and seeing their development and growth,” she concluded. “Twenty students left with social, life and hands-on skills that they can start applying to their life right now to help them get to where they need to be, while also piquing their interest in construction.”

Photo courtesy Mindy Gray