Technical Papers

We believe in continual self-initiated change, improvement, learning and the advancement of standards for their own sake. In that vein, DPR employees are constantly sharing our knowledge base and lessons learned. Part of being ever forward is opening a dialog in the industry as a whole and DPR employees have written and contributed to the following technical papers.


August 6, 2014

Getting the Most Out of BIM: The Secret Guide to VDC Apps

With a seemingly endless array of building information modeling (BIM) software applications available, simply understanding what each actually does can be a daunting task. DPR’s Andrew Fisher explains most BIM apps fall into six basic categories: authoring, coordination, visualization, analysis and measurement, sequencing, and estimating. In this paper, Fisher  describes in layman’s terms what each of these activities is and which applications DPR teams have found to be most successful.

December 17, 2013

Seeing is Believing and Building Better

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a detailed, coordinated 3D model worth? Though building information modeling (BIM) has been on the scene for a while, some in the industry remain unconvinced. But perhaps those professionals have not been on a project where BIM has been implemented correctly and effectively. DPR Construction has used BIM successfully on dozens of projects, and in this paper Atul Khanzode highlights some of our best practices and lessons learned.

May 17, 2013

The Path to Net-Zero Energy

DPR’s Phoenix regional office became the first commercial office building in Arizona and the second in the nation to register for and achieve Net-Zero Energy Building (NZEB) certification from the International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) Living Building Challenge.

At the time of publication of this case study, there were only four ILFI-certified NZEB buildings and DPR's Phoenix regional office was the largest building in the world with this certification. In October 2013, another DPR project took the "world's largest" honor.

DPR's award-winning, LEED®-NC Platinum "workplace of the future" Phoenix regional office is a prime example of how the company is staying on the leading edge of the sustainability charge and helping pioneer a movement that many expect will ultimately make net-zero energy the new norm. 

October 23, 2012

Making the Integrated Big Room Better

DPR Construction teamed with Stanford University’s Center for Integrated Facilities Engineering (CIFE) to study the flow of information within an Integrated Big Room to better understand who is interacting with whom, about what, and when. Analyzing data from some 30,000 files on one large-scale hospital project reveals interdependencies and complex workflows between team members each month. This is the first step in better understanding whom should be the lead discipline in a big room environment at what time and how to enhance the quality of interactions to achieve better outcomes.

August 22, 2012

The Future of Healthcare

DPR Construction conducted a year-long, intensive research initiative to better understand the long-term trends that healthcare customers will have to manage in the coming decade. Conducted by an independent third party, the study gathered 42 healthcare industry leaders’ perspectives to find out where the industry is heading. DPR’s Future of Healthcare study reveals the top 10 areas of change and how health economics, healthcare delivery and buildings of the future will affect the health industry.

September 1, 2010

DPR Drywall Modeling: Ever Forward

As building information modeling (BIM) becomes the go-to tool for delivering complex projects faster and more accurately, teams are discovering the benefits of applying virtual design and construction techniques to aspects of projects not typically modeled. Working at the forefront of these advancements are DPR BIM engineers, such as Dan Casale, who has taken his experiences from the field and translated them into a technical overview of the gains made when BIM is used to model metal-stud framing, as DPR is doing on more than 2.6 million sq. ft. of healthcare construction in California and Texas.

February 1, 2010

An Integrated, Virtual Design and Construction and Lean (IVL) Method for Coordination of MEP

In his doctoral thesis for Stanford University’s department of civil and environmental engineering, DPR’s Atul Khanzode, PhD, lays out a method for using integrated virtual design and construction (VDC) tools to coordinate MEP systems.

October 22, 2009

Harvard Business School Symposium – Integrated Project Delivery

A Presentation by Eric Lamb

October 1, 2009

BIM-Enabled Real-Time Supply Chain Management

A Case Study by DPR Construction with Tekla Structures and Vela Systems

Research by DPR and CIFE at Stanford University shows integrated system accelerates schedule 20%, eliminates unnecessary reorders, improves coordination and crew allocation.

September 1, 2009

Transcending the BIM Hype

How to make dollars and "sense" from Building Information Modeling

When BIM/VDC first emerged in the commercial construction industry in the 1990s, the consensus was it would revolutionize the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry. It offered the promise of substantial cost and time savings on developing projects. The industry and some clients are now starting to see that happen. Project teams are talking about reduced change orders and no MEP conflicts in the field due to BIM coordination. Still, moving BIM from the realm of theory into real-world practice is challenging.

September 1, 2006

Design-Build Dateline – September 2006

Collaborating Through the "Perfect Storm" to Deliver Greater Value Using Virtual Design and Construction

At a time when the economy is strong and the work is plentiful in most major market sectors, we are on the brink of a major shift in the way projects are designed and delivered. New thinking and technology have converged to create an explosion in the use of virtual design and construction (VDC), which is proving to enhance value for all project stakeholders.

July 1, 2005

IGLG Conference – July 2005

Case Study of the Implementation of the LEAN Project Delivery System (LPDS) Using Virtual Building Technologies on a Large Healthcare Project

Presenting preliminary findings of implementing the Lean Project Delivery System (LPDS) using the Virtual Building Technologies on a 250,000 square-feet, $100M, Healthcare project in California, USA.

June 1, 2000

Collaboration in the Building Process

The current business climate in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as many other areas of the country, is requiring design consultants and builders to stretch their staffs on multiple projects to meet the demands of the robust economy. For every existing client that continues to require design and construction support for their expanding business, there appears to be one or more new clients looking for the same services from the design and construction industry. In addition, these services must be delivered even quicker than before as clients try to keep pace with the industry around them. In order to satisfy the clients' needs consultants and builders must hire more staff, turn work away, and/or stretch their existing resources even further than imaginable. Given this astounding growth in the Bay Area economy and the need for almost every project to be delivered as quickly as possible, consultants and builders must figure out ways to be more efficient in every aspect of their daily work.

One of the traditional project delivery methods is for an engineer to produce a set of documents that can be given to a contractor to implement. If everything works out as planned, the contractor will build what was designed and leave the engineer alone to tackle the next demanding project. But as experience shows, this is rarely the case. In today's market, the demands for fast project delivery don't allow engineers the luxury of really doing what they do best: solving problems by analyzing several possible solutions, getting feedback from the standpoint of cost, schedule and quality, and then implementing the best solution and providing all information necessary to make it happen.

In order to succeed in this demanding environment, the engineer can take some simple steps early in the design process to help achieve dramatic results to help achieve overall project success. The process starts with the question, "How will this be built?" Obviously, this is an elementary question, but the steps that are taken to answer this question will result in defining the project in such a way that the effort expended by the entire team over the course of the project will be reduced.

When asking the question, "How will this be built?" the first concept that comes to mind is that of constructability. The earlier in the design process that this is addressed, the better. When the project involves building in or near existing facilities or services, it is imperative the engineer become familiar with the existing conditions. Out of necessity, the engineer becomes familiar with the geotechnical, civil and structural aspects of the existing conditions. Less obvious, but sometimes more significant, are the effects new structural elements can have on the critical building services such as electrical, telecommunications, process piping, life safety, and mechanical systems. Generally, the impact occurs when the location of a new structural element requires the shutdown and relocation of some element of a critical building system that results in an impact to the project budget or the client's business operation. Identifying these problems early is critical in helping the engineer eliminate potential solutions that may prove to be unacceptable.

For example, in designing the lateral bracing for an existing building, the most desirable solution from both a performance and occupancy use perspective might be a series of steel frames. The proposed location and installation of one of the frames as designed will require shutting down and relocating the main electrical panel for the building. The impact of this work is deemed unacceptable by the client due to the cost of relocating the electrical service and the interruption of business operations during the relocation. By simply evaluating the locations of the structural frames and the impact on the project, the engineer is able to reevaluate the design early in the process.

Another aspect of constructability that is sometimes best answered by the builder is what construction equipment must be used to install the system as designed. In some cases, the equipment necessary to install some element of the design prohibits the use of that element in the design. Taken in context, something that is "prohibited" must be defined as something that may not be feasible due to not only physical constraints, but also safety, schedule or budget constraints.

The following examples illustrate the impact a physical constraint for construction equipment can have on a design. Consider the design of a new foundation system that will be installed in an existing occupied building with a basement that has a low floor to ceiling clearance. Based upon the soil conditions, a drilled pier foundation system appears to be the best "engineering" solution. Yet this system is not practicable since a drill rig will not fit in the basement. Recognizing this early on will keep the engineer from spending too much time on a solution that may not work. For a second example, a new foundation must be designed for a new building that will be located next to an existing building. Due to the existing soil conditions, the soils engineer recommends a driven pile foundation system. The existing adjacent building happens to be a testing and manufacturing facility that has vibration sensitive equipment that will be disrupted by the vibration of driven piles. With early recognition of this, the engineer is able to reevaluate the foundation system and consider other options before proceeding further with the design.

Another facet of a project that comes to mind when asking the question "How will this be built?" is the schedule. In many of today's projects, the first and foremost concern for the client is how quickly the new facility can be up and running. The design can affect the project schedule in both material lead-time and actual construction duration. With regard to material lead-time, the size and makeup of the structural elements should be determined and conveyed to the builder as quickly as possible. If the design involves steel wide flange shapes, members that need to be milled should be identified and pre-ordered so as not to impact the schedule. The construction duration is often most affected by the details of the design, which are usually conveyed at the completion of the design documents. Bolted connections generally result in less field installation time than welded connections. Shop welding can often save time over field welding, in addition to saving money and improving quality. Thus, it is important for the engineer to consider the final details as early as possible.

As illustrated in some of the examples given above, the time spent in the conceptual phase of design is invaluable in providing project success and also reducing the engineering effort put forth in designing "prohibitive" systems or elements that may require redesign later in the project. Getting early involvement from the builder can provide greater success to both the project as a whole and to the efforts put forth by the design engineers. Before expending too much effort on the design, always remember to ask, "How will this be built?" We suggest asking your builder.