July 31, 2020

Builders at our Core: Getting the Bay Area Back to Work

Construction work taking place on the UCSF Block 23A Neurosciences Research Building in San Francisco
Work was paused on the UCSF Block 23A Building in San Francisco when California's Bay Area announced a shelter-in-place order. Photo courtesy of Barry Fleisher

On March 16, officials in California’s Bay Area announced a Shelter-in-Place (SIP) order for six Bay Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara. Many DPR Construction projects stopped work to abide by this order to help flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections. But that wasn’t the end of the story. Safely winding down a project is one thing. Getting things back online with new protocols in the face of a pandemic is another. DPR’s Bay Area project teams quickly got to work on what they knew would be the next step: restarting these projects as safely as possible.

Teams were set up to formulate return to work plans, for both offices and jobsites, so projects could come back online with enhanced COVID-19 safety protocols. One such project that was paused due to the SIP order was the 283,000-sq.-ft. UCSF Block 23A Neurosciences Research Building in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood. The project is in an urban setting, in the middle of a city block, a stone’s throw away from the Chase Center and AT&T Park. DPR’s self-perform scopes include concrete, drywall, ceilings, firestopping and fire safing.

Jack Poindexter, who serves as project executive on the UCSF job, summed up the challenges. “This project is massive. It’s a complex project with a lot of workers on-site—well over 300 on a given day.” The team knew they needed to build a plan to return to work, but being able to do it safely and with a high degree of excellence was paramount in their minds. “Our goal was to protect their jobs, but we also had to protect their health, and treat a potential restart with a level of seriousness that we would treat any other high hazard activity on a construction site.”

Cones and signage are set up outside the UCSF Block 23A site to remind people of social distancing requirements.
A team of DPR employees met daily via virtual conferences to devise a get back to work plan that included advanced protocols aimed at safeguarding everyone on-site. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

The final result was akin to a project procedures manual on a large job. The team, who met daily via virtual conferences, considered all possible angles: How to get people in. How to check that they’re healthy. How to get them into the building in the most efficient manner. How to move materials to and around the site. How to keep people safe in the field and in the trailer. What types of PPE would be required? What should working hours be? How to bring people back into the site while orienting them to new logistics and procedures. The team collected myriad ideas and came up with a final get back to work plan that UCSF not only approved but praised.

First and foremost was the question of how to spread people out for social distancing purposes. A team of DPR employees, including superintendents and craft team members who could advise on the practicalities of the field and come up with workable solutions, decided to spread workers out across shifts. The core crews were split into two shifts, while a third shift was added to handle material deliveries and some on-site work.

The next step was to stagger the start times of subcontractors, even within the same shift. With a pre-screening process, including temperature scans, in place to ensure that every person who enters the site is healthy, this cuts down on people queuing up for screening at the same time. And those who do wait in line for screening prior to entry stand at designated places on the pavement, helping them maintain a 6-foot distance from each other while waiting to enter the gate. The team even added a second gate, allowing two people to be screened at once at separate entry points. Those conducting temperature scans are protected in booths, behind plexiglass--not only on the construction site itself, but also in jobsite trailers.

Employees are given temperature scans at screening booths before entering work areas.
Booths were set up to screen people for COVID-19 symptoms before they enter the site, with screeners performing temperature scans behind plexiglass. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

The team also changed logistics once inside the site, even down to the use of the stairs in the building. One staircase is designated for going up, while another is designated for those going down. This minimizes the number of people potentially passing each other in close contact. Teams also began working in designated zones of the building so that certain crews can be isolated from others. For Poindexter, DPR’s self-perform crews not only helped make this possible, but helped make it a success.

“When we shut down, we were right in the middle of drywall, and we have a tremendous amount of our drywall and ceiling folks on-site. What’s great is getting them back to work, but also, they’re our people. It’s so much easier to control the safety and performance of a project when you’ve got DPR personnel executing it. These protocols are new to everybody, so making sure we’re all doing them well is a whole new hurdle for us. Having more DPR personnel on-site is a really big benefit for us.”

Three craft team members work to complete the UCSF Block 23A Building.
DPR's planning team included superintendents and craft team members who advised on the practicalities of the field and came up with workable solutions for restarting work. Photo courtesy of Barry Fleisher

The UCSF Block 23A project was able to restart successfully due to the careful analysis, planning and execution of those plans by DPR employees and the cooperation of every subcontractor and the client, itself. But, the importance of the learning element is not lost on anyone. The crisis has given everyone the opportunity to become better planners, with a multitude of lessons learned from both planning and scheduling standpoints.

Said Poindexter: “We’ve learned a ton. We’ve focused on it in a way that folks at DPR always do. We rise to the occasion. Every time, we rally around these issues, solve the problems, learn from them, and are better in the future. That effort is well worth it. We will end up in a stronger position as better builders in the long run.”

UCSF Block 23A welcomed more than 300 people back to work the week of May 4. Safely.

July 31, 2020

Going Virtual: Community Initiatives Continue Across DPR

Unprecedented times call for creative measures as DPR Construction teams across the country restructured their Community Initiatives (CI) as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although community service looks a little different these days, DPR’s ongoing commitment to building possibilities for the under-resourced remains consistent when shifting youth education programming from in-person to virtual. 

Take a look at the virtual CI events so far in 2020:

Women’s Empowerment Webinars for Austin Nonprofit - May/June 2020

This past May and June, DPR’s Austin team hosted two personal development events for the local nonprofit organization, Girls Empowerment Network (GIRLS). A long-standing partner in the community, GIRLS’ mission is to teach young women self-efficacy through a variety of character development programs focused on improving their confidence. Despite the limitations due to the pandemic, GIRLS has continued supporting young women in the Austin community after shifting their programming to a virtual format.

The first DPR session, a “Power Chat” webinar, supported high school girls enrolled with the organization. During this webinar, DPR’s Angie Weyant, along with other volunteers in the professional space, offered GIRLS’s attendees a glimpse into the working world. Through intimate Q&A breakout sessions, Weyant had the opportunity to share her career path, experiences as a woman working in the construction industry and love for working at DPR Construction.

In the second workshop, DPR’s event organizers offered the GIRLS team a unique way of learning more about themselves through introspective journaling and going over their results from the Enneagram personality assessment. After explaining the 9 different Enneagram types, DPR’s Angie Weyant and Monica Jacobs expressed how this evaluation can be used for both personal and professional growth. GIRLS Executive Director/CEO, Julia Cuba Lewis, shared, “Thank you to DPR for continuing to partner with us in such meaningful and relevant ways.”

Introduction PPT Slide for the Austin GIRLS webinar.
DPR’s CI Champions participated in a "Power Chat" webinar and hosted a Team Enneagram Session workshop with the GIRLS youth and staff. Photo courtesy of Angie Weyant

Leading Personal Development Sessions with Girls Inc. - May 2020

In May, DPR Construction’s Dallas office hosted two virtual personal and professional development sessions with Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas. Girls Inc. is a nonprofit committed to preparing young women for success in their work and home life through a combination of long-lasting mentoring relationships and research-based programming.

DPR’s CI Champions Monica Jacobs and Angie Weyant led both of these webinars, extending operational support to Girls Inc. leaders and organizers by breaking down the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Wheel of Emotions chart. Attendees learned about MBTI and how it can help with evaluating adolescents they work closely with. Additionally, DPR’s event facilitators shared how the Wheel of Emotions can serve as valuable communication tool for both adults and youth when identifying complex emotions.

Girls Inc. Director of Development, Mimi Bishop, shared, “[DPR’s Monica and Angie] add so much value for our staff. We appreciate all they do for us!” DPR is planning more virtual events with the Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas team in the future.

Introduction PPT slide for Dallas Girls Inc. webinar
DPR Construction’s Dallas office hosted two virtual personal and professional development sessions with Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas. Photo courtesy of Monica Jacobs

DPR Teaches 3D Modeling to South Florida Youth - May 2020

In May, DPR gave the students of The Milagro Center a crash course in 3D modeling software with a “SketchUp Training” webinar. The Milagro Center is a nonprofit organization that strives to ensure the social and academic success of underserved children and teens ages K-12 in the Delray Beach community.

DPR’s Zach Thompson, who acts as one of the company’s Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) leaders, joined other DPR volunteers to lead the virtual workshop on 3D modeling. Thompson helped students download the free version of the SketchUp software, taught a beginner tutorial on how to use the program, and offered technical support throughout the remote event.

The webinar’s facilitators helped open a up a wide range of learning possibilities for The Milagro Center’s students, as this was the first time they had been exposed to a software with SketchUp’s capabilities.

SketchUp 3D Model Screenshot
DPR’s Zach Thompson led the virtual workshop on 3D modeling with SketchUp software. Photo courtesy of DPR Employee

Sacramento Students Explore Careers in Construction - April 2020

In April, the DPR’s Sacramento office hosted a “Careers in Construction” webinar for students from Mira Loma and Natomas High Schools involved with local organization Improve Your Tomorrow (IYT). IYT serves young men of color and enrolls students as early as 7th grade, with the option of remaining in the program up until their college graduation.

This webinar gave DPR's group of panelists the opportunity to share their own professional development journeys with the students, answering any questions they may have. To showcase the breadth of career options within the construction industry, each panelist specialized in different jobsite roles and responsibilities.

IYT’s Event Manager, Alina Sanchez, said, “The students had an eye-opening experience regarding the different avenues one can take in the construction industry, and loved learning about the DPR team’s career journeys.”

Ft. Lauderdale Teens Take a Virtual Jobsite Tour - April 2020

DPR Ft. Lauderdale hosted a virtual “Career Exploration” event in April for middle school students enrolled with HANDY, a local organization that supports disadvantaged youth. HANDY offers an array of customized educational, personal development and economic self-sufficiency programs for youth and adults, ages 9-25.

During the webinar, DPR’s hosts shared their day-to-day job responsibilities, details about the construction industry, and answered questions regarding DPR’s community outreach and its involvement with healthcare projects during the COVID-19 crisis. One of the hosts was working remotely from a South Beach jobsite trailer, giving HANDY’s students the opportunity to go on a “live” tour of the project site.

Lina Nageondelestang, DPR’s event organizer, said: “The students enjoyed catching a glimpse of a jobsite, which under normal circumstances they would not have been able to, due to the project’s location.” Nageondelestang shared that DPR will continue to host more virtual initiatives with HANDY in the future to continue inspiring the next generation of builders.

Discussing Opportunities for Homeless Youth in Seattle - March 2020

In March, DPR’s Seattle office hosted an online educational event for students enrolled in YouthCare's YouthBuild program. YouthCare offers a wide range of services to support Seattle's homeless youth, while also offering employment training and educational opportunities, such as the YouthBuild pre-apprenticeship program. YouthBuild allows students to explore the various career options available within the construction industry and gave DPR leaders the chance to offer guidance as they answered student questions about job responsibilities and career paths.

In a virtual format, DPR volunteers from a variety of professions, including project engineering, estimating, and field supervision, shared career advice and hosted a presentation about DPR and general contracting, followed by a Q&A with the students.

"YouthBuild works tirelessly to empower students through educational guidance and technical skill development. We hope the wide range of careers and opportunities available with or without a four-year degree inspires the YouthCare students to pursue construction,” said Brianna Lance, DPR’s event panelist.

Seattle CI Virtual Event Welcome Screenshot
DPR’s Seattle office hosted an online educational event for students enrolled in YouthCare's YouthBuild program. Photo courtesy of DPR Employee

July 29, 2020

DPR Construction bridges a gap and drives chiller ingenuity at Baptist Health’s Jacksonville campus

Prefabricated bridge being placed onto the columns for its final placement. Photo courtesy of Scott Gibbs

Even as the pandemic requires constant vigilance from site teams, DPR Construction’s Jacksonville team continues to raise industry standards with a bridge placement at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville and Wolfson Children’s Hospital. At 110 tons and 85 feet long, the prefabricated pedestrian bridge was successfully lifted and installed by the project team. The bridge will provide visitors, patients,and team members with access to garage parking and a safer path to cross the street and enter the future Baptist Jacksonville Entry Building/Wolfson Children’s Critical Care Tower.

Prefabricated bridge being transported to the location of its placement. Photo courtesy of Beard Transport

Directed by remote control, the project team utilized a self-propelled modular transporter (SPMT) to move the bridge down the street. “The bridge along with the overall hospital project is one of the largest self-perform concrete projects in the region,” said Matt Bishop, DPR project executive.

First lift of the bridge from its build site onto the equipment used to transport it to its final location. Photo courtesy of Scott Gibbs
Prefabricated bridge being lifted to its final location. Photo courtesy of Beard Transport

Following the bridge placement, the project team secured an additional milestone with the arrival and installation of a 1,800-ton chiller.

Due to the existing size of the building’s central energy plant (CEP), the chiller was disassembled in a day inside a climate-controlled warehouse space near the project site.“We factored in several key elements during the chiller disassembly phase to ensure for a seamless reassembly process,” said Scott Gibbs, DPR superintendent.

The project team followed strategic technical steps including:

  • Cleaning of the refrigerant lines in the warehouse to eliminate a day of purging
  • Advanced preparation of refrigerant line fittings
  • Storing refrigerant in the vacuum pump until recharging the system onsite
  • Sealing all parts of the assembly to prevent Trane from testing fluids in the system
  • Prefabrication of all of the linkages for the compressors
  • Preassembly of orifices and gaskets on economizer base and refrigerant oil separator
  • Pre-alignment of the motor on the compressor
  • Prefabrication of the rupture disk and flex

With the chiller components separated and ready for mobilization, the team along with project trade partners built a custom compressor roller for use at the project site to slide the chiller parts inside the narrow space of the existing CEP of the building. “Based on the BIM model, we were able to determine travel paths and swing radius specs to transport the chiller elements on the specialized transport dollies,” said Gibbs.

The team successfully transported, reassembled, and installed the chiller inside of the project space in under 48 hours.

The project is slated to be complete by the end of 2021.

July 21, 2020

Miller Hull Studio Earns Petal Certification for Sustainable Design

Exterior of Miller Hull San Diego studio
The Miller Hull studio in San Diego was the first project to earn Petal Certification under the latest version of the Living Building Challenge. Photo courtesy of Chipper Hatter

The Miller Hull Partnership recently received Living Building Challenge Petal Certification for the renovation of its San Diego studio. Built by DPR Construction, the 4,600-square-foot tenant improvement included upgrades to the open office, conference rooms and model shop.

“Through efficient building systems and responsible sourcing, Miller Hull was able to reach their sustainability goals and raise the bar for modern green projects,” said DPR project manager John Kay. “Because the Living Building Challenge is based on a building’s performance rather than projections, we’re demonstrating that these ambitious standards can be realized in a commercial tenant improvement.”

Miller Hull San Diego Open Office
The San Diego studio successfully pursued six of the seven Petals including place, energy, health and happiness, materials, equity, and beauty. Photo courtesy of Chipper Hatter

To meet energy conservation goals and achieve net positive energy, the building features a 24-kilowatt photovoltaic solar array on the roof and was designed to take advantage of natural lighting in the sunny Southern California climate. In the first year of operations, the studio produced 30 percent more energy than it used. Fresh air can be accessed from almost anywhere in the space through manually operated, full-height windows. There is no artificial air conditioning in the building.

Salvaged and Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood as well as locally sourced materials helped the project reach the Materials Petal. The project team also prioritized manufacturer transparency and products without materials or chemicals of concern.

It took vigilance and an integrated approach to attain the net positive waste standard during the construction phase. “We challenged conventional waste management practices and reinforced the importance of rigor with the diversion work,” said Kay. “The so-called ‘waste’ became a valuable resource. The interior wall paneling removed during demolition was reused for bracing and protection during construction. Excavated soil was repurposed for offsite gardening and landscaping.”

Kitchen at the Miller Hull San Diego studio
The Miller Hull office produces 30 percent more energy than it uses. Photo courtesy of Chipper Hatter

The Miller Hull San Diego studio is the first project certified under the fourth version of the Living Building Challenge, which continues to set visionary but attainable building goals, while focusing on the relationship between impact and effort in the design and construction industry. It is also the first Living Building Challenge certified project in San Diego County.

Presented by the International Living Future Institute, Petal Certification falls under the larger Living Building Challenge program and is awarded to projects that achieve at least three complete “Petals,” or performance categories. The San Diego studio successfully pursued six of the seven Petals including place, energy, health and happiness, materials, equity, and beauty.

Interior of Miller Hull San Diego office
The 4,600-square-foot studio meets rigorous performance standards based on a building’s performance rather than projections. Photo courtesy of Chipper Hatter

July 16, 2020

HRI Properties is on Top in Tampa

DPR Construction recently celebrated the topping out of the new HRI Properties dual-branded Hyatt Place and Hyatt House project. Located adjacent to the historic Tampa Old City Hall building, the 364,000 sq.-ft. design-build space will feature 345 hotel rooms, 4,800 sq.-ft. of meeting space, an outdoor rooftop pool, 3,000 sq.-ft. of ground-floor retail space and 220 parking spots, 127 that will be reserved for public use.

To mark the topping out of the HRI Hyatt House and Hyatt Place project, the team signed their names to the building’s final steel beam and watched as a crane elevated it 17 stories into place.

A member of the project team signing the final steel beam. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

“There is nothing more rewarding than watching the months and months of hard work and planning culminate into a single event signifying the hard work and dedication of all the craft workers who enabled this milestone. We’re all glad to witness the last piece of signed steel soar overhead and into place,” said DPR’s Project Executive, Barry Cole.

The project’s downtown location and dense workspace added a layer of complexity. “Working in a downtown site is always fun! New challenges to tackle can emerge on an almost hourly basis,” said DPR Project Superintendent, John Donovan. Working within a tight footprint, the project team was able to coordinate traffic flow efforts to reduce any potential effects on neighboring businesses while continuing to maintain on-site safety.

“Anytime you’re working in a tight downtown site, there is nothing more rewarding than playing what feels like a real-life game of Tetris. We jockey full-size trucks and equipment around the project like a finely orchestrated dance,” said DPR Project Manager, Jason Page.

The final steel beam is raised into place. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

DPR self-performed the first-floor drywall and hard lid ceilings, three elevator lobbies, doors, and specialties. Self-perform crews also handled the installation of prefabricated exterior panels. The building’s exterior panels were prefabricated offsite utilizing Digital Building Components’ (DBC) robotic technology. The DBC panels are created in a controlled environment, rather than in the field, to ensure their quality. In a four-month span, the team installed 516 exterior panels, averaging about 12 panels per installation shift, a significant schedule savings compared to traditional exterior framing and Exterior Insulation and Finish System (EIFS) installation.

By using DBC, in addition to the schedule, a labor efficiency was also created. The project had a six-worker crew for the entire panel installation, compared to an average EIFS application which has roughly 50+ workers on the exterior of a building. DBC also promotes cleaner and safer installations by eliminating debris from an EIFS process and also by bypassing the need for mast climbers.

In addition to attracting new business and leisure visitors to the Tampa Bay area, upon its completion, the hotel will provide approximately 70 new employment opportunities. “As we work to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and get our economy back on its feet, we are so excited to celebrate new developments like the HRI Downtown Hyatt House and Hyatt Place Project. DPR Construction has been steadfast in their commitment to keeping our city moving forward safely in the midst of this pandemic. This project will help elevate our tourism industry as we reopen slowly and look forward to welcoming visitors back to our beautiful city in the future,” said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.

July 14, 2020

DPR Completes Inova Loudoun’s Vision of High-Quality Care with New Patient Tower

erial view of Inova Loudoun Hospital's Patient Tower in Loudoun County, VA.
Aerial view of Inova Loudoun Hospital's Patient Tower in Loudoun County, VA. Photo courtesy of Louay Ghaziri

Inova Loudoun Hospital’s (ILH) Patient Tower in Loudoun County, Virginia, DPR Construction's largest healthcare project of its kind in the region, reached completion, wrapping up the final phase of ILH's $300 million master plan to expand the hospital’s facilities and services. Along the way, close collaboration among partners, leveraging data and careful planning were key components driving quality outcomes.

The Tower takes center stage as the new front-entrance of the hospital and spans a total of 382,000-sq-ft. DPR’s team constructed the seven-story Patient Tower in two years, with features including a dramatic main lobby, public circulation and waiting space, a new gift shop, provisions for a future rooftop helipad, a new pedestrian bridge linking the parking garage to the new tower, and state-of-the-art patient care capabilities to support expecting mothers, babies and in-patient needs.

“ILH put careful planning and consideration into the needs of the community in order to provide families with access to high quality medical care without having to leave Loudoun County,” said DPR Senior Project Manager Kimberly Shumaker.

The Patient Tower was ILH’s response to provide the Loudoun County community, one of the fastest growing counties in the United States, with private rooms and high-tech amenities. Because of this project, the hospital now has an expanded Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with enhanced capabilities. The ILH Patient Tower is built to accommodate a total of 228 beds, including 24 NICU beds; 12 labor and delivery rooms; 5 C-section ORs; 10 prep and recovery rooms; 96 acuity adaptable beds allowing for care of postpartum, surgical and progressive care patients.

Interior shot of Inova Loudoun Hospital's Patient Tower lobby.
The Patient Tower was ILH’s response to provide the Loudoun County community, one of the fastest growing counties in the United States, with private rooms and high-tech amenities. Photo courtesy of Louay Ghaziri

To better understand Inova’s project needs, DPR referred to its experience working together on a past project, the Inova Ashburn HealthPlex. “The HealthPlex served as a stepping stone for our team and allowed us to get closer and understand Inova’s key priorities,” Shumaker said.

With their robust planning, DPR committed to respecting the hospital’s operations while it remained open through construction. This approach was made possible due to using data management systems and other tracking tools. Data visualization tools, such as Power BI, allowed their project team to forecast trends and transform data into actionable items on the jobsite.

DPR’s initial challenge was finding a solution for foundation installation after discovering during precon the jobsite was predominantly covered in diabase rock. ”This extremely dense diabase rock was just two feet under the topsoil, creating a large undertaking for the team. Blasting was required and we knew it had to be done with no disruption to the existing facility whatsoever,” said Shumaker.

Although blasting with dynamite occurred for almost 90% of the foundational work over the course of 12 weeks, normal campus operations were never interrupted.

Shumaker noted: “Each blast took one minute after a full day of preparation and conducting safety protocols. They even became an attraction that many spectators looked forward to, enticing visitors, patients and staff alike to safely observe.”

DPR’s Kimberly Shumaker and ILH President, Deborah Addo.
DPR’s Kimberly Shumaker and ILH President, Deborah Addo. Photo courtesy of Debra Troell/Inova Health System

Shumaker cites the partnership forged between DPR and Inova Loudoun early in the project as a key to success. The President of Inova Loudoun Hospital, Deborah Addo, and Shumaker worked together frequently, driven by their passion for the community they reside in, both having personal ties to the hospital and Loudoun.

“The success of the project is a testament to Deborah’s engagement, which continuously motivated our team to meet every challenge head on,” Shumaker said.

In mid-April, the ILH team began the multi-phase move into their new home two weeks early in light of COVID-19. The DPR team maintained a presence onsite for 36-hours straight during the move-in with key subcontractors to mitigate any arising issues as patients were being transferred. The hospital’s decision to move its labor and delivery unit early to the DPR-built new patient tower was done so to increase the number of beds available in the existing hospital for COVID-19 treatment and recovery.

July 9, 2020

Leveraging Prefab to Minimize Impact on Hospital Operations

DPR Construction used prefabricated modules from Digital Building Components to build temporary bypass hallways to minimize the impact of construction at a major hospital in the Phoenix area. The expansion project will add approximately 580,000 sq. ft. to the existing hospital building, with construction to be completed adjacent to the current Emergency Department (ED).

“We needed to perform major construction work while the busy emergency department remained functional,” said DPR project manager Mike Cummings. “Patients and staff needed access to the hospital, but the building expansion couldn’t be completed without moving the entrances.”

Hallway module lifted into place at Phoenix hospital
A hallway module is suspended via crane and guided into place at the Arizona hospital. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

The enclosed walkways routed pedestrian traffic to the hospital’s entrances, allowing patients to access critical care services while reducing disruptions. One hallway provides public access to the ED while the other provides ambulance and helipad personnel access.

With a combined length of approximately 700 ft. and interior dimensions of 8 ft. x 8 ft., each hallway was designed to ensure the comfort and safety of those who use them throughout the two and half years of the construction project. The prefabricated hallways meet stringent code requirements including a two-hour fire-resistance rating in the case of an emergency.

Several building methods were considered for the hallways. Cummings said the project team looked at traditional onsite construction, onsite fabrication, and offsite fabrication. All three options had similar costs, so the project team looked more closely at other factors: safety, on-time delivery, and impact to the hospital staff and patients.

The project team chose offsite prefabrication with components manufactured by Digital Building Components to best meet customer needs. Specifically, this method was projected to reduce the overall schedule by an estimated three weeks. The onsite team could pour concrete foundations to support the module components while the hallway sections – fitted with mechanical, electrical, and HVAC elements – were built in the fabrication shop.

“It took a lot of detailed and upfront coordination with our trade partners, but we were able to cut the installation time in half from what was anticipated for a traditional ‘stick-built’ system,” said Cummings. “This meant less disruption to patients and hospital operations.”

He notes that prefabrication wasn’t used for the entire passageway. The project team analyzed existing conditions and determined that a traditional construction method was more appropriate at the ends of the hallways. Canopies at the connections to the building meant cranes couldn’t drop the modules into place, so those sections were built conventionally. “We used prefabrication where it made the most sense and increased our productivity,” explained Cummings.

The productivity during installation far exceeded expectations and showed off the benefits to building some components offsite. Digital Building installed roughly 12 units a day and completed 47 in four days totaling roughly 520 linear feet with a crew of four. In the end, using prefabrication sped up completion of the temporary hallways by about five weeks and reduced onsite labor by approximately 2400 worker hours.

“We had been considering prefabricating other elements on the hospital too,” said Cummings. “After the successful hallway installation, the value was clear. We received customer approval to move forward with prefabricating the exterior wall panels.”

Crane lifting prefabricated hallway module
A crane lifts the prefabricated hallway module for installation. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

July 7, 2020

ATCC Project Tops Out Early, Despite Pandemic Restrictions

In late May, DPR marked the steel topping out for the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) Administrative Wing Expansion project in Manassas, VA. The $22M addition includes an open office plan, conference rooms, break areas, private offices, data center, an exterior canopy, and loading dock.

American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) Administrative Wing Expansion project
DPR marked the steel topping out for the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) Administrative Wing Expansion project in Manassas, VA. Photo courtesy of David Galen

Almost 6 months since construction began in November 2019, the topping out marks an important milestone for the project. The new structure, totaling 35,000 sq. ft., connects to the west side of the existing building, allowing ATCC to house all its employees under one roof for companywide collaboration.

Photo of the ATCC project jobsite.
The steel topping out marks an important milestone for the ATCC project. Photo courtesy of David Galen

The milestone occurred during Virginia’s COVID-19 “stay-at-home” order, so the team had to take extra measures to keep people safe and the project on track. Tyler Atkins, who serves as DPR’s project manager, said that the jobsite crew was reduced to enforce physical distancing guidelines and that DPR required that only craft workers directly involved with the project’s critical path were on site to continue with construction.

“We limited our crew to only having our steel subcontractor onsite for about one month at the beginning of the pandemic,” shared Atkins. “This resulted in a 95% completion of the steel, just four weeks before the final topping out, positioning us ahead of schedule.”

Exterior shot of the ATCC jobsite.
This milestone occurred during Virginia’s COVID-19 “stay-at-home” order, so the team had to take extra measures to keep people safe and the project on track. Photo courtesy of David Galen

Atkins shared how proud he is to work with a client on the cutting edge of cell research and development.

“ATCC cultivates primary and stem cells, which is not only fascinating, but also their research could be a catalyst to finding cures for various diseases and illnesses, such as COVID-19. It is an honor to work with a client who is making a positive difference in the world,” said Atkins.

ATCC’s administration wing is expected to be completed in March of 2021.

July 1, 2020

Virtual Design and Construction Proves Its Worth in a Changing Environment

Across the country, DPR teams are virtually building projects using cloud-based solutions in conjunction with web platforms to seamlessly collaborate remotely.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left few industries or individuals untouched. Construction companies have reacted by adapting workflows to continue to deliver projects for their clients. From pre-screening all who enter to requiring masks and social distancing once on-site, the jobsite of today looks much different than it did a mere six months ago. Many companies, including DPR Construction, are leveraging virtual design and construction (VDC) methods to navigate workflow constraints resulting from disruptions.

“Site logistics and visual planning have taken on even more critical roles,” said Hannu Lindberg, national VDC leader at DPR. “With the ongoing necessity to maintain a healthy distance from other team members, an extra layer of planning has become vital to ensure predictable outcomes on schedule.”

As ever, the devil is in the details. Any successful construction project is built on layers of well thought out planning for every scope of work. Leveraging data from the model to inform workflow planning inevitably leads to other adjustments in work methods to keep projects going.

Using the model to preplan allows more efficient work planning and reduces re-work.

Building Projects in the Cloud

In any circumstance, teams employ virtual models to solve problems before moving into the field, as well as to respond to changes that arise once work has begun. Using the model to preplan allows more efficient work planning and reduces re-work. While important in any situation, it is critical when managing limited crew sizes such as the ones seen on jobsites today.

VDC, by nature, is extremely compatible with a remote working environment. Across the country, DPR teams are virtually building projects using cloud-based solutions like BIM Track and Autodesk BIM 360 in conjunction with web platforms like StructionSite to seamlessly collaborate, share ideas and create content to navigate constraints posed by the pandemic.

One large healthcare project in Southern California successfully transitioned from on-site co-location to remote meetings during preconstruction and design as a result of high engagement and reliance on the VDC process. By leveraging an Integrated Project Delivery approach, the project team can complete design and coordination simultaneously, with trades working alongside design partners in the model to problem solve in real-time. The process has been so efficient that the project received California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) approval on first review, where typically, multiple rounds of review are needed to solve issues flagged. As the team moves into construction, VDC will continue to play a heavy role for as-built verification, among other needs.

A tower under construction in Austin has a total area of more than 1,500,000 sq. and is the largest DPR self-perform concrete project to date.

Planning for Limited Exposure

While defining locations isn’t a new concept, creating specified work zones is critical in a heightened environment to maximize efficiency while maintaining distance.

“Needs related to site logistics; ingress, egress and wayfinding; and the deployment and use of different work zones can be better addressed by using data obtained from the model,” said Lindberg. “With this data serving as real-time feedback, it’s possible to adapt to changing field conditions and meet new environmental, health and safety requirements while still maintaining productivity.”

Having those needs top of mind has been key to keeping one DPR project on track: an office tower being constructed in the booming downtown of Austin, Texas. The 35-story, 590-ft. tall high-rise has a total area of more than 1,500,000 sq. ft. and includes 1,390 parking stalls in both above and below-grade parking. It’s the largest vertical high-rise concrete structure that DPR has ever built and its largest self-perform (SPW) concrete project to date—thereby necessitating better planning to meet increased distancing protocols. Prefabricated components include restroom plumbing assemblies and the iconic, sail-inspired, unitized curtainwall system.

Luckily, a VDC-enabled workforce has incorporated a high level of building information modeling into nearly every aspect of the project, from the detailed model used to coordinate and construct the exterior curtainwall, to DPR’s best-in-class SPW concrete team using VDC to optimize planning and sequencing.

“From top to bottom, the team has embraced VDC tools on every aspect of the work,” said DPR Central VDC leader, Jacob Skrobarczyk. “We are intentionally focused on using VDC for self-perform concrete to improve communication, plan production and ensure we hit our targets while keeping our craft safe.”

“The more planning and prefab we can do the less exposure our teams have in the field. As we transition from the structure to the skin to the interiors, clear communication on where and when each team is working in an area is more important than ever,” Skrobarczyk added.

One thing is certain: more real-time data flowing into and out of the model allows teams to execute with a greater level of certainty. Above and beyond delivering projects that are technically sound and built right for customers, these methods also ensure teams do right by their people in the field too.

June 29, 2020

A “Beautiful” Utility Plant? At W&M, DPR Makes it Happen

“It’s a beautiful building to look at,” DPR Construction’s Kate Nice said of William & Mary’s new West Utility Plant, a project for which she served as senior project engineer. “Beauty” and “utility plant” don’t often go together, but the design by RMF Engineering and architect Lord Aeck Sargent makes it possible.

The plant’s design documents note that the glass-and-masonry building “creates a display case like experience for automotive and pedestrian traffic that filters through campus” that lets the campus community see the complex systems inside while also managing to blend in with the entire campus aesthetic.

A view of the the building showing colorful pipes and ductwork because of the utility plant's design.
The plant's systems are in clear view of the campus community. Photo courtesy of Lee Brauer

For DPR to bring vision to life, though, took considerable planning, a robust virtual design and construction (VDC) program, prefabrication, and skillful work in the field – especially solutions developed by DPR’s self-perform work corps. The result: a building that students have already dubbed “the Mario building,” an allusion to the famous video game plumber and the colorful pipes that make up his world. As students return to campus this fall, it will be hard to miss.

Going Virtual

Situated nearly in the center of the campus and adjacent to active roadways and sidewalks, the utility plant site was smaller than an acre but would require a dozen trades and significant amounts of materials.

“It was a very complex mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) system,” Nice said. “We really had to coordinate schedule, delivery of materials and more.”

Those needs underscored the need for a VDC program geared to making sure execution was seamless.

Pipes and ductwork overlapping throughout the interior of the utility plant.
Complex systems were handled digitally first, enabling more seamless operations in the field. Photo courtesy of Lee Brauer

“VDC tools meant we were able to do a lot of clash detection early and update plans accordingly,” Nice said. “That also meant nearly every piece of pipe and ductwork could be prefabricated offsite. Even the building pad work was made possible through our laser scanning team.”

Having such a robust digital model meant that W&M got a head start with operations and asset management, which includes using DPR’s strategic partner VueOps.

“The facility managers can manage this building on VueOps down to individual valves if they choose to,” Nice said.

Office space inside the plant where digital models of building systems are shown on screen.
Use of VDC means facility operators are a step ahead on operations and able to put VueOps to use. Photo courtesy of Lee Brauer

Getting Practical

While VDC and prefabrication allowed work to happen offsite, making it happen on-site fulfilled what was envisioned in planning. One key aspect was keeping the campus community safe.

“We could shut down vehicle traffic adjacent to the site, but not pedestrian traffic,” Nice said. “Lots of students would walk by the site, heads down looking at their phones. We ended up painting safety signage on the ground to make sure they knew what was happening off their screens and earbuds.”

Behind the site fence, the trades – including a significant number of DPR self-perform craft workers – installed more than 5,000 ft. of underground heating hot water and chilled water infrastructure to create a secondary underground piping loop which tied into six existing buildings. Among the crews’ accomplishments was finding a solution to prefabricate cold form metal framing for metal wall sections that included insulation and other elements. Doing so shrank a six-week portion of work down to a week and required fewer people on the site’s tight site footprint.

In the end, the 12,000-sq.-ft. project was completed with zero defects.

“It’s what we love to do,” Nice said. “This was a very complex project that required us to leverage our technical building ability and our tools like VDC, self-perform and prefabrication. That it’s become so visible on campus is gratifying for the entire team.”

The exterior of the plant with masonry that matches the rest of the campus.
The building's design matches the rest of the campus. Photo courtesy of Lee Brauer