May 29, 2020

Pendleton Place Renovation Benefits Foster-Care Girls

Last fall, DPR Construction teamed up with McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture and Greenville Women Giving to deliver a community initiative project at a residential foster care facility in Greenville, SC. The project involved a major renovation and expansion of two bathrooms at Smith House, a residential facility that is run by Pendleton Place, a DPR- and DPR Foundation-supported community partner. The facility provides a long-term home for 10 girls aged 12-21 who have experienced abuse or neglect. Now, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith House residents are benefiting from the project.

Exterior of the Smith House in Greenville, South Carolina.
The Smith House in Greenvlle, SC. Photo courtesy of Pendleton Place

In addition to providing shelter and basic needs like food and clothing, Smith House provides residents with counseling services, structured educational support, life skills training, financial literacy classes, and other services designed to help them successfully transition out of foster care when they turn 18. On average, 25 young women live at Smith House each year; over 200 teens have been sheltered there over the past five years.

Smith House is located within a mile of DPR’s Greenville office. So, when Pendleton Place reached out for help with the project, DPR was eager to help a neighbor and strengthen an already great relationship with the nonprofit, according to Tony Johnson who acted as DPR’s leader for the project.

“Pendleton Place approached us in 2019 after they had been awarded a grant from Greenville Women Giving to renovate the Smith House bathrooms,” Johnson said. “At DPR we take pride in being integral to our community. Smith House is part of the community where we work, so it really felt good to be able to help with this.”

DPR’s existing relationships with McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, which donated its time pro bono, and with Greenville Women Giving, which provided approximately $83,000 in grant funds, were instrumental to the project’s success. In alignment with its community initiative goal of making facility improvements that enable community organizations to maximize their impact, DPR donated interior furnishings and volunteered about 120 hours performing demolition, drywall and rough carpentry work, among other things.

A Smith House bathroom before the project, with a mirror sitting on the sink counter and tight spacing.
Smith House's bathrooms were in great need of an upgrade. Photo courtesy of Pendleton Place

Construction of the project prompted Smith House residents and counselors to relocate for more than four weeks to a local hotel. Although the project schedule was extended when DPR self-perform craftworkers encountered several unexpected conditions in the house, Johnson pointed out that they still managed to finish the job in time for the residents to move back in just before Thanksgiving of last year.

The project scope included transforming two existing bathrooms and adding a critically needed second shower to Smith House – a major upgrade that has improved the daily lives and morning routines of house residents. In its final report on the project, Pendleton Place noted: “Not only do our Smith House residents benefit daily simply by having a second shower, but both spaces are now more functional and provide additional space and storage. The updated décor and the attention to detail in the design make these bathrooms a beautiful space that will be enjoyed by many in the years to come.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged this spring, DPR’s upgrades took on more importance for Smith House residents. “Smith House has stepped up during the crisis to take in even more teenagers than usual, resulting in 100% occupancy of all foster care beds. Having the additional shower, storage, and updated look and feel is even more important now, making life in quarantine much less stressful,” shared Pendleton Place Executive Director Jed Dews.

One of the two upgraded bathrooms, showing more modern finishes and a welcoming environment.
Significant upgrades have created a more welcoming environment and better options for residents. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

Dews added that the partnership with DPR has had a major impact on the success of the program over the past three years: “Our partnership with DPR goes beyond a simple service project or an annual financial sponsorship,” he commented. “We consider the DPR team to be a part of the Pendleton Place family, and their contributions to our Board Leadership, campus facilities and long-term community impact are significant. The renovation of our foster care cottage bathrooms is a perfect example of meaningful collaboration in action, and the incredible results will touch the daily lives of hundreds of South Carolina’s most vulnerable children.”

May 26, 2020

Safety protocols, fewer guests mean opportunity for major Hilton renovation in Houston

DPR employees carry out administrative functions while wearing masks and maintaining a safe physical distance.
As a major renovation is carried out, DPR, Hilton and Houston First worked together to implement advanced safety protocols. Photo courtesy of Chris Gehring

Houston’s largest hotel, Hilton Americas, first opened its doors in 2003 to host hundreds of sports fans for Super Bowl XXXVIII. Sixteen years later, DPR Construction partnered with Hilton, Houston First and Gensler to undertake a major renovation of this award-winning AAA 4-Diamond property in the heart of downtown. The renovation includes significant demolition, build back and upgrades to all 1,200 guestrooms and corridors, alcoves, landings and elevator lobbies on all 17 guestroom floors.

Phase 1 got under way in June 2019, with the first 600 guest rooms completed by December. The project then paused to allow for planned downtown conferences—some in the adjacent George R. Brown Convention Center—that included events for large tech firms and big businesses. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these conferences were cancelled and DPR was asked to remobilize earlier than planned to complete Phase 2—the remaining 600 guest rooms.

“Working in an active hotel in the middle of downtown is already challenging. Add in a global pandemic, and the challenges only increase,” says Houston Business Unit Leader, Nick Abay.

DPR worked closely with Hilton and Houston First to develop a comprehensive COVID-19 Emergency Response/Mitigation Plan, that includes:

  • A rigorous sign-in/health screening process with a sophisticated QR Code system, unique electronic badging, bilingual staff, infrared thermometer scans and color-coded wrist bands that alternate each day.
  • A second sign-in/screening location at the one and only entry/egress into the building as a second COVID-19 stage gate.
  • The implementation of four (4) separate shifts to manage the more than 250 people who are on-site during an average workday.
  • Dedicated freight elevators, with delivery access and debris removal scheduled at specified times to manage the limited loading dock space available.
  • Additional temporary restrooms and touchless handwashing stations.

These steps are part of a set of comprehensive EHS protocols that, when properly planned and executed, demonstrate that construction can continue to move forward without compromising the safety of employees or the community.

DPR Construction employees are screened for symptoms of COVID-19 prior to entering the Hilton Americas jobsite.
A rigorous sign-in and health screening process has been implemented, including infrared thermometer scans and daily wristbands for everyone who enters the site. Photo courtesy of Chris Gehring

To allow for the Centers for Disease Control’s recommended six feet of social distancing, DPR also worked with Hilton to identify a larger office space within the hotel. The larger area allows DPR staff and other project stakeholders to carry out administrative functions and hold daily meetings while maintaining a safe physical distance.

Stickers on an elevator floor show where riders should stand to maintain social distancing.
Signage has been placed in elevators indicating where passengers should stand to maintain a healthy physical distance. Photo courtesy of Chris Gehring

These measures complement the safety protocols being developed by Hilton to protect its staff and guests. From seals placed on guestroom doors after cleaning, showing that no one has since accessed the room, to contactless check-in and extra cleaning of high touch areas, the industry is preparing for a necessary new travel experience.

Construction continues as the hotel still hosts guests, most of whom are part of the COVID-19 response: troops from the Texas National Guard, who are providing support to the Houston Food Bank, along with healthcare workers providing front-line support to patients in the Greater Houston Area.

Texas National Guard troops providing front-line support arrive as guests of the hotel.
While the renovation continues on the hotel, guests continue to arrive, including troops from the Texas National Guard providing support to the Houston Food Bank. Photo courtesy of Chris Gehring

The 509,289-sq.ft. project is a careful balance between construction and hotel operations. With continued room occupancy, work is being completed in blocks of 11 guestrooms—up to 298 rooms out of order or under construction at any one time.

“Using multiple scheduling tools, including a ‘Room Work Status board’ that displays the current status of each individual room as it progresses through the 28-day renovation cycle, our team is able to closely track progress and strive for guest rooms with zero defects,” said Ryan Schoeneberg, DPR superintendent. “With a total of 1,200 individual punch lists spanning 17 floors, this is critical to minimize rework and maintain our aggressive schedule.”

DPR's schedule dashboard is used to closely track the progress of each guestroom.
DPR closely tracks project progress with multiple scheduling tools, including a Room Work Status board that displays the current status of each individual room as it progresses through the 28-day renovation cycle. Photo courtesy of Chris Gehring

This high-profile project at Hilton Americas continues to excel in challenging conditions. Chris Gehring, Senior Project Manager, summarizes the experience with a nod to company culture. “DPR is proud to support Hilton, Houston First and our State and local front-line workers on this major renovation of a Houston icon.”

May 26, 2020

Resilience in Workspaces Part 4: A WELL Future

This is Part 4 in a series where DPR experts look at ways to build resiliency into commercial spaces as we move through the COVID pandemic and beyond. Part 1 looked at improvements that can be made to existing spaces. Part 2 and Part 3 examined ways to spread out individuals within a workforce and technology for remote asset management, respectively. This final segment discusses planning for healthier future spaces.

At some point, the pandemic will subside, the economy will recover and true, long-term planning will begin. When it does, it is likely that the momentum that was building behind healthy buildings and systems like WELL Certification will become mainstream.

The advantages of healthy workplaces have been highlighted from business researchers to innovation consultants to the medical community. Now, as many firms that are bringing workers back put measures including temperature checks into place, employees will be scrutinizing how well their offices support their health.

“We believe in the benefits of WELL from a standpoint of increasing productivity, lowering absenteeism and more,” said Matt Murphy, DPR Construction’s core markets leader. “The primary reason we’ve built our new offices to WELL standards, though, is because of the tangible benefits to the health of our employees.”

DPR's Sacramento office with spaced-out workstations and daylighting.
High performance can be achieved even in instances where existing buildings were renovated, like DPR's WELL certified office in Sacramento. Photo courtesy of Chad Davies

Including the 1918 flu pandemic, the COVID-19 pandemic is the second worldwide event of this scale in 100 years. For anyone aiming to build higher performing buildings with a lifespan of 50-100 years, it’s worth considering that pandemics have more in common with earthquakes than hurricanes: they’re less frequent, but when they happen, it’s a widespread disruption.

“In places where earthquakes are common, we’ve taken a lot of measures to ensure the resiliency of the built environment,” Murphy said. “Shouldn’t we do the same with health and doing things to minimize disruption should another pandemic occur within our lifetimes?”

Planning for a truly healthy workspace, though, isn’t something to do after design has taken place. Buildings and workplaces with the best results and returns from green building strategies are the ones that started with integrated approaches from the start, setting high performance as goals and letting those goals shape the design and construction process. Achieving the same sort of results with WELL Certification takes a similar approach.

Living Walls filled with plants are pictured in DPR's Austin, Texas office.
WELL Certified spaces, like DPR's Austin, TX office, could be the way of the future. Photo courtesy of Peter Molick

“Our customers were already facing high bottom line expenses for health insurance and wellness programs,” Murphy said. “While there are cultural factors that affect employee behaviors, we’re finding a whole-building approach to wellness and health can influence culture. Putting measures in for physical distancing will be important, but so will building systems and materials that hinder spread of disease. Designs that help with circulation and provide employees with comfortable spaces to have physical distance while collaborating and feeling productive make a difference, too.”

Ultimately, putting all these strategies together should lower any given business’ exposure to pandemics or other disruptions.

“Businesses need to know their ability to operate can move forward. Employees want the peace of mind that their work and lives won’t be disrupted. Every business is connected to supply chains and customers and the larger economy,” Murphy said. “Any office that moves to make its own operations resilient makes our entire economy more resilient.”

May 21, 2020

Resilience in Workplaces Part 3: Keeping the Lights On

This is part 3 in a series where DPR experts look at ways to build resiliency into commercial spaces as we move through the COVID pandemic and beyond. Part 1 looked at improvements that can be made to existing spaces. Part 2 discussed ways to spread out individuals within a workforce. This segment discusses technology for remote asset management and the final installment covers planning for healthier future spaces.

Physical distancing will mean fewer workers in offices. With reduced staff levels in a given workplace, some of the things taken for granted in offices will need to change. For example, workers are used to having on-site IT help. On any given day, that may no longer be the case and remote options will be the first course of treatment when the “blue screen of death” appears.

For facility managers, the need for remote monitoring of building systems is going to be equally important. Operations dashboards that may have seemed like luxury items may get another look as essential software tools. With many projects already using robust virtual design and construction (VDC) programs, it’s not a big jump to reposition digital models for remote asset management.

A screenshot of the VueOps platform showing building elements digitally.
Asset management platforms create many efficiencies, but the the ability to monitor building systems remotely has even more value in the post-pandemic world. Photo courtesy of VueOps

“This pandemic has shown that, in buildings, the safety of teams, occupants and visitors will always be the top priority,” said Aaron Peterson, leader of VueOps, a strategic partner of DPR Construction that aims to put building operations information at customers’ fingertips. “More than ever, it is the responsibility of facility management, engineers and operators to take action toward implementing the right prevention and containment strategies.”

As it stands, research shows that facility engineers spend 50% of their time simply searching facility data. The faster an issue can be identified and addressed or prevented, the less disruption to operations. Doing so remotely, though, is going to become more common.

“Reduced workforces, remote work and limited staff proximity on-site just underscores the need for integrated data tools that can enhance and increase facility uptime, prevent downtime, improve workflow and eliminate pain points,” Peterson said. “This will be the ‘new normal.’ Much like restaurants will be shy to remove a revenue stream like takeout even after reopening, why would a facility manager want to pivot back to a monitoring approach that has increased risks?”

May 20, 2020

Mass Timber: Lessons Learned from DPR Construction Projects

DPR shares lessons learned from building with mass timber.
DPR shares lessons learned from building with mass timber. Photo courtesy of Chad Davies

Mass timber continues to gain ground as an innovative alternative building material. Engineered for loads similar in strength to structural materials like concrete and steel, mass timber allows crews to build tall, with a lighter, natural, low-carbon and high-quality resource. As its adoption grows, questions inevitably arise about the do’s and don’ts of its deployment.

Embodying its ever forward spirit, DPR Construction has utilized mass timber on a number of projects. As with any new technology, there exists a component of “learning by doing,” and mass timber is no exception. DPR has collected some valuable lessons learned from the people doing the actual work of building mass timber projects, lessons that fall into these categories: Design, Procurement and Operational Considerations.

DPR's Sacramento office mid construction, showing mass timber
DPR incorporated mass timber when constructing its Sacramento office. Photo courtesy of Marshall Andrews

With the significant benefits mass timber yields in construction, from its strength and resiliency to reduction of carbon footprint, it’s easy to see why adoption is on the rise. The lessons builders learn and share by doing can only make it more successful as a key component of sustainable design and construction.

To view the full infographic click here: Mass Timber Lessons Learned

Manufacturing

Unlike man-made materials such as concrete or steel, different species of wood can yield varying structural capacities. This must be taken into account when spacing grids in building.

Foundations

Depending on soil conditions, mass timber buildings are significantly lighter than an equally designed steel or concrete building. This has the potential to reduce foundation systems, or even eliminate the need for deep foundations. This should be taken into consideration for pricing and schedule benefits.

Collaboration

Project partners might not be familiar with all of the variables associated with mass timber—it’s a relatively new material in the industry. Be sure to engage early and educate each other throughout the process. Some things to consider include:

  • Details for anchorage of other systems, depths of beams and interaction with MEP distribution systems.
  • Coordination with opening sizes for stairs and elevators, which may be created with hybrid structural systems within an overall mass timber building.

Responsibilities

Outline these clearly before the project starts. Who is responsible for each scope, such as engineering? Procedures for building with mass timber are not as clear cut as those long established for other materials. Make sure you know who is doing what before you start.

Planning

Owners should get involved as soon as possible. If mass timber is on the agenda, engage a timber provider sooner rather than later as the possible engineer of record, before locking in an outside structural engineer of record.

Building Codes

These vary from city to city, and timelines for new code adoption differ. Jurisdictions across the US are modifying local building codes to expand scale and heights of mass timber structures. Make sure you, the design team and the owner understand exactly what’s allowed by local building codes.

Delays

Some areas of the country have experienced 85% growth year over year in mass timber projects. Regions with large numbers of these projects can experience delays in procuring materials.

Material Availability

Ensure material availability before outlining and accepting project schedules. With existing manufacturers spread across the US, Canada and Europe, they are impacted by different holidays, production cycles and backlog. Engage early with potential specified vendors to understand manufacturing capacities.

Production Schedules

Production schedules are important. Fabrication time isn’t lengthy, but getting a slot on a busy schedule can take time.

Project Schedules

Project schedules should be pinned down early on. Discuss actual target date for fabrication clearly and honestly, and include quality inspection and verification of raw materials being used in manufacture. Because fabrication production schedules are tight, missing a fabrication date by a day or two can potentially delay a project exponentially. In addition, erection sequences should be equal to or less than with traditional structural systems.

New Vendors

New vendors arise all the time, and their scopes of work are not standardized or consistent across the board with regard to manufacture, design and installation. It’s important to have a good system for vendor management to mitigate this factor.

Building Processes

Building processes differ for mass timber than from those long established for steel and concrete. Many construction companies are still learning these, and this can affect site logistics and work methods. Scope alignment is critical to determining who owns connections to dissimilar materials, especially in hybrid structural solutions. Attachment to wood for concrete or steel elements is paramount in understanding the design responsibility and installation.

MEP

MEP should be locked in as soon as possible to reduce on-site install time. Understanding the nuances of mass timber, its sequence of erection and integration of MEP system penetrations, openings and distribution are critical to fabrication.

Laydown Areas

Laydown areas should be established for the materials. If material is being shipped from overseas, it might be necessary to provide space for shipping containers, as well.

Weather Concerns

Weather concerns come into play due to potential moisture risks. Specs are written such that materials should avoid directly touching the ground. Timber is wrapped before leaving the manufacturer, but what exactly is wrapped differs by manufacturer, i.e. individual beams versus groups of beams. Crews must be in the know.

DPR's Sacramento office mid construction, showing mass timber walls.
The use of mass timber in construction yields a variety of benefits, from its strength and resiliency to reduction of carbon footprint. Photo courtesy of Marshall Andrews

Metal Shards

Metal grinding shards from nearby work on-site can land on wood and damage its appearance and integrity.

Fire Performance

Questions about fire performance often come from the uninitiated, but mass timber performs well here. Multiple fire performance tests conducted at the ATF Fire Research Laboratory confirmed that mass timber structures meet fire resistance requirements in the International Building Code. Exposed mass timber chars on the outside and forms a layer to shield the interior. When codes require that timber be protected with gypsum wall board, it was found to achieve nearly damage-free performance.

Insurance

The insurance industry is still catching up and typically still treats mass timber structures like regular wood frame houses. Premiums are higher on builder’s risk.

Installation

Installation is different from that of other materials, with such questions as how many times screws can be backed out, what to do if a bolt head snaps, or what happens if combustible materials must be covered.

May 18, 2020

Resilience in Workspaces Part 2: Together Apart

This is part 2 in a series where DPR experts look at ways to build resiliency into commercial spaces as we move through the COVID pandemic and beyond. Part 1 looked at improvements that can be made to existing spaces. Part 3 examines technology for remote asset management and Part 4 discusses planning for healthier future spaces. This segment discusses ways to spread out individuals within a workforce.

Once offices come back online, facility leaders will have much to consider in the longer term. For example, physical distancing requirements in offices are almost sure to be a fixture for months to come, if not permanently. Certainly, the ability for any workplace to pivot to a setup that places employees at more physical distance from one another will be needed.

While that’s good practice for disease prevention, other potential disruptions may influence where people are able to go to work.

The entrance to DPR Construction's office in Reston, Virginia.
An aging suburban office space in Reston, VA has been given new life through renovation. Photo courtesy of ©Judy Davis / Hoachlander Davis Photography

“Natural disasters have disrupted regions and businesses in the past. Mobility in many communities was an issue prior the pandemic, too. Our nation’s infrastructure is in great need of upgrading. As recent events like Seattle’s bridge closure show, that affects a group of people’s ability to commute reliably," said Matt Murphy, DPR Construction's core markets leader. "One outcome of this crisis, especially with the knowledge of how effective workers can be remotely, is flexible options for where to come to work.”

With billions of feet of suburban office park space on the market, some businesses may consider repositioning them to match the experience of their more urban office spaces. With technology to connect teams seamlessly, satellite spaces provide more options for workers and give companies an easy way to spread out their workforce to avoid overfilling an office.

“Obviously, this means taking on more real estate, but a lot of larger firms already have this setup,” Murphy said. “It’s more about aligning the office space to provide a unified worker experience.”

An interior area of Behr Paints' headquarters in Newport Beach, California.
Renovations to suburban spaces can create the same feeling as a downtown office tower, as shown by Behr Paints' Newport Beach, CA headquarters. Photo courtesy of Takata Photography

Fortunately, there are examples of how suburban real estate doesn’t need to resemble the Office Space stereotype. DPR’s work with Behr Paints on its Newport Beach, CA headquarters, for example, shows that the kind of workspace and amenities that one might expect in a downtown skyscraper is absolutely feasible in the suburbs. Additionally, DPR’s Washington, D.C. and San Diego offices show how inefficient suburban spaces can be renovated to achieve net-zero energy. In fact, many of the strategies leveraged to reposition urban commercial spaces apply to any sort of workplace.

“On a longer horizon, many customers may consider spreading their workforces out simply to ensure that, whatever happens wherever, they can plan on limiting disruption to operations,” Murphy said. “If you’re a company with thousands of square feet of space, the more you can spread those square feet out, the more agile you will be in the face of disease outbreaks, infrastructure disruptions, natural disasters and more.”

May 13, 2020

Building for Resilience in Workspaces: A Series

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, there has been significant speculation about what the pandemic will mean for workplaces in the future. As certain as it is that changes in workspaces will be the new reality, the fact is that, generally, people like going to the office (and many people miss doing so!) The fast internet connections of office spaces provide a form of digital equity for workers, many of whom have certainly felt the limitations of their internet bandwidth at home. Many businesses that are doing well with keeping operations moving remotely are struggling to replicate the organic interactions of face-to-face contact in offices that help support everything from professional development to camaraderie. While amazing work is happening via video conferencing, there is no replacement for that one-on-one interaction in real time with coworkers.

The return to the office will happen, and when it does, it will look different for every organization. What will be important, though, is making sure offices are set up in ways to minimize further disruptions and optimize the health of their occupants. Through the design and construction approaches, businesses can plan for resiliency in the face of not only this pandemic, but other potentialities that could disrupt business for weeks or months at a time.

“The COVID pandemic has shown businesses where they have some risk exposure and that design and construction solutions can help alleviate those risks,” said Matt Murphy, who acts as DPR Construction’s core markets leader. “It’s clear that offices are not just places people gather, but key business assets, and there are strategies that can be put into place to help ensure those critical assets can always stay online.”

A DPR worker is the only person shown in a DPR project trailer at her desk, which has been equipped with a clear barrier.
Project site offices that were active during the COVID-19 pandemic provide examples of how to create physical distance and add safety measures like barriers. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

In this series, DPR experts look at ways to build resiliency into commercial spaces as we move through the COVID pandemic and beyond. This segment looks at improvements that can be made to existing spaces. Upcoming installments will examine ways to spread out individuals within a workforce, technology for remote asset management and planning for healthier future spaces.

Making Existing Spaces Work Today

While long-term solutions are needed, in coming weeks, carefully opening existing spaces will be the top priority. Businesses that want to reopen offices are considering everything from bringing groups of workers back in rotations, enhanced cleaning efforts to new ways to use kitchen and amenity spaces as well as office-wide physical distancing measures.

“Workspace utilization at DPR has never really been your standard 'space-centric focused' space planning. We've always been focused on human-centric metrics. Collaboration thrives in open office environments,” says Scott Sass, who acts as DPR’s national special services group (SSG) leader. “This pandemic has allowed us to reimagine the workplace and find new ways to satisfy the needs of our people. We're discussing new ways to enhance already human-focused design strategies that will ensure the highest levels of collaboration and safety in workplaces.”

A safety screen and floor tape to encourage physical distancing have were added to this customer's reception area.
A safety screen and floor tape to encourage physical distancing were added to this customer's reception area. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

Temporary safety measures are likely at the start, but customers looking for more permanent solutions will want to make adjustments to existing spaces without disrupting day-to-day operations. DPR’s SSG group and its corps of self-perform workers have some ideas in mind to consider.

“At the beginning of this, there were a lot of articles stating, '‘this is the end of the open-concept offices,’” Sass said. “That’s probably hyperbole. However, there will be a need to evaluate the existing office and determine if changes are necessary. Immediate changes like auto-operators on doors, new antimicrobial hardware and touchless operation kitchen equipment are considerations. There also may be a need to adjust workspace configurations, or add screens for the interim measures.”

The reception desk at DPR Construction's Dallas office with a newly-installed barrier.
The reception desk at DPR Construction's Dallas office with a newly-installed barrier. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

Sass added: “One thing all offices should consider is re-commissioning HVAC systems. It’s like doing a tune-up on your car. It will give you the peace of mind that systems are doing what they’re supposed to, and changing the filters regularly is important.”

In other words, it’s the kind of work an SSG group is well positioned to support.

“Doors, hardware, drywall, MEP… this is what we were doing before the pandemic and finding ways to do it in active workspaces,” Sass said. “Delivering that with quality is more about planning. We want to work with individual customers to understand their needs and find ways to install what they need in ways that don’t disrupt their operations at a time when another disruption could be a critical threat to business.”

Sass believes that can mean after-hours work with thorough cleaning afterward, deliberate planning on crew sizes and phasing of work.

“The advantage of having a nimble crew ready to go is that it perfectly aligns with the idea that there isn’t one grand solution out there for everyone,” Sass said. “Every customer is going to have different needs and, through collaboration, we can get them online faster and in ways they can count on moving forward.”


Read other parts of this series: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

May 7, 2020

To Those Who Selflessly Care for Others, Thank You and Happy Mother's Day

Healthcare workers are called to serve a cause greater than themselves. They take care of those who are in need, often working 12-hour days with no breaks. And the mothers among them don’t stop when they clock out. They continue their service once they get home to their families, doing everything from helping kids with remote learning to giving comforting hugs.

This Mother’s Day and National Nurses Week, DPR would like to recognize the family and friends of our employees who are medical professionals and put in long hours both at work and at home. We offer our deepest gratitude to those of you who are always there to comfort us, whether at home or in the patient room, and especially in the midst of the greatest healthcare crisis of the century. We trust you with our lives, and we thank you for your compassion and expertise.

Following are a few testaments about the people we are fortunate to have in our lives:

May 7, 2020

DPR Means Business at Clemson University

DPR Construction recently celebrated reaching substantial completion on Clemson University’s College of Business. The $87M project, features 24 teaching spaces, a five-story interior atrium, faculty offices, and amenities including a fireplace lounge and La Madeleine Café.

Clemson’s new College of Business is redefining the center of the university’s campus while creating a state-of-the-art think tank environment for the college’s growing student population. The 176,000 sq.-ft. facility’s collaborative, 21st century design overlooks the famous Tillman Hall clock tower and Bowman Field creating a new center of campus with room for future expansion beyond the business school.

Notably, DPR’s project team was able to hit substantial completion on time while adhering to physical distancing protocols. A new front door to Clemson’s historic campus, the new College of Business will open its doors to students this fall.

May 5, 2020

Post-pandemic, 3 Ways to Better ROI in Healthcare IT & Facility Investments

This article was written by Carl Fleming.

Healthcare leaders are busier than ever, focused on weathering and responding to the worst of COVID-19 and, as things stabilize in their markets, planning for future resiliency.

Coming into 2020, one of the most significant challenges they faced was managing strategic growth during the potential shift from a fee-for-service reimbursement model to value-based payments. Then COVID-19 changed the game and completely disrupted capital spending. Moving forward, the ability to drive hard ROI and benefits from capital expenditures will become even more important and complicated under a system focused on value and the myriad care model changes likely to come in the post-COVID-19 pandemic world.

Headshot of DPR Construction's Carl Fleming
Carl Fleming advises DPR's healthcare customers on how a builder can help them realize their goals for patient care. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

Two of the largest line items of capital spending belong to technology and facilities (construction), a trend that sees no letting up in the foreseeable future. Interestingly, technology initiatives and construction projects are not always in-sync, which is a problem for organizations that have not yet fully embraced the digital transformation of the care environment.

The resulting disconnects between the digital environment and built environment stymies innovation at scale, leading to less than optimal return on investment.

There are several drivers behind the importance of blending the digital and build environments:

  • Regulatory demands of value-based care for reimbursement and quality of care, which are placing an even greater importance on the patient experience and the location in which services are performed. The uptick in telehealth services during the pandemic has cemented the viability and necessity of digital venues for patient care. How healthcare systems will be reimbursed for telehealth and how they deal with HIPAA will be key moving forward.
  • Providers closely evaluating capital investments to ensure they create convenience for patients, reduce costs, provide continuity of care, and maintain or improve quality, all of which are critical under a post-pandemic value-based reimbursement.
  • Technology demands of consumerism (provider and patient) are placing unfamiliar strains on healthcare organizations, operations and technology infrastructure.
  • Consolidation of provider organizations result in a broad mix of technology systems and physical assets, inhibiting standardized care models and eliminating efficiencies required to thrive in a value-based care model.

The interior of a modern patient room.
Today's healthcare facilities include more digital technology than ever and that growth will continue. Photo courtesy of Rien van Rijthoven

As we begin to plan for the future, we have to ask: how can we start being smarter about making it all work together? It’s by connecting the dots between system strategy, clinical operations, technology and facilities planning design and construction that we start to see the challenges and opportunities from multiple perspectives. These insights produce a more comprehensive vision and path to succeed in this new value-based paradigm.

As also seen in the recent RX for a Successful Healthcare Project study, engaging the right internal and external partners early and often will reveal insights to maximize efficiencies in workflow, enhance the provider and patient experience and create spaces that allow provider organizations to optimize capital expenditures and thrive in the new paradigm of value-based care.

A video conferencing tool in use among big room partners
Video conferencing helps project partners in a Big Room collaborate in the early stages of a North Carolina healthcare project. Social distancing doesn't mean key partners have to work in silos. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction.

Three concepts we believe healthcare providers should consider are:

  • Build a team and use it – In addition to the management consultants often engaged to guide strategic visioning sessions, healthcare systems should also engage designers and construction managers earlier in the process to provide insight to growth strategies and industry pressures. Viewing these groups as partners instead of commodities provides new perspective with the ability to better align future building initiatives with overall healthcare system goals.
  • Get into the details – As healthcare systems expand, we’ve seen situations where aligning IT systems with newly-acquired assets are taken for granted. This leads to more time and money being spent, which erodes the hoped-for return on investment.
  • Use data in new ways – We have more systems than ever to support good decision making and, ultimately, day-to-day operations. The entire lifecycle can be made more efficient, from programs like Modelogix used during preconstruction services or VueOps, which takes existing virtual design and construction tools and leverages them as a true asset management suite.

Putting it all together best positions healthcare organizations to realize maximum ROI for both their facility and digital investments. Ultimately, it will help make the patient and provider experience more seamless, as well, fulfilling the vision we share for the next generation of healthcare facilities.