November 27, 2019

Builders at our Core: Andres Sanchez

Andres Sanchez has a keen appreciation for and experience with integrating various teams.
Andres Sanchez has a keen appreciation for and experience with integrating the various teams it takes to deliver a successful project. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Over the past year, DPR Construction has shared stories of its self-perform work (SPW) teams. We’ve heard from builders who successfully execute complex technical projects every day by working closely with their teammates. But a key part of project success also lies in the collaboration and integration between teams, so we’re shifting our focus to highlight those synergies. We begin with Andres Sanchez, a self-proclaimed “office guy who came from the field and every day takes the field to the office.” Sanchez began his career as a craft team member, transitioned into virtual design and construction and currently acts as a project engineer, so he has a keen appreciation for and experience with integrating the various teams it takes to deliver a successful project.

Q: What is your role at DPR and describe the path you took to get there?

Sanchez: I’m currently a project engineer, managing SPW work. I started working in the field as a craft employee, and I was fortunate to get the chance to be part of the laser scanning unit when it was brand new to our region. We laser scanned as-built conditions, floor flatness, concrete pre-pours, and after we were successful we trained other regions in laser scanning. I liked laser scanning because it allowed me to visit multiple offices and work with various teams, because we were performing work outside of our Phoenix office and training others. We mastered the process so we could share our learning. I’m currently managing the ASU Health Futures Center projects and assisting at other SSG projects on other campuses.

Q: What do you love about construction / your job?

Sanchez: The main thing I love about construction is just putting my two cents in to get something done. To be the bridge between our design and our craft. To be able to translate what’s being requested to put that in place. That’s team integration in a nutshell.

Sanchez points out that each person he works with has the same goal: to work together to deliver a successful project. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: How does your team integrate with other teams? How do you work with each other or make things easier for each other?

Sanchez: In my role, we deal with Preconstruction before the project even starts. We deal with BIM coordination. We work with our superintendents to be able to manage the correct schedule, and with other trade partners to coordinate the work in place. At the end of the day, we’re all working together to achieve one goal: a successful project. And teamwork makes that happen.

One good example was the laser scanning. I was doing framing on a project, and I was asked if I was interested in being part of this new team that was being developed. I didn’t hesitate for a minute. I said, “Yes, when do I start?” Our group of three had no real experience with it, but we knew we needed to master it as soon as possible. With support from our Southern California team, we purchased our own laser scanner and brought in a specialty team from the vendor, Trimble, to train us. On a scale from one to 10, our first project was a 9. To be able to exceed the owner’s expectations and showcase the benefit of laser scanning was mind-blowing. As a region, it was just the beginning of a new way of implementing technology into construction. From that project, it skyrocketed. We did Shea Hospital in Phoenix. That lead us to go to Austin, Dallas and Houston to coach and train our Texas folks, where concrete was taking off. After that, we did the same thing in Florida.

Sanchez loves his job, especially being the bridge between design and the craft, and to help translate what’s being requested into what gets built. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What are you most proud of / what is your proudest moment at DPR?

Sanchez: One of my proudest moments was to be able to share my love of construction with my daughter. When I worked on the project in Tucson, my 9-year-old daughter, Mia, visited the jobsite with me on multiple occasions until completion. During our daily dinner conversation, she always asked me, “Is it done yet?” It was like having to give a superintendent a daily project update. Now that we moved back to Phoenix, she tells everyone, “I built a hospital in Tucson. I worked for DPR.” And now she wants to be an engineer.

Q: What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Sanchez: (Laughs) Going home! There are days when I get calls from home telling me dinner is ready, and I say, “Give me 20 more minutes.” I always try to stay ahead of things and be on top of what’s coming up next week: forecasting, what’s going to be impacting our schedule. I must stay on top of all that.

According to Sanchez, a great attitude and a great smile make every day, and every project, easier. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: To be successful in your role, what skills does a person need?

Sanchez: Attitude. Having the right attitude, the will to learn and to be teachable. You could have all it takes to master a skill or a task, but not having the correct attitude will not give you great results. It can be as simple as sharing a smile with someone who might be having a bad day. A great smile and a great attitude make everything easier. I’m always smiling. Even when something goes wrong, they say, “Why is he smiling?” And I say, “Well, let’s figure something out!”

November 22, 2019

DPR Leverages Data Center Expertise in Booming Atlanta Market

Data center development has surged in the Atlanta metro area in recent years, fueled by rich connectivity options, reasonable power costs, low natural disaster risk, easy access to tech talent, and a state tax break passed by Georgia legislators in 2018 designed to spur growth in the data center market.

Databank building in Midtown Atlanta Photo courtesy of Halkin I Mason Photography

Long recognized as a financial technology hub (Atlanta is a clearinghouse for some 70% of all electronic payments worldwide and home to 16 Fortune 500 companies), the city has garnered recognition in recent years as the 7th largest wholesale data center market in the United States according to CBRE, with 132.5 MW of inventory. Forbes named Atlanta one of the top five up-and-coming “tech meccas” in 2017. And in a nod to the region’s growing data center market, Bisnow held its Data Center Investment Conference & Expo in Atlanta the past two years, while CAPRE held its fourth annual Data Center and Cloud Infrastructure Summit in Atlanta this August. CBRE Research recently ranked Atlanta fifth in the U.S. for the region’s 14.5 MW currently under construction and sixth in the nation for its 40% growth in inventory since 2015 (North American Data Center Report H1 2019).

The leading names in data center ownership are expanding their presence in the Atlanta market – enabling the region to hold its own against other leading powerhouse data center markets throughout the U.S.

DPR Construction, a leading builder of data centers and advanced technology facilities, has found itself in the midst of this boom.

DPR recently completed two major data center projects for clients in the burgeoning Atlanta region; a signature data center project in Midtown Atlanta for leading enterprise-class data center provider Databank and a 70,000-sq.-ft. data center facility for Flexential on their Alpharetta campus. The projects showcase how DPR was able to leverage its technical expertise and its national data center experience to support customers’ needs for highly technical, mission critical projects in the Southeastern U.S.

Databank's central energy plant Photo courtesy of Halkin I Mason Photography

Databank Expands to Atlanta Market

The three-story, 110,000-sq.-ft. data center and adjoining 645,000-sq.-ft., 21-story mixed use office complex are the latest addition to the Georgia Institute of Technology’s “Tech Square.” The project is Databank’s first data center in Atlanta, representing the company’s expansion into its ninth U.S. market.

Databank is leasing 30% of the data center facility to Georgia Tech for its high-performance, research computing needs. The ATL1 facility will also house part of the Southern Crossroads network node which provides high-speed, high bandwidth connectivity to research and education sites throughout the region and across the nation.

Georgia Tech’s fleet of super computers operate at five-times the density of traditional computer racks and produce heat loads that would overwhelm traditional, air-cooled data centers. Working with DPR, DataBank and Georgia Tech opted to address those unusual heat loads with rack-mounted heat exchanges that allow Georgia Tech to significantly reduce the energy required to manage that heat.

DPR completed the initial 3.2-megawatt buildout on time and under budget. The space is now being operated by Georgia Tech for university support and research activities and by DataBank as part of its Atlanta service offering for companies seeking colocation, cloud or hybrid cloud solutions.

Additionally, DPR was selected as the general contractor for both the Coda Tower project (built for Portman Holdings) and Databank’s ATL1 data center project, employing two separate project teams that worked simultaneously on site. The Databank project team overcame an array of logistical, technical, and project management hurdles to complete the facility in February of 2019, just 11 months after construction began. The complexity of the conjoined development was further compounded by an extremely tight development schedule, mid-project design changes, equipment issues, ongoing weather factors, and finally, a construction moratorium enforced by the City of Atlanta to minimize any impact to the Super Bowl festivities.

“Our relationships with the subcontractors and vendors helped us cut short some of the long delivery equipment times so we could still meet our substantial completion date,” commented DPR project executive Vikesh Handratta. “Everyone stepped up to help find solutions whenever we faced a challenge on this project.”

Handratta said that clear, open communication, a highly collaborative and committed project team and DPR’s ability to leverage its national data center knowledge base were all critical factors in the project’s success. “Everybody had one end goal in mind: let’s be successful as a team,” he said.

Databank's data center floor Photo courtesy of Halkin I Mason Photography

Solution-Oriented Approach

Success on the project required the team to innovate solutions to myriad challenges that came up. Among them:

  • Groundbreaking on the Databank project was dependent on Coda tower’s completion of five levels of parking below the plaza level, which is the ground floor for the data center. Although the plaza level had some challenges in delivering as originally planned, the team came up with a strategy to mitigate that delay and still complete the data center on schedule.
  • Constructing the project in the middle of busy midtown Atlanta created some logistical challenges which required DPR to hyper coordinate activities with subs and suppliers and the city of Atlanta on all project deliveries and equipment installation activities that impacted traffic.
  • Transporting the chillers inside the building through the Coda tower loading dock proved to be a challenge that required careful preplanning and coordination ahead of time with the trucking and equipment vendors.

Tapping DPR’s National Data Center Expertise

DPR leveraged its national data center expertise to assist with commissioning, bringing in a highly experienced MEP coordinator from the West Coast to work alongside DPR’s Atlanta-based team.

“As a national data center builder, we were able to easily bring in someone who was extremely knowledgeable about all stages of data center commissioning to work hand-in-hand with our project-based commissioning agent, which was really helpful,” Handratta concluded. “Leveraging the power of our nationwide knowledge base and the depth of DPR’s expertise as a technical builder helped us deliver a first-rate data center project for Databank.”

Facility for Flexential

That same approach was also key to DPR’s success on the new 70,000-sq.-ft. Flexential data center facility in the northern Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta, completed this April. The project followed another recent data center project that DPR completed for Flexential in the Pacific Northwest, boosting the company’s national colocation footprint to more than 3.1 million square feet.

Flexential's data center cage Photo courtesy of Gregg Willett Photo

Constructed on the site of a former parking lot, the new facility ties into an existing two-story data center on Flexential’s Alpharetta campus. It contains 3 megawatts of UPS power, two 2.5 megawatt generators, two 500-ton air cooled chillers and 4 switchgear lineups.

DPR broke ground on the project in July 2018 and successfully completed it on schedule just nine months later. The team contended with one of the region’s wettest seasons on record, facing 30 rain days and more than 59 inches of rain during construction.

“It was substantially more rain than anticipated, but we were able to fast track a few scopes of work and still finish the project within the timeframe we originally told the owner,” said DPR project manager Robby Wright. “That was a big accomplishment.”

Flexential Data Center electrical switchgear Photo courtesy of Gregg Willett Photo

The project was the first to employ Flexential’s newest data center design. DPR relied on its extensive bank of data center knowledge and previous work to overcome various hurdles and even shared lessons learned with a competitor Nashville who built Flexential’s second project with that same design in Nashville.

Wright said DPR’s consistency across its data center work processes was a key success factor on the Alpharetta data center project. Similar to the Databank project, the Flexential project team also brought in a national MEP expert to help guide the project through commissioning. “DPR has many resources across the country and we definitely appreciate leveraging those as much as possible to benefit our customers,” he added.

November 21, 2019

DPR Leads Volunteer Team to Help Habitat for Humanity Expand Program Capacity


November 11, 2019

Honoring the Veterans in Our Lives

“Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul.” – Michel de Montaigne

Veterans walk among us and work alongside us, and we’re often unaware of the contributions they made to protect our nation and ensure our safety. We might not know that the nurse taking our vital signs learned his trade as an Army combat medic; or that the project engineer on our jobsite was part of a Navy construction battalion.

These stories aren’t always shared, so we asked DPR employees to tell us a bit about the veterans in their lives. The response was overwhelming and inspiring. So, on this Veterans Day, we’d like to take a moment to honor the extraordinary men and women who answered the call to service.

November 8, 2019

Integrating Stakeholders within Lean Cultures Yields Benefits

Lean Construction continues to deliver benefits on a project-by-project basis, but how can these ever-advancing techniques stick on and off the construction site, changing the way business is done? DPR Construction and its partners gave three presentations at the 21st annual LCI Congress, the flagship event of the Lean Construction Institute (LCI), in Fort Worth, TX that aimed to push toward that goal.

This year's LCI Congress featured discussion of "essential-ism." Stemming from Greg McKeown, writer of "Essential-ism: The Discipline Pursuit of Less," the concept asks: How can the construction industry narrow its focus to improve on key scopes? Among the essential things DPR is aiming to excel at – in order to support the goals of its employees in the field and the customers it builds for – is creating alignment on project norms and goals to maximize efficiency.

The commitment to integrating customers is changing. Creating a Lean company and project culture means educating people to better focus Lean systems on job sites, in customer meetings, and in preconstruction. Throughout the industry, a key priority is finding ways for contractors to better align with customer expectations and leverage up-and-coming technology in new ways.

Aligning expectations toward defined success

During the presentation, DPR project manager Leigh Heller asked attendees to imagine building a swing with your friends. Each friend would probably bring a different design, technologies and mindset and that may not always equal the creation of one perfect swing.

Presentation
DPR’s Leigh Heller noted how DFOW gives project teams the knowledge to better understand what the customer’s expectations are.

Construction is no different than the swing analogy and the challenge is to create a realistic commitment to the customer while aligning with the intended vision and value.

Still, there is a tendency to wait until the end of the project to debrief and share everything that could have gone differently. DPR’s team suggested having this conversation at the outset. Setting expectations should be a priority for all members of the project teams. By setting priorities, every customer will come to the table with their own measurement for success. It is in the best interest of Lean project teams to implement steps to agree to and achieve this standard.

To create a unified assessment of success, DPR’s presenters shared the organization’s commitment to quality control known as Distinguished Features of Work (DFOW). DPR’s Leigh Heller noted how DFOW gives project teams the knowledge to better understand what the customer’s expectations are and, as a result, focus on them to reduce the chance of any rework.

DFOW/Quality/Aligning Expectations IS Lean, and we need to do a better job of sharing the documentation of our planning and learning with the field and with other projects,” Leigh Heller, DPR superintendent.

Lean Leaders Build Lean Cultures

Project teams also must establish a baseline of appropriate team behavior and workflow from the inception of a project to better align expectations on and off the jobsite. Successful Lean integration starts with an aligned and standardized workflow that enables the team to visualize and anticipate roadblocks.

“We must provide the highest quality service to our customers at the lowest possible cost while maintaining a respect for people. We all can influence that effort and help improve it,” said Heller.

Presentation
Cory Hackler and Jack Poindexter presenting about the UCSF project.

For example, remodeling projects will always have unknowns that could affect budget and schedule. DPR’s recently-completed shopping center makeover sparked conversation at LCI Congress about the many different team conversations that build trust and respect across project teams that will translate to a more efficient project. Through candid conversations and planned actions, the outcomes should result in a clear work process structured to help maximize the value and minimize any waste at delivery level. It’s a win for the project team and a win for the customer.

In doing so, the project can serve as a replicable model for recruits, new hires, and team members to understand what a Lean project is and ways to duplicate positive operational behaviors.

Building a Lean Culture: Engaging the Value Stream

Presenters also shared were examples of different activities that different project teams performed to map value streams. In each case, this helped establish unique site cultures while also identifying all possibilities of unneeded waste.

DPR Lean manager Cory Hackler noted in his presentation that the company’s method of personnel alignment stems from the development and use of Lean Leadership training across the company.

“Having 600 people go through DPR’s Lean Leadership class, we are getting aligned on a common language to enforce Lean thoughts throughout projects,” said Cory Hackler.

The “Big Room” environment is one of many tactics sowing value to any team, enabling better collaboration.

October 31, 2019

New Children’s Hospital at VCU Breaks Ground

DPR Construction broke ground on the brand new $350 million, state-of-the-art Children’s Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University (CHoR at VCU), kicking off a four-year project that will deliver a world-class facility dedicated exclusively to the care of kids.

More than 250 people from the local community as well as hospital employees, donors and state and local lawmakers turned out for the groundbreaking event, marking start of construction on a facility designed to provide the highest level of care for children throughout Virginia.

Children participate in the groundbreaking of the new VCU children's hospital.
Local kids got to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony in Richmond. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

Located adjacent to the award-winning outpatient Children’s Pavilion on the VCU Medical Center Campus and rounding out a full city block dedicated to children’s services, the new hospital will replace existing pediatric inpatient unit beds and will consolidate inpatient and emergency care in one place. The 20-story, 500,000-sq.-ft. facility will provide trauma and emergency care services. It includes 86 private rooms, plus 10 observation rooms for acute and intensive care as well as new operating rooms, imaging capacity, emergency department space, a rooftop helipad and various amenities for patient families. There are four levels of below-ground parking.

DPR’s scope of work includes ground-up construction of the new hospital tower as well as some renovation work on the existing facility to support acute care services. Safety is a major priority during construction, which is taking place on a project site located in the heart of downtown Richmond and surrounded by medical facilities on the VCU campus that remain in full operation.

Designed by HKS Inc., the new Children’s Hospital is part of CHoR at VCU’s comprehensive, long-term plan for serving pediatric patients while also supporting research and educational opportunities. The new facility represents far more than just a building for young patients and their families – it offers hope and comprehensive health care services, regardless of their ability to pay. Numerous amenities are designed with those families in mind, including playrooms, performance spaces, Ronald McDonald House Charities rooms and outdoor gardens and spaces for collaboration and education.

A rendering of the new VCU children's hospital.
The new building will be the latest downtown Richmond landmark. Photo courtesy of HKS, Inc.

The Children’s Hospital Foundation is conducting a $100 million capital campaign to support construction of the new hospital. At the groundbreaking, the Foundation announced it will match the first $25 million in donations.

“Our vision is to be a top children’s hospital by 2022,” said Marsha D. Rappley, M.D., CEO of VCU Health System and senior vice president for health sciences. “All children of all communities deserve world-class care in a warm and welcoming environment. This beautiful new facility designed in partnership with our community puts children and their families at the center. It is the first important step in our pathway to becoming a top children’s hospital.”

The project is slated for completion by late 2022.

October 28, 2019

3 Ways to Turn Building Data into Building Intelligence

The proper use and visualization of data can lead to significant FM advantages for building owners. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

How to make better use of data gathered during design and construction to produce and maintain smart and sustainable facilities

by Aaron Peterson and Andrew Arnold

A shift to data-driven technology is changing almost every aspect of our economy. The availability and affordability of cloud computing is driving the ability to consume, analyze and package data into shareable blocks of information. Sensors can communicate with computing systems in real-time. Artificial intelligence (AI) reasoning based on the availability of data allows computers to assist, intervene and control an increasing number of functions.

In the AEC industry, virtual design and construction (VDC) and the creation of a building information model (BIM) have improved collaboration, the ability to simulate building performance, and the use of robotics to automate job and manufacturing plant functions. The age of paper drawings and pdf files during design and construction is growing obsolete. The same could be applied to the operation and maintenance of facilities.

What if the data collected during design and construction could be easily accessed to efficiently and effectively operate and maintain facilities? For this level of data integration, there are three stages that need to be considered:

  • Data standards development. Before a project starts, owners must survey the systems used on their other facilities to allow them to develop the data standards (e.g., what assets need to be managed, what data is required, etc.) that will be collected and used for the future.
  • Start with the end in mind. For a new project, the data and FM specifications need to be determined during design so that FM requirements are reflected in the final design and the proper data captured during construction. A BIM Execution Plan as part of the construction contract will help ensure that the right data is inputted as it becomes available, and it is properly named and classified with the necessary attributes associated with each asset. The data from the BIM becomes the starting point for owner-managed systems such as maintenance management, space management and building automation.
  • Data maintenance. After project turnover, the data model that describes the building and its assets and spaces needs to be maintained. If this is not done properly, the model will quickly degrade as the building is modified and its assets are replaced, repaired, etc.

In conclusion, the proper use and visualization of data can lead to significant FM advantages for building owners. Imagine faster and more accurate identification of building problems and their resolution, faster responses to regulatory agencies, longer equipment lives, lower energy use and better building performance for users. It’s time to turn building data into building intelligence to produce smart and sustainable facilities.

Authored by Aaron Peterson (left) and Andrew Arnold of VueOps, a data integration platform that helps owners access information to better operate and maintain their facilities. VueOps connects project documents, asset data, models and spaces and integrates with lifecycle management tools to help ensure facilities are run optimally.

For more information visit www.vueops.com

October 24, 2019

DPR Completes New Wing for NorthBay Medical Center

This October, NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield, CA began admitting patients to its new 80,000-sq.-ft. north wing, unveiling a state-of-the-art facility that was delivered on time and under budget by a highly collaborative, DPR Construction-led project team that included design partner LBL (now Perkins Eastman). Achieving those benchmarks was the product of leveraging an integrated delivery approach along with strategic use of virtual design & construction and prefabrication.

The exterior entry of the NorthBay Medical Center expansion.
The NorthBay Medical Center expansion is state-of-the-art inside and out. Photo courtesy of © 2019, Sasha Moravec

The new three-story wing, which connects to the existing 1992 building on each floor, encompasses 22 patient rooms, eight high-tech surgical suites, a 16-bed Pre-Op/PACU, diagnostic imaging, kitchen and dining area, as well as a new central sterile department. The project also included a 20,000-sq.-ft. remodel of the Emergency Department – all completed while the hospital remained in full operation.

Co-locating in the Big Room

Delivered using elements of Integrated Project Delivery, or IPD, DPR worked alongside the owner, designer Ratcliff Architects, LBL (now Perkins Eastman), structural engineer Thornton Tomasetti and other key team members to complete the highly challenging project on schedule and under budget. The team co-located onsite in an open, big room environment that fostered collaboration, innovative problem-solving, and quick decision making.

“NorthBay’s belief in the integrated team, having us all there on site every day and being able to make timely and well-informed decisions were all keys to our success,” said DPR Project Manager Stephanie Jones-Lee. “If there was an urgent item that came up that we needed a solution to, we could just walk over to the architect or engineer, get the subcontractor on the phone and hash it out right there.”

The high level of communication and shared problem-solving helped reduce the number of RFIs and submittals and moved them forward much more quickly than might be expected for a project of this size and complexity, according to DPR’s BIM project leader Jonathan Savosnick.

“Almost all of our RFI’s were confirming RFIs, meaning we had already talked through the issue with the design partners before we sent it in for documentation purposes,” he said. “I think that made a huge difference on this project and made the process a lot faster, easier to prioritize, and more successful.”

Medical staff working in a new surgical area in NorthBay Medical Center.
Virtual Design and Construction and collaboration helped make sure technical areas of the new NorthBay Medical Center came together as planned. Photo courtesy of © 2019, Sasha Moravec

First-of-a-Kind Features

The project incorporated several innovative or first-of-its-kind features. It was the first OSHPD-regulated project to employ the prefabricated ConXtech structural steel system. Akin to a “Lincoln Log” type of assembly, major structural components of the ConXtech system are prefabricated offsite and then delivered to the jobsite for quick assembly in the field.

“Because everything gets fabricated in the shop, it is safer, faster, and there is a lot less welding and field work to put it in place,” Jones-Lee said.

The project also was one of the first hospitals in California to incorporate brand new ARTIS pheno operating room (OR) equipment – a major change order introduced midway through construction when the equipment supplier discontinued its previous version of the OR equipment.

The team quickly adapted to the challenge.

“The new equipment added a lot of electrical conduit on the second floor, below the operating rooms,” said Savosnick. “We were in the middle of building out that second floor when we learned about the change.” They worked collaboratively to re-sequence the work and incorporate the new design solution.

Patient beds in the new NorthBay Medical Center Expansion
New areas of NorthBay Medical Center were constructed while the existing facility remained active. Photo courtesy of © 2019, Sasha Moravec

Additionally, DPR employed laser scanning to verify existing conditions in the overhead ceiling space in the Emergency Department area, as well as in the Central Utility Plant. While BIM coordination was integral to the project’s success, accessing patient rooms in the still fully operational emergency department to laser scan for BIM coordination was a complicated endeavor.

“Doing BIM coordination for an existing facility that is in use was a big challenge,” Savosnick said. The team used HEPA carts and deployed field investigators to access above-the-ceiling areas in order to gather the information needed to update the model.

The VDC program had other extensions that delivered value. The team used virtual reality to review access issues and verify clearances on the roof with NorthBay facility engineers. Marking the first time that NorthBay had used VR on a project, the technology helped resolve potential conflicts before work was ever installed in the field.

October 23, 2019

Introducing 'Girls Go Build,' a Program Aimed at Inspiring the Next Generation of Women Who Build

In Delray Beach, FL, the City is working towards creating alignment of education with workforce needs, in an effort to retain talented workers and to prepare for future employment demands. With a desire to be a part of the strategic plan, DPR Construction teamed with the City and the Milagro Center to pilot the Girls Go Build program.

The seven-week program was developed to encourage girls to expand their math- and science-based learning, to increase their interest and enrollment in local technical high school programs and to shift attitudes about careers in technical trades. Through leading sessions and workshops, volunteers from the local DPR team worked with about 20 middle-school girls at the Milagro Center—hoping to inspire the next generation of Women Who Build to enter the construction industry.

Through leading sessions and workshops, volunteers from the local DPR team worked with about 20 middle-school girls at the Milagro Center, hoping to inspire the next generation of Women Who Build to enter the construction industry.

"The Girls Go Build program would not have been possible without the support of the DPR staff," said Janet Meeks, education coordinator with Delray Beach. "The fact that DPR already had some hands-on, age appropriate activities that helped the girls understand the construction industry was awesome."

Lina Nageondelestang, who serves as project manager in DPR's Fort Lauderdale office, headed up the community initiative.

"We were excited to jump on board to help (the City and the Milagro Center) put together a curriculum for the summer pilot program and then lead several of the sessions," Nageondelestang commented.

DPR was directly in charge of four of the seven Girls Go Build sessions. They included:

  • an introduction and overview session that included a marshmallow building activity (which "helped them learn the importance of creating a 'strong foundation,'" Meeks noted);
  • a toolbox build session focused on safety and tools;
  • a Chopper Tower session where the girls played a DPR-developed game introducing them to aspects of constructability;
  • a graduation/bench building session in which volunteers helped the girls build several picnic tables that are now in use at the Milagro Center.
Girls participated in a Chopper Tower session where they played a DPR-developed game introducing them to aspects of constructability.

Each DPR-led session kicked off with a conversation about the path each of the volunteers took to get into the construction industry.

"I think opening their eyes to the potential career opportunities that there are in the industry was the most rewarding part," Nageondelestang said. "Letting them know that, as girls, they actually can do construction and not to be afraid of it just because they are female."

Having DPR women facilitate much of the programming made a big impact, according to Meeks.

"The middle-school girls could relate and see themselves taking on similar roles," Meeks said. "It's powerful to see minority women in management positions, and these girls were fascinated by the career stories."

For most of the Milagro Center girls who participated in the pilot program, Girls Go Build offered them their first up-close look at construction tools and methods, as well as an introduction to potential well-paying careers that many had never considered before.

For most of the Milagro Center girls who participated in the pilot program, Girls Go Build offered them their first up-close look at construction tools and methods, as well as an introduction to potential well-paying careers that many had never considered before.

Student Elavanise Louis-Juste said she was inspired by the innovative program.

"I originally wanted to become a nurse. I like taking care of people and my mom takes care of people in Haiti," she said. "But now I like construction because I can build houses in Haiti for people, and I can learn the techniques of what to do."

The City considered the program to be a success, achieving the goals it had laid out.

"The program accomplished our objectives by exposing girls to the many different career options in the construction trades," Meeks concluded. "The biggest success was that one of the girls was going to go into the medical choice program at Atlantic High School and changed that track to the construction academy."

October 10, 2019

Healthcare Success RX

DPR shares these indicators with the goal of aligning project collaborators and integration in successful project delivery, and designing and building better, high-performing buildings. Photo courtesy of Rien van Rijthoven

Healthcare construction projects are inherently complex, challenging and often downright difficult. DPR Construction embraces these challenges as opportunities to advance the company’s learning and continual improvement.

DPR took an in-depth look at seven highly technical, complex hospital projects completed in California between 2011 to 2018 which, resulted in the Rx for a Successful Healthcare Project study. The goal? Identify what makes a healthcare project a success and what could be done better.

DPR engaged a third-party consultant, Site Plus, to conduct independent interviews with owners, design partners and internal DPR team members from the projects being studied. Both commonalities and diversities existed, resulting in a strong sampling of healthcare projects. Consistent patterns were found in the successful projects, including a high level of collaboration and integration, a very engaged owner, and an environment promoting continual improvement over time.

Participants of the study were asked to "define a successful project." Interestingly, answers concentrated on or included "people" rather than just project metrics as an important element. Building on the successful collaboration and integration of project teams and needs, the study suggested that the three quality pillars of budget, time and quality could all be delivered successfully, challenging an often-touted industry myth to the contrary.

Participants were also asked, "What words come to mind when you think of this project?" Responses evoked highlights—and lowlights. The most frequently mentioned words were: challenging, fun, collaborative, trust and complex. Ultimately, themes, patterns and key differentiators were identified from the interviews and consolidated into nine key indicators for project success.

When all nine key indicators are present, the study found there is much more likelihood of an aligned and resilient team who will work collaboratively to overcome challenges and be successful. DPR shares these indicators with the goal of aligning project collaborators and integration in successful project delivery, and designing and building better, high-performing buildings.

9 Key Indicators for Successful Healthcare Construction:

1. Truly Engaged Owner: More engagement leads directly to success. Successful projects have a hands-on owner present, with the ability to make timely decisions and then keep to those decisions.

2. Project Mission and Value: Establish collective goals as a project team. Develop the purpose, vision, project goals, and key performance indicators at the onset of the project. In healthcare, the vision is typically about the higher purpose of the patient and the project as a community benefit.

3. Co-Locate (The Big Room): Team member committment from the beginning. The study revealed the "Big Room" enhanced a common understanding of values and goals, a foundational culture, the tenacity to keep improving, and the ability to make definitive decisions quickly.

4. Right Team/Right Mix: Assess team dynamics and recalibrate along the way. Experience may win the project, but it's the right people on the team who will lead to the greatest success.

5. Act Swiftly When Necessary: Be ready to change and act quickly. A person may have certain attributes that contribute to one of the project goals, but if they don't embrace ALL project goals in an open and unrestricted manner, it will set up barriers.

6. Invest in the Team: Tailor team building and purpose to specific team dynamics. Ongoing team building, both formal and informal, does lead to better team dynamics. The successful projects made the time to pause and recalibrate.

7. Share Knowledge and Set Goals: Successful projects push to be better. If you aren't keeping score, it's just practice. Add the priority of continuously getting better by asking, "Is there a better way?"

8. Lean Construction Methods: Use a discipline of best practices. Tools like Pull Planning, Target Value Design and A3/Choosing by Advantages Decision Making are some of the items used in successful projects in varying degrees.

9. Authorities Having Jurisdiction: Understand, accept and work with regulations. Regardless of project location or authority having jurisdiction, inspectors are key to the process. Understand their requirements and make them a part of the team.

To read the entire study, please click here.