Eve R. Forward
DPR's Roving Reporter

Eve R. Forward

Eve R. Forward is DPR Construction's roving reporter. Born in 1990 in Redwood City, Eve lives and breathes DPR...Literally.

Posts: 201
Location: Redwood City, California
Favorite core value: Ever Forward, naturally! I was named after this core value.
Hometown: I was born in Redwood City, but now I live all over the country.
Best part of the job: Asking the hard-hitting questions that need answers.
Posts In: Communities, Construction Technologies, Data Centers and Mission Critical, Healthcare, News, Safety

January 18, 2021

Q&A: Leveraging a Team of Teams

Mark Whitson, a member of DPR's management committee, shares lessons learned coming off an unprecedented year and how leveraging a team of teams approach supports the next leg of DPR’s journey.

Several years ago, DPR embraced several of the key principles from General Stanley McChrystal’s book, Team of Teams, around creating shared awareness and understanding throughout the company along with empowerment in execution. Photo courtesy of Chip Allen Photography

What has been the single most important factor in keeping the company moving forward when so many challenges have seemingly come one after another?

One of the things we did early on, in the wake of the pandemic, is to really focus on staying true to who we are: A builder of great things, on a mission to be one of the most admired companies by the end of the decade. Mission 2030, as we refer to it, helps us be strategic around how to take care of our people, customers, partners and projects. Even though uncertainty lingers and will continue to be a part of life for the foreseeable future, we’ve proven what we can do when we stay true to who we are.

What are some of the lessons DPR is taking forward?

There are so many but a few that come to mind are…Data differentiates us; we proved that if we have consistency in our data we can increase efficiency and keep people safe. Cascading our communications throughout the company in real-time keeps the company feel smaller, more intimate and connected. Realizing a whole other gear in our flywheel that we can operate in if we increase the connectedness and strength of our matrix organization—by truly leveraging a team of teams approach.

What does a team of teams approach mean? What does it look like?

DPR’s strength has always come from immense focus on our culture and shared leadership throughout all of our teams; from leadership teams to our project teams. Several years ago, we embraced several of the key principles from General Stanley McChrystal’s book, Team of Teams, around creating shared awareness and understanding throughout the company along with empowerment in execution. It truly fits our culture and allows us to ensure our teams are not only empowered but connected in a way that ensures consistency while maintaining individualization.

What did we try differently in 2020 and how does this approach support us on our way to Mission 2030?

Like everyone, we were faced with a variety of new challenges. To help address them we implemented a series of “tiger teams,” teams put together for specific purpose for a limited duration of time. This is really an extension of the Team of Teams concept that allowed us to streamline our efforts to solve specific challenges, take advantage of different opportunities, provide unique developmental experiences to our leaders, and connect our teams in a way that helped integrate key leaders from across the company. This approach builds on the foundation of our culture while leveraging smaller, diverse groups of people to innovate, implement and improve the way we plan, work, communicate and make decisions—and will be transformative on our journey.

January 14, 2021

Making Life Sciences Work in Commercial Spaces

Photo courtesy of Amy Edwards, New Image Studio

Repurposing vacant commercial spaces—ranging from warehouses to offices—to suit the needs for pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) or production seems like a win-win for property owners and life sciences organizations. Commercial facilities, though, often need specific and sometimes significant upgrades to accommodate life sciences firms.

“It’s similar to how warehouse spaces need a lot of upgrades to house data centers,” said Dave Ross, one of DPR Construction’s life sciences experts. “It’s tempting to think these facilities are plug-and-play, but both life sciences firms and commercial owners need to consider some things to affordably make these facilities a great match for pharma.”

Life sciences customers should consider how much work is needed to get a former commercial space ready for the intensive systems of their manufacturing and research facilities. Similarly, commercial property owners should look at their assets and determine if it makes sense to upgrade spaces to make them more attractive to life sciences buyers.

High bay tilt-up buildings typically work better for converting to cGMP manufacturing space. Photo courtesy of Amy Edwards, New Image Studio

Research vs. Manufacturing

How the space will be used—whether for manufacturing or research—needs to be determined upfront.

“Typical commercial office buildings are generally not well suited for conversion into Biotech cGMP manufacturing facilities. They typically work better for R&D conversion.” said DPR’s Scott Strom, also a life sciences expert. “Conversely, high bay tilt-up buildings typically work better for cGMP manufacturing. They can also work for an R&D lab, but not as efficiently.”

Strom recommends an ordered assessment of existing building conversion potential. First, consider the bones of the building and site considerations.

“This is the first essential hurdle to clear, where the buildings floor to floor height, structural loading, type of construction, fire rating, and space availability for larger MEP systems are assessed,” added Strom. “If they do not meet the more robust requirements of a lab or manufacturing program, the building is typically not a good candidate. Work-arounds do exist, however they often lead to a building being viewed as a Class B or C option in the market.”

Second, look for any second-generation space benefits to the building in question. Among many considerations are if the current HVAC system is sufficient for the office portion of a Life Sciences facility, or if existing primary electric infrastructure can be maintained and expanded.

How’s the Floor?

Height and number of floors is another critical factor. For manufacturing, an existing building with a larger footprint and only a couple of floors is typically best. For R&D, low to mid-rise solutions are easier to convert than high-rise buildings. Life Sciences buildings require high air flow and large ductwork so taller floor-to-floor heights are preferred.

“No one likes an empty asset, but if an owner or a pharmaceutical firm does the back-of-the-envelope math, the wrong floor-to-floor height might not make sense for either of their purposes,” said Ross.

Even with proper floor-to-floor height, floor fire ratings must often be upgraded to accommodate higher chemical inventories required for either R&D or manufacturing requirements, maintaining fire barrier separation of exhaust systems serving each chemical control area creates many challenges.

But it is possible to work around those challenges with the right team in place when design begins.

On a recent life sciences conversion project, shown in this trade coordination model, DPR encountered a challenge with overhead congestion between the first level ceiling and the second level structural steel. The project team had to get creative to work around the limited overhead space and structural load limitations.

How’s the Roof?

For almost all life sciences uses, the building roof structure’s ability to hold a higher live load is important.

“Many existing commercial-use spaces have simple roof designs,” Ross said. “A life sciences manufacturer might need to put a dozen air handlers and exhaust fans on the roof. We had one customer spend more money on roof structure upgrades than on process pipe, for instance.”

It is recommended that property owners invest in a structural analysis early on in their due diligence. Upgrading the roof can have a domino effect on many of the rest of the structure’s lateral force resisting design elements.

Service Yard Space

Many buildings do not provide sufficient areas for bulk gas tank deliveries, emergency generators, and other needed systems.

“At the very least, anything the owner of an asset can do to facilitate this is going to be in an advantageous position for life sciences customers,” Ross said. But the considerations extend to the end user, too.

“Recently, in Florida, a life sciences customer realized that, until they really settled on what they were producing in the building, they didn’t really know if they had enough space outside the building,” Ross said. “Size is what people usually look at, but suitability is the bigger issue. Every site is different. Sometimes you can solve it by building above rather than beside, but more space can mean more flexibility.”

“Ultimately, there are a lot of ways to make these conversions work,” Ross said. “It’s more that all parties need to go in with their eyes open, work closely with design and construction partners even before the papers are signed and even educate commercial owners on how to make their assets more attractive to potential buyers or tenants.”

January 11, 2021

Paving New Career Paths through Construction

With residents seeking training in the construction trades, the project allowed hands-on opportunities to work side-by-side with DPR crews. Images taken prior to March 2020 and COVID-19 protocols. Photo courtesy of Zach Shull

A collaboration between DPR Construction and a San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit will create more opportunities for former criminal offenders to pursue meaningful careers in the trades, potentially even with DPR.

Jericho Project provides treatment and job training to chemically dependent former offenders who are committed to recovery and rehabilitation. It is 100 percent self-funded, and participants receive housing, treatment, education, physical training, social development and vocational training so they can become productive and successful members of society.

DPR's Special Services Group, a “special ops team” specializing in quick turnaround projects, was hired to upgrade some of Jericho’s housing facilities as well as double the space for its classroom and vocational training facility. The new 72,000-sq.-ft. warehouse includes the latest equipment and technology in a wide variety of construction mock-up training areas, such as welding, metal work, work word, electrical and plumbing.

With Jericho Project residents seeking training in the trades, the project meant those residents could work side-by-side with DPR’s crews. “It made sense to integrate the Jericho team to get them some great construction training for their education,” said DPR’s Kevin Shea. “It was like they were working for DPR.”

DPR worked with Jericho Project residents to upgrade the organization’s facilities. Images taken prior to March 2020 and COVID-19 protocols. Photo courtesy of Zach Shull

One of the biggest challenges of working within an existing building was navigating around unexpected issues, some structural, some related to the HVAC system. Bringing the project team together to come up with solutions on the go was critical to keeping the project going.

“A personal highlight for me was learning the trade of construction,” said Lentrell Hicks, a resident of Jericho Project. “I knew things about construction, but I didn’t know the depth of it and how much I can support myself with it. I’ve been learning some of the trade for HVACs and pipe fitting; those are the two aspects I’ve worked with DPR on.”

With these new building and equipment upgrades, Jericho Project can now expand its vocational training offerings and become accredited through the National Center for Construction Education and Research. Anyone who finishes the program will have their own registration number and can work for any construction company across the U.S., even DPR, which has more than 3,000 self-perform Craft workers and is actively working to build and develop that workforce.

“In working so closely with these guys at DPR, it's unique how the whole situation comes together, the interest that DPR had in the program and what it actually does for the people around them,” said Nick Rodgers, program director for Jericho Project. “We’ve come together to work towards one common goal, which is to get this project built.”

“This is one of those times where your job is very personal,” said Shea.

January 7, 2021

How Adopting a Production Mindset Promotes Building Incident-Free

electrical contractor
Well before electrical design and installation began on a full-service hotel project, EIG team members identified, planned, and worked to fix any potential harmful safety issues to achieve the zero incidents goal. Photo courtesy of Jacob Snedaker

Implementing strategic practices and processes to increase efficiency is common practice in the architect, engineer and contractor industry, but what sets a general contractor and its trade partners apart is how that production mindset truly manifests across the organization and into its projects, specifically around safety.

By adopting a production mindset that prioritizes work done safely, we can identify, plan, rectify and fix potential harmful issues well before teams are affected by them. But, to get there, it takes the effort and commitment of every individual who sets foot on the job to make it happen.

Consider the following benefits of how this type of strategic mindset not only acknowledges and builds upon productivity and time savings, but also allows teams to meet their goal of zero incidents.

  • Full Visibility—By practicing openness and transparency, teams create trust. It improves morale and lowers job-related stress. When the goal is safety, teams are open to share feedback with each other, giving each team member a sense of responsibility.
  • Real-Time Insights and Updates—Safety alerts via a shared software platform or notification system allows teams to gather information in real time. This eliminates wait time on reports, instantly increases response times, and can help teams prepare for what may come.
  • Minimize Disruption—Creating a project specific safety master plan that includes fall protection and the control of hazardous energy eliminates time wasted due to service interruptions, damage to materials, service equipment, tools, and injuries on job sites. Teams can prevent down-time and increase speed of care if incidents occur. With the right planning, unsafe conditions can be anticipated and recognized, therefore, mitigated.
  • Maximize Efficiency—All work involves proper planning. Teams need to think of worst-case and unlikely scenarios and work from there to ensure they have done everything possible to prevent injury. With this type of vigilance and commitment to safety, speed of completion and quality of work increases.

Clients may have many goals and needs in mind, from budget and schedule to the quality of the work. But a focused production mindset does not have to simply stop with these goals. The elements of this frame of mind translate to every level of an organization.

This post was written by Mark Thompson, Leader of Evergreen Innovation Group (EIG), a commercial electrical contractor and strategic partner of DPR.

December 21, 2020

Healthcare Post-Pandemic: The Future of Project Delivery

The fifth and final installment of DPR Construction’s COVID-19 briefing series for 2020, examines collective professional insights of how COVID-19 is affecting project delivery.

COVID-19 pushed the building industry into action. In the early days of the pandemic, designers and contractors jumped in with makeshift solutions to the immediate needs for safety, surge capacity, testing, and isolation.

These teams adapted as things changed, often daily. New and different ways to leverage technology improved communication and collaboration. The silver lining of the pandemic was the validation of a solid infrastructure of trusted relationships, galvanizing the entire industry to come together.

What can we do to be more resilient in the future?

Prefabricated partitions outside a hospital entrance.
Temporary partitions today, but will future design give healthcare spaces flexibility to add such measures at the flip of a switch? Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

In our discussions with industry leaders, the biggest identified challenge was how to prepare for a resilient future with what is known today. To do this, project delivery must evolve and elevate to a community approach, bringing the best people and ideas together to predict future trends and costs with reliable data. Teams need free and open sharing of ideas for the benefit of the industry and our communities.

  • Innovation – shaped by professionals working together creatively – will advance the best solutions. The uniqueness of each facility and system is grounded by owners looking for safety, cost certainty, and higher value project outcomes. Perspectives have changed and the need to do things differently has never been more crucial. This is an opportunity as an industry to collectively be nimble, ingenious, and flexible.
  • The Big Room is different, but the results are just as important. While the big room may be less populated, virtual, or take on a hybrid format, the synergy from a combination of in-person and virtual connections has kept current projects on track. Teams have seen high-quality virtual engagement, however, the ultimate impact on design solutions and construction execution is yet to be proven. Human connection and dynamics can, at some level, be captured virtually and through technology, but the informal huddles, mentoring, learning from each other, subtleties of interaction and brainstorming are being missed by many. For true collaboration and building a team community, all voices need to be heard and a big “from wherever you are” room will remain essential.
  • Leveraging geographically separated experts has never been implemented with less difficulty - and this has been seen as a benefit to positive outcomes on projects. Geography is becoming less important with virtual connectivity and access to national thought leaders is another silver lining that has emerged. The practice of leveraging global partners for lessons learned and shared best practices reflects the worldwide reach of the pandemic itself.
  • Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) and other regulatory entities are important partners. The immediate response to COVID-19 required regulatory agencies to relax their approach to interfacing with stakeholders and be more flexible. Some of these temporary changes may be part of the solution for future resiliency in the face of pandemics, climate impacts, and biowarfare. There is an opportunity as an industry to work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), AHJs, and other entities for reforms that allow for greater flexibility. Additionally, the use of digital reviews, inspections, and permitting are proving positive and it is anticipated that these will continue to evolve and change how we do business.
  • Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), and any form of early collaborative project delivery, is here to stay and needed more now than ever before to provide predictable results for healthcare customers. The industry group repeated – “we need to get it right” for a resilient recovery and a new normal of “providing more with less.” Trusted relationships are required more than ever, along with industry partnerships forged on transparency, collaboration, and an interdisciplinary approach. One team posited that the next evolution of project delivery methodology will arise as a result of this pandemic and is continuing to discuss the ideal method of forming, managing risk, and adding value in the delivery of healthcare.

What's Next?

A variety of healthcare and construction-themed icons on a blue background

DPR and many industry partners have extolled the benefits of prefabrication, modular construction, and virtual tools for communication, design, and documentation to facilitate projects.

“We are still learning as an industry. As we issue this briefing, with the unfortunate COVID-19 upswing, what we learned with the first surge is now being tested and improved upon. We will continue to learn, but to achieve resiliency for our customers, the design, consulting, and construction community must dig in and continue collaborating. Partners that can move fast, think more broadly, and interpret needs are what our customers are looking for,” stated Hamilton Espinosa, one of DPR Construction’s healthcare core market leaders.

Sean Ashcroft, another DPR Construction healthcare core market leader continued: “It will be the responsibility of each of us to ensure that we communicate the risks of short-sightedness, and short-term memory when it comes to decision making. The plans we make today will affect our ability to respond to the next crisis. Even now, we are beginning to feel the impact of staffing, supply chain, and system hardening activities that were deferred in the first wave. As we speak, the industry rallies around the systems we serve and the communities we support in an amazing show of resiliency.”

Espinosa added: “We are at the forefront of change in how projects are delivered - many of which are positive for the industry we serve. As we continue to assess industry changes and market conditions, relationships within the industry will continue to be important to navigate the changes ahead.”

December 10, 2020

Healthcare Post-Pandemic: Lessons Learned & Silver Linings

This fourth installment of DPR Construction’s COVID-19 briefing series delves into the insights provided by industry partners and clients related to challenges, solutions, and lessons learned that the healthcare industry generated in response to the pandemic.

COVID-19 exposed a number of limitations within the healthcare industry, pointing to the clear need to build more flexibility into planning, design, and construction of healthcare facilities.

The effects of COVID-19 were seen and addressed throughout the hospital environment:

  • externally with the development of crisis testing protocols
  • internally with bed capacity during surges, and length of stays
  • within the hospital infrastructure, with the need to quickly provide containment and isolation, maintain supplies, repurpose systems and spaces
  • operationally, with modified workflows and with the disruption of health systems’ financial models through the cancellation of elective procedures and surgeries.

Intake procedures needed to quickly accommodate the need to keep potentially infected patients isolated from other patients and medical staff.

DPR’s partners noted that commencing care outside of the hospital facility was a quick way to start isolating COVID-19 cases. The result is that many facilities now begin emergency department registration curbside, or with a screening space at the facility entrance to decrease congestion while commencing with isolation protocols.

New uses for mobile apps are being employed as it has been found that smartphone registration is faster and even more accurate than web-based apps. Mobile triage tents could be installed and made flexible by using portable privacy screens. Discussion participants also mentioned separated ingress and egress patterning becoming much more important and how enhanced and clear signage are key to keeping patients and visitors on safely separated paths.

A testing tent outside of a healthcare facility.
Testing areas outside healthcare facilities add flexibility. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

The sudden need for additional and isolated hospital beds required nimbleness as well. Field hospitals went up quickly in many locations. While not utilized to the extent expected, field hospitals could have alternative uses if not necessary for incoming surge patients. Discussion participants noted that in some places they were adapted for the lower end of care. One alternative was to use them or those who could be transitioned out of an acute setting, but who were not ready to go home. The hospital beds were then kept available for those in the acute stages of the disease.

Due to their higher cost to build, hospitals typically have only a handful of negative pressure rooms for isolation cases. One engineer brought up the fact that value engineering targets the systems behind the wall first, yet those systems are vital to scaling during a crisis such as this pandemic. Still, discussion participants offered several examples of quick or temporary solutions to increase negative pressure spaces, with the lesson learned to at least have some temporary solutions ready to go if the flexibility needed is not already built in:

  • To purify the air, use mobile photocatalytic air purifiers that use UV light.
  • To quickly convert rooms to negative air pressure, implement mobile HEPA filters combined with reverse flow fan filters.
  • To provide permanent anterooms as a dividing space for containment and patient isolation. As they flank the isolation rooms, they can provide a safe area for doffing PPE.
  • To support the temporary negative pressure rooms and provide a safe space for doffing PPE, portable, reusable anterooms were brought in.

Another lesson learned discussed by participants was how to alleviate the loss of revenue that hospitals and systems are now facing, due to cancelled elective surgeries.

The CARES Act helped mitigate the financial hit through early summer. For systems, one solution was to segregate hospitals within the system and divert the elective surgeries to a non-COVID facility when capacity allows. Another, which does require regulatory cooperation, is to shift some surgery to lower-acuity outpatient facilities, as has been demonstrated successfully within certain fields such as ophthalmology and dermatology. Discussion turned to policy, regulation, and major operational changes that may be considered to drive more transparency and competition.

One key lesson mentioned was that of asset management. As one participant said, “You need to know what you have, to know what you need.” There are many software solutions available for electronic tagging, tracking, and maintaining machinery and equipment. The discussion group added other assets that should be assessed, including infrastructure and space. A space assessment can assist with determining spaces that can be realigned for patient flow or repurposed for isolation. And modular prefabricated walls can be quickly implemented to alter a space as needed. “Modular structures can separate infectious patients and other available spaces can also be customized for a specific region or patient population,” commented Sean Ashcroft, one of the healthcare core market leaders for DPR Construction.

A worker in a cloth face covering pushes a cart on a job site.
Both healthcare providers and construction firms pivoted to find ways to keep work moving. Photo courtesy of David Cox

What Silver Linings Lie Within These Lessons?

Reacting to the lessons learned from COVID-19 has given the industry the kickstart it needed to pivot and change.

DPR and its partners agree: this is a chance to reset and reduce overall health costs, improve access to healthcare and reimagine space utilization. As a global issue, COVID-19 has also made the world a smaller place, and there has been increased access to sharing and learning from all corners. New industry partnerships offer greater transparency and collaboration and the value of connections has never been more important.

Hamilton Espinosa, DPR Construction healthcare core market leader, summed it up: “Every situation is unique, but it all comes back to the ability to be flexible, creative and adaptable while we work together to get through this great challenge and look forward with what we have learned.”

December 8, 2020

Happy Holidays from DPR Construction!

Socially Distanced, but Together in Spirit!

As this year comes to an end, DPR Construction appreciates the way everyone supported one another in 2020. Normally, at this time of year, everyone gathers to celebrate together at holiday events, but this year is different.

Fortunately, a group of employees from across DPR's organization had the technology – and holiday spirit – to send their best to employee and partners virtually.

December 3, 2020

Healthcare Post-Pandemic: Tech Adoption

The third installment of DPR Construction’s COVID-19 briefing series delves into the insights industry partners and clients provided regarding how an accelerated adoption of technologies may shape the healthcare industry.

COVID-19 has been a disruptor, accelerating and improving the implementation of technology used in healthcare while enabling flexibility of care. What took years to develop and implement is now put into action within weeks.

In the healthcare industry, digital technologies and system integrations have transformed the relationship between medical professional and patient. These integrations will improve the patient experience, access to care, physician access to information, and provides faster and more effective care solutions. Predicting the future has continually been a challenge for imaging, diagnostics, and medical equipment when planning facilities. The consensus from industry leaders is that the adoption of new technologies in healthcare has been accelerated by COVID-19 and will be a game changer as we enter a digital transformation of care.

There is clear consensus among industry leaders that technology will improve health outcomes and increase access to care. Additionally, as patient behaviors shift to greater acceptance of digital health, the wellness model featuring patient participation, ownership, and personal responsibility will change and expand as well.

Telemedicine and eHealth are here to stay. With fewer barriers such as internet access and speed, patient and/or physician resistance, and implementation and reimbursement obstacles, applications of technology have become more accessible and have been more broadly adopted. Additionally, these applications are benefitting the patient experience and increasing patient confidence.

Benefits start with interoperability, which enables safer transitions of care and better patient outcomes overall. Health information systems are more easily working across operational boundaries today. Integration of systems and data (including diagnostic data, asset data and patient data) will provide analytics on “what you have, what you need and when you need it.” Patients are gaining on-demand access to their own patient records and electronic tracking for everything from diagnostic tests to doctors’ advice.

Project partners meet virtually on a digital videoconference platform.
Just as project teams and stakeholders quickly adapted to virtual work, similar environments will be part of the future for healthcare providers and their stakeholders.

How might this affect facilities and the spaces within?

Integrated technology solutions can boost flexibility and preparedness for the three categories of challenges identified by discussion groups: safety, capacity and isolation.

  • Hospital rooms may have more flexibility for remote care with broader implementation of video connections enabling remote rounds, expanded remote monitoring for vitals beyond the nurse station, and increased visualization outside the room. Universal rooms with the flexibility to incorporate ante rooms and digital integration are the future.
  • Waiting rooms of the future may be smaller, supported by self-check-in, and self-rooming. Infrared scanning, patient recorded vitals from wearables and UV disinfection may be incorporated, all while maintaining the patient experience that our industry has strived to attain.
  • Broader and more effective implementation of robotics may move things around the facility, including supplies, PPE, medication and food.
  • A hybrid care model will further decentralize care. In addition to telemedicine, home monitoring and observation will add to the in-person care. There is even the potential for drive-through diagnostics in the future.
  • Smart devices - wearables, health apps, etc. - will advance rapidly with 5G to track and monitor all types of health conditions outside of healthcare walls. This will be another direct impact for wellness and potentially less demand for physical space. Further, single use direct-to-consumer devices may increase access and use of care services, speeding the diagnostics process.
  • Capacity requirements, including the proper amount and quality of space, privacy, and bandwidth cannot be underestimated. These requirements need to be part of the overall masterplan to pivot with technology advances.
A DPR worker uses his phone to scan a document on the wall.
Tech tools are helping share information from the job site with stakeholders anywhere.

How can we be ready for the digital transformation?

Discussion participants agreed that technology has been a significant element for resuming normal operations and/or enabling reinvention, both personally and professionally, since COVID-19 struck. There is broad agreement that technology will transform not only how we design, renovate and build but also greatly influence what is created as well.

“If we, as an industry, do this right, technology will provide the flexibility to give our customers ‘future-ready capabilities to adapt to new technologies and respond to future emergencies,” said Sean Ashcroft, one of DPR Construction’s national healthcare leaders.

But no one can do this alone and the group of industry leaders strongly agrees.

“Foremost, a health system’s enterprise technology plan must be coordinated and integrated with a building’s design and construction,” shared Carl Fleming, DPR Construction’s national healthcare strategist. “Technologies that are ‘future state’ today will be current state when a new building sees its first patient. As a result, it is imperative for the digital environment and the built environment to work together to enhance patient care and improve clinical outcomes. Our experience reflects better technology coordination when design and construction professionals are part of the technology discussion early in the project and the industry group highly recommends a new role on the construction team – systems integrator.”

A neo-natal care area of a healthcare facility.
Integrating new healthcare technology systems early in design and construction is vital to success.

Hybrid care models will change the functionality of rooms and the need to bridge telemedicine and in-person care. Outpatient facilities will be smarter, hospitals will be smarter, and MOB’s may allocate space to accommodate the hybrid care model concept. An integrated technology solution will inform space needs for infrastructure, including larger Main Distribution Frame / Intermediate Distribution Frame (MDF/IDF) closets and an expanded infrastructure.

Technology has also been transformative in the design and construction worlds with team interaction, 4D modelling and virtual inspections. Collaboration continues to rise to new levels and jobsites look different. An upcoming briefing will take a deeper dive into how design and construction delivery is adapting and advancing.

December 2, 2020

The Universal Language of VDC

Virtual design and construction (VDC) software might not seem like an equivalent to a smartphone translation app, but don’t tell that to DPR Construction’s Peter Schneider. Schneider and his colleagues are wrapping up work on a 10mW data center project near Zurich, Switzerland.

“Most of our trade partners speak Portuguese and Italian, most of the project management on this project speaks German or English,” Schneider said, “but everyone speaks VDC. Having a 4-D model of the project means everyone is looking at the same thing, no matter what language they speak.”

In fact, leveraging technology tools has yielded several benefits for the team on this 194,000-sq.ft. (18,000-sq.-m) facility for a global technology firm.

“In the data center sector, time-to-market is important,” Schneider said. “Often, the customer wants work to start before design is completed. VDC tools helps us get to a constructable design that can be built in a more efficient manner.”

Two DPR workers in a jobsite office review a digital model of their project on a wall-mounted screen.
VDC tools gave everyone the site a common language that increased efficiency. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

For the Zurich project, VDC also enabled a more efficient sequencing of the building envelope, mechanical/electrical/plumbing (MEP) elements and the structural steel needed to support that equipment.

“There was a challenge of getting a trade partner to perform his work within a certain time frame,” said Alex Hood, a DPR superintendent. “VDC visualizations helped the entire team buy into a sequenced approach that got each trade started as work areas were ready for them. It was a significant schedule savings and, again, VDC was the language that got everyone aligned.”

Two other tech tools have worked together to verify as-built conditions: laser scanning and StructionSite.

On this project, for example, more than 1,800 pictures of ongoing progress have been uploaded to the StructionSite platform in real time, a significant efficiency compared to old methods of file-by-file uploading. And, in 2020, there are added benefits.

“It really helped us with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Schneider said. “People could have a look at progress while not being able to travel to the site.”

Two DPR workers in the field review pictures on a tablet computer.
Tools like StructionSite and other VDC software enabled more efficiency on site and remote collaboration. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

Between StructionSite and laser scanning, the team was also able to check as-built conditions and identify if there were any issues with elements such as MEP penetrations and more. Another way it helped is to have an idea where the openings for MEP equipment in as-built conditions were vs. plan.

“Anyone who has ever put together certain pieces of furniture knows how visualizations make all the difference,” said Schneider. “VDC served that role on this project, creating alignment among every project partner that language alone couldn’t have.”

November 24, 2020

Don't Pull a Griswold: Decorate Safely with Jobsite Tips

A graphic of a person on a ladder decorating for the holidays over their lit fireplace as a snowman looks in from a window.
Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

Everyone has ended up in a sticky safety situation because of excitement or being in a rush. Perhaps no one has been there more than holiday antihero, Clark W. Griswold, whose family’s festive activities featured in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation ran the gamut from setting a Christmas tree on fire to a variety of ladder mishaps, resulting in Clark sliding down his gabled roof and hanging from the gutter, sending an icicle through his neighbor’s window and Clark making an unceremonious landing in a snow-covered bush.

Clark (and his whole family) would have benefited from safety tips from a company that holds safety as a value, informing the way it operates every single day. In other words, the approach DPR Construction’s Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) professionals put to work on complex jobsites every day could have helped Clark.

Clark was lucky. In fact, the Consumer Products Safety Commission says that there are nearly 18,000 emergency room visits from holiday decorating every year! Planning like a construction pro, though, means the typical household tree decorator or light stringer can avoid trips to the ER.

“We work at height every day,” said John Hogan, one of DPR’s EHS leaders. “We know how to handle hazardous energy and fire hazards. It’s the table stakes of doing construction work and the best practices we follow on the jobsite can certainly keep people healthy and safe at home.”


Graphic of a person decorating on a ladder with a quote from TJ Lyons from the blog post.
Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

“We always say ‘ladders last,” said DPR’s T.J. Lyons, another one of the firm’s safety leaders. “The best first step is seeing if you can use something more stable than a ladder to work from height. For us, that means things like scissor lifts. In many households, though, a ladder is the choice and that means being extremely vigilant.

The CPSC says the majority of holiday ER visits come from falls and those tend to involve ladders. If you must use a ladder, Lyons recommends these steps for household ladder use:

  • Inspect your ladder and ensure it is securely placed on the ground before climbing it
  • When on the ladder, keep your body inside the ladder frame. If you find yourself stretching off to reach, you need to climb down and move the ladder.
  • Moving a ladder? Don’t “hop” the ladder Griswold-style. Climb down, maintaining three points of connection with the ladder and only move the ladder once on the ground.
  • Never stand on the top two ladder rungs.
  • Know where electricity comes into your house from the pole and keep your ladder far from it.


Graphic of a lit fireplace with decorations and a John Hogan quote from the blog.
Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

From the kitchen to the living room, the holidays bring fire hazards. The CPSC says that, from 2014 to 2016, there were about 100 Christmas tree fires and about 1,100 candle fires that resulted in 10 deaths, 150 injuries, and nearly $50 million in property damage each of those years. There are also thousands of cooking fires every year related to holiday cooking.

“On the jobsite, we believe the best way to stop a fire is not having one,” Hogan says. “Taking the steps to make sure one never starts is as important as making sure you have a fire extinguisher ready to go.”

Among other steps Hogan recommends are:

  • Water live Christmas trees daily and make sure that electrical cords and lights are in good condition.
  • More than half of home decorations fires are started by candles, so:
    • If using candles for decorating, in a menorah or kinara, making sure they are far from flammable items and never leave them unattended.
    • When possible, try using battery-operated candles instead.
  • Keep combustible materials at least three feet from heat sources (e.g. fireplaces, space heaters.)
  • Never use propane or gas heaters that are made for outdoor use inside the house.


Graphic of a lit Christmas Tree and linked electrical cords.
Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

Most homeowners do not work around the types of electrical hazards construction workers do. But, even the smaller sources of household electricity are enough to be fatal or to cause a fire.

“You don’t get time to negotiate with hazardous energy,” Hogan said. “We also have a lot of electrical cord protocols that serve as best practices in any household.”

Hogan recommended starting with the basics:

  • Make sure electrical decorations are labeled with approval from Underwriters Laboratory (UL), which should be clearly displayed on the tag and indicates the product has been inspected for potential safety hazards
    • Red UL marks mean the lights are safe for indoor/outdoor use
    • Green UL marks mean the lights are only safe indoors
  • Use heavy duty extension cords that are designed for outdoor use for exterior decorations.
  • Just like on a jobsite, inspect cords for frayed wires or cracks and replace any damaged cords.
  • Do not “daisy chain” extension cords and do not overload circuits.
  • Keep lights away from flammable surfaces such as drapes, furniture or carpeting
  • Turn the lights off when not at home or overnight
  • Eliminate slip and trip hazards by placing cords and decorations in low-traffic areas. Also, do not run cords under doors where they may get crushed and never over the sharp edges of a gutter.