Jay Weisberger


October 4, 2019

Supporting Apprenticeship in the Carolinas

DPR Construction's projects don’t just build themselves. Our craft employees and subcontractors make amazing things happen on site every day, but the need to recruit a new generation of people to the trades is vital.

At Wake Tech, in the heart of North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, DPR’s sponsorship of the university’s apprenticeship program is just one of the ways we aim to support a sustainable, skilled workforce. Watch the video to learn more.

September 20, 2019

Data-Driven Decisions

It seemed like a given: renovating a 1980s office space to achieve Net-Zero Energy (NZE) use would require additional insulation. But the team designing and building DPR Construction’s new Washington, D.C. regional office had three prior DPR NZE offices' worth of data to lean on as they worked.

The first estimate of the insulation cost was $130,000. However, deeper examination and a subsequent comparison of energy models with and without insulation demonstrated only a $460 per year savings with insulation.

"The payback was never!" according to DPR’s Chris Gorthy, who helped lead the project. The 20,000-sq.-ft. office is not only tracking for NZE certification, but also achieved LEED® Platinum and WELL™ Gold certifications.

The data meant that, instead of a costly upgrade for a negligible return, DPR made a better investment by buying another solar panel for that cost and more than offset the minimal insulation loss.

Such is the power of data. When it comes to high-performance buildings, DPR is working on more fronts than ever to collect data that can mean returns for customers. For the D.C. office, data was key for decisions, from the best ways to incorporate daylighting to the selection of the mechanical system.

Located in Reston, VA, DPR’s D.C. office is one of many “Living Laboratories” created to push the boundaries of what’s possible. DPR is using data from these projects to inform future projects, both for the company and customers. With billions of square feet of office park space of a similar age, the right data could mean more affordable ways to extend the lifespan of the buildings while also operating at leading edge energy and water efficiency.

Reston interior view
Located in Reston, VA, DPR’s D.C. office is one of many "Living Laboratories" created to push the boundaries of what’s possible. Photo courtesy of Hochlander Davis photography

"The construction industry has so many metrics, but the overall quality of available data is low," said Kaushal Diwan, who leads innovation for DPR. "We want to change that so we can deliver more value to customers, new possibilities for existing buildings and, ultimately, more predictable outcomes across the project lifecycle."

This is especially true with high-performing buildings and the trend toward healthy workspaces, including those seeking WELL certification.

Building WELL

"During procurement for the new Charlotte office of architect Little [Diversified] in uptown Charlotte, NC, we had to comb through a ton of products," said DPR’s Ryan Poole. "There was an emphasis on locally-sourced wood, as well as materials that met WELL requirements. Now, we have a tool that can expedite that process, combining data from across geographies to streamline procurement."

While there are tools for data on the front end of a project, real-time building performance data can inform decisions for customers.

"Actual data on building operations in a variety of climates could be incredibly valuable," said DPR’s Greg Amon. "There is a big opportunity with live tracking abilities to see where there are spikes in energy usage and how we can mitigate them. That information will be actionable for many of our customers in similar facilities."

That should have near-term benefits for building performance, but the opportunities a few years out are even more exciting. For example, as buildings aim to apply artificial intelligence (AI), those sorts of metrics can help build smarter AI systems.

"There is great potential for data to lead to new ways buildings are operated and maintained," Diwan said. "But building an AI platform that can fulfill ‘intelligent’ decisions takes having good data. The systems we’re starting to implement in our Living Labs provide a basis for that next step."

Building a Data Set

Ultimately, data will change the way buildings are designed, built and used.

"Think about a university classroom building," Diwan said. "If it’s only occupied and used eight hours a day, but lit 16 hours and climate-controlled 24 hours, that’s a lot of inefficient use. Using campus-wide building usage data could show when and how different buildings are used. All of that together could change how we design and build for those places."

PV panels atop DPR's office in Reston, Virginia
DPR's D.C. office features a rooftop photovoltaic array. Photo courtesy of ©Judy Davis / Hoachlander Davis Photography

https://www.dpr.com/assets/cas...For DPR, those changes start with its Living Labs. Lessons from the D.C. regional office—which built on knowledge from offices in San Francisco, San Diego and Phoenix—have already informed decisions at new spaces for DPR in Austin and Sacramento.

"It’s not good enough to wait for the market to build the data set for us," Poole said. "If we want to truly deliver high-performance buildings at market rates, we need to be the pioneers. The tools we’re putting in place will get us there."

A Living Lab is buildable, usable, sustainable and operable. With its new D.C. office, how did DPR realize each?

Buildable: The team chose to forgo an expensive insulation upgrade—which according to living lab data wouldn’t have penciled out—and instead invested in an extra solar panel.

Usable: Employees were surveyed to ensure that features and spaces were configured to meet the needs of the team working in and using the space.

Sustainable: The building showcases dozens of sustainable and cradle-to-cradle materials to demonstrate quality and test their durability over time—like the four different concrete floor finishes used throughout the space.

Operable: Real-time analysis and monitoring systems, as well as dashboards, help users see water usage and energy usage/generation.

To learn more about the sustainable building strategies and office features that helped DPR earn WELL Gold, LEED Platinum, and NZE certifications, click here.

July 17, 2019

New Workday Headquarters Opens in Pleasanton, California

Fast-growing enterprise software company Workday, Inc. celebrated the completion of its new 410,000-sq.-ft., corporate headquarters in Pleasanton, California this spring. Leaders from the City of Pleasanton, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), Workday, and the DPR-led project team were among those who gathered for the May 13 ribbon-cutting ceremony, marking the official opening of the innovative, transit-friendly project that has been hailed as a state-of-the-art building.

The new Workday headquarters in Pleasanton, California.
The new Workday HQ connects employees to the community. Photo courtesy of Workday

Located just steps from the West Dublin/Pleasanton BART station, the architecturally striking, six-story structure ranks as the tallest office building in Pleasanton. It will house some 2,200 Workday employees by August, mostly from the company’s product and technology team. A focal point of Workday’s 10-building Pleasanton campus, it also houses a new 16,000-sq.-ft. Workday Customer Center slated to open later this summer.

Workday leadership and community members cut the ribbon for the building.
Local officials joined Workday leadership and the project team to cut the ribbon. Photo courtesy of Workday

Local Partnerships Aid Development

From the outset, Workday was committed to creating a transit-oriented development that would attract potential employees from around the Bay Area, including San Francisco and Oakland. The company forged strong ties with BART and the City of Pleasanton to develop a project that benefited both the local community and Workday employees.

A green space walkway, featuring native California plants, connects the BART station with the new headquarters building. Similar pathways connect the headquarters building with existing buildings on the company’s Pleasanton campus.

Workday Co-Founder and CEO Aneel Bhusri hailed the “strong partnerships” between Workday and the City of Pleasanton and BART during an address at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “We’ve created a place that is an extension of our culture and brand, one that is built for continued innovation and one that reflects how our employees want to work and build products for the future,” he said.

“Workday had a very specific vision for this project and we worked to ensure we were aligned throughout the project,” said DPR’s Karri Sieler, a senior project manager. “It was a great example of how the things we build – and how we meet expectations for a project – are core to our customers’ businesses.”

One interior area of the new Workday HQ.
A variety of interior environments are designed to support employees. Photo courtesy of Workday

Core Values on Display

Designed by Gensler Architects, the new headquarters building draws inspiration from Workday’s core values of innovation, and fun in support of the company’s number one asset -- its employees. It provides an ideal environment for software development with plenty of open spaces, entire walls made of whiteboards, new high-tech tools like video walls and digital whiteboards, and four great rooms that provide comfortable spaces for large groups to gather.

Numerous other amenities support the fun, collaborative environment, including:

  • An open-air amphitheater with seating for 1,500 people along with a large grassy area suitable for outdoor games;
  • A “Data Diner” café complete with a 12,000-pound pizza oven and an “XpressO” coffee bar;
  • Two spacious second floor balconies that allow employees to enjoy fresh air while they work;
  • Wellness rooms with treadmills, amenity rooms for therapeutic services, showers and lockers;
  • Large game rooms on each floor;
  • Two dog runs where employees of the pet-friendly company can bring their dogs to run around and play throughout the day.

The building incorporates a highly sustainable design that is targeting LEED® Platinum certification. Among the green features: a large 865-kw solar array that provides up to one-third of the building’s electricity, an innovative onsite greywater recycling system designed to save up to 720,000 gallons of water each year, and a “cool roof” to mitigate the urban heat island effect.

Interior of the new Workday HQ
DPR self perform work crews performed a signficant portion of the project, including concrete visible throughout the project. Photo courtesy of Workday

DPR Sets Self-Perform Concrete Record

Constructed as a fully cast-in-place concrete structure, Workday tapped DPR’s self-perform concrete skills early in the building of its new headquarters. To support the 3-ft-thick concrete core walls that rise seven stories to the roof, the DPR team needed to build a thick mat foundation – leading to DPR’s largest self-performed concrete pour in company history. Over the course of 12 hours in May 2017, workers poured 4,800 cubic yards of concrete, which was reinforced with 1.2 million pounds of rebar.

The team poured as many as 500 cubic yards of concrete per hour – ultimately pouring enough concrete to fill one-and-a-half Olympic size swimming pools, or 3.7 million 2-liter bottles of soda.

Self-performing that structural concrete portion of the job enabled DPR to set the tone and pace for the job, and to keep a firm handle on quality control.

From planning and partnering to construction completion, the end result is a building that has garnered accolades on several fronts, including from Workday Co-President and CFO Robynne Sisco. “We’re extremely grateful to the City of Pleasanton and BART for their partnership,” she commented. “It’s because of their partnership in addition to our work with the building’s general contractor, DPR Construction, the architect and designer, Gensler, and literally hundreds of additional vendors that we’ve been able to make our beautiful new headquarters a reality.”

October 8, 2018

Advancing a Paradigm Shift in Construction at LCI Congress

DPR's Mike Cummings and Banner Health's Aaron Zeligman discuss what will be most important for the end users of the project.
DPR's Mike Cummings and Banner Health's Aaron Zeligman discuss what will be most important for the end users of the project. Photo courtesy of Mindy Gray

How can contractors and their partners collaborate with customers to deliver projects more efficiently? Or change the way all stakeholders approach projects to drive success? Those topics are the core of what DPR and its partners will discuss in six presentations at the 20th annual LCI Congress, the flagship event of the Lean Construction Institute (LCI), Oct. 15-19 in Orlando, Florida.

The paradigm shift is being advanced through a focus on jobsite culture, better alignment with customer expectations and leveraging technology in new ways. By breaking free of traditional workflows, new efficiencies can be realized leading to benefits for all project stakeholders.

Three of DPR's six presentations are discussed below. To learn more, click on the section headlines and view videos detailing the topics.

Matching Methods with Culture

When it comes to safety, we know procedures and protocols won’t prevent incidents unless a strong jobsite culture of caring and risk rejection exists. Similarly, all the tools of Lean, from kaizen to pull planning, will be limited in their effectiveness without the right culture. True commitment to continuous improvement, for instance, requires trust in your teammates and a sense of a shared goal that’s bigger than one’s self.

DPR’s Daniel Berger understood that his customer at HCA Northwest Hospital Medical Center in Margate, Florida wanted the project team to share its Lean goals. He knew, though, that simply executing Lean methods would only take the team so far.

“For the last 10 years, there’s been such a focus when it comes to Lean construction on things like ‘what can we prefab?’ and ‘what can we do more efficiently,’” Berger said. “We’ve lost track of the soft skills and what those can accomplish on the job and how those skills can help build a culture that supports the Lean process.”

At LCI Congress, Berger and DPR’s customer, HCA, will discuss how they worked together to achieve results. The key was creating a team that hold one another accountable and can thrive during the “tough” conversations that take place during any project. They will also discuss how planning took a whole-project approach rather than being individual scope-specific, how productivity and safety performance improved vs. baselines, and how, once the project is completed in 2019, the culture will continue on future projects.

Aligning Lean Approaches with Customers

When DPR’s team in Phoenix completed the first phase of a large hospital project for Banner Health, it achieved zero defects. Why fix what’s not broken for the second phase? The customer shifted its approach to quality by focusing on Distinguishing Features of Work (DFOW) that were closely associated with the end use of the building and patient care, building a Lean program to support them.

“When people think of quality, they think of aesthetics,” said DPR’s Mike Cummings, who is presenting at LCI Congress. “For Banner, it’s the functionality of those things and how they come together and how they will eventually affect their patients.”

As a result, the entire project team shifted its approach to focus on DFOW and saw fantastic results. For example, work on elevator lobbies (a DFOW) included eight RFIs prior to work starting and zero once work was under way. Trade partners saw increased productivity, too. The team originally planned for 53 days of elevator lobby work, but by aligning around DFOW resulted in only 32 days of work—all with zero defects. Similar improvements were achieved across the project because of increased communication and focus on what was important for all stakeholders.

Technology as a Time Machine

The Lean method of a gemba walk involves going out in the field to see the work and collaborating with partners to address a specific issue in production or key performance indicator. But what if the work doesn't exist yet and won’t be for another year? Easy: use a time machine.

“With 4-D, we can now collaborate more efficiently with our partners to deliver predictable results,” said DPR’s Charlie Dunn. “You can deliver much faster, so you can get a drug to market sooner or a hospital to treat patients earlier.”

Essentially, technology has unlocked the ability for partners to virtually walk through a job site far in advance of the work being put into place. Teams can gain a common understanding of the challenges of a dynamic construction environment, viewing it differently than the fixed nature of an assembly line. As a result, stakeholders can test strategies and make mistakes early—and virtually—while avoiding expensive problems that traditionally emerge after crews have mobilized.

At the 2018 LCI Congress, DPR and its partners will show how this is working to improve delivery of a large project in Orlando. Using 4-D eliminates waste throughout the delivery process and illustrates how we’re utilizing innovative technology with exciting visualizations that promise to alter the way we construct in the future.