A building is more than just a place with people in it. Across industries—whether it’s where you work, where you bank, or where you stay—the built environment can inspire creativity, security and comfort. This thought drives us in settings of all shapes and sizes as we partner with small businesses and global enterprises alike.

May 14, 2018

DPR’s Self-Perform Teams in Spotlight at Third+Shoal Project in Austin

The recent topping out of the 30-story Third+Shoal project in Austin, TX marked the first time in company history that DPR self-performed all formwork and concrete work on a vertical high-rise structure.

exterior rendering
Photo courtesy of Gensler

Located in Austin’s booming new downtown business district, the 392,000-sq.-ft. Class-A office building is DPR’s first for Texas-based development partners Cielo Property Group and TIER REIT. Facebook will be the building’s primary tenant after the project completes this fall.

Working on a highly collaborative team with the clients (TIER REIT, Cielo Property Group, and BRDS), Gensler and other key firms, DPR was challenged during preconstruction to seek creative ways to save cost and time while maintaining the highest level of quality in design and construction. Together with structural engineer, Cardno Haynes-Whaley, the team devised a new approach for the tower. They transitioned from the originally designed pan slab and post-tensioned (P/T) girder on all floors to a P/T slab and beam in garage levels, and flat slab and P/T beams in the office level. The revised approach was more efficient to build and offers more aesthetic flexibility for tenants who want open space or exposed ceiling type finishes.

Cost, Time Savings
DPR was awarded the $25 million contract to perform all formwork and concrete work on the project with in-house crews. The resulting savings to the owner were substantial–shaving over $2 million from the budget and approximately two months from the schedule.

“We worked with the structural engineer to redesign the entire structure around the formwork system that was different than what most of the players in the market use,” said DPR’s Andrea Weisheimer. The modified formwork system allowed the concrete work to be installed faster and more efficiently, but proved far more complex to design and construct.

“Literally nothing on the entire 25,000-sq.-ft. floorplate is flat,” said DPR’s Kyle Weisheimer. “Everything is at a varying degree of slope or even cross slope. Building that kind of formwork is extremely complicated. The fact that we self-performed the formwork on one of the more complicated structures you will find, and did it successfully, is kind of a badge of pride if you will and speaks to our core value of innovation and thinking outside the box.”

Photo courtesy of Mario Villeda Photography

Fundamental Delineator
Approximately 55 DPR craftsmen self-performed the concrete formwork and installation of 35,000 cubic yards of concrete on the project, in addition to waterproofing and specialty construction product work. All totaled, DPR has delivered nearly 30 percent of the overall project with in-house forces. “With our in-house services, we can engage from the start and not have to rely on what can be an overwhelmed subcontractor market on some projects,” noted Kyle Weisheimer.

To help successfully deliver the self-perform formwork on the Third+Shoal project, DPR tapped the expertise and knowledge base of vConstruct, which specializes in providing virtual design and construction services, on the latest BIM platforms.

“We used vConstruct heavily on this job to help us coordinate and understand what we were building before we built it,” said Kyle Weisheimer. “We were able to leverage that in-house resource to take on an endeavor that we really hadn’t done before, and to do it successfully.”

Paul Byrne, director of construction at Cielo, said DPR’s ability to undertake the largescale self-perform contract delivered big benefits to the project’s bottom line.

“By having self-perform capabilities, DPR offers the expertise of a true builder on every project,” Byrne commented. “We saw this on the Third+Shoal project with concrete operations; from the onset, the team worked collaboratively through a target value design approach to yield the most effective solution given cost and schedule constraints.”

Collaborative Mindset
In addition to the project team’s strong technical design and construction know-how and their willingness to innovate, the owner, design and construction team share a collaborative mindset that helped drive the project forward since it began in 2015, according to Andrea Weisheimer. “It’s been a collective team effort to constantly look at ways to improve what we’re doing,” she said. “The goal is to have a beautiful building, but to do it a lot faster and a lot leaner. Our collaboration tools on this project really have made that possible.”

Greg Brooke, senior vice president of development with TIER REIT, pointed to that spirit of collaboration and teamwork as key success factors on a project that is now just months from completion this fall. “The DPR team we’re working with has a very strong teamwork and problem-solving mentality, and we could not be happier with the result so far,” he said. “When things come up, the team usually comes back with an appropriate and cost-effective recommendation.”

“The fact of DPR self-performing the work, really it’s seamless,” Brooke added. “I think we all row in the same direction. I think we’re going to finish this on time, on budget. It’s a huge success for us.”

April 18, 2018

Creative Prefab Strategy Drives Efficiency on Hospitality Projects in Austin

Aloft-Element Hotel
Building upon lessons learned at the Aloft Austin Downtown and Element Austin Downtown hotels (pictured above), White Lodging's Marriott Downtown Austin will take creative use of prefabricated skin panels to the next level. Photo courtesy of Starwood Hotels & Resorts

Building upon prefabrication strategies and lessons learned from the nearby dual-branded Aloft Austin Downtown and Element Austin Downtown hotels, White Lodging’s Marriott Downtown Austin, which broke ground in January, will take the creative use of prefabricated exterior skin panels to the next level. At the Marriott Downtown Austin, prefabricated skin panels will be built with gaskets added to the top and side edges of the panels to create the skin’s first layer of waterproofing and a temporary weather seal to protect the building upon installation.

Scheduled to open in summer 2020, the Marriott Downtown Austin will complement the existing JW Marriott Austin to together provide more than 1,600 rooms and nearly 180,000 sq. ft. of meeting space within two blocks of the convention center.

“The Aloft Austin Downtown and Element Austin Downtown hotels represent how the team creatively overcame the challenges of a tight, downtown jobsite to safely and efficiently deliver a first-of-its-kind dual-branded development for a repeat customer,” said Matt Murphy, who leads DPR’s commercial core market nationally. 

Aloft-Element Hotel
The Aloft and Element hotels are located on a crowded block in the heart of downtown Austin, leaving the team with no laydown space. Photo courtesy of Aero Photo

On a crowded block in the heart of downtown Austin and the city’s renowned 6th Street entertainment district, a 34-story tower is home to both the Aloft and Element hotels, which opened in summer 2017. Surrounded by a theater, adjacent historic hotel, restaurants and shops, the LEED-certified hotels are separate, but share amenities including a terrace, fitness center and meeting space. The 278-room Aloft is aimed at travelers in town for short trips, and the 144-suite Element caters to longer stays with kitchenettes and functional workspaces. On the hotel’s exterior skin, the hotels are differentiated by EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems) plaster panels for Element, and gray metal panels for Aloft.

At many downtown sites, below-grade parking provides much-needed laydown space for the team, but the Aloft and Element hotels do not have any parking onsite above or below ground, and are valet-only for customers. The team heavily scheduled deliveries, forcing themselves to be precise and not make exceptions, because they didn’t have a place to store materials. 

Prefabricated panels
The team heavily scheduled deliveries, forcing themselves to be precise and not make exceptions, because they didn’t have a place to store materials. Photo courtesy of Turner Kerr

Closely collaborating with architect HKS and a Dallas-based prefabrication subcontractor, the team secured early and final design approval to prefabricate the hotel’s panelized skin offsite. In the safe and controlled environment of a warehouse, the team lost no days to weather conditions at the actual jobsite. The panels, built to very precise tolerances, included windows, which were set and sealed while rigged to a forklift. All water testing was also done offsite, enabling the panels to arrive at the jobsite in Austin ready to be installed, caulked at the perimeter joints and waterproofed by DPR’s self-perform work crews.

In a market where construction is booming and there is a high demand for labor, the prefabricated skin allowed the team to use smaller crews on-site, meaning less people on an already crowded downtown jobsite, and less people exposed to fall hazards by working on the leading edge of the building. Safety risks were also mitigated by the fact that workers needed to go up and down the side of the 34-story tower less frequently than they would have if the panels were not completely prefabricated offsite. To install the skin with minimal impact and disruption to neighbors, work was done at night, with small crews installing an average of one floor a week. A traditional installation of one floor of skin typically takes three to four weeks of onsite work, which the team reduced to three nights of onsite install time. 

Prefabricated panels
A traditional installation of one floor of skin typically takes three to four weeks of onsite work, which the team reduced to three nights of onsite install time. Photo courtesy of Turner Kerr

“Aside from schedule savings and greater safety for the workers, the offsite prefabrication reduced the burden put on shared resources onsite, from the single delivery lane to the personnel hoist, aiding every subcontractor onsite,” said DPR’s Nick Sultenfuss. “The hotels were also built with a smaller environmental impact, as the jobsite reduced waste by 10% compared to traditional systems.”

As it brings these creative prefabrication strategies to the Marriott Downtown Austin, not only will the DPR team continue to reshape Austin’s fast-changing skyline, but it will keep innovating and challenging itself to find ways to do it more efficiently.

DPR team photo
As it brings these creative prefabrication strategies to the Marriott Downtown Austin, not only will the DPR team continue to reshape Austin’s fast-changing skyline, but it will keep innovating and challenging itself to find ways to do it more efficiently. Photo courtesy of Nick Sultenfuss

February 27, 2018

Breaking Ground on The Foundry, DPR’s Expanded Austin Office

Exterior rendering of The Foundry.
Part of The Foundry, a mixed-use project, will become DPR's new regional office space in Austin. Photo courtesy of Sixthriver Architects

DPR recently broke ground on The Foundry, a mixed-use project for Cielo Property Group in East Austin designed by Sixthriver Architects. Thirty thousand sq. ft. of its workspace will become DPR’s new Austin office, bringing the team closer to projects and customers downtown. Building great things in Texas since 1994, DPR’s staff in Austin has grown by 50% since 2015, causing the team to outgrow its current office space.

“We were looking for office space and Cielo was looking for a contractor to build the building as well as a tenant, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to extend an already successful partnership,” said DPR’s Matt Hoglund, member of DPR’s management committee who leads operations in the central region. “The location is ideal for a number of reasons, including providing us with an opportunity to create an environment where our employees will be able to take advantage of green space and other amenities.”

The Foundry is aiming for net-zero energy certification as well as WELL Certification. Photo courtesy of Sixthriver Architects

With its interior designed by IA Interior Architects, DPR’s office at The Foundry is aiming to become one of the first commercial office spaces in Austin to earn net-zero energy certification from the International Living Future Institute, meaning it will produce as much or more energy as it consumes. It also aims to become one of the first spaces in Austin to earn WELL Certification from the International WELL Building Institute, a designation that recognizes buildings that improve health and human experience through design.

“This project is all about creating an office space that promotes wellness for our employees and at the same time ensures the building is efficient,” Hoglund said. “That is the reason we plan to seek the WELL Building Certification, which includes everything from the food brought in for employees to access to fitness programs.”

Opening in spring 2019, The Foundry will become not only a great place to work, but serve as DPR’s home in Austin for years to come. 

The team recently began excavating the site as it works toward The Foundry's spring 2019 opening. Photo courtesy of Mark Oliver

July 6, 2017

DPR Completes Its Largest Ever Self-Performed Concrete Pour

To avoid traffic disruptions, the team began the concrete pour at 4 a.m. Photo courtesy of Everett Rosette

On a Saturday morning this spring, Jon Shores and about 70 members of the DPR team rose much earlier than the sun and headed to a leading enterprise software company’s campus in Pleasanton, California. They positioned 15 light towers around the site to illuminate what would become DPR’s largest ever self-performed concrete pour. 

The 410,000-sq.-ft. commercial office space will become the company’s corporate headquarters when it is completed in 2019, and is a full cast-in-place concrete structure, unique in an area where most buildings are made of structural steel. The cast-in-place concrete structure will help foster a look and feel of structural, exposed concrete from a design perspective and reduce vibrations in the building for user comfort. To support the 3-foot thick concrete core walls that rise from the mat foundation all the way up seven stories to the roof, the team needed to build a thick mat foundation, as unique as the building it will hold up. 

Approximately 70 DPR team members worked closely together to coordinate the pour of 4,800 cubic yards of concrete, using 1.2 million pounds of rebar. Photo courtesy of Everett Rosette

In 11 hours, DPR coordinated the pour of 4,800 cubic yards of concrete, reinforced with 1.2 million pounds of rebar. The foundation is notably 6 feet 6 inches thick in its center, and about 5 feet thick around the perimeter. Although the project is a large structure, the construction site itself is relatively small, bordered by a highway, a mall and a BART station.

The DPR team set up its own traffic control system to manage the nearby mall traffic and make sure the commercial hub and its shoppers were not affected by the 480 truckloads of concrete coming in and out of the site all day. The pour was serviced by four on-site concrete pumps and four concrete plants based in Pleasanton, Hayward, Oakland and Martinez. Because of the sheer volume of concrete needed for the foundation, the team was pouring as many as 500 cubic yards of concrete per hour. By the end of the day, the team had poured enough concrete to fill one and a half Olympic-size swimming pools, or 3.7 million 2-liter bottles of soda. 

The team poured as many as 500 cubic yards of concrete per hour. Photo courtesy of Everett Rosette

“We were able to pull this off because of the strength of the team we have on site, including our highly skilled craftspeople and their dedication to quality and safety,” said Shores. “Self-performing structural concrete allows us to set the tone and pace for the job and ultimately allows us to deliver a quality product to our customer.”

11 hours after that dark, early morning, the team celebrated the major milestone, as the successful completion of the mat foundation cleared the way to begin vertical construction on the core walls. Eventually 600 lineal feet of walls will rise above the mat, as the team continues to build great things–from the ground up. 

11 hours later, the team celebrated completing the milestone, and will continue to build great things–from the ground up. Photo courtesy of Everett Rosette

October 22, 2015

ENR’s Annual Sourcebook: Rankings, Trends and Industry Insights

Recently, Engineering-News Record (ENR)—a publication often referred to as the “bible” of the construction industry—published its Sourcebook for 2015 (subscription needed for link). The results show that the U.S. construction industry is generally moving in the right direction. ENR Sourcebook supplements the initial Top 400 list, which is published in June.

Slow but steady growth seems to be the overall market tempo, according to ENR. 

As a whole, ENR described 2014 (the source year for its 2015 rankings) as a “pretty good year” that saw contracting revenue increasing 2.4% from 2013 to a sum total of $331.94 billion for the Top 400 U.S. builders. In addition to the rankings, the ENR Sourcebook offers a wealth of industry insight and analysis on the growth drivers, market movements and current challenges facing our industry. Among the trends this year: Doing more with less.  

In its analysis of the booming office sector, ENR quoted DPR’s Mike Ford who noted that the strong cycle in the office market sector is expected to continue for at least three years. “All of our [geographic] markets in office are strong right now,” Ford said. Last year, DPR more than doubled its national revenues in the commercial office market from the year prior, thanks to a boom in that sector and supported by our expertise in helping clients meet and exceed their green and sustainable building needs, among other things.

For DPR’s part, we continue a multi-year trend of being ranked among the top five to ten percent or so of U.S. construction firms by overall volume on the ENR’s annual Top 400 Contractors List. Holding steady with the year prior, in 2015 we again came in at spot #21, backed by $2.66 billion in 2014 revenue.

DPR also was ranked on a number of market specific sub-lists that were called out within both the ENR 2015 Sourcebook and the Top 400 list. Among these, we were ranked:

  • #3 in Pharmaceuticals
  • #6 in Data Centers
  • #7 in Commercial Office 
  • #8 in Healthcare  
  • #8 in Telecommunications
  • #9 in Aerospace
  • #11 in Green Building Contractors
  • #16 on the Top 50 contractors by volume in the General Building category
  • #18 in Industrial Process
  • #20 in Hotels, Motels, and Convention Centers
  • #32 in Manufacturing

While ENR’s annual Sourcebook offers a chance to “check out the numbers," at DPR, we understand that our most important measures of success include how satisfied our clients are, how predictable our project outcomes are, and how much we are pushing our project practices “ever forward.” 

Our 25 year anniversary offers the chance to reflect not just on all the projects we've delivered since 1990 (as shown in the image below)—but more significantly, how we continuously work to create and sustain highly satisfied customers along the way.

*This blog post is part of a series that celebrates DPR's silver anniversary and focuses on 25 great things from the company from over 25 years. Here's the last one. Follow #DPR25 on social media to learn more.

February 4, 2015

Tracking Green at Space Designed for Net-Zero Energy

At DPR's San Francisco office-—which is designed for net-zero energy—it's all about collecting data and using it for optimization. Like each DPR green/net-zero energy building before it, DPR will use the collected building data to improve the next space. 

The office uses 3 primary data collection and building management technologies, which include:

  • Integrated Honeywell building management system—the “brains” of the building;
  • Lucid Building Dashboard®— the key energy use “benchmarking” tool; and
  • LEED Dynamic Plaque™—a new technology that tracks LEED certification. 

Learn more about how DPR is using these technologies to optimize the high-performing building in this article.

DPR's office is one of the earliest adopters piloting the new LEED Dynamic Plaque™. Photo Credit: Lyzz Schwegler

December 16, 2014

ENR Picks Net-Zero Energy Office as Project of the Year

“A beautifully done project that pushed existing technology.”

That’s how one of the Engineering News-Record (ENR) judges described ENR’s Northern California Project of the Year and Best Green Project: DPR’s net-zero energy designed office in San Francisco.

The team with the award at the ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Andrea Walker)

There were 140 total entries for ENR California’s Best Project Award. Judges evaluated projects on five distinct criteria:

  1. Overcoming challenges and teamwork
  2. Safety
  3. Innovation & contribution to the industry/community
  4. Construction quality & craftsmanship
  5. Function & aesthetic quality of design

Along with DPR as the builder, the design and consulting team included FME Architecture + Design, Integral Group, Paradigm Structural Engineers, Inc., Decker Electric, Anderson, Row & Buckley, Inc. and 58 other essential partners.

In five months, the team researched, designed, permitted and built the highly-efficient, 24,000-sq.-ft. modern workplace with a number of sustainability features, including the LEED Dynamic Plaque. DPR’s office and the U.S. Green Building Council’s headquarters in Washington, DC, are the first two to use the LEED Dynamic Plaque, which is a building performance monitoring and scoring platform.

Watch the videos below, which explain DPR's net-zero energy designed office and its LEED Dynamic Plaque.

September 28, 2014

Digital Project Resonates with Technology-Driven Owner

Digital projects are a growing trend around the country, and recently DPR completed its first in Florida. The 80,000-sq.-ft. headquarters for Carley Corporation, a training and technology solutions company, is owned by SWAMP 1. The project was completely digitally managed, saving the owner time and money despite the challenging, swampy Florida terrain.

The team primarily collaborated through the cloud, which also facilitated digital turnover and archiving, and used BIM 360 Glue on iPads in the field, laser scanning, and digital lean tools such as Last Planner. 

“When DPR said they were going to run this whole job electronically, I thought, a lot of companies say that; they don’t really do it,” Carley’s Chief Information Officer Jeremy Good said. “But in this case, it was true.”

See the full story on the SWAMP 1 project in the latest edition of the DPR Review.

July 17, 2014

Topping Out in Downtown Austin

Photo courtesy of Bernadette Donato

The team on the new Colorado Tower office building in downtown Austin celebrated a major milestone this month. Roughly 330 construction workers, developers, architects and engineers turned out for a traditional topping-out ceremony, watching from the 20th floor as the final 30-foot steel beam was hoisted to the top of the new tower. In keeping with the topping out tradition, an evergreen tree, an American flag and a Texas state flag were perched on top of the beam, which was decorated with colorful autographs of employees and construction crew.

DPR thanked the subcontractors and construction crew for their long hours of hard work and dedication. Jason Frost, vice president of developer Cousins Properties, Inc., also spoke. He thanked DPR for keeping the project on target for completion in December 2014.

This 30-story, 775,000-sq.-ft. Class-A office building and parking garage will include 10,000-sq.-ft. of ground floor retail, 372,000-sq.-ft. of rentable office space and a 12-level, 880-space parking structure. The building is designed to an Austin Energy Green Building Two Star rating.

May 28, 2014

San Francisco Office Makes Big Green Move—First Net-Zero Energy Office in the City

It really is greener on the other side of the street—or in this case a few blocks away.

DPR’s San Francisco office made a big move this month from its long-time home on Sansome Street to a new net-zero-designed space at 945 Front Street. Recently featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, the office space is on track to be the first net zero office in San Francisco and one of only a handful in the nation.

Lobby of DPR's new San Francisco office featuring a living wall (Photo: Drew Kelly)

While the previous DPR San Francisco digs were LEED certified, this new space pushes green building further. The office boasts a host of unique green solutions, including recycled products throughout, dynamic glass that tints to let in the appropriate amount of light, fans to circulate air, and solar panels to convert San Francisco’s sunlight to power, which should generate more electricity than the building needs—about a third of the amount that a typical San Francisco office building uses—to run comfortably over the next year.

For more features and details read the full press release.