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.

February 25, 2020

Houston's recenter hits VDC, prefab and self-perform trifecta

A rendering of the recenter rehabilitation and housing complex in Houston, Texas. Photo courtesy of Brave Architecture

A Texas project is the latest example of the value and efficiency delivered when Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) is paired with digital prefabrication.

A rehabilitation facility located in Houston, Texas, recenter provides non-medical detox, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and housing services to those recovering from addiction. Through its “Hope, Healing, Home” approach, recenter provides a variety of programs focused on helping individuals find a path toward lifelong, productive sobriety.

recenter is also a hybrid project, employing structural steel for levels one and two, while levels three through five are made up of a structural metal stud wall and floor joist system. Forgoing a traditional approach using conventional steel and concrete, the top floors are comprised of 30,000 sq. ft. of load-bearing, digitally fabricated cold-formed steel structures manufactured by Digital Building Components (DBC). This method of layering levels of steel podium with additional floors of prefabricated walls has not been used previously on a DPR Construction site in the region.

As the builder, DPR leveraged its self-perform work (SPW) expertise and partnership with DBC to recover a month’s worth of weather delays to the project schedule.

Digitally fabricated panel structures were used for levels three through five, forgoing a conventional approach. The structural panels were fabricated by Digital Building Components. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

Digital fabrication, powered by VDC

DBC uses VDC for model coordination. But uniquely, DBC takes the information gathered from the building’s design model to perform digital fabrication. The recenter project team engaged DBC early in the design process to help optimize the design for its digital fabrication software. On DBC’s production line, the software sends everything to the production machines to do the bulk of the work. There is a roll former that bends, cuts and engraves the “kit instructions” on each piece, robotic welders then connect studs with precision, and screw bridges that attach sheathing. The result is zero waste of material, labor and trucking excess scrap.

Leveraging the power of prefabrication and self-perform work

DPR worked with Brave Architecture and The Mathis Group, Inc., to bring recenter to life. The project scope consists of a new five-story 50,573-sq.-ft. mixed-use building complete with a dining room, meeting room, lounge, offices and 62 individual residential units. Outdoor amenities include terraces, porches and a garden roof deck.

DPR’s project superintendent, Brandon Liming, was impressed by the speed of installation. “We were able to dramatically increase production rates to even meet our initial ‘aggressive’ theoretical expectations.”

Liming attributes this success to vigorous preplanning. “Having preparation milestones was the key to success. At every stage, we knew the responsibilities of each crew member--from when the trailer arrived onsite to its departure.”

Working in small groups of two and three, DPR’s eight-person SPW installation team completed the work in 13 days, building on average 2,300 sq. ft. each day--four times faster than conventional building methods and well ahead of DPR’s already rigorous projected schedule of 17 days. DPR also self-performed the concrete and drywall scopes of the building. A variety of trades were able to put their work in place sooner as the result of the accelerated structural schedule.

DPR’s design and owner partners were also impressed with the rapid pace of construction, even though recenter had originally been designed using conventional steel. While the initial decision to pursue prefabrication was driven by scheduling considerations, the project’s overall budget also came in at the same cost as conventional steel.

“By the end of the project they were really surprised and impressed by the total benefits the system provided. They were also now more aware of how the system works so they could design the next one with that approach in mind,” said Dave Kloubec, Texas-based lead for DBC.

Using a digital fabrication and site assembly approach condensed what would have taken up to 60 workers onsite to construct in 3.5 months into mere weeks with only eight workers. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

Delivering results

Importantly, this approach helped expedite the work while maintaining quality, safety and cost. There were zero safety incidents, and the reduced schedule helped reduce risk exposure. Not only did the recenter project team top the daily install average from previous projects, it condensed what would have taken up to 60 workers onsite to construct in 3.5 months into mere weeks with only eight workers. Additionally, leveraging SPW and digital prefabrication helped solve local trade resource deficiencies and avoided trade stacking on an already complicated site with tight access.

January 17, 2020

Trends Affecting Customer Outcomes in 2020

Pressures customers face are changing as their industries evolve. At the same time, construction is employing new technology and delivery methods to address these challenges, all while delivering value for customers.

In that context, some of DPR Construction's core market experts tried to answer this key question for the year ahead: “What’s one thing that will change customer outcomes in 2020?”

John Arcello says that, in 2020, we're putting the data back in data center construction.
Photo courtesy of David Hardman

"Putting data back in data center construction. Customer-specific data analytics, business improvement metrics and collaborative platforms will improve project delivery for our customers, bringing them online faster, no matter where they’re deploying new facilities." - John Arcello

Andrea Weisheimer thinks VDC and Prefabrication will affect the commercial market.
Photo courtesy of David Hardman

"VDC and Prefabrication. Robust VDC programs will let us show tenants and developers spaces sooner, provide synchronized visual schedules so they can see visual plans as we build and help enable virtual quality control programs. VDC and will also enable quality prefabrication that helps guarantee schedule, addressing a key pressure for customers throughout the sector, from offices to hospitality facilities." - Andrea Weisheimer

Hamilton Espinosa thinks contractors will adjust their delivery to help provide value for customers facing thin margins.
Photo courtesy of David Hardman

"Optimizing construction as healthcare providers face reduced operating margins. Reimbursement rates are decreasing and as a result healthcare systems are forced to operate at razor thin operating margins. At the same time, spending on technology is almost equal to normal capital expenditures. Through early design collaboration, lean delivery and prefabrication, we can increase efficiency, maximize value and make sure providers are getting the most ROI both in construction and facility operations." - Hamilton Espinosa

Tracy de Leuw believes design management will be a key factor in 2020.
Photo courtesy of David Hardman

"Collaborative design/build delivery with a focus on design management. With public money/fixed budgets adding pressures to institutions more than ever, owners require cost and schedule certainty. Through the DPR design academy and the use of programmatic estimating and Modelogix, we will show how design management can ensure certainty when all of the moving parts of a project work together." - Tracy de Leuw

Scott Strom sees new ways to lower costs of cleanrooms.
Photo courtesy of David Hardman

"Driving down the cost of cleanrooms in new ways. There are practical modular solutions that address both functional requirements inside of the room along with structural support requirements outside of it. Additionally, design management, minimizing air changes per square foot of manufacturing area and exploring less expensive – yet durable/cleanable – surface materials will provide new ways of delivering these spaces." - Scott Strom

August 20, 2019

DPR Construction’s New Sacramento Office Pushes the Envelope in Sustainable Design

Office Incorporates Material Never Before Used in Sacramento for a Building’s Structure

In an area famed for its fertile farmland, a new type of green initiative has been taking root as DPR Construction puts the finishing touches on its innovative new office space at 1801 J Street in Sacramento. When DPR opens a new office, it aims to forge a new path for sustainability, creating “living labs” to show what is possible in green and healthy workplace design. In Sacramento, DPR is manifesting that by incorporating a material never before used for a building’s structure in the city: mass timber with cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels. A renewable resource, mass timber can be an integral part of a low-carbon development; for this project, it was vital to DPR meeting its goals for sustainable design, as well as achieving LEED® Platinum and WELLTM certification standards.

For its new Sacramento home, DPR purchased an existing property for re-use, adapting it to be net-zero energy. Photo courtesy of Marshall Andrews

In a move that itself demonstrates the “reduce, reuse and recycle” mantra of conservation, DPR purchased an existing property for re-use, utilizing a design by SmithGroup to transform it into DPR’s new Sacramento home. The existing 28,833-sq.-ft. midtown property’s two buildings are targeting Zero Energy Certification (ZNE) from the International Living Future Institute. To achieve ZNE, the office will offset its energy use via on-site photovoltaic solar energy generation and ban the use of any combustibles, relying on electrical energy alone. Key to DPR’s ability to meet sustainable design goals for this project was the incorporation of mass timber construction with cross-laminated timber panels made up of pressed, dried timber boards stacked at right angles and glued together with non-toxic adhesive—a material not previously used in this manner in Sacramento.

Mass timber products are engineered for loads similar in strength to structural materials like concrete and steel, but they allow crews to build tall, with a lighter, natural, low-carbon and high-quality material. This effort sheds light on the possibilities for the region’s aging building stock, and it showcases how incorporating wood in an exciting, sustainable manner can benefit commercial projects.

Wood Elements Deliver Strength, Resiliency While Reducing Carbon Footprint

From a structural perspective, CLT and mass timber elements provide high-strength, resilient systems capable of long spans and significant wind and seismic force resistance. At the time of design review, Sacramento building codes did not yet recognize these systems for use as lateral force-resisting elements, so design teams reached beyond existing codes to demonstrate equivalent or superior performance with CLT. They made use of the many years of research and testing conducted by organizations such as WoodWorks, FP Innovations, ANSI/APA and Structurlam to navigate code, design and construction issues. It is also the first multi-story shear wall application of CLT in the State of California.

Mass timber elements provide high-strength, resilient systems capable of long spans and significant wind and seismic force resistance. Photo courtesy of Marshall Andrews

From a sustainability perspective, mass timber offers even more benefit. Because of its use in this structure, the embodied carbon is estimated to be lower by 170 metric tons than comparable structures using traditional materials. Further, it is estimated that US & Canadian forests grow enough wood for this project in only 12 seconds, highlighting the current availability of wood product. And it’s not just the timber; the building utilizes mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems to reduce energy use vs. baseline by 45%, with 424 photovoltaic panels for an annual production of 265,178 kWh/year. In the sunny Central Valley, this is projected to yield 107% of onsite energy needs annually. A 9.8 kWh battery backup system is included for added resiliency during system outages and to serve as a community hub in the event of natural disaster.

Exposed Timber Provides Unique Connection to Nature

Exposed timber also provided DPR with the opportunity to create a high-end, modern office environment that showcases not only its skill but also its environmental stewardship. Wood elements also accomplish something other building materials cannot—they have the unique ability to connect people to the natural environment. This unique combination of attributes provided advantages not offered by other building systems. The challenge was to make full use of these benefits in a manner most compatible with the existing concrete and masonry structure. It is here that CLT framing became the clear choice.

Overall, the building reduces energy use by 45% and is projected to yield 107% of onsite energy needs annually. Photo courtesy of Marshall Andrews

Mass timber also means the application of interior finish materials is unnecessary, helping to limit the amount of toxic materials present. Exposed wood also brings nature into the space by creating a tactile experience and a healthy indoor air quality. The sense of biophilia, the connections humans subconsciously seek with the rest of life, is reinforced by Solatubes® on the roof to diffuse light and bring in anti-glare, natural light, operable windows that highlight the local microclimate’s Delta Breeze, and material finishes with familiar patterns and textures, such as wood, stone, hexagons, bubbles and wool. The second story terrace engages with the community in the “City of Trees” that is Sacramento, and can be accessed through a new communicating stair from Level 1 to Level 2. The stair uses a CLT landing and old growth Douglas Fir treads and risers.

The unusual application of mass timber in this project pushed the boundaries of what is possible with the material and challenged the entire design and consultant teams. When considering the massing, the perception of the structure in three dimensions, the design concept called for the placement of a distinct pavilion atop the historic building to help define the exterior shape. The use of mass timber as a way to distinguish the pavilion addition from the rest of the existing building created a recognizable stark contrast consistent with the design scheme.

Exposed wood also brings nature into the space by creating a tactile experience and a healthy indoor air quality. Photo courtesy of Marshall Andrews

A Continued Commitment to Sustainable Design

DPR has long been committed to green building and sustainable design, and this project further demonstrates this. Originally constructed in 1940 and renovated in 1993, this adaptive re-use will house the DPR office, with open office seating areas, an active/addressable seating plan, meeting rooms, break rooms, open collaborative areas, focus areas, a training room, lounge spaces and other special use spaces. This design allows DPR to provide leasing opportunities on the ground level, a move that will not only activate J Street but will also connect DPR to the community at large. While the west building is a two-story structure that received extensive interior and exterior improvements, the single-story east building received a full second story addition constructed entirely of mass timber.

As an active member of the US Green Building Council since 1999, DPR has constructed green/LEED™-certified projects for various customers across the nation. In 2003, DPR completed construction of its 52,300-sq.-ft., high-performance office building in Sacramento, a ground-up facility that was designated the first privately owned LEED™ project in the Central Valley.

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.”

May 22, 2019

Top Gun House Straps in for Its Next Mission

It’s not every day that you see a cultural landmark rolling down the street, but that’s exactly what happened to beachgoers in Oceanside, California earlier this month. The “Top Gun House,” a sky blue beach cottage made famous by the 1980s Hollywood blockbuster “Top Gun,” was relocated from its long-time home on palm-lined Pacific Street. It will be restored and prominently featured at a new independently branded beachfront destination resort being built in Oceanside. Developer SD Malkin Properties broke ground on the Oceanside Beach Resort in February.

Located at the hub of Oceanside’s booming renaissance, the 2.75-acre new-build project along Mission Avenue and N. Pacific Street will offer guests immediate beach access and 387 rooms, 85% of which will have water views. The resort will also feature restaurants, bars, pools, a luxury spa, event space and unique retail shops, including the “Top Gun House,” which will be publicly accessible and leased as a bespoke ice cream parlor. Already popular given its historical significance and feature in the classic 1980’s film, the house is expected to garner even more interest after the sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick,” featuring Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer. It is scheduled for release in Summer 2020.

The team plans to undertake basic structural restoration on the building before moving it back to its permanent home on the northern end of the resort, where the finishing touches will be completed.

DPR Construction, general contractor for the project, worked on the house to get it ready for its big move. “It’s amazing how much interest there is in this house,” said Project Executive Whitney Dorn. The project team nailed wood slats to the porch and braced some of the exterior before hoisting it onto the trailer that transported it to its temporary home two blocks away. The team plans to undertake basic structural restoration on the building before moving it back to its permanent home on the northern end of the resort, where the finishing touches will be completed.

The cottage was originally known as the Graves House and was built in1887. Photo courtesy of Oceanside Historical Society

Built in 1887, the cottage was originally known as The Graves House in honor of its original owner, a physician from Riverside. One of the oldest beach cottages in San Diego County, it boasts an unusual architectural style: Folk Victorian. Designed to evoke the more elaborate Victorian homes of the era, Folk Victorian found favor among homeowners in the late 19th Century due to its ease and affordability. Spindlework detailing and cornice brackets were added to existing homes to create the style, which became common as Western towns were settled around the turn-of-the-century.

The house later became a beach rental before making its appearance as the home of Tom Cruise’s love interest in the movie “Top Gun,” which grossed over $360 million (more than $800 million in 2019 dollars)—the highest grossing film of 1986. It starred Cruise as a brash young naval aviator training at the elite Fighter Weapons School at Naval Air Station Miramar in San Diego. The film became a cultural sensation; sales of bomber jackets and aviator sunglasses skyrocketed, Navy recruitment increased, and tourists began taking their photos in front of the newly dubbed “Top Gun House.”

The team plans to undertake basic structural restoration on the building before moving it back to its permanent home on the northern end of the resort.

Fast forward to 2019: Interest in the house has held strong, the sequel “Top Gun: Maverick” is set to open in June of 2020, and the resort’s hotels are expected to open by the end of that same year. 2020 looks to be a blockbuster year for the city of Oceanside.

May 2, 2019

DPR Reaches for the Clouds in Austin, Texas

Delivering a new landmark, DPR Construction celebrated the completion of its Domain 11 project. The project is part of what many consider to be Austin’s “second downtown” within the growing Domain North development.

In just over 17 months, DPR’s team, including a robust self-perform work (SPW) crew, constructed a 16-story office building and parking garage that contains a 338,900-sq.-ft., nine-level office core/shell and a 560,000-sq.-ft., seven-level parking structure. The ground floor includes parking, lobby, occupied office space and 8,100 sq. ft. of retail space. Targeting LEED® Silver certification, Domain 11 can be seen from miles away as the tallest office tower within the whole development.

“It’s pretty sweet, and Domain 11 was definitely the tallest Class A office tower to come to the Domain. It has made a visual statement as much as anything. You can see the Domain 11 & Domain 12 office towers from downtown’s {Austin} office towers,” says Brett Bickford, Project Manager in Austin.

Exterior View
The project is part of what many consider to be Austin’s “second downtown” within the growing Domain North development. Photo courtesy of Cambrella Photography

Innovation Leads to Savings

DPR’s preconstruction team tapped into the SPW team’s concrete and formwork expertise to adapt the overall structure to better suit the customer. Originally, plans called for a concrete pan joist slab structure, which often requires extra labor and more time to construct the formwork system. SPW concrete crews instead used the Doka formwork table system, with tables up to 48’x 28’ in size, that could be quickly transferred to the next level, reducing the overall duration required to form the concrete frame structure.

Doka formwork
DPR’s preconstruction team tapped into the SPW team’s concrete and formwork expertise to adapt the overall structure to better suit the customer. Photo courtesy of Cambrella Photography

Using the Doka formwork table system led to increased productivity and a tighter schedule. The method saved money and increased productivity on top of saving four weeks on the construction schedule.

Additionally, the formwork system provided a better concrete finish on the underside of the elevated decks. Exceeding expectations of a Class C finish, the customer was impressed when the concrete was close to a Class B finish, providing higher quality and featuring exposed structure in the design.

"We were consistent in DPR's values and goals for customer service. This was the second project with TIER REIT (developer). Client satisfaction was always top priority for our project team," said Brett.

Construction view
Using the Doka formwork table system led to increased productivity and a tighter schedule. Photo courtesy of Cambrella Photography

Embracing the DPR culture on the jobsite with SPW

The Domain 11 team consciously worked to build a culture that made every worker feel like an integral part of construction. All of the SPW trade partners and the project management team worked in the same jobsite field office, fostering collaboration and inclusion between different partners. With a unified team, the relationship with the customer grew as everyone rallied for the same goal—the team finished concrete work a month early, translating to savings for the customer, and with clear communication, predictable outcomes were ensured.

SPW crew
The Domain 11 team consciously worked to build a culture that made every worker feel like an integral part of construction. Photo courtesy of Cambrella Photography

“We had amazing SPW partnerships. This project team has strived to perform work as one team, eliminating the labels in the office (i.e. GC team, Concrete team, etc.). We are just DPR,” says Brett.

Above It All

Rising high above its surroundings, Domain 11 leaves its mark on the northern Austin skyline and gives people a new perspective of the city.

“This was a very exciting project to be a part of! The Tier Reit, Endeavor Real Estate Group, Gensler, DPR Construction team was one of the best I have worked with. This collaborative team produced a top-notch project and had fun doing it. Currently, the Domain 11 office building is the tallest building in North Austin. As the building was constructed, the higher the structure went the better you could see Austin’s downtown skyline. It was cool to see this new perspective of Austin. Soon, Domain will have its own skyline,” says Brandon Murphy, Project Executive.

DPR is looking forward to being a part of the “new downtown” as northern Austin continues to grow and innovate.

Exterior view
Rising high above its surroundings, Domain 11 leaves its mark on the northern Austin skyline and gives people a new perspective of the city. Photo courtesy of Cambrella Photography

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