Drawing upon our broad-based technical experience, DPR Construction helps our college and university customers with award-winning renovation, upgrade and new construction projects for classrooms, laboratories, research spaces and student housing.

March 5, 2017

Southeast Sports Construction: Bringing Home the W’s On and Off the Field

After a heartbreaking loss to Alabama in 2016’s College Football Playoff National Championship, the Clemson Football team worked harder than ever to earn a rematch and, with only a few minutes left on the clock, upset The Crimson Tide in true cinematic fashion to win the 2017 national championship game 35-31—bringing home Clemson's first national football title since 1981.

In a field office covered with Clemson emblems and gear, the DPR Construction team mirrored the spirit and work ethic of its 2017 national championship customer to complete a new $55 million, 140,000-sq.-ft. football operations center by National Signing Day in February 2017.

Champions on and off the field: the DPR team poses with Clemson’s national championship trophy. (Photo courtesy: Bryan McCaffrey)

Home to the team's national championship trophy, Clemson’s new center is fully loaded with amenities, including a bowling alley, hydrotherapy pools, X-ray suite, 25,000-sq.-ft. weight room, production studio, barber shop and a replica of Clemson’s famous Death Valley hill, and is set to become a major tool in the competitive college football recruiting landscape. 

The project overcame such challenges as:

  • Tight schedule: Although work couldn’t begin until Clemson’s soccer team completed its run for the national title (they were using the existing site as a practice field), the project still needed to be completed as originally planned in just 12 months, in time for the next football recruitment season.
  • Procurement: Because of DPR’s previous work on Clemson’s life sciences facility, the Clemson team trusted DPR to manage the football operations center’s expansive and complex procurement process, resulting in more than 85 contracts that DPR managed, ranging from MEP to indoor golf simulators and bowling alleys.

An aerial shot from December 2016 shows how Clemson sits along the banks of Lake Hartwell and the Seneca River Basin, creating a shallow 3-foot water table that presented a challenge for the team. (Photo courtesy: Ashley Conklin) 

  • Water table: Clemson sits along the banks of Lake Hartwell and the Seneca River Basin, creating a shallow 3-foot water table that presented a challenge for the facility’s 10-foot deep hydrotherapy and lap pools. The DPR team closely coordinated with the Army Corps of Engineers and watershed management to minimize the impact of rain and groundwater on the project schedule.
  • Building codes: The team needed to connect the new facility to an existing indoor/outdoor practice field built under an older building code. With the help of an engineering firm and the State Engineers Office, the team created an engineered life safety system, preventing the cost and delay of having to upgrade the slightly older building as well, saving Clemson $1.3 million.

The Clemson football operations center features 10-foot deep hydrotherapy and lap pools. (Photo courtesy: Thomas Watkins)

“Sports facilities are unique opportunities to leverage our expertise as a national technical builder,” said DPR’s Bryan McCaffrey. “These types of projects are much more sophisticated today than ever before–whether it’s mitigating a water table to accommodate a hydrotherapy pool or building the only red clay tennis courts in North America for the United States Tennis Association (USTA). Combined with accelerated timeframes and the public spotlight of a fan base and team eager to move in to their new home, sports facilities are growing much more complex."

Other sports facilities recently completed in the Southeast include the University of Georgia Indoor Athletic Facility–which was completed on an accelerated schedule to allow the team to use it for bowl game practices–and the United States Tennis Association National Campus in Lake Nona, Florida, which is the largest tennis facility in North America. Up next is Florida Atlantic University’s $40 million Schmidt Family Complex for Academic and Athletic Excellence, set to open in the summer of 2018.  

Clemson’s football operations center (locker room pictured above) is set to become a major tool in the competitive college football recruiting landscape. (Photo courtesy: Thomas Watkins)

September 21, 2016

Clemson Alum and DPR Project Team “All In” at Clemson Football Operations Center

Clemson Football head coach Dabo Swinney has a saying that has become an organizational mantra, a way of life, a mindset: “All In.” In October 2008, Swinney, who at the time was a wide receivers coach, was unexpectedly named the Clemson Tigers’ interim head coach mid-season. He made a now-famous speech to his players, “For the next six weeks we’re going to do things differently. I know I don’t have much of a chance to get this job, but I have a chance. For the next six weeks, I’m all in— everything I’ve got.”

There’s something about the emotions college football can evoke, unlike any other sport. The way it can fill a stadium with screaming fans, then just as easily silence them with unexpected heartbreak.  The way you know nothing about the person cheering next to you other than they too have a heart filled with the same spirit, joy and stress that fills yours. The way cheers and chants are passed down as traditions year after year.  Your college team is different than your pro team; it’s more than just your favorite team, it’s part of who you are.

You’re a Texas Longhorn, a Michigan Wolverine, an Oregon Duck, or in the case of DPR’s Joey Weir, you’re a Clemson Tiger, supporting your team in the best way you can by building its new football operations center.  

DPR’s Joey Weir (on far right) was born and raised a Clemson Tiger in Clemson, South Carolina. Three generations of his family have graduated from Clemson. (Photo courtesy: Joey Weir)

Born and raised a third-generation Clemson grad in the town of Clemson, South Carolina, Weir knows every backroad, and everyone knows him. He does his laundry in loads of lights, darks and oranges. It’s hard for him to find a shirt he owns without a Clemson Tiger Paw on it. He’s driven 60 hours (30 each way) to the national championship in Phoenix, Arizona instead of flying, just so he could throw a proper tailgate. He’s paid for every meal, souvenir and expense on the road in Tiger Paw-stamped two-dollar bills, as part of a school tradition to prove that Clemson fans do indeed travel to other cities and states to support their team.  

He never wanted to go anywhere else, so he didn’t apply to any other colleges other than (you guessed it) Clemson. After beginning his career at DPR as an intern, Weir worked as a project engineer on life sciences projects with DPR’s Atlanta and Raleigh offices. When he found out DPR was building Clemson’s new $55 million, 140,000-sq.-ft. football operations center, his ears perked up; if any project was made for him, it was this one. He made a few calls, and the rest is history.

Weir is living the dream, building great things for the school he has always loved. (Photo courtesy: Paul Borick)

Weir now works in a field office covered with Clemson decorations and gear, with a project team that includes six Clemson alumni, making for a very spirited work atmosphere as they move toward their goal of completing the facility by National Signing Day in February 2017.

In his natural habitat, the world that revolves around Clemson Football, Weir has been able to get to know the team’s coaches and recruiting staff, even appearing in a series of videos made by the athletic department. When Swinney played an Undercover Boss prank on the jobsite, it was Weir who was right beside him, showing him around and introducing him to the project team as “Fred from Albuquerque.” In other videos, he tells The Tiger mascot to get out of a crane, gets hit in the head with a football and joins the offensive line playing with Mega Tonka Tiger trucks.

“To be able to work on the football operations center, and get to know the coaches and staff has been an experience I’ll never forget. As a Clemson fan, to know that we built something that will make a positive impact on this football program for years to come, has been so rewarding,” said Weir. “I stand behind Dabo Swinney, and everything that he, this team, and this building stand for and represent.”

Clemson’s football operations center will include a locker room, bowling alley, barber shop, relaxation room and golf simulator, among many other amenities. (Rendering courtesy: HOK) 

Eight years after Swinney’s emotional locker room speech, the team is coming off a dream season that sent them to last year’s national championship. Their football operations center, fully loaded with amenities including a bowling alley, hydrotherapy pools, X-ray suite, 25,000-sq.-ft. weight room, production studio, barber shop and a replica of Clemson’s famous Death Valley hill, is set to become a major tool in the competitive college football recruiting landscape.  

Weir and his team are giving it everything they’ve got to make sure the project will be the forever home where Swinney can make countless more inspirational speeches, where recruits can visit and realize what it means to be a Tiger, and where Clemson Football can build and grow their program for decades to come.  

They’re all in. 

June 6, 2016

Touchdown! Clemson Coaches Offer a Sneak Peek of Football Operations Building

It's safe to say Clemson football is excited for its new Football Operations Building

A tiger may never change its stripes, but it can put on a DPR safety helmet. Head coach Dabo Swinney recently pulled off an epic trick play, disguising himself as "Fred," a laborer from Albuquerque, as part of Clemson's version of popular reality TV series “Undercover Boss.” 

Watch ESPN's video to see if his plan to get a sneak peek of the new facility while it's still under construction works. 

Coach Swinney wasn't the only surprise visitor on the site, as defensive coordinator Brent Venables also stopped by to "coach" the construction crew, bringing his trademark intensity along with him. Check out the video and see what happens.

But for now, back to the building.

This new facility, which Swinney calls "the epitome of Clemson" due to its fun and unique nature, will set the bar high for any future athletic facility in the college football arms race.  

The 142,500-sq.-ft. operations building will include coaches’ offices, team meeting rooms, recruiting areas, locker rooms, weight rooms, training rooms, a hydro-therapy area, equipment room, dining areas and associated support spaces.  All of which will allow Clemson’s Athletic Department to better serve the needs of its student-athletes.

Coach said it best when he said, “Clemson is going to be the envy of the entire country when this thing is finished.”

Go Tigers!

September 8, 2015

Back to School…Safely

The end of the dog days of summer welcome an annual rite of passage—back to school time—for students coast to coast.

Building on an Active College Campus
For construction companies working in a fluctuating campus environment, the back-to-school season brings a heightened awareness of the importance of safety. Specifically, this means maintaining a stringent, comprehensive safety program to keep the public—as well as workers—safe on and around jobsites. And even as they push to meet critical budget and schedule goals, savvy owners and builders understand that a safe project and a successful project are ultimately interwoven.

The Arizona Center for Law and Society project is just one example of a project currently underway on a busy college campus. DPR is building the $128 million facility on Arizona State University’s downtown campus, a beehive of activity since fall classes recently began. The project is slated for completion by the start of the 2016 fall semester.

Culture of Safety
Over the past 25 years, DPR’s focus on continuous improvement has been directly reflected in a culture of safety. Our safety culture promotes awareness of the need to work continuously and collectively better and more safely—as a company and as an industry. To further that goal, this past May some 6,670 individuals across 79 DPR jobsites and 18 offices nationwide participated in OSHA’s annual National Safety Stand-Down. OSHA’s industrywide safety effort raises awareness about fall protection on construction jobsites.

Integrated, Holistic Approach
An integrated and holistic focus on safety, quality and productivity has long been the cornerstone of DPR’s approach to successful project delivery, whether we are building on a college campus, within an operating hospital or anywhere else. Our record reflects that—in 2014, DPR’s OSHA incident rate was less than one-third the industry average.

At DPR, we promote and nurture an Injury-Free Environment (IFE), with the goal of achieving zero incidents on every project.

*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.

July 28, 2015

Is a Net-Zero Energy Campus Possible?

When it comes to higher education facilities, how attainable is net-zero energy? 

During the Florida Educational Facilities Planners’ Association, Inc. (FEFPA) 2015 Summer Conference, I joined industry leaders Nick Ertmer with DPR Construction, Stella Perico with Leo A. Daly, Scott Robinson with AEI Consultants, and Buck Martinez with FPL on a panel to discuss sustainable design and construction strategies, and lessons learned from prior campus projects.

Here's a summary of what we discussed:

  • Change starts early. And it starts with all of us inspiring and challenging industry professionals to push themselves and help their customers consider incorporating sustainable options, such as Architecture 2030’s “2030 Challenge.” Imagine if we could meet the goal of all new buildings being carbon neutral by the year 2030!
  • Consider the human impact on sustainability. The next phases of green building will be as much about people as technology. To evolve to the next level of green, the industry needs to embrace using energy models and building owners need to commit to collecting post-occupancy data. Facility managers can then compare data to the energy model to verify that the building meets the performance metrics it was designed to achieve. To bridge the gap from construction to efficient operations, the campus facility manager can participate in design discussions. Why? Through early education, the facility manager can use the energy model to establish a performance baseline, and have a solid understanding on how to maximize the building’s performance to track each year.
  • Success stories. While we can use technology to measure successful sustainable practices, one thing will always affect the bottom line, and that’s the end user. Consider Florida International University’s Academic Health Center 4. Completed in 2013, the team on the 136,000-sq.-ft. project used the energy model and as a result, was able to modify the building controls to make sure the building performs as designed. In just one year, the university saved $77,000 in gas and electric costs.

By challenging ourselves, our project teams, and by raising awareness on lessons learned from others on the path to sustainable campus design and construction, net-zero energy can be attainable.

Learn more about DPR's green and net-zero energy experience here.

(Left to Right) Buck Martinez, Scott Robinson, Stella Perico, Kirk Stetson, Mouji Linarez-Castillo (blog author), and Nick Ertmer speak on a panel discussing ‘Is a Net-Zero Campus Possible? What Others Have Done and What the Payoff Can Be’ during FEFPA’s 2015 Summer Conference

July 24, 2015

Transforming Higher Education at SCUP Conference

Last week, the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP)'s 50th annual conference took place in Chicago.

DPR's Tracy De Leuw attended the conference and reported, "The theme was around strengthening and transforming education. Attendance was at an all-time high, hitting 1,800. In addition to the central theme, the conference highlighted the concept of integrated planning as a sustainable approach. The concepts of building relationships between schools and preparedness for change also resonated throughout the sessions."

He continued, "SCUP is a great platform to catalyze transformational planning in higher education."

Projects within the higher education market require helping college and university customers determine the best strategy for minimizing budget and maximizing results on renovations, upgrades and new construction.

With close to 400 education/classroom space projects completed to date (and growing), DPR is proud to build spaces where teachers can shape young minds. For example, here's one we're currently building in downtown Austin for the University of Texas.

*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 first one. Follow #DPR25 on social media to learn more.

June 24, 2015

Topping Out at Arizona State University

Earlier this month, the project team for the Arizona Center for Law and Society building as well as the campus community gathered to mark the project’s topping out.

Nearly a year after we began construction, the topping out was an important milestone for the 268,000-sq.-ft., $129 million facility.

Here are some photos from the June 9th topping out event:

The crew gets the beam ready.
The crew signs the beam.
The community signs the beam.
Then, the beam starts its ascent.
The beam swings into place.
Finally, the beam is in place and the topping out is complete.

The facility will hold its first classes in August 2016.

In addition to the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law spaces, the facility will also include the first-of-its-kind student law firm (run by recent graduates), a retail space on the first floor consisting of the bookstore and a café, and a two-level underground parking structure. The Ross-Blakely Law Library—currently housed in a separate building on the Tempe campus—will also be moved to the new facility.

You can watch the project as it progresses in real time here.

January 23, 2014

Built to Teach: Cosumnes Winn Center for Construction and Architecture

Lean planning strategies, design-build project delivery and a sustainable approach encompass the Winn Center for Construction and Architecture at Cosumnes River College project. It was the first design-build project on the campus and the second for the school district.

The 41,500-sq.-ft., $13.5 million Winn Center facility houses the college’s construction, architecture, pharmacy technology, and photography programs. Designed as a “building that teaches,” it also functions as a living laboratory that allows students to study the systems that went into the building’s own design and construction.

Additionally, the project's “shared governance” approach encouraged ideas and input from team members and multiple end users.

“Making sure we were listening to all the user groups during design and that those views were in alignment with the program was a challenge at times,” said DPR Project Executive Erik Winje. “There was a lot of give and take.” The process allowed many of the best ideas to rise to the surface.

To learn more, check out the article in the recent issue of the DPR Review newsletter, "Shared Governance on Design-Build Project: Several Heads Better than One."

To get an even more in-depth look at the project, read the extended case study.

Photo courtesy of Chip Allen Photography

August 19, 2013

Owner Talks Benefits of IPD and Lean

An Owner's Perspective on Lean Project Delivery” was a recent event held by the Lean Construction Institute (LCI) Carolinas Community of Practice (CoP) on the evening of August 14. Hosted by the DPR Raleigh-Durham office, the program highlighted the benefits of Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and lean techniques, specifically within healthcare.

Speakers included Christian Pikel from Universal Health Services (UHS) and their team members on various projects who discussed their IPD journeys. The panelists illustrated that with lean concepts and ultimately, the use of an integrated form of agreement, building behavioral hospitals can be better (zero disputes), faster and cost less. (Yes, all three are possible!)

In addition, the speakers also discussed the DPR-Turner joint venture project, UHS Temecula Valley Hospital project in Southern California, which also incorporated IPD and lean construction principles. 

Pikel shared that together the Temecula team reduced the total cost per bed from the California average of $1.8 million per bed to an unprecedented $1.1 million per bed, while at the same time reducing the owner’s milestone of "heads-in-beds" (not substantial completion) by 25%. Constructed in 19 months, Temecula received certificate of occupancy in July and there was a recent opening celebration that drew 7,000 people.

Some interesting points of the overall discussion:

  • In 2012, UHS completed 140 projects totaling $540 million across the country with only 10 full-time equivalent project managers.  
  • UHS considers themselves an equal partner of the team.
  • UHS project teams are self-forming, which means that as each entity is selected, they become part of the selection committee for all the remaining team members. 
  • Team members are chosen based on capabilities, team work and innovation.

Some 40 representatives from the local A/E/C community were in attendance. 

About LCI
LCI's purpose is to reform the management of production in design, engineering and construction for capital facilities. LCI developed the Lean Project Delivery System™ (LPDS) that applies lean construction principles and tools to facilitate planning and control, maximize value and minimize waste throughout the construction process.

In Raleigh, DPR’s Steve Gray is a member of LCI Carolinas Core Group as well as the Education Task Force.

August 12, 2013

Team Gets Creative at Florida International University

Florida International University (FIU)’s new ultramodern 137,000-sq.-ft., $43 million Academic Health Center 4 (AHC4) exemplifies teamwork, quality and schedule control. A long-term relationship with the architect as well as the team's inventive solutions helped make the most high-tech project ever delivered to this university a success.


  • Perkins+Will (project architect) and DPR have partnered together on more than 40 projects?
  • With 10 work days lost in the first six weeks alone due to record rainfall (117 inches over 18 months), the team still completed the project on time and on budget?
  • With the rain and the site’s geographic location at just above sea level, the team used a lunar calendar to determine when tides were at the lowest level?
  • Use of pre-glazing and pre-installation shaved seven weeks off the schedule and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars?
  • It was the first project on campus to fully incorporate building information modeling (BIM), which the team used for coordination, clash detection and field improvements?

Read all about this project and how the team delivered this progressive learning environment in the latest issue of the DPR Review!