DPR was an early adopter of integrated project delivery, lean management and other collaborative methods, including one of the industry’s first ever 11-party IPD contracts. We strive to continuously push the industry forward with the help of our IPD and lean specialists.

October 13, 2020

Looking Back & Ahead on Lean with Dean Reed

DPR Construction’s Dean Reed knows a thing or two about Lean construction and integrated project delivery (IPD). You might even say he wrote the book on the topic! Co-authoring that book and bringing meaningful data to the fore to show the benefits of IPD, though, took years of practical experience in the field applying Lean methods in collaboration with industry organizations such as the Lean Construction Institute (LCI).

Now, LCI has awarded Reed with its Pioneer Award, which recognizes individuals who have moved the design and construction industry forward in embracing and implementing Lean principles and methods. Specifically, Reed was recognized for the award because of his commitment to advancing Lean thinking as a teacher, mentor and colleague.

Reed shared some thoughts about the award and where he sees the industry going next.

Dean Reed works on his laptop on the hood of a truck from a job site in 2006.
In 2006, on the site of the Camino Mountain View project (today, the PAMF Mountain View Center), Reed prepared to work with foremen to help them with the implementation of Last Planner system in the field. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

Let’s talk about the award. What does it mean to you?

The award means a lot to me because, in my mind, I think of it as the Greg Howell/Glenn Ballard Award, as they were the real pioneers of Lean construction in the U.S. and the world. To be named a “Pioneer” is to be recognized in line with those two trail blazers. It’s even more meaningful as it came as a surprise; I didn’t know I was nominated. I am humbled by it, especially knowing there are other equally deserving people in the industry.

You’ve connected Lean with DPR’s Ever Forward core value. How do they align?

I left a well-established builder after nearly nine years to join DPR, which, at the time I made the change, was much smaller. I made the switch all because of DPR’s core values and particularly Ever Forward. At that time, DPR was the only contractor I knew of talking that way, about the opportunity to be better and how the company, the industry and individuals like me could be as good as we could be.

By that time, I had already discovered Lean Construction and virtual design and construction (VDC). Like the saying goes, you don’t get to choose your parents, but when you get good ones it’s quite an advantage. I was in an environment where I was able to have access to those concepts and just beginning to understand them, and DPR was a place where I could try to integrate them into my work as a project planner and scheduler. I don’t think I could have done that any other place.

My approach has always been to collaborate with others and I have had many terrific partners as I’ve worked throughout DPR. I have learned an immense amount from those people, like (DPR Management Committee member) Atul Khanzode, who co-authored Integrating Project Delivery and (current DPR board member) Eric Lamb who really taught me what delivering value required in such a fragmented industry. DPR was really committed to providing best value to customers from day one and still is. We must do that first and also earn enough in return to prosper and continue to get better. That means a commitment to Ever Forward and that path leads to Lean.

Dean Reed in a construction trailer with his project team leading a meeting about the 5S process.
In 2005, Reed leads a DPR project team meeting on the 5S process, a Lean method for making information and tools visual. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

How far has the industry has come with Lean over your career?

It has become part of the language of construction. When that happens, it influences thinking. I see people throughout DPR as a matter of course trying

to create psychologically safe project cultures to identify and solve problems so information and field work can flow. There is such a baked-in focus on providing exactly what is needed at just the right time to avoid rework and wasting time and effort. I see that throughout the industry, too, and LCI has definitely made a big contribution to spreading Lean thinking.

What do you think is coming next?

I do not believe in being Lean for Lean’s sake or doing VDC just to say we did. DPR continues to be focused on being one of the most admired companies by 2030. I know we’re making a tremendous effort now to reach that goal, and I see Lean within that context. It has become part of our thinking and the way we operate. Lean supports our mission and vision. Lean is all about creating an organizational culture to solve problems to improve performance. I think we will see more and more people at DPR and in the industry go from where I was in 1996, barely understanding Lean, to the point where they help others incorporate Lean thinking and methods into everyday work. Once people internalize Lean and VDC to work together effectively as one integrated team, it will shift the entire industry and the way they see their roles within it.

October 6, 2020

3 Questions Customers Can Ask to Ensure Smooth Construction Operations

With so many moving parts on and around a construction site – deliveries, work crews, heavy equipment and more – there are opportunities everywhere for one aspect of work to affect every other part of operations. DPR Construction’s teams work closely to make sure it all goes off without a hitch. Even in normal times, delivering on-schedule, on-budget, top-quality work is no small job. With a variety of economic and societal pressures to consider as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, finding ways to increase certainty is a top consideration.

While there are things customers can consider before a shovel hits the ground, once work is under way, other factors can help ensure predictable outcomes and truly great results.

“We’ve done research that shows that the most successful projects are the ones with a highly-engaged owner throughout the project,” said Moawia Abdelkarim, one of DPR’s operations leaders. “We think there are questions customers can ask even as the team mobilizes and throughout the job that can contribute to the outcomes they’re hoping for, increase alignment and best position the construction team for success.”

Who’s Doing the Work and are they Involved in the Plan?

Angie Weyant along with a decorative treatment of a quote from her section of the story.
Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

Often, customers want to get competitive bids for nearly every scope of work to ensure they’re getting the best deal.

“One thing we strive for is to show the value our self-perform work crews can bring,” says Angie Weyant, DPR's national craft people practices leader. “We rely on subcontracted trade partners on nearly every project for a variety of things. When it comes to critical path, though, we want our customers to know they have the opportunity to leverage DPR’s skilled workforce to perform the majority of work. Having those resources in-house helps us remove unknowns and potential disruptions.”

In an industry that already has a skilled labor shortage, DPR is able to manage available labor and bring workers into planning discussions earlier.

“On a recent project in a very busy Texas market, our team found ways to cut schedule because we were able to bring self-perform foremen to the table much earlier for a critical path element than if it had been put out to the market,” Weyant said. “Our employees can leverage their expertise on everything from phasing to durations earlier and be aligned with the full plan because they’re part of the master contract. It’s a tremendous efficiency.”

Moreover, for elements that are subcontracted, customers should consider when those partners can be brought to the table and make an effort to ensure that payments can be made for early work in a timely manner.

“When subcontractors, especially smaller or growing MWBE-certified businesses, commit resources to planning, they don’t have the capacity to wait for work to be put in place to receive payment,” Weyant noted. “Some customers might wonder what they’re paying for at earlier planning meetings and it’s important to see the value that is gained from them.”

Are We Aligned on Progress?

Kevin Britt along with a decorative treatment of a quote from his portion of the story.
Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

One of the great joys of working around construction sites is that, every day, the site looks different. “Progress” seems like something that can be intuitively seen. DPR’s Kevin Britt, who leads the firm’s planning, scheduling and production planning (PSPP) efforts, sees things in terms of a road trip.

“Suppose you want to take a road trip from San Diego to Boston,” he said. “It’s easy enough to say the plan is to drive from start to finish by a certain time, but are you going to stop anywhere? If so, where and when? What does that look like and what does it mean for your trip? The steps along the way are what make the journey, not just the destination.”

As such, Britt recommends getting aligned beyond milestones throughout the project and revisiting plans throughout. The larger focus should be alignment on the priorities, goals, risks, opportunities, and quality expectations that are associated with those milestones.

“Working together, project partners should start their work early, understanding the desired outcomes and letting those determine the right milestones, clearly identifying what they are and what they’re not. That way you can prioritize what needs to happen for all the key milestones, not just the ending ones,” Britt said. “It’s not just about putting together the initial schedule and a plan. Just like a sports team adjusting to how a game is unfolding, it’s important that designers, engineers, trade partners, and customers are proactively involved in ongoing discussions and be ready to collaboratively work together when the conditions that were initially assumed change during the life of the project.”

Britt sees that collaboration as key to creating a system for timely decision making by project teams.

“Making informed decisions quickly with the right people at the table, virtually and in the job site trailer, is as important as making sure quality work is then put in place in a safe and timely manner in the field,” Britt said. “Like the road trip, when you can refer to technology and data on a navigation app, you can quickly pivot and adjust. We have equivalent tools that aggregate data to forecast the plan and monitor progress that can serve a similar role.”

The good news is that, overall, there is starting to be enough quality data available to inform decisions at a variety of project stages and apply it in meaningful ways. DPR’s Colin Thrift recently worked with project partners to analyze schedule risks presented by the pandemic for a pharmaceutical facility in the Southeast.

“We were able to show where specific risks were, when we expected the most exposure to them and how the team could work together to mitigate them using our risk planner tool,” Thrift said. “The original plan was great. The risk planner exercise just helped us refine it and led to action we could take in the field immediately to lower exposure later.”

Are we Really Lean and Efficient?

Cory Hackler along with a decorative treatment of quotes from this story.
Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

DPR’s Cory Hackler is one of the firm’s Lean experts. He’s seen how easy it is for well-intentioned customers committed to reducing waste in the construction process to oversimplify the issue.

“There’s always a lot of focus on resource management, which basically means keeping every person fully utilized and busy,” Hackler said. “What has to happen first is flow management.”

Brilliantly illustrated in video, flow management is a perspective change Hackler believes the industry needs to shift to in order to see high performing teams.

“In construction, focusing on keeping every person at full capacity ultimately means people are putting fires out left and right,” Hackler said. “There’s an issue with this type of delivery as workers have no bandwidth to do anything but act as fire fighters every day. It affects other workflows on site and everyone ends up in reactive modes. What we need to do is shift to teams focused on efficiency in the entire workflow from design to completion.”

That means opportunities for every person on site, from project managers to superintendents to work crews. Similar to the cross-country road trip analogy, teams need to understand the details of steps along the way.

“For a road trip, our plan would need to include the tasks before leaving the house, packing and what we may need to bring,” Hackler said. “Then there are food stops, side trips along the way and, finally, an estimated time of arrival so people can plan on the time and day at which you will show up.”

Hackler sees the construction version of those stops as things like design management and preconstruction as preparations. Then, there is construction management that is agile enough to adapt to changes and milestones and, finally, completion. The ability to pivot resources when something doesn’t go as planned can bring collaborative problem solving to mitigate the issue without drastically impacting other areas of work.

“Right now, there are plenty of unforeseen factors that can throw a wrench into even the best plan,” Hackler says. “What if there’s a disruption at the end of the supply chain in terms of delivery or fabrication? The traditional system based on resource management breaks down quickly there. Flow management focuses on keeping work moving; having a team that can pivot to troubleshoot an issue that yields a faster outcome with fewer disruptions to the rest of work.”

Staying Engaged Is the Key

Moawia Abdelkarim along with a decorative treatment of a quote from the story.
Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

“Construction is never going to be ‘set it and forget it,’” Abdelkarim said. “Leveraging data, managing resources the right way and more aren’t just tools for pre-mobilization. These are things to do throughout the lifecycle of the project.”

By fostering a collaborative team culture, customers can set a tone for the life of the project and play a vital role in sharing project success.

“Everyone has an interest in the best outcome on site,” Abdelkarim said. “As a result, everyone should have an interest in collaborating throughout the project to ensure alignment that will enable the best outcome.”

April 29, 2020

Hindsight 2020: Upfront Costs Bring Long-Term Benefits

As much as the word “disruption” gets thrown around by thought leaders, we know this: customers don’t like surprises. Surprises in the course of a major construction project create disruptions that can ripple through a project and an entire customer organization. Surprises in the field can be costly and can affect project schedule.

Even while striving to deliver more predictable outcomes, surprises emerge in the field from time to time. Just as safety incidents can be mitigated through the proper steps taken prior to and during work, DPR believes many costly surprises in the field can be prevented.

By spending a little upfront, projects can often avoid spending more due to unforeseen issues. Too often, those costs look easy to cut in early project stages, leaving little recourse when something unexpected arises.

“Throughout the lifecycle of any project, there are a lot of unknowns,” said Rishard Bitbaba, DPR’s large project corporate service leader. “You wouldn’t want a doctor performing surgery without first looking at scans, using tools to evaluate the best approach and using data from similar situations to inform next steps. Contractors and their project partners have a similar set of tools to get rid of the unknowns before a shovel hits the ground.”

Four specific things can help get projects off to the right start.

DPR's Hannu Lindberg with a quote from the upcoming section.

Sometimes on projects, what you see isn’t what you get—but it can be easy to take existing conditions for granted.

“It’s inevitable that existing buildings, over years of operations, have made a variety of modifications and upgrades, large and small, to systems that may not be fully captured in operations manuals and the original drawings,” says Hannu Lindberg, DPR’s Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) leader. “But for all project types, at various stages, reality capture can be a great example of spending a little now to save more down the line.”

Reality capture methods like laser scanning of existing conditions involves time, labor and some equipment cost, but by setting the basis for the larger digital model – helping support preconstruction activities ranging from procurement to how the work will be phased – it has larger benefits. While many project teams see the utility of doing this before a project begins, that is often left until the end when it’s almost too late to adjust for the discrepancies. Doing so misses the real value.

“The main reason to keep scanning is to ensure quality and catch errors in the field,” Lindberg says. “If you spent the money to coordinate the building, you should ensure you’re following the coordinated design. And, when you crunch the numbers, the cost of upfront labor is far cheaper than rework, change orders and loss of productivity in the field.”

Consider scanning and as-built verification together on a given project. Weekly scans of work put in place for a period of four months could run $46,000 – exactly the kind of money that looks easy to trim on a line-item basis. What if each scan found 10 minor issues that could be quickly addressed before they became $80,000 in major rework costs over the same time period?

Similarly, it might seem like spending $22,000 annually for a drone to capture aerial progress photos for site mapping is unnecessary. The same task with five field crew members and equipment could end up costing upwards of $52,000.

“These things add up,” Lindberg says. “For things like scanning and aerial progress mapping, before work commences, it might seem like trimming $68,000 upfront is cost savings and a better short-term trade off. But, if that results in spending more than $130,000 later in avoidable rework… I’m not sure anyone wants to have to explain that to their supervisor…or owner, for that matter.”

Reality capture can also prevent surprise costs and increase ROI through better overall productivity, quality control, and by reducing waste (in both materials and processes).

DPR's Blair Calhoun and a quote from the upcoming section.

Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) scopes typically account for 25% to 40% of a project’s total construction costs and drive the operating costs during the facility’s life. Since MEP systems have a significant impact on project budgets, they are often the first scopes that teams look to reduce in the early stages, often without the guidance of a MEP professional.

“Too often MEP systems are taken for granted in early stages of a project,” says Joe Dillingham, one of DPR’s leading MEP coordinators. “We’ve seen assumptions about these systems during design and buyout that lead to costly redesign and rework during construction.”

Bringing MEP professionals into these early stages reduces project teams’ reliance on assumptions when making decisions that affect construction all the way through facility operation.

Often, project teams do not bring on MEP professionals until the commissioning phase, when addressing issues hampering a system’s performance adds cost that could have been avoided with more oversight from the beginning. Even during this late stage, MEP professionals frequently save expenses from hitting clients’ bottom lines.

Blair Calhoun, another MEP professional at DPR, recalls a time when a warehouse manager called him to voice safety concerns with a recently commissioned tenant improvement. Her staff had difficulty navigating almost a 1/4 of the space because it lacked adequate lighting. After some investigation, Calhoun discovered the owner’s recently departed PM had opted to save upfront costs by not replacing the preexisting lights and the project's coffers were tapped. Calhoun asked the electrical subcontractor who previously submitted a proposal to replace the outdated existing lights with contemporary, high-efficiency ones for an estimate of the energy saved with the new lights. The team ended up showing the warehouse manager that the $22,000 change order would be paid for in less than three years from the savings on monthly electric bills, a true win-win.

Recently, DPR’s MEP and data groups began analyzing nearly 40,000 “Requests-For-Information” (RFIs) related to MEP trades from over 1,700 projects. Fundamentally, an RFI indicates an unwanted break in the flow of required and accurate data. The disruptions in data flow often lead to lost production time and pose threats to the quality and predictability of project outcomes. The groups are planning a rigorous analysis to find insights to shine a light on issues affecting MEP upfront costs that ultimately lead to lower total costs for clients.

DPR's Chris Dierks and a quote from the upcoming section.

Things like a truly engaged owner, project partners co-located in a “Big Room” and more were among the nine key indicators DPR identified for executing successful healthcare projects. Another is having the right team who exhibits the Lean principle of “Respect the Individual.” The traditional, more siloed approach to project delivery, where a contractor comes into the process after design is finalized and many key decisions have been made, though, puts the teambuilding starting blocks farther back. In doing so, things like design management fall by the wayside and there isn’t proper time to organize both the design and building team members.

“On a large project – half a billion dollars, say – success depends on organizing a large team up front and how they will make decisions,” said DPR’s Chris Dierks, one of the company’s Lean leaders and a project executive. “The larger a project, the larger potential issues could be if they’re not tackled early on. So, we always recommend getting the teams together early and spending some time and money upfront to not only properly organize as one team but also to focus on developing relationships to head off anything down the road. Strong relationships directly tie to strong trust.”

You can’t implement a successful Design Management process without this sort of team. High-level discussions that combine the customer’s goals, the designer’s vision and the contractor’s knowledge of what is constructible can only benefit from high levels of trust. What’s more, one of the most effective tools for cost control strategy is Target Value Delivery (TVD) and how projects organize and manage the design and preconstruction efforts. The value can be initial cost, total cost of ownership and user experience, which then informs design decisions, means and methods, project sequencing, and cost priorities with accountability to all parties to maximize value in a quantifiable way.

“TVD presents unique challenges over the course of a long project planning effort including ambiguity about timing of decisions, and a tendency to revisit previous decisions when the value is not clear and quantifiable,” Dierks said. “It’s really shifting costs. It’s heavier upfront, but the payoff, ‘the value,’ comes from implementing the right strategies and processes to identify and bring resolution to arising issues so they never materialize in the field.”

The departure from “typical” project startup costs can be a barrier and overcoming it takes an honest appraisal of the stakes in the field.

“I get it. If you’re a customer, you hear ‘teambuilding event’ or ‘building a Big Room’ and you think, ‘sounds like a lot to spend upfront for … what, exactly?’” Dierks said. “It takes seeing how it unlocks the full toolbox of Lean concepts and processes to make the entire project more efficient. [Efficiency] meaning where trust is so high that everyone is aligned and wrinkles are ironed out quickly, with quality in mind, to deliver that cost certainty, again ‘the value,’ ultimately desired by the customer.”

DPR's Rishard Bitbaba and a quote from the upcoming section.

The root of all of these, however, is the long-standing ways construction has been procured and the traditional relationships among project partners. To take advantage, a perspective change is required on all parts.

“Our industry has been called ‘slow to change’ when we’re actually seeing more tools and technologies that can change project outcomes in positive ways,” Bitbaba said. “What has been slow to change is the traditional model of construction so we can properly leverage these new tools.”

Behavior change may not have a dollar cost, but there is certainly a mental cost. No one likes change, but more than enough projects using alternative delivery setups – ranging from design-build to more robust integrated project delivery agreements – to show the way.

“Too often, the new ways of working are being assumed to just work under the traditional, more siloed ways of working,” Bitbaba said. “Owners have to have a mind shift to where they seek to be more engaged early and not be afraid to get into the details, rather than questioning some of the details.”

Bitbaba recalls times when customers wondered why so many superintendents’ hours were needed in preconstruction phases or that terms like TVD were just something a contractor would do.

“The engagement makes the difference,” Bitbaba said. “It’s easy to look at worker hours or assume it will all go to plan, but when a contractor submits the RFI that a wall in a design wasn’t included in project budget, are you going to wish you had considered more engagement upfront? Likely so.”

Which is why Bitbaba likens the entire process of “knowing the unknowns.” Essentially, when all project partners are aligned and working together, using all available tools from VDC to field expertise to working in new ways, it allows projects and the people that make them happen to be more nimble when outside forces are thrust upon us.

“We can’t control the rain,” Bitbaba says. “Let’s work together early on in projects to control the things we can so the only surprises are if the weather forecast is wrong.”

November 8, 2019

Integrating Stakeholders within Lean Cultures Yields Benefits

Lean Construction continues to deliver benefits on a project-by-project basis, but how can these ever-advancing techniques stick on and off the construction site, changing the way business is done? DPR Construction and its partners gave three presentations at the 21st annual LCI Congress, the flagship event of the Lean Construction Institute (LCI), in Fort Worth, TX that aimed to push toward that goal.

This year's LCI Congress featured discussion of "essential-ism." Stemming from Greg McKeown, writer of "Essential-ism: The Discipline Pursuit of Less," the concept asks: How can the construction industry narrow its focus to improve on key scopes? Among the essential things DPR is aiming to excel at – in order to support the goals of its employees in the field and the customers it builds for – is creating alignment on project norms and goals to maximize efficiency.

The commitment to integrating customers is changing. Creating a Lean company and project culture means educating people to better focus Lean systems on job sites, in customer meetings, and in preconstruction. Throughout the industry, a key priority is finding ways for contractors to better align with customer expectations and leverage up-and-coming technology in new ways.

Aligning expectations toward defined success

During the presentation, DPR project manager Leigh Heller asked attendees to imagine building a swing with your friends. Each friend would probably bring a different design, technologies and mindset and that may not always equal the creation of one perfect swing.

DPR’s Leigh Heller noted how DFOW gives project teams the knowledge to better understand what the customer’s expectations are.

Construction is no different than the swing analogy and the challenge is to create a realistic commitment to the customer while aligning with the intended vision and value.

Still, there is a tendency to wait until the end of the project to debrief and share everything that could have gone differently. DPR’s team suggested having this conversation at the outset. Setting expectations should be a priority for all members of the project teams. By setting priorities, every customer will come to the table with their own measurement for success. It is in the best interest of Lean project teams to implement steps to agree to and achieve this standard.

To create a unified assessment of success, DPR’s presenters shared the organization’s commitment to quality control known as Distinguished Features of Work (DFOW). DPR’s Leigh Heller noted how DFOW gives project teams the knowledge to better understand what the customer’s expectations are and, as a result, focus on them to reduce the chance of any rework.

DFOW/Quality/Aligning Expectations IS Lean, and we need to do a better job of sharing the documentation of our planning and learning with the field and with other projects,” Leigh Heller, DPR superintendent.

Lean Leaders Build Lean Cultures

Project teams also must establish a baseline of appropriate team behavior and workflow from the inception of a project to better align expectations on and off the jobsite. Successful Lean integration starts with an aligned and standardized workflow that enables the team to visualize and anticipate roadblocks.

“We must provide the highest quality service to our customers at the lowest possible cost while maintaining a respect for people. We all can influence that effort and help improve it,” said Heller.

Cory Hackler and Jack Poindexter presenting about the UCSF project.

For example, remodeling projects will always have unknowns that could affect budget and schedule. DPR’s recently-completed shopping center makeover sparked conversation at LCI Congress about the many different team conversations that build trust and respect across project teams that will translate to a more efficient project. Through candid conversations and planned actions, the outcomes should result in a clear work process structured to help maximize the value and minimize any waste at delivery level. It’s a win for the project team and a win for the customer.

In doing so, the project can serve as a replicable model for recruits, new hires, and team members to understand what a Lean project is and ways to duplicate positive operational behaviors.

Building a Lean Culture: Engaging the Value Stream

Presenters also shared were examples of different activities that different project teams performed to map value streams. In each case, this helped establish unique site cultures while also identifying all possibilities of unneeded waste.

DPR Lean manager Cory Hackler noted in his presentation that the company’s method of personnel alignment stems from the development and use of Lean Leadership training across the company.

“Having 600 people go through DPR’s Lean Leadership class, we are getting aligned on a common language to enforce Lean thoughts throughout projects,” said Cory Hackler.

The “Big Room” environment is one of many tactics sowing value to any team, enabling better collaboration.

October 24, 2019

Completing the New Wing for NorthBay Medical Center

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on April 20, 2020 to acknowledge the fluidity of the COVID-19 public health crisis. As events continue to unfold, DPR is actively working with its healthcare customers nationwide to help them meet their needs.

This October, NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield, CA began admitting patients to its new 80,000-sq.-ft. north wing, unveiling a state-of-the-art facility that was delivered on time and under budget by a highly collaborative, DPR Construction-led project team that included design partner LBL (now Perkins Eastman). Achieving those benchmarks was the product of leveraging an integrated delivery approach along with strategic use of virtual design & construction and prefabrication.

The exterior entry of the NorthBay Medical Center expansion.
The NorthBay Medical Center expansion is state-of-the-art inside and out. Photo courtesy of © 2019, Sasha Moravec

The new three-story wing, which connects to the existing 1992 building on each floor, encompasses 22 patient rooms, eight high-tech surgical suites, a 16-bed Pre-Op/PACU, diagnostic imaging, kitchen and dining area, as well as a new central sterile department. The project also included a 20,000-sq.-ft. remodel of the Emergency Department – all completed while the hospital remained in full operation.

Co-locating in the Big Room

Delivered using elements of Integrated Project Delivery, or IPD, DPR worked alongside the owner, designer Ratcliff Architects, LBL (now Perkins Eastman), structural engineer Thornton Tomasetti and other key team members to complete the highly challenging project on schedule and under budget. The team co-located onsite in an open, big room environment that fostered collaboration, innovative problem-solving, and quick decision making.

“NorthBay’s belief in the integrated team, having us all there on site every day and being able to make timely and well-informed decisions were all keys to our success,” said DPR Project Manager Stephanie Jones-Lee. “If there was an urgent item that came up that we needed a solution to, we could just walk over to the architect or engineer, get the subcontractor on the phone and hash it out right there.”

The high level of communication and shared problem-solving helped reduce the number of RFIs and submittals and moved them forward much more quickly than might be expected for a project of this size and complexity, according to DPR’s BIM project leader Jonathan Savosnick.

“Almost all of our RFI’s were confirming RFIs, meaning we had already talked through the issue with the design partners before we sent it in for documentation purposes,” he said. “I think that made a huge difference on this project and made the process a lot faster, easier to prioritize, and more successful.”

Medical staff working in a new surgical area in NorthBay Medical Center.
Virtual Design and Construction and collaboration helped make sure technical areas of the new NorthBay Medical Center came together as planned. Photo courtesy of © 2019, Sasha Moravec

First-of-a-Kind Features

The project incorporated several innovative or first-of-its-kind features. It was the first OSHPD-regulated project to employ the prefabricated ConXtech structural steel system. Akin to a “Lincoln Log” type of assembly, major structural components of the ConXtech system are prefabricated offsite and then delivered to the jobsite for quick assembly in the field.

“Because everything gets fabricated in the shop, it is safer, faster, and there is a lot less welding and field work to put it in place,” Jones-Lee said.

The project also was one of the first hospitals in California to incorporate brand new ARTIS pheno operating room (OR) equipment – a major change order introduced midway through construction when the equipment supplier discontinued its previous version of the OR equipment.

The team quickly adapted to the challenge.

“The new equipment added a lot of electrical conduit on the second floor, below the operating rooms,” said Savosnick. “We were in the middle of building out that second floor when we learned about the change.” They worked collaboratively to re-sequence the work and incorporate the new design solution.

Patient beds in the new NorthBay Medical Center Expansion
New areas of NorthBay Medical Center were constructed while the existing facility remained active. Photo courtesy of © 2019, Sasha Moravec

Additionally, DPR employed laser scanning to verify existing conditions in the overhead ceiling space in the Emergency Department area, as well as in the Central Utility Plant. While BIM coordination was integral to the project’s success, accessing patient rooms in the still fully operational emergency department to laser scan for BIM coordination was a complicated endeavor.

“Doing BIM coordination for an existing facility that is in use was a big challenge,” Savosnick said. The team used HEPA carts and deployed field investigators to access above-the-ceiling areas in order to gather the information needed to update the model.

The VDC program had other extensions that delivered value. The team used virtual reality to review access issues and verify clearances on the roof with NorthBay facility engineers. Marking the first time that NorthBay had used VR on a project, the technology helped resolve potential conflicts before work was ever installed in the field.

August 7, 2019

At two European events, DPR leads the way on hot topics

While DPR Construction has project work under way in several European markets – Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland – DPR’s professionals took center stage in Dublin and Paris as part of two global thought leadership events, both focused on the future of project delivery.

“As much as we’re trying to showcase what DPR can do in our European target geographies, many of the topics we discussed apply throughout the world,” said DPR’s Europe Lead Damian Farr. “Wherever a customer works with DPR in the world, we want them to know our approach is aligned and focused on delivering great results.”

A session takes place at the IGLC Conference in Dublin.
Attendees heard from thought leaders in a variety of settings at the IGLC conference. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

Lean Without Borders

At the International Group for Lean Construction (IGLC) Annual Conference in Dublin, DPR was hard to miss, with several speakers, paper submissions and attendees from around the globe.

“It really showcased that DPR’s depth of Lean knowledge knows no borders,” said Chris Dierks, one of DPR’s Lean leaders. “Customers everywhere are looking to bring projects online faster and that requires letting go of a lot of long-held ways of working. At IGLC, we really helped show how a customer can take advantage of emerging delivery methods, and coupling those with a Lean mindset.”

DPR's Atul Khanzode presents at IGLC.
DPR's Atul Khanzode presents at IGLC. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

That approach was kicked off by DPR’s Atul Khanzode, Dean Reed and Leonardo Rischmoller, who presented the Simple Framework for Integrated Project Delivery. Concurrently, DPR’s Paz Arroyo teamed with Annett Schöttle, a Lean expert from German consultancy Refine Projects AG, for a workshop on Choosing by Advantages.

Teams also led sessions focused on their abstract topics. Anthony Munoz, Jean Laurent and Dierks presented DPR’s Team Health Assessment, a tool that used to better identify and provide measurement to otherwise unquantifiable indices of a project’s performance.

“Traditional measures of Lean Construction can sometimes fail to represent or provide insightful commentary to the lengths they measure,” Dierks said. “The satisfaction of every member of the team can greatly affect outcomes and true Lean project success requires taking this into account, otherwise, there will be erosion of the benefits of Lean approaches. Diving deep into understanding the health of the team is critical to the success of any project; that's why we feel so strongly about doing an Assessment each month to figure out what do we need to improve and how can we support each other better in making that happen throughout the next month.”

DPR's Paz Arroyo and Lean expert Annett Schöttle present at IGLC.
DPR's Paz Arroyo and Lean expert Annett Schöttle led a workshop on Choosing by Advantages. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

Calling “caca” in Paris

While the IGLC conference focused on the processes of construction, BuiltWorlds’ Summit Paris looked closely at the tools themselves changing the construction landscape. Of course, DPR had quite a bit to say about how technology is affecting construction.

Peter Schneider, from DPR’s Amsterdam team, shared some provocative opinions on a panel that addressed the slow adoption of technology in our industry.

“We have to address the tension that exists between the desire to increase productivity and efficiency and what customers are really willing to invest in to disrupt the industry,” Schneider said. “As much as contractors are in a ‘space race’ to differentiate themselves with the newest things, we have to find common goals or else existing ways of working won’t change.”

Schneider also suggested that our industry is too quick to implement a new piece of technology when more testing is needed.

“If our industry doesn’t take the time to set expectations when projects test products under development, it’s likely that those tools become burdens. If that happens too many times, the brand around “technology” goes down. When we launch a tool without an integrated training and education platform, we’re setting it up to fail. From there, what needs to happen for it to recover?” He noted.

DPR's Damian Farr leads a discussion at BuiltWorlds.
DPR's Damian Farr offered some "real talk" at the BuiltWorld Paris conference. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

Meanwhile, DPR’s Farr sat on a panel that expressed similar themes while projecting the future state of construction.

“There’s certainly a trend of contractors bringing design expertise in-house to improve control of their own processes and architects aiming to bring in construction talent,” Farr said. “In reality, those folks will enhance integrated delivery but it’s unlikely this approach will replace the role of the other partner.”

Similarly, there is a narrative that contractors will become more and more vertically integrated, essentially becoming a one-stop shop for all facets of project delivery. Farr is skeptical.

“Customers are always going to want to maintain some competition, at least until true integration and real trust is the norm. They know it benefits their price,” Farr said. “Each project is different enough to be considered more than widgets that can be screwed together, and we are analyzing where significant elements of our core market work is consistent enough, across all projects for us to procure and produce those pieces in an integrated manner and even where a customer has insisted upon some form of market testing.”

October 8, 2018

Advancing a Paradigm Shift in Construction at LCI Congress

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

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

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

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

Matching Methods with Culture

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

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

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

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

Aligning Lean Approaches with Customers

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

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

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

Technology as a Time Machine

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

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

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

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

July 5, 2018

Penn State University Celebrates Grand Reopening of Modernized Agricultural and Biological Engineering Building

PSU grand reopening
Penn State University (PSU) recently opened its newly modernized Agricultural Engineering Building, which houses the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE). Photo courtesy of Michael Houtz

Penn State University (PSU) recently opened its newly modernized Agricultural Engineering Building, which houses the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) in the College of Agricultural Sciences. The ribbon cutting ceremony was held on June 8, 2018, giving PSU the opportunity to recognize the gifts and donations that made this facility a reality.

Home to some of the nation’s top architectural, engineering and building construction programs, PSU is incorporating Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) on this project, the first time the delivery method will be used on campus. The selection process began in the early summer of 2014, followed by PSU, DPR Construction, EYP Architecture & Engineering and mechanical and electrical subcontractors signing a multi-party IPD contract in 2015.

PSU lab
The Agricultural Engineering Building houses four multi-purpose classrooms, more than 30 comprehensive research and teaching labs, and several conference rooms and collaboration lounges. Photo courtesy of Michael Houtz

The two major components of this 93,500-sq.-ft. project are:

  • The modernization of the existing Charles Klauder building: built in 1938, the historic building needed major upgrades to meet safety and energy standards, as well as building needs.
  • The demolition of a 1960s addition to the building: In its place, the team constructed a new, replacement building, designed to match existing campus architecture.
PSU photo
With an energy efficient, open-concept design, the Agricultural Engineering Building is aiming to achieve LEED Silver certification. Photo courtesy of Michael Houtz

The Agricultural Engineering Building houses four multi-purpose classrooms, more than 30 comprehensive research and teaching labs, and several conference rooms and collaboration lounges. Agricultural engineering, with its diverse range of study, houses not only bio-chemistry laboratories, but machine shops, integrated hydrology-hydraulics laboratories and a new centralized fermentation laboratory.

With an energy efficient, open-concept design, the Agricultural Engineering Building is aiming to achieve LEED Silver certification through sustainable elements including a green roof, water conservation technology, renewable materials and use of natural light.

PSU lab
Agricultural engineering, with its diverse range of study, houses not only bio-chemistry laboratories, but machine shops, integrated hydrology-hydraulics laboratories and a new centralized fermentation laboratory. Photo courtesy of Michael Houtz

March 27, 2017

Three Things to Know about “Integrating Project Delivery”

"What if every building and every piece of infrastructure truly worked? What if they were all designed not simply to fill a need but to enhance our way of life? What if every building performed as highly as possible, with all systems working in concert to support its purpose?" (Integrating Project Delivery, Chapter 1.2)

If you are someone who believes there is a better way to design and build buildings, infrastructure, dwellings, etc., then you should spend some time reading Integrating Project Delivery written by Martin Fischer, Howard Ashcraft, Dean Reed and Atul Khanzode. Written as a textbook, it is the first comprehensive look at the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) system. If you tackle it in bits and pieces, you’ll discover a road map for integrating project delivery filled with stories, practical knowledge and applications, legal structures for supporting the process, and real-life examples—all written with a dose of inspiration that there are actually many different ways teams can achieve better outcomes.

 Following are three things to know about Integrating Project Delivery:

  • Integrating Project Delivery is organized around a Simple Framework, a road map for producing a high-performing building, a “building that supports its end users in performing their activities as optimally as possible."

  • Each chapter asks and answers one or two big questions, including “what does success look like?” 
Chapter Title Question

What Would Make Us Proud 

What do we want to do and what can we do? 
2 Transitioning to IPD: Owners’ Experiences  What do owners who have used integrated project delivery (IPD) think about what they can do to improve outcomes? 
3 Putting it All Together: A Simple Framework  What is the roadmap, the strategy to successfully produce a high-performance building? 
4 Defining High-Performing Buildings  What is a high-performing building? 
5 Achieving High-Value Buildings  What makes a high-value building? 
6 Integrating the Building’s Systems  How can systems be integrated to achieve a high-performing building? 
7 Integrating Process Knowledge  How can process knowledge be integrated? 
8 Integrating the Project Organization  What is an integrated project organization and how is it created? 
9 Managing Integrated Project Teams What is an integrated project delivery team, and how do you create and manage one? 
10 Integrating Project Information  What does it mean to integrate project information, why is this so important, and how can we do this? 
11 Managing with Metrics How do define and uphold the client’s value goals for their unique high performing building? 
12 Visualizing and Simulating Building Performance  How do we enable stakeholders to visualize and understand how their building will perform through every step of design, long before it is built? 
13 Collaborating in an Integrated Project  What does it mean to collaborate in an integrated project? 
14 Co-locating to Improve Performance  How can we leverage co-location to improve behaviors and outcomes? 
15 Managing Production as an Integrated Team  How do we manage the production as an integrated project team? 

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Traditional Contracts 

Why is it so difficult to use traditional contracts to support project integration? 

Contracting for Project Integration 

How does an integrated form of agreement support integrated organization and behaviors? 
18 Delivering the High Performance Building as a Product  How high-performing, valuable buildings can be developed and delivered as a product? 
  • Chapter 2 is dedicated to the owners’ experience in their own words and observations as they transitioned to IPD. Fourteen industry leaders, who were all involved in IPD projects, participated in a series of interviews that confirmed that IPD is an owner-driven process and frustration with existing project delivery systems was the most common reason for turning to IPD.

    When asked what it took to be a good IPD owner, the group identified five key characteristics: 

    • Clarity – Define what you want and what the IPD team must achieve
    • Commitment – An ongoing willingness to support the process with training and resources
    • Engagement – An active and knowledgeable participant who maintains a daily presence on the project
    • Leadership – Knowing when to lead and when not to lead, how to set the expectations for the project but also share leadership responsibilities
    • Integrity – Setting the project tone and creating an environment of trust 

Published by Wiley and now available on Amazon, Integrating Project Delivery details the “why” and “how” of IPD and how to organize and execute projects to achieve better value for all participants as an integrated team. It is a guide for aligning project collaborators and a promise for designing and building a better, higher performing built environment for us all.

January 22, 2016

Trust is Key for First IPD Data Center for Digital Realty

DPR’s longstanding relationship with Digital Realty (DLR), forged over the course of more than a decade and more than 150 successful data center projects across the U.S., laid the groundwork for DLR’s first time using integrated project delivery (IPD) on a data center project in Richardson, TX.

By entering into a seven-party integrated form of agreement (IFOA), the IPD team shared all project risks and rewards on the $37.3 million, 140,000-sq.-ft. project. 

Like any challenging data center project, DLR's data center saw its fair share of challenges, such as schedule pressure due to intense rainfall, and the fact that this was the first IPD project that many of the firms involved had ever undertaken. However, the project was completed on the original 10-month schedule in July, approximately $500,000 under the original targeted value. The DLR data center came to be a true testament of what can be accomplished by a solution-oriented team backed by a high degree of trust, collaboration, and a shared commitment to finish on time and under budget. 

To learn more, read the full article here