Most projects hold topping out ceremonies when the last beam is put into place atop a structure. However at Coda, Georgia Tech's new high-powered computing center in midtown Atlanta, the project team held a “bottoming out” celebration marking the completion of mass excavation.
Once complete, Coda will be a 750,000-sq.-ft. mixed-use complex near Atlanta’s Downtown Connector and Georgia Tech’s campus at Tech Square. The building, which will occupy a full city block, will feature a 630,000-sq.-ft., 21-floor Class “T” Office Tower, an 80,000-sq.-ft. high-performance computing (HPC) data center, 50,000-sq.-ft. office, retail and lobby space, and 330,000-sq.-ft. parking garage.
Despite above average rainfall, lost days due to weather, and working in a downtown environment with no laydown space, the team is collaboratively managing and maintaining the overall project schedule.
The following numbers help illustrate the magnitude of this effort:
87,043 work-hours with no lost time incidents
160,000 cubic yards of soil and rock removed
15,000 truckloads of soil hauled
190 piles driven
Five levels of below-grade parking — enough space to hide a four-story office building below ground
Enough water pumped out of the site to fill a 3/4" garden hose nearly reaching the moon and back
DPR is working with the development team of Portman Holdings and NextTier HD on the project, which is slated for completion by the end of 2018.
This spring, in honor of International Women’s Day, International Women’s Week, Women in Construction Week and Women’s History Month, we wanted to celebrate the achievements made by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries, communities and fields of work.
If every woman in the workforce did not work for 24 hours, it would put a $21 billion dollar dent in country's gross domestic product—without factoring in the economic value of women's unpaid labor. If all that caretaking work were factored into GDP, it would surge by more than 25% (Center for American Progress, Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Profitability increases by 15% for firms that have at least 30% female executives versus firms with no women in the top tier positions (Peterson Institute for International Economics and EY).
As of 2016, there are 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., employing 9 million people and generating an astounding $1.6 trillion in revenues. Between 2007 and 2016, the growth in the number of women-owned firms has outpaced the national average by five times and business revenues have increased at a rate that’s 30% higher than the national average during this same period (Fortune).
As we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the world, we at DPR want to recognize the women who lead and inspire us every day. Construction is a traditionally male-dominated industry that is only 9.3 percent women (Bureau of Labor Statistics). We want to spotlight the women who are paving the way and are proud to announce the launch of a monthly blog series called Celebrating Women Who Build, dedicated to sharing stories of women who build great things not only at DPR, but across the AEC industry.
Celebrating Women Who Build tells stories of empowered women, who are successfully executing complex, technical projects. We want to connect, inspire, develop and advance women in the industry as they build meaningful careers—whether it’s as a PE, a PX, an architect or an owner.
As we continue to share our Celebrating Women Who Build profiles once a month, please join us in creating a strong, supportive environment where all builders can thrive–today, and every day.
Celebrating Women Who Build Blog Series
Gretchen Kinsella We kicked off the Celebrating Women Who Build series with the story of Gretchen Kinsella. Kinsella is DPR’s youngest project executive in Phoenix, managing the largest project that we have ever built in the area—the $318-million renovation of Banner University Medical Center Phoenix (BUMCP). On the last day of 2016, she gave birth to her daughter in one of the very same rooms she built back in 2004.
ENR Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference After her story was published by ENR, Gretchen Kinsella shared her personal/career journey in an inspiring keynote address at ENR's Groundbreaking Women in Construction conference in San Francisco.
Vic Julian Vic Julian, DPR's first female superintendent, joined the company in 2000 as a walk-on carpentry apprentice. Her expertise continued to develop and grow as she became a foreman, assistant superintendent and superintendent. Julian now specializes in managing ground-up construction and large corporate campuses across the Bay Area, embracing her identity as a builder to lead challenging, technical projects.
Lisa Lingerfelt Early in her career, Lisa Lingerfelt struggled with self-confidence, but challenged herself to develop her capabilities through experience and expertise. Today, Lingerfelt is a Business Unit Leader for DPR’s Mid-Atlantic region, supporting operations throughout the Northeast. As DPR has grown, she has grown with it. She was named to ENR’s Top 20 Under 40 list in 2013, and was recognized as a leader in the industry on Constructech’s Women in Construction list in 2015.
SHEBUILDS Team DPR’s Rena Crittendon and Arundhati Ghosh organized an all-female team of builders, engineers and trades to complete a series of home renovations for an 88-year-old quilter named Elnora, as part of Rebuilding Together San Francisco's SHEBUILDS day.
Andrea Weisheimer A project executive in Austin, Andrea Weisheimer is passionate about balancing the structural design complexities of tall buildings with creating cost efficiencies for her customers. Growing up with a penchant for painting and design, Weisheimer now mentors a high school intern who shares her interest in art.
Lauren Snedeker Lauren Snedeker, a project manager in Atlanta, is managing University of Georgia’s design-build improvements to the west end zone at Sanford Stadium, the tenth largest college football stadium in the country. Passionate about developing the next generation of builders, Snedeker aims to be the strong mentor her interns and project engineers can turn to–a role that was missing from her life early on in her career when she was unsure what she wanted to do.
Deepti Bhadkamkar A project manager specializing in complex MEP systems across core markets, Bhadkamkar’s passion is figuring out ways to make these labs, data centers and hospitals smarter and more efficient for the people who will eventually occupy them. She most recently managed MEP systems for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.
Connecting and Inspiring Women Who Build in Austin As part of a Celebrating Women Who Build panel in Austin, Melissa Neslund, Armbrust & Brown; Janki DePalma, DCI Engineers; Katie Blair, Charles Schwab; Pollyanna Little, STG Design—along with DPR’s Weisheimer and Bryan Lofton discussed how to connect, inspire, develop and advance women in the industry as they build meaningful careers—whether it’s as a PE, a PX, an architect or an owner.
Whitney Dorn A project executive leading a 73-acre corporate campus project in Irvine, California, Whitney Dorn sees trust and respect as the foundation for any highly functioning team. She hopes to help the next generation of builders see themselves in this industry, picture the career paths ahead of them, and know that building great things is what they want to do for the rest of their lives.
Kali Bonnell After starting her career at DPR as an intern, Kali Bonnell grew both her skills and confidence in DPR’s flat organizational structure. Each opportunity helped build her experience to prepare her for the Boca Raton Regional Hospital Christine E. Lynn Women’s Health and Wellness Institute project, her first job as a full-fledged project manager. The 90% female design-build team of architects, designers, builders and owner’s representatives shared a vision for creating the 45,800-sq.-ft. comprehensive women’s center with the patient in mind.
Last week, Training Magazine recognized DPR’s Learning and Development efforts—we ranked 26th on the magazine’s 2017 Training Top 125 list. Many of our customers were also recognized on the list, which includes companies from all sectors. Congratulations to all the firms recognized! Read the full article here.
A bit of background on the award: The Training Top 125 ranks companies that excel at employee learning and development, and it is determined by assessing a range of qualitative and quantitative factors. According to the magazine, “Training Top 125 Award winners are the organizations with the most successful learning and development programs in the world—and the Top 125 has been the premier learning industry awards program for 16 years.” DPR has appeared on the list six times. In addition, last year, Training Magazine named DPR’s Melissa King an Emerging Training Leader.
DPR's Melissa King (bottom row, right) celebrates a successful Current Best Practices training session in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Melissa was named an Emerging Training Leader by Training Magazine. (Photo courtesy: Melissa King)
A few examples of DPR’s learning opportunities:
A national DPR training initiative that helps our project engineers (PEs) become even better, more well-rounded, technical builders is in line with our core value of “Ever Forward.” PEs from around the country converge at one DPR region for the week, where participants have long days of actual physical building, lessons learned from the day, team-building events at night, and DPR culture story telling. The unique experience also incorporates the company’s strong commitment to giving back to the community—in a recent session, participants donated chicken coops they built to local schools.
Project engineers strap on their boots and learn how to lay concrete during a build day with DPR's self-perform work concrete team. (Photo courtesy: Everett Rosette)
The Energy Project is an approach we used on one of our complex hospital projects, which extended beyond our employees and included the engineers, architects, subcontractors and customer on that project team. The concept behind The Energy Project is that by raising our own personal energy levels, we can increase our personal and professional performance. Looking at four aspects of energy (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual), the team’s overall energy improved by 43% as a direct result of training.
Those are just two examples of the diverse learning opportunities we offer, which range from focusing on technical aspects of construction to people skills (self-awareness, conflict resolution, time/life management, etc.). Using data from Customer Satisfaction Surveys, Critical Success Factors and more performance metrics, our training concentrates on building better builders.
At DPR, we are a learning organization and believe who we build is as important as what we build. We recognize that continuous learning and development are keys to the success of individuals and project teams.
Who we build is as important as what we build: a group at Current Best Practices participates in an interactive quality control exercise. (Photo courtesy: Melissa King)
DPR’s Steve Bartkowski has been building great things his whole life–but not in the way you might think.
Taken off the board as the No. 1 overall pick of the 1975 National Football League (NFL) Draft by the Atlanta Falcons, the young quarterback from Santa Clara, California started building a strong reputation and relationships early on in his career. He helped resurrect the struggling football program at UC Berkeley, leading the nation in passing yards and becoming a consensus All-American in the process. Bartkowski also became the first client of his pal from the Berkeley dorms–Leigh Steinberg, who went on to represent more star athletes and inspire the film Jerry Maguire.
The No. 1 overall pick of the 1975 NFL Draft, Bartkowski guided the team to its first playoff victory in franchise history over the Philadelphia Eagles in 1978. (Photo courtesy: Steve Bartkowski)
The blessing (and the curse) of being the No. 1 overall pick is that the best collegiate player goes to the worst team in the NFL. No stranger to rebuilding, Bartkowski became the NFL Rookie of the Year, led Atlanta to its first playoff victory in franchise history in 1978 and playoff appearances in 1980 and 1982, setting multiple team records along the way. In his 11 seasons with the Falcons and one season with the Los Angeles Rams, he appeared in two Pro Bowls and threw for over 24,000 passing yards.
After undergoing nine operations over the course of his football career, Bartkowski had failing knees and “literally no gas in the tank,” as he likes to put it. He retired after the 1986 season, and faced the difficult, strange challenge of adjusting to a life without football–all he’d ever known. He served on the Atlanta Falcons’ board of advisors for 13 years, attends almost every home game and occasionally mentors current players.
After retiring from football, Bartkowski took up golfing. From left to right: Bartkowski, John Imlay, Chris Redman and Matt Ryan on a golf trip to Scotland. (Photo courtesy: Steve Bartkowski)
Close friends with the Falcons’ Matt Ryan, Bartkowski talks about everything other than football with the Super Bowl quarterback who is breaking the passing records he set decades ago. Sharing a love of golf and impacting people’s lives in a positive way, the two have collaborated on community initiatives with organizations, including Children’s Healthcare and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Atlanta.
With the reputation of integrity he built as a player in Atlanta, he was adamant about working for a company he would never have to apologize for and one that he could be proud of like he is of his beloved Falcons. After connecting Jim Dolen, his childhood best friend and one of DPR’s original eight employees, to some construction opportunities in the Southeast, Bartkowski joined the DPR team as one of the first four members of DPR’s Atlanta office. In his client relations/business development role, Bartkowski helps grow relationships with customers.
Bartkowski is joined by Jim and James Dolen at his induction to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012. (Photo courtesy: Steve Bartkowski)
“I’m now going on my 17th year with DPR, and never once have I had to apologize for anything that we have done. We do what we say we’re going to do, and this team has always made me proud of what we’ve built in the area,” he said.
Bartkowski compares construction to football as the ultimate team sport. His strength is creating conversation starters and building relationships–football is always an easy topic in the South–but he is just one piece of the team. “I’m pretty good at shaking someone’s hand, creating a relationship, and then ‘handing off’ the project to others on the team to execute,” he said. “There are so many people who are passionate about what they do at DPR, and none of them is going to allow the ball to be dropped.”
After hosting outdoor television shows on ESPN and TNN, Bartkowski joined DPR in a business development role. (Photo courtesy: Steve Bartkowski)
Bartkowski’s sons Phil and Peter followed in their father’s footsteps and joined the DPR family. Phil started in Atlanta, moved to DPR’s Redwood City office and has now relocated to DPR’s Houston office, and Peter worked in the Atlanta office for 11 years–creating lots of fun times at the Bartkowski Thanksgiving table, sharing DPR stories.
One thing Bartkowski learned on the football field is that you’re only as good as the team around you, and he has found a new team at DPR. They might not play football, but they will always have each other’s back, just like his offensive line would protect him from a pass rush.
And just as he helped build the football teams at Cal and Atlanta from the ground up, he helped open a new frontier with DPR Atlanta’s office, which now includes more than 150-employees and recently completed Clemson’s new football operations center and the University of Georgia’s indoor practice facility. Bartkowski has been a football player his whole life; he’s also been a builder…a builder of great things.
A family of builders: Bartkowski’s son Phil (left) joined DPR and now works in the Houston office. (Photo courtesy: Steve Bartkowski)
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) asked that very question during recent interviews with Doug Woods, co-founder and the D in DPR, and Matt Murphy, who is part of the Texas Business Unit Leadership team.
How does DPR do it? What are the benefits? What are the challenges?
The benefits were easy to articulate: increased collaboration, enhanced decision-making at all levels, greater opportunities for leadership, and a highly engaged workforce. Employees are empowered and trusted to make decisions. The focus is on roles, responsibilities and experience—versus titles, bureaucracy and power. That’s what it feels like to work at DPR.
The Wall Street Journal interviewed DPR's Doug Woods and Matt Murphy about shared leadership for the December 14, 2016 print and online editions.
The challenges, however, while slightly more difficult to accurately convey, are what builds the character of DPR from deep within.
In the WSJ article, Woods mentions that the Management Committee arrives at decisions together, sometimes after “a lot of argument,” but claims the company is better off with consensus.
To some, arguing or conflict is seen as a negative. In the culture of DPR, it’s a positive. We have groups of leaders, who are passionate, engaged, and openly and respectfully express/debate various points of view to arrive at the best direction for the company. It is by thoughtful design and this commitment to brutal honesty and transparency that helps build trust with all who have the opportunity to work here.
Shared leadership focuses on combining the strengths of people to produce high-performing teams ready to build great things. DPR's Management Committee includes (top row) Mike Ford, Greg Haldeman, George Pfeffer, Eric Lamb, (bottom row) Mike Humphrey, Michele Leiva, Peter Salvati and Jody Quinton.
For Murphy, who previously worked for more traditionally structured construction companies before joining DPR in 2013, it’s a “breath of fresh air” that has helped the Texas region thrive and grow into a tri-city, $1 billion operation.
“In the traditional model, you get one person’s direction or opinion. At DPR, you get lots of opinions and advice but no one person tells you what to do. At the end of the day, it’s your decision to make and you take responsibility for that decision,” said Murphy. “The Management Committee gives us all the tools we need and trusts us to make it happen.”
That’s the level of trust you need if you want to operate without a CEO.
DPR’s collaborative spirit is exemplified through shared leadership. It began with DPR’s three co-founders, Doug Woods, Peter Nosler and Ron Davidowski in 1990, and continues with DPR’s Management Committee and throughout the company.
We all desire more predictable results and outcomes.
One of DPR’s four core values is Ever Forward: “We believe in continual self-initiated change, improvement, learning and the advancement of standards for their own sake.” This core value, combined with our other core values of integrity, enjoyment and uniqueness, has served us well.
It has helped sustain our desire to be a progressive and nimble learning organization, where people are empowered to drive continuous improvement for our customers and their projects. DPR has always been a thinking organization, with people willing to learn, change, adapt, move and build it better.
But as we move forward and further dissect the intent of our Ever Forward core value, we must also be mindful of where standards (or the advancement of standards) fit into our entrepreneurial company culture and our customer-centric industry. Well-crafted standards and proven current best practices (how we like to think of them at DPR) are the basis for improvement and can help set a strong foundation for consistency and reliability.
Read the full story about how we’re working together to set new standards and then advance them for advancement’s sake in the DPR Review.
Ever Forward: “We believe in continual self-initiated change, improvement, learning and the advancement of standards for their own sake.”
In 2015 alone, various business publications gave DPR spots in the top 10 on their lists of best places to work, including the Triangle Business Journal and Florida Trend, which both ranked DPR the No. 1 Best Place to Work
DPR broke ground on a new data center for Facebook in Fort Worth, Texas, marking the fourth Facebook data center campus to be built by the DPR Fortis Mission Critical Team
In November, the San Francisco Business Times honored Co-Founders Doug Woods, Peter Nosler and Ron Davidowski (the D, P and R) with a Most-Admired CEO award.
How did the team for the UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay in San Francisco successfully accommodate $55 million worth of changes to the project midway through construction without adversely impacting the budget and scheduled opening date?
“By embracing and planning for change,” said J. Stuart Eckblad, Executive Director of Major Capital Projects for UCSF Medical Center
As shown in the infographic below, the almost decade-long journey to create the $1.5 billion, 878,00-sq.-ft. world-class medical center included 1,200 designers and builders—250 of which co-located together.
The integrated, high-performing team delivered final results including $200 million in savings, improved quality and completion eight days ahead of schedule.
With an on-time opening of Feb. 1, the 289-bed medical center includes Benioff Children’s, Bakar Cancer and Betty Irene Moore Women’s Hospitals.
Learn more about the project—the collaborative approach, how the team determined the most effective approach and used BIM—in this story or this extended case study.
For 25 years, DPR has been serving customers across the nation by bringing our technical expertise to a regional level through our 20 offices. These regional offices allow us to support customers wherever we are needed and respond to the frequently changing needs of the construction industry.
Throughout these regions, DPR and its customers have been hard at work. Curious? Here's a peek at some of the many exciting projects being accomplished, from sea to shining sea:
In Texas, we broke ground on the Capital One Plano campus. The 5,900 employees on campus will be glad to hear that this four-story building will include a game room, collaboration spaces, cafeteria, and training rooms. This will be the seventh building on the Plano campus and is expected to be complete by early 2017.
In the Mid-Atlantic, we continue to be part of the growing data center presence and recently broke ground on the 45-acre Equinix Ashburn North Campus. This will add 1.2 million sq. ft. of data center space to the area in Northern Virginia referred to as “Data Center Alley,” where up to 70% of the world’s internet traffic flows through.
In San Diego, the next generation of nurse scientists, educators, and practitioners are continuing their education at the University of San Diego Beyster Institute for Nursing Research. This new building, complete with a simulation facility featuring computerized mannequins, was completed in just 16 months and is now a national model for nursing education.
The list could go on, but we'll keep it brief. While this is just a glimpse of what we're up to, DPR's strong national presence allows us to continuously embark on many amazing projects such as these and provide a consistent experience for our customers every time.
*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.
If you’re sitting in your office reading this, take a moment and look around. What do you enjoy most about your workplace? Is it something specific, or is it something a little less tangible? What is it exactly that makes a workplace great?
According to Gallup, the average American adult works 47 hours a week, which adds up to 2,256 hours of your life per year. That is just one of the many reasons why CEOs, HR departments, and psychologists across the country have put in so much time and effort into researching what makes a workplace great.
Ron Friedman, a psychologist and business consultant, recently published a book called, The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace. In his book, Friedman suggests that one of the best things employers can do for their workplaces is to challenge their employees, without overwhelming them. With the right amount of challenge, employees will feel empowered to come up with their own best approach or solution to a problem.
In addition to empowerment, people need to feel like they are part of one culture. When Fortune magazine spoke to China Gorman, the CEO of the Great Place to Work Institute, she said companies succeed when they create one consistent culture throughout the entire organization. By doing so, employees will be better equipped for collaboration, which ensures customers will have a consistently excellent experience.
DPR strives to not only build great things, but to build great people – and it shows.
For five consecutive years, DPR has been awarded a spot on Fortune’s Best Places to Work list for reasons such as our open culture and our environment of trust that empowers employees at all levels to make decisions in the best interest of our projects, our customers and our company. This feeling of empowerment can be felt throughout all of DPR’s regions. In 2015 alone, the Triangle Business Journal, the Dallas Business Journal, Florida Trend, and the San Francisco Business Times have all given DPR top spots on their lists of the best places to work.
*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.