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.
Andrea Weisheimer was born with an inherent desire to create, to build, to do. Growing up with a passion for painting and design, she thought she would pursue a career in art until she discovered the construction engineering management program at Oregon State University.
Now a project executive in DPR’s Austin office, Weisheimer uses her art background to guide and connect construction and design teams, embracing the challenge of taking a rendering or sketch and figuring out how to technically bring it to life. It is this diversity of skillset that brings fresh ideas to her jobsites.
“Art has always been a passion of mine, but after first trying industrial engineering, I decided I didn’t want to be behind a desk all day. I needed to find something that could combine business with engineering and technical skills,” said Weisheimer.
When a college advisor suggested construction management, she asked, “Do I look like I would work in construction?” but gave it a try and fell in love with it.
After graduating and starting her career as a concrete field engineer, she laid out specific goals for herself. She wanted to learn how to build a high rise (she would build the tallest building in the world, if she could) and become a project manager. With a focus on high rise construction, and a penchant for balancing the structural design complexities of tall buildings with creating cost efficiencies for her customers, Weisheimer became a project manager by the age of 27. She asked herself, what’s next?
DPR was next. Since joining DPR in 2015, Weisheimer has continued with her passion for building commercial high rises, including Third + Shoal, a 29-story, 345,000-sq.-ft. Class-AA corporate office space in downtown Austin. The project, which features 24,000-sq.-ft. floor plates and Austin’s first ‘smart and connected’ building system, is expected to be completed in 2018. As construction booms in the Texas state capital, DPR continues to change the city’s skyline, including the ground-up construction of Colorado Tower, the J.W. Marriott, the Aloft/Element Hotel, University of Texas Replacement Office Building, and more.
“Just being a part of this industry makes me proud,” she said. “It makes me proud to see others succeed, and I love to see others get passionate about building.”
Weisheimer has been a crucial contributor to developing DPR's Build Up high school internship program, which gives under-resourced students with an interest in construction or engineering a chance to work at a jobsite for the summer, exposing them to career opportunities available in the industry. She helped create curriculum for the interns’ initial tasks: writing daily journals, interviewing different roles on the jobsite, and operating in mock scenarios to get a sense of how to overcome typical challenges on a project.
She personally mentors a 17-year-old high schooler named Anais, who–just like her–loves art and even participates in art competitions. When people come into Weisheimer’s life, she figures it is for a reason and she sticks with them. She plans to mentor and guide Anais through her college education and beyond.
Weisheimer wants women to know that it is OK to let go of insecurities and follow your passions. Through her involvement with Girlstart and Girls Empowerment Network (GEN) Austin, organizations that focus on increasing interest and engagement in STEM fields, she wants to inspire young women to be confident, be bold and be brilliant.
“There aren’t a lot of women in this industry, and I can see the passion in Anais’ eyes,” she said. “I want to share my experiences with her, and I want to show her, ‘this is how we build!’ Construction is an option for women, too.”
Every day on the jobsite brings a new challenge for Weisheimer, whether it is figuring out how to construct a high rise double helix parking garage, install complex exterior skin systems, or integrate building system controls. When she goes home, she sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night, inspired with an idea for a sketch of a renovation project or a landscape design.
So she gets up in the pitch dark, and just like everything else in her life–she creates, she builds, she does.
More than 10,500 people across 140 jobsites celebrated National Construction Safety Week and participated in OSHA’s 2017 National Safety Stand-Down this year.
DPR has participated in the National Safety Stand-Down since its inception four years ago, with company-wide efforts to educate our teams about how everyone has a role in safety, to make sure that every employee returns home to their family each night.
This year, we nearly doubled our number of participants. In 2015 we reached 6,670 participants across 79 DPR jobsites; in 2016 we increased that number to 9,444 participants across 130 jobsites. This year, the stand-down included 10,503 participants across 140 jobsites nationwide.
The purpose of the National Fall Prevention Stand-Down is to raise awareness of preventing fall hazards in construction:
PLAN ahead to get the job done safely
PROVIDE the right equipment
TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely
As one of the safest contractors in the nation, we’re committed to promoting and nurturing an Injury-Free Environment (IFE), with the goal of achieving zero incidents on every project. Participation in the annual Safety Stand-Down is a way for us to strengthen our culture of safety. Thank you to all who make safety a value at DPR every day!
On a Saturday morning this spring, Jon Shores and about 70 members of the DPR team rose much earlier than the sun and headed to a leading enterprise software company’s campus in Pleasanton, California. They positioned 15 light towers around the site to illuminate what would become DPR’s largest ever self-performed concrete pour.
The 410,000-sq.-ft. commercial office space will become the company’s corporate headquarters when it is completed in 2019, and is a full cast-in-place concrete structure, unique in an area where most buildings are made of structural steel. The cast-in-place concrete structure will help foster a look and feel of structural, exposed concrete from a design perspective and reduce vibrations in the building for user comfort. To support the 3-foot thick concrete core walls that rise from the mat foundation all the way up seven stories to the roof, the team needed to build a thick mat foundation, as unique as the building it will hold up.
In 11 hours, DPR coordinated the pour of 4,800 cubic yards of concrete, reinforced with 1.2 million pounds of rebar. The foundation is notably 6 feet 6 inches thick in its center, and about 5 feet thick around the perimeter. Although the project is a large structure, the construction site itself is relatively small, bordered by a highway, a mall and a BART station.
The DPR team set up its own traffic control system to manage the nearby mall traffic and make sure the commercial hub and its shoppers were not affected by the 480 truckloads of concrete coming in and out of the site all day. The pour was serviced by four on-site concrete pumps and four concrete plants based in Pleasanton, Hayward, Oakland and Martinez. Because of the sheer volume of concrete needed for the foundation, the team was pouring as many as 500 cubic yards of concrete per hour. By the end of the day, the team had poured enough concrete to fill one and a half Olympic-size swimming pools, or 3.7 million 2-liter bottles of soda.
“We were able to pull this off because of the strength of the team we have on site, including our highly skilled craftspeople and their dedication to quality and safety,” said Shores. “Self-performing structural concrete allows us to set the tone and pace for the job and ultimately allows us to deliver a quality product to our customer.”
11 hours after that dark, early morning, the team celebrated the major milestone, as the successful completion of the mat foundation cleared the way to begin vertical construction on the core walls. Eventually 600 lineal feet of walls will rise above the mat, as the team continues to build great things–from the ground up.
It is pure dedication that drove Rena Crittendon to return to the home of an 88-year-old woman named Elnora after an all-female DPR team completed a series of home renovations as part of Rebuilding Together San Francisco's SHEBUILDS day. It is Crittendon’s pride in her work, as part Bay Area community initiatives champion, part field office coordinator (FOC), that challenged her to go back and stucco Elnora's house herself, furthering what she learned from her teammates that day.
When women unite, they can accomplish anything.
In launching the SHEBUILDS day this year, Rebuilding Together San Francisco not only highlighted the level of need among women in the community, but also showcased the ability of women in construction and design industries to assist and empower other women in their own backyard. And the need is real; Rebuilding Together points to statistics showing that more than one in seven women and one in five children live in poverty across the U.S. In 2015, 66% of the homes repaired by Rebuilding Together San Francisco were headed by a woman.
Arundhati Ghosh, a BIM project engineer with DPR, got the ball rolling on the SHEBUILDS project after hearing about the opportunity from a colleague. She had participated on Rebuilding Together projects in the past, but Ghosh said the prospect of an all-female team was intriguing. “The group I currently work with is all men,” she said. “It was interesting to me to see how it would be if it was an all-women's group with women taking the lead instead of men.”
Ghosh reached out to Crittendon, and a team of nearly 40 of DPR's female employees, along with 10 women from other companies, joined together to tackle the much-needed home improvement project.
“There were holes in the ceiling and wall in the back bedroom behind the quilting room the woman uses, and a 10-ft.-long strip that was open to the elements. This was not going to be just a patch job,” Crittendon noted. Electrical and plumbing fixes were also needed. “We took several walk-throughs with an all-female team of experts, including a carpenter superintendent, structural engineer and others, and decided we needed more than one day to do the job.”
Finding the skilled trade workers to make up the all-female team seemed daunting, but the team ultimately secured several electricians, two skilled workers from DPR's self-perform demolition crew, a carpenter superintendent (Vic Julian, DPR’s first female superintendent), a plumber (the granddaughter of the homeowner), and many others. When planning the build day with the team, some people questioned, “can we pull this off? Can we do this with only women?” Crittendon’s answer was, “hell yes!”
In addition to the 430 total hours of planning and building invested in the project, the DPR-led, all-female team brought a strong sense of collaboration, an innate trust in their teammates, and support for fellow team members' input and ideas. “The camaraderie was amazing,” Ghosh said. “It was really high energy all day, and it was extremely collaborative.”
Additional comments from the women who participated and were surveyed at project completion included one who said, “I gained invaluable hands-on experience with construction. I love that our community initiative activities help our employees grow their skillsets as builders.” Another commented that the personal reward was “some really great teamwork and knowing we really improved the quality of life of the person we helped.”
It is the “awesomeness” that comes out of each event that grows Crittendon’s passion for helping others even more. “The women who helped us build over the course of the two days are smart, strong and technical. They inspire me every day, and they taught me so much about building. I feel so much more confident now in my own abilities because of them,” she said.
Similar to how a project team builds the right relationships with the right partners (architects, owners, subcontractors) at the beginning of a job, Crittendon in her community role strives to form the right partnerships with the right organizations so DPR's employees can serve them in the best ways they know how: facility construction, career/educational opportunities and operational support.
For Crittendon, it’s all about the long-term impact, the people who come out to volunteer, and the people they are serving. It’s the women she works with, who build great things and inspire her every day. It’s showing her kids that she can be a full-time working mom, handling two different roles at DPR while still managing to coach her daughter’s travel softball team. She is more than just passionate about all she does–she is proud.
Richmond, Virginia teenagers had the opportunity to learn about construction planning and safety and then test their leadership skills guiding younger children through a hands-on build project during DPR’s three-day School of Construction for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond this May.
DPR’s Mid-Atlantic office tailored their second annual School of Construction event in a way designed to better engage teen members of the local Boys & Girls Clubs. Around 25 members from the Northside and Southside clubs, including five older teens, participated. They joined together with 16 DPR employees to plan and run an event that shared DPR’s unique technical skillsets with the community while educating local youth.
“The goal was really expanding our partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs and better engaging their teen population,” said Diane Rossini, community outreach coordinator for DPR’s Richmond office. “All of the teens were very excited to take ownership of the build. It was great to see the smiles on their faces when they succeeded in working through a problem.”
The School of Construction event kicked off with a planning day with the teen leaders. Teens partnered with DPR volunteers and discussed how they would be leading the hands-on building groups. DPR employees had the chance to share their various career paths and what DPR stands for as a company. The teens were also introduced to construction planning and Building Information Modeling (BIM) tools used in real-world scenarios including P6 scheduling, 3-D and 4-D modeling.
A follow-up pre-build and safety day with the teen leaders offered the teens an opportunity to work side-by-side with DPR volunteers, complete with a PPE safety gear demo and pre-task plan. The teens worked through the building process and gained the confidence they needed to lead the younger club members on build day.
During the actual School of Construction Day at DPR’s Richmond office, the youth were exposed to virtual and augmented reality tools used in construction and offered a chance to interact with a virtual construction site. Teen leaders guided groups of younger students to build five prefabricated planter boxes. Those boxes will be donated to Renew Richmond’s community garden education program at G.H. Reid Elementary School and installed by DPR volunteers in June.
Darricka Carter, director of corporate & foundation relations for Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond, commented, “DPR’s School of Construction provided our club members a chance to learn new skills, be exposed to new career opportunities and instilled in them a sense of accomplishment. The skillsets they gained will help them set goals for their future and develop personally and professionally.”
Feedback from the teens themselves showed DPR succeeded in that goal–one that challenged them well beyond the typical role as student to take on a leadership role as a teacher instead.
“It was challenging to teach kids to want more,” said Tyreicq, one of the teen leaders. “I told them that if you want something you’ve never had in your life, you will have to do something you’ve never done.”
Teen leader Amira, a graduating senior who plans to major in mechanical engineering in college, had the chance to partner directly with DPR team members from engineering backgrounds who shared their experience with her. “It was cool to hear the perspectives of other individuals with similar interests and educational backgrounds,” she said.
David LeFebvre, director of development at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond added, “The School of Construction was a beautiful blend of service-learning, DPR employees’ expertise and team-building. It was such a well-designed program that allowed our kids to learn about what different kinds of jobs are out there, how they can contribute to their community, and how important it is to work as a team. This kind of activity is exactly what BGCMR is looking for to get our kids ready for life.”
Lisa Lingerfelt’s first project when she returned to work from maternity leave in 2006 was her first as a project manager (PM). A defining moment in her 15-year career, Lingerfelt led the construction of a $60 million ground-up lab facility for the University of Virginia (UVA), then a new customer for DPR. The team needed to exceed expectations, and rose to the occasion. Lingerfelt still takes great pride in how the team turned over the facility on time, under budget and with no punchlist items at substantial completion.
It was on that project as a PM where Lingerfelt grew both her leadership and technical skills, learning the difference between managing and leading, and technical knowledge ranging from the complexities of geopiers to comparing the aesthetics and spec requirements of welds on an ornamental stair.
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.
Early in her career, even after she earned a B.S. in engineering and a master’s in construction management, Lingerfelt struggled with self-confidence. She joined DPR in 2002 as a project engineer, and felt young and inexperienced in a complex, technical world. On one occasion when she was the lead project engineer on the Virginia Capital Square Renovation project, Lingerfelt was standing with her team during a press conference. A visiting politician mistook her as the daughter of one of her colleagues and asked her if it was “Bring Your Daughter to Work Day.”
It took time for her to find her voice and speak up more in meetings, but she soon realized that the key for unlocking her inner confidence was experience and expertise. She was someone who grew the most when she was outside of her comfort zone—challenging herself to persevere and develop her capabilities.
“Once I had the experience and expertise, my confidence grew and the more I spoke up, the more I realized that my voice did make a difference and had an impact. It was not easy. I worked hard, and always in the best interest of our projects and company,” she said. “And in turn, DPR has believed in me and recognized me for my accomplishments and skills.”
Lingerfelt loves how every day is different in her role at DPR. She knows our core value of enjoyment is about how the people who work at DPR find their work intrinsically satisfying, are passionate about what they do, and love being a part of the DPR family. She enjoys coming to work every day–no matter how early, and no matter what challenge is ahead of her.
She thrives on problem-solving and teamwork, and particularly enjoys the unique challenges of healthcare facilities–the emphasis on patient care, rigorous cleanliness standards and the challenge of keeping an occupied hospital up and running during construction. She has led notable projects including the renovation of VCU Health Medical Center, which is located in a congested downtown area, surrounded on all sides by active medical facilities and expected to be completed in 2018.
While the UVA project, her first as a PM over a decade ago, was a defining moment in her career, Lingerfelt’s proudest moment is when she comes home and realizes that as a working mom, she is a role model for her two kids. She is showing them by example, that they don’t have to give up their professional aspirations to be a parent.
And whenever she tells her 11-year old daughter or her 9-year old son that she is proud of them, her heart melts when they smile and respond that it is her that they are most proud of.
Despite the diminutive size of a tiny house project that DPR recently completed for Community First! Village in Austin, more than 50 DPR volunteers brought big building skills and even bigger heart to the job.
The project is part of a 27-acre development owned by Mobile Loaves & Fishes that will ultimately offer around 275 disabled, chronically homeless people in central Texas a long-term living community.
“It’s been nothing short of phenomenal,” commented Alan Graham, director of Mobile Loaves and Fishes at Community First! Village. “The DPR team is just awesome. From a corporate culture point of view, that whole (DPR) team out there has been stellar and it blows me away that a company as large as DPR has such a big heart.”
The large volunteer workforce, including skilled craftspeople, self-perform drywallers, painters, carpenters and others, constructed the tiny house over about two and a half weeks in April. In true DPR style, crews willingly jumped in to help construct the 220-sq.-ft. tiny house with a 300-sq.-ft. rooftop deck, even though all are busy on DPR projects in the thriving Austin market. The volunteer workforce included the many other DPR employees on jobsites who covered their colleagues’ work while they were away building the tiny house.
Graham described the Community First! Village model as a “radical new movement” designed to provide a new start for the formerly homeless.
“It’s really centered around the idea that housing will never solve homelessness, but community will,” he said.
Record-Setting Build While the end product itself may be tiny, the challenges getting the tiny house completed on DPR’s self-imposed two-and-a-half-week schedule loomed large. That build schedule easily surpassed the speed that any of the other 130 or so tiny houses on site have gone up to date.
“DPR built this faster than Community First! has ever seen one of their tiny houses come together – ever,” said DPR’s Angie Weyant, one of the project’s organizers. The team also overcame challenges including inclement weather and design adjustments.
Taking Stock of Lessons Learned Although it has been challenging, in typical DPR fashion, volunteers “are already talking about when we do this the next time, how will we do it better?” Weyant said with a laugh. “What makes us different is the initiative and genuine desire of our teams to use our technical and self-perform work skills to make a positive impact in the communities in which we operate.”
For now, they are making plans for a ribbon-cutting or housewarming ceremony, perhaps with the lucky tenant who moves into the DPR-built tiny house. While the reward for the new tenant is a permanent home to live in while they pay rent and contribute to the community around them, for the DPR team, the payoff is simply knowing they made a difference to someone in need.
In honor of Mother’s Day, we wanted to recognize and celebrate our working moms–women who build, lead and inspire us today and every day.
We asked moms of DPR: what does being a working mom mean to you? The answers we received were moving, and we wanted to share them with you below. To our everyday heroes–thank you for all that you do as we continue to celebrate #WomenWhoBuild.
Barry Fleisher knows a thing or two about follow-up. In his 15-year career as a neonatologist specializing in newborn intensive care at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, he helped develop a high-risk infant follow-up program. The program recognized that the end of each baby’s hospital stay was the beginning of the rest of his or her life, and made sure that infants and children grew and developed healthily after they left the hospital.
After retiring in 2003, Fleisher focused on another passion, photography. Attracted to the idea of capturing beauty in hidden places and telling stories through a series of work, he wound up in places where he genuinely enjoyed being, whether it was a coastal fishing village on the Peninsula or the bustling streets of San Francisco.
It was serendipity when he realized his former home, the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, was expanding. Scheduled for opening in 2017, the new Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford expansion project more than doubles the size of the existing facility, adding 521,000 sq. ft. and allowing the hospital to meet increased demand for pediatric and obstetric care as the Bay Area population grows. Returning to document the work at the institution he cares for so deeply, Fleisher began to photograph construction progress once a week at the project starting in March 2014.
Trained by DPR in jobsite safety and always accompanied by a spotter, Fleisher has captured the physical intensity, the humanity as well as the details of building. His photo of the daylong demobilization of a tower crane was one of the winners of ENR’s 2016 “Year in Construction” photo contest.
With a father, brother and uncle who were in the construction business, Fleisher helped with construction and land surveying jobs during summers in high school and college. Construction is in his blood, and he remains fascinated by the level of complexity and detail that goes into making structures that serve a purpose, that support life. From his perspective of patient care, along with his past medical research on the behavior and development of pre-term infants, Fleisher is especially attentive to the importance of environment in healing.
“The Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford team put an incredible amount of thought and detail into making sure the space puts family first and whenever possible, brings nature into the healing process. Although the workers I met onsite won’t be involved in patient care, their role in creating a space that will help sick kids feel better is extraordinarily important to them,” Fleisher said. “It adds to the spirit that was literally built into the hospital, brick by brick, by their effort and dedication.”
In his observations of building–sometimes for hours at a time–Fleisher gained a newfound appreciation for “the beauty and intricate nature” of construction. With multiple trades working in the same area, all the pieces operate in tandem, like a finely tuned machine, to prevent injury, improve efficiency and successfully deliver a project.
In his photography, Fleisher has always believed in building a series of work that tells a story until it’s finished. When the hospital opened this year, Fleisher admitted it feels bittersweet to leave the jobsite and the friends he has made there. It is rare for a construction site to be professionally captured in such chronologic detail as Fleisher has, by faithfully arriving once a week, every week, for the past three years–with the same dedication and drive he used to create the high-risk infant follow-up program at the very same hospital many years ago.
Fleisher doesn’t think he’ll photograph another construction project, or hospital project after Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.
“This project has been a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. The layers of personal meaning that this hospital has for me, where my life and career were for many years, could never be repeated anywhere else,” he said. “I hope that I’ve contributed to documenting the history of the great things that have, and will, be built here.”
Unlike his other photo series that tell a story until it’s finished, Fleisher’s photos of the hospital actually do the opposite. His photos tell the story of the new Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford rising from the ground up, and even though the building is finished, its story is not.