May 5, 2017

Celebrating Women Who Build at ENR’s Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference

In San Francisco this week, over 300 women gathered for ENR’s 14th Annual Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference (GWIC). Builders from all over the country came together to discuss, ask questions and promote change in a traditionally male-dominated industry that is only 9.3% women (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

The issue of the dearth of women in construction–as well as many other STEM fields–is complex, nuanced, and there is not one simple answer. A confluence of factors ranging from unconscious bias learned at an early age, to a lack of women in the STEM pipeline, to recruiting, retention and development of women in technical and leadership positions will not likely be solved by any one quick fix.  

What GWIC provided was a much-needed starting point for a room full of builders–strong women who build great things each and every day. Industry speakers discussed the business case for diversity, ways to achieve buy-in from leadership, achieving parity in salaries and attracting the next generation of builders. 

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In her keynote address at ENR's Groundbreaking Women in Construction conference, Kinsella shares her personal career journey. Photo courtesy of Haley Hirai

Diversity is more than diversity for “diversity’s sake,” it is about driving business results and efficiency:

  • Gender and ethnically diverse companies are respectively 15% and 35% more likely to outperform their peers. (McKinsey)
  • Companies with higher female representation in top management outperform those that don’t by delivering 34% greater returns to shareholders. (Catalyst)

DPR’s Gretchen Kinsella delivered an inspiring keynote address about her personal story and career journey. Gretchen 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.  

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DPR colleagues congratulate keynote speaker Gretchen Kinsella at ENR’s Groundbreaking Women in Construction conference. Photo courtesy of Kevin Halter

Gretchen’s story about how she found her voice and embraced who she is has resonated with readers across the country. The responses she has been getting since her story was published by ENR online in March and in the publication in April have been unexpected, inspiring and continuous. She receives emails every day from people who are still reading her story, people who identify with her challenges and victories and who are thankful to find someone who shares the same experiences that they do. 

The attendees at the conference experienced what others in the industry may feel every day–a sense of belonging with your peer group, a feeling of being accepted for everything you are and are not, and a refreshing knowledge that there are so many other builders out there like you, committed to creating a strong, supportive environment where everyone can thrive. 

April 28, 2017

Celebrating Women Who Build: Vic Julian

Vic Julian Main
Photo courtesy of Everett Rosette

Every part of Vic Julian’s life has come together to set herself up for a successful career in construction. Before she became DPR’s first female superintendent, her work as an interpreter for the deaf and hard of hearing taught her to listen to the whole room and pay attention to many different styles of communication. Her natural talent for drafting and sketching helps her visually translate complex, technical concepts to her teams. And her past experience teaching helps her view everything through the lens of training and mentoring.

Coming from three generations of carpenters–her grandfather was a founding member of Local 180 in Vallejo, and her father later became a member as well–Julian joined DPR in 2000 as a walk-on carpentry apprentice. Her technical expertise continued to develop and grow as she became a foreman, assistant superintendent and superintendent. She now specializes in managing ground-up construction and large corporate campuses across the Bay Area. 

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Vic Julian specializes in managing ground-up construction and large corporate campuses across the Bay Area. Photo courtesy of Everett Rosette

Julian prides herself on never missing a schedule, even while remaining flexible to changes in scope. “To be a superintendent, you have to be comfortable speaking your mind while listening to others. You must be willing to stand by your decisions, because you are responsible not only for schedule, but cost, quality and safety. To do this, you earn people’s respect, and own who you are,” she said.  

During her first performance review as a foreman, her superintendent told her, “Stop calling yourself a carpenter; you are a builder." Soon after, she led the challenging build of a boiler plant at a biotech campus, something she had never built before. The steam and condensate required a 420-ft. bridge atop the campus ridgeline to reach the new build, as well as three massive boilers shipped in from New York.  After its successful completion, Julian realized she could handle anything with her training–no matter how difficult it may seem.

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Julian has successfully led technical, challenging projects, including ground-up corporate and higher education campuses. Photo courtesy of Everett Rosette

Since then, Julian has led technical, architecturally demanding projects, including ground-up corporate offices and higher education campuses. The more challenging they are, the better–she welcomes occupied buildings, hazmat removal, or anything else that comes her way.

“I grew up with a mother and father who taught me that I could do anything, and at DPR it was the same,” she said. “I love to build. I love building at DPR. We have amazing mentors who taught me how to handle complex, technical projects. It is the great people who have kept me here for almost 20 years. We are a family.”   

She loves “every piece” of building, just as construction provided the perfect confluence of every piece of her prior experience. She no longer wonders if she is a builder. She is a builder, she can build anything, and she builds great things each and every day.

April 14, 2017

Paving the Way: Improving Efficiency and Quality through Laser Scanning

At a time when recent reports say the construction industry isn’t changing fast enough, DPR Construction has earned international recognition with awards from Fiatech, an organization whose focus is “innovation that builds the world," and Constructech, a publication focused on the convergence of construction and technology. 

During Fiatech’s 2017 Technology Conference and Showcase in Orlando, DPR’s Josh DeStefano accepted a Celebration of Engineering & Technology Innovation (CETI) Award in the “Intelligent & Automated Construction Jobsite” category on behalf of the entire organization. The CETI award recognizes DPR’s development of a new, quicker method for measuring the flatness of concrete floors in partnership with Rithm, a software developer, and Faro, a maker of 3D imaging devices. The same strategy also won a Constructech Vision Award—Gold in the Commercial Builder/GC Over $500 Million category. 

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Josh DeStefano accepts the Fiatech CETI award in the “Intelligent & Automated Construction Jobsite” category. Photo courtesy of Ken Frye

You can have a floor that passes the current standards, but still have constructability issues in the field. Today’s ASTM E1155 standards mention a basic assumption that you can’t measure every square inch of the concrete deck for flatness.

Now you can.

Over the past year and a half, on multiple projects, DPR has pioneered the measurement of concrete flatness with 3D laser scanning technology as an improvement over traditional methods of measuring. When DPR self-performs fundamental scopes of work, our own highly skilled craftspeople offer greater control, delivering the highest quality results for our customers.

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With a laser scanner, millions of measurements across the entire surface of the deck are captured. Photo courtesy of Ivy Nguyen

“We can–while the concrete is still wet–make a difference on the quality that is delivered to the owner of a building,” said DeStefano. “What once took a few days can now take minutes.”

Using traditional methods, concrete is poured and then measured, with a day or more of wait time to get the results back. At that point, the concrete is already dry, resulting in a lagging indicator of the quality of the concrete—and concrete quality is especially important for technical projects where precision flatness is paramount to successful installation of sensitive medical instruments and manufacturing equipment with precise calibration requirements. DPR has gotten this process of gathering results and getting feedback to the work crews down to minutes.

“That’s what’s beautiful about the laser scanning for floor flatness. We took something that was experimental, we brought it to our jobsites and tested it, and figured out a way to implement it into our workflow, staying true to our core value of ever forward,” said DeStefano.

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Data can be used to create a “heat” map for further understanding of the surface variations. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

With a laser scanner, millions of measurements across the entire surface of the deck are captured. This data can be used to create a high precision contour map, color coded elevation or “heat” map for further understanding of the surface variations.

This enhanced information can help with better installation of equipment, proactive quality control and the ability to identify potential challenges before they become an issue. It can create an increasingly agile feedback loop of the BIM virtual environment, informing what happens on the field and back again.

“Ever forward is not just about keeping up, it’s about paving the way,” said DeStefano.

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
1

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? 
16

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Traditional Contracts 

Why is it so difficult to use traditional contracts to support project integration? 
17

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.

March 16, 2017

DPR Foundation Awards Nearly $800,000 in Grants

Earlier this year, 22 organizations around the country received nearly $800,000 in grants from the DPR Foundation. DPR employees volunteer thousands of hours annually with these organizations, helping with facility renovations, youth career guidance and board service. Hands-on volunteer service multiplies the impact of the financial gifts, and helps DPR’s partner organizations advance their missions.

The DPR Foundation is a central component of DPR’s philanthropic vision of supporting under-resourced communities through facility construction and renovation; career and education guidance for youth; and support of operational capabilities for nonprofits. Organizations supported by the DPR Foundation focus on working with under-resourced youth to help them maximize their potential.

Atlanta Foundation Check
ATLANTA: Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, Brookhaven Photo courtesy of Diane Shelton

Now in its ninth year of giving, the DPR Foundation has awarded $5.8 million to organizations across the country, with an average grant size of $35,000. The Foundation has developed lasting relationships with the organizations it serves, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, Brookhaven. Since 2008, more than 75 DPR employees have volunteered at the Brookhaven Club, totaling over 4,000 hours. DPR volunteers have impacted over 3,800 young people who use the club’s after-school programs.

“It takes longtime partners like this to drive real change and, through our shared vision, we are working every day to help thousands of children reach their full potential,” said Missy Dugan, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta. “DPR really cares about the future of our city and they show it at our clubs. Not only have they contributed significant funding over the years, but their leaders and employees have spent countless hours working with our kids and making our spaces more welcoming and inspiring.”

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RICHMOND: Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond Photo courtesy of Diane Shelton

The DPR Foundation’s 2017 grants were awarded to the following organizations:

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, Brookhaven (Atlanta, GA)
  • LifeWorks (Austin, TX)
  • Girls Inc. of Orange County (Costa Mesa, CA)
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas, Oak Cliff (Dallas, TX)
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Durham and Orange Counties (Durham, NC)
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston, Holthouse (Houston, TX)
  • Girls Inc. of Alameda County (Oakland, CA)
  • Playworks Northern California (Oakland, CA)
  • Children's Home Society, Perinatal Program (Orlando, FL)
  • Peninsula Bridge (Palo Alto, CA)
  • Future For KIDS (Phoenix, AZ)
  • New Pathways for Youth (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Playworks Arizona (Phoenix, AZ)
  • UMOM Leaders in Training (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond (Richmond, VA)
  • Boys & Girls Club of Placer County (Sacramento, CA)
  • WEAVE Charter School (Sacramento, CA)
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito, La Colonia (San Diego, CA)
  • Food 4 Kids Backpack Program (San Diego, CA)
  • Seven Tepees (San Francisco, CA)
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa, Wilbert Davis (Tampa, FL)
  • Milagro Center (West Palm Beach, FL)
Houston Foundation Check
HOUSTON: Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston, Holthouse Photo courtesy of Diane Shelton
Bay Area Foundation Check
BAY AREA: Girls Inc. of Alameda County Photo courtesy of Diane Shelton
Orlando Foundation Check
ORLANDO: Perinatal Program, Children's Home Society Photo courtesy of Diane Shelton
Tampa Foundation Check
TAMPA: Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa, Wilbert Davis Photo courtesy of Diane Shelton
West Palm Beach Foundation Check
WEST PALM BEACH: The Milagro Center Photo courtesy of Diane Shelton

March 16, 2017

Celebrating Women Who Build: Gretchen Kinsella


We are proud to kick off our Celebrating Women Who Build blog series with the story of Gretchen Kinsella. Gretchen is DPR’s youngest project executive in the Phoenix region, managing the largest project that we have ever built in the area—the $318-million renovation of Banner University Medical Center Phoenix (BUMCP).

Starting at DPR in 2002 as an intern, Gretchen found herself assigned to a project that didn’t offer the challenges she was looking for in her internship. She was honest and candid with her intern mentor; she wanted more challenges, responsibilities, problems to solve. She wanted to build great things.

Gretchen was moved to another project. “If you want to be heard, you need to continue to speak up and be confident in your own capabilities, whether you’re a 25-year veteran or an intern in your first week on the job,” she said.

Gretchen’s story continues to be one pushing limits. Her first full-time project at DPR was Banner Good Samaritan Hospital (now BUMCP, the project she is building today). She was given a lot of responsibility, because she asked for it. She continued to raise her hand for challenging projects as she progressed to becoming a project engineer, project manager and project executive.

And 15 years later, she chose an OB/GYN that delivers at BUMCP because she felt there was no better place for her personally to bring her daughter into this world. She was coming full circle, with the child she gave birth to at the site of the project she helped create (in one of the very same rooms she built back in 2004).

Read Gretchen’s full story, “How to Ask for What You Want and Find Your Voice in a Male-Dominated Industry,” on ENR.

March 7, 2017

Celebrating Women Who Build, Today and Every Day

Womens Day 2017

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

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Photo courtesy of Gregg Mastorakos

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.  

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In her keynote address at ENR's Groundbreaking Women in Construction conference, Kinsella shares her personal career journey. Photo courtesy of Haley Hirai

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. 

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Photo courtesy of Everett Rosette

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
Photo courtesy of David Galen

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.

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Photo courtesy of Rena Crittendon

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.

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Photo courtesy of Brandon Parscale

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. 

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Photo courtesy of Brilliance Photography/Bob Hughes

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. 

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Photo courtesy of Amed Aplicano

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.

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DCI Engineers' Janki DePalma has helped DCI triple its office size and secure projects that have changed Austin’s skyline. Photo courtesy of Russ Rhea

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.

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Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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. 

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Photo courtesy of Mickey Fender

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.

(Updated January 17, 2018)

March 5, 2017

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

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

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


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

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

The project overcame challenges including:

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

February 22, 2017

VCU Health Team Proves Efficiency of Prefab

Ninety minutes outside of Raleigh, North Carolina and Richmond, Virginia, the 70-bed Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health Community Memorial Hospital (CMH) in South Hill, Virginia had a challenge. Because of the large construction boom in North Carolina and southern Virginia, the number of qualified med-gas installers in the area have more than enough work to keep them busy in their respective cities.

After the downturn of 2008, many experienced construction tradesmen left the field—for good. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, national skilled construction employment is down 19% from its 2007 peak, with the decline particularly stark in areas strongly affected by the housing bust. Now with construction roaring, many new, inexperienced workers have entered the job market, and–as with any new employees in any industry–need time to train and develop, increasing the importance for contractors to have self-perform work and prefab expertise.

The DPR team working on the design-build, 170,000-sq.-ft. replacement hospital found a creative solution for its dearth of labor, while still using a local subcontractor, as well as a way to improve overall efficiency: using prefab strategies for patient headwalls, med-gas zone valves and central utility plant skids and piping.


The DPR team used prefab strategies for patient headwalls, med-gas zone valves and central utility plant skids and piping, including this prefab chilled water piping. (Photo courtesy: Rob Johnson)

Every patient bed in the hospital required framing, med-gas, electrical rough-in and wood blocking at the head of the bed to accommodate the patient needs and provider care. With 70 identical beds, the team designed and constructed the headwalls off-site about 50 miles away, with pre-manufactured piping, electrical and wood blocking in a panelized wall system, which was then transported to site and installed in the patient rooms. The team then built the rest of the walls around the headwalls, and connected the overhead piping to the in-wall piping. What makes the headwalls notable is that many were back-to-back so one prefab wall accommodated two patient rooms.

Other prefabrication efforts on the project included skids and piping for the boiler and chiller plant that were shop-fabricated and shipped fully assembled to site. What would normally take months to complete, took only days in the field. 

The DPR team carefully kept track of hours saved by the prefabrication efforts, turning VCU CMH into a proving ground for the efficiency of prefabrication, with the data to back it up.


Prefabrication efforts on the project included skids and piping for the boiler and chiller plant that were shop-fabricated and shipped fully assembled to site. (Photo courtesy: Rob Johnson)

When compared to traditional in-field methods and production rates:

  • Prefabricated headwalls increased efficiency in med-gas piping production by 70% and in-wall electrical increased rough-in productivity by 20%.
  • The prefabricated boiler and chiller skids saved 86% of on-site hours.
  • Significant portions of mechanical and plumbing throughout the building were prefabricated in-shop, saving over 10,000 man-hours on-site.

“We find it rare to have prefabrication measured in such an empirical way as we have done at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital. We believe in this, and with the support of our trade partners, we are proving the efficiency of prefabrication,” said DPR’s Rob Johnson. “We are excited to explore and study additional prefabrication strategies on future DPR projects.”


Back-to-back headwalls enabled one prefab wall to accomodate two patient rooms. (Photo courtesy: Rob Johnson)

The prefabricated headwall strategy not only improved production rates and overcame a labor shortage issue, it benefited the project on the second-floor patient wing where in-wall rough-ins became the critical path at a critical point in the project. Having that work already complete mitigated a potential delay to the overall project schedule, allowing DPR to recognize another tangible benefit to prefabrication. 

The DPR team will continue to push the envelope and prove the efficiency of other prefab strategies on future projects in big ways—always adapting, solving problems and moving ever forward. 

February 12, 2017

Update: DPR, Spotify & Rebuilding Together Create a Drumbeat of Change at Kealing Middle School

A drumbeat of change has swept over Kealing Middle School in the past year, ever since DPR teamed up with Spotify and Rebuilding Together to deliver a brand-new sound studio project to the magnet school located in an economically disadvantaged area of Austin, Texas.

In the wake of the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) festival held last spring, Spotify wanted to make a lasting, positive impact on the Austin community, and decided to donate the extensive sound equipment, furniture and art from its popular SXSW “Spotify House” to a local school’s music program. Spotify reached out to Rebuilding Together to help find the right school and team to deliver its vision.


DPR teamed up with Spotify and Rebuilding together to create a brand-new sound studio at Kealing Middle School. (Photo courtesy: Spotify)

Longtime partners, Rebuilding Together brought DPR on board to help design and build three brand new recording lab studios that would house the Spotify-donated equipment. Kealing Middle School, a magnet school and comprehensive academy in a diverse, under-resourced neighborhood, was the perfect fit. It already had a modern, organized music program in place and a strong vision for how it could grow.

Last March, DPR project manager Angie Weyant called the project a “major undertaking” involving DPR’s donation of approximately $25,000 in materials and labor to build the new sound studio over the school’s spring break.

“The best part was being able to use our core skills doing what we do every day to help youth in our local community,” she said. “That was pretty awesome.”


Kealing Middle School students are now able to create and record their own music. (Photo courtesy: Spotify)

Less than a year later, the project has already had a profound impact on the students and the programs offered at the school, according to Kealing Middle School Principal Kenisha Coburn. In addition to increasing the number of students who could be accommodated in existing music classes, the new sound studio space spurred the start of new after-school clubs for students who want to create and record music.

A new robotics program added this year is also tying into the production studio capabilities in an innovative way, with students able to program robots to perform pieces that they’ve created on their music production systems.

The school has seen some financial savings resulting from the project as well; students in the music production program now DJ school dances that they once hired an outside DJ to do. The enhanced collaboration by students in different classes, working together on diverse projects, has been another major, positive impact–enhancing the learning experience of all.


The studio space has created collaboration between music, video production and graphic design students. (Photo courtesy: Spotify)

“We are using the studio space to embed more of the work that happens on our campus into collaborative projects,” said Coburn. “A lot of groups are coming in from outside of the music production program, and they go in and collaborate with the music production students in a way that they couldn’t do here before. So, for example our news team that is charged with creating a weekly news story for campus is able to use studio space and work with music production students to record audio that is part of the weekly news now. And our music production students are learning to work with our graphic design students so they can provide soundtracks to some of the pieces they make in video production, which is a big undertaking.”

Overall, she adds, “the impact has been big. To be able to get studio-grade space that not only allows the students to grow inside of music production, but also allows them to bring in other groups and collaborate with them, has been pretty special.”