October 23, 2018

California State University, Chico Celebrates the Groundbreaking of its New Physical Sciences Building

New 110,200-sq.-ft. building puts science on display with large windows and exterior breezeway.

The Chico community will soon have a new resource at California State University (CSU), Chico as DPR broke ground on the new physical sciences building earlier this month. With an exterior breezeway and large windows, the physical sciences building will invite members of the community to engage in the sciences and will feature a hands-on laboratory for K-12 students, where children will be encouraged to experiment and learn using advanced facilities.

DPR broke ground on the new physical sciences building earlier this month.
Campus and community members gathered at the groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the advancement of CSU, Chico among other North State and CSU schools, an advancement the $101 million development will help deliver. Photo courtesy of Jason A. Halley

Designed in partnership with SmithGroup, the design-build project blends historic Chico state with contemporary architectural elements. It also provides new space for the College of Natural Sciences, which includes the chemistry, physics, geological science and science education departments.

“The building is designed to create a welcoming, warm environment that fosters student engagement and collaboration,” said director of Facilities Management and Services Mike Guzzi. “The exterior breezeway and large windows invite the campus and the community to engage in science by putting science on display.”

The project blends historic Chico state with contemporary architectural elements.
Designed in partnership with SmithGroup, the design-build project blends historic Chico state with contemporary architectural elements. Photo courtesy of SmithGroup

Scheduled for completion in Fall 2020, the 110,200-sq.-ft., four-story building will include:

  • Active-learning classrooms allowing hands-on learning experiences
  • Science education labs
  • Graduate research studios
  • A dean’s suite
  • Faculty offices
  • Administrative and support areas
  • Prep rooms and storage areas

DPR worked closely with CSU’s Institute for Sustainable Development to identify and incorporate sustainable features that will help the project achieve LEED® Silver Certification. With a specially designed HVAC system, including chilled beams, displacement ventilation systems and an air monitoring system, the building will have optimized energy performance, while also providing health safety by monitoring air quality in lab classrooms, ensuring a safe working environment for students and staff.

Members of the campus and community gathered at the groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate
The Chico community will soon have a new resource at California State University, Chico as DPR broke ground on the new physical sciences building earlier this month.​ Photo courtesy of Jason A. Halley

Members of the campus and community gathered at the groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the advancement of CSU, Chico as a leader among the North State and 23-campus CSU system, an advancement that the $101 million development will help deliver.

“Our new building will promote collaboration among our students, faculty and staff, and this collaboration will occur in classrooms, labs and other spaces throughout the building,” said dean of the College of Natural Sciences David Hassenzahl. “The overall design will draw people to science and keep them engaged once they are there.”

The new building will promote collaboration among our students, faculty and staff.
“The exterior breezeway and large windows invite the campus and the community to engage in science by putting science on display,” said director of Facilities Management and Services Mike Guzzi. Photo courtesy of Jason A. Halley

October 19, 2018

New Methodist Health System Hospital Breaks Ground in Midlothian, Texas

DPR recently broke ground on the new Methodist Health System hospital in Midlothian, Texas, a fast-growing suburb south of Dallas. With more than 300 Methodist Health System officials and Midlothian community leaders in attendance, including Midlothian Mayor, Bill Houston, and chair of the Methodist Health System board of directors, Julie Yarbrough, the groundbreaking marks the start of the Methodist Midlothian Medical Center project, which includes the first hospital in Midlothian and the 11th hospital in the Methodist Health system.

Methodist Midlothian Rendering
Slated to open in 2020, the greenfield campus will feature a five-story, 44-bed acute care hospital and three-story medical office building. Photo courtesy of Corgan

Slated to open in 2020, the greenfield campus will feature a five-story, 44-bed acute care hospital and three-story medical office building (MOB). Located prominently at the center of the campus, the hospital will employ approximately 300 medical professionals and support staff across 190,000 sq. ft. of space at the end of the first full-year of operation.

“This is a day we have waited for, a day when we will now have a full-service, acute care medical facility in our growing city,” said Midlothian Mayor Bill Houston. “We have a long working relationship with Methodist and are so proud to have the system expand its presence, talents and expertise into our community.”

Methodist Midlothian Groundbreaking
With more than 300 Methodist Health System officials and Midlothian community leaders in attendance, the groundbreaking marks the start of the Methodist Midlothian Medical Center project, which includes the first hospital in Midlothian and the 11th hospital in the Methodist Health system. Photo courtesy of Methodist Mansfield Medical Center

One of the many health campuses in the Dallas-area DPR has worked on over the past five years, the team is excited to be building this project from the ground up with architect Corgan.

“Methodist Health Systems and Corgan are wonderful partners. Although we are just getting started, I’m confident this project will embody all of DPR’s core values, especially enjoyment. We are already having a lot of fun and building great relationships as we move forward on this landmark project for the Midlothian community,” said DPR’s Project Executive Sean Ashcroft.

October 16, 2018

Service September: Being Integral and Indispensable to Communities

Eighteen community centers and six residences serving under-resourced families benefited from DPR’s commitment to communities during the organization’s fourth annual “Service September.” Every September, DPR challenges all offices to participate in a least one community initiative project focused on facility construction and renovation for organizations that serve under-resourced families in the communities where we work. We call these types of projects Pillar 1 of DPR’s Community Initiative vision.

Volunteers stretch before starting work at Second Story.

While DPR employees actively volunteer year-round, we like to join forces nationwide to see how much we can accomplish in a single month. This year’s projects helped 24 organizations—with 3,500 work hours, the work represents about 25 percent of the volunteer construction work we will do in 2018. Following are three of the many projects completed this September:

Second Story Community Center Renovation

In Reston, Virginia, more than 40 DPR volunteers renovated Second Story Community Center, one of the DPR Foundation’s grant recipients and community partners since 2017. This vital community service organization provides emergency shelter and long-term housing for teen mothers; after school programs for neighborhood kids; free healthcare and other needed services for community residents. Over 860 adults were served by the center this year, as well as 40 kids who use the center each day after school.

Seeing a facility in dire need of renovation, DPR enlisted the help of three subcontractors who contributed new flooring, lighting, and a new awning. The DPR team contributed at least $10,000 in materials along with numerous volunteer hours from DPR SPW and administrative employees, who joined together September 15-17 to undertake the hands-on renovation work. Volunteers completed an array of tasks, including cleaning, painting, drywall work, hardware installation, replacing a toilet and more. They installed new art and furniture to make the community center a more welcoming and safer place to gather, as well.

Second Story provides after school programs for neighborhood kids.
Second Story provides after school programs for neighborhood kids.

“People are very motivated to get to do hands-on building for this important community organization,” said DPR’s Stacy Groomes, a coordinator of the Service September project. “Second Story has a lot of goals that DPR wants to help them achieve. It is personally rewarding to get them to a place where they are operationally functioning really well.” The enthusiasm of so many employees eager to volunteer is what truly made this project a success.

Pendleton Place Facility Repairs

In Greenville, South Carolina, more than a dozen DPR employees volunteered to help with a renovation project for new community partner, Pendleton Place. The organization serves at risk youth and families in the community. Renovation work included repairs to the Smith House on the organization’s campus, which houses and provides services for teenage girls and women in their early 20s who are aging out of foster care.

Volunteers performed various types of work to make Pendleton Place more livable, including replacing an old basketball hoop.

DPR’s Brandon Scott, who serves on the board of Pendleton Place, organized the community initiative project, which utilized DPR’s core building skills to make much-needed improvements to the residence that houses up to 10 young women. Working over two shifts on September 21, volunteers completed a laundry list of repairs, including: gutter repairs, cabinet work, brick work repair, landscaping, and other work designed to make the residential facility more livable. In the future, DPR plans to enlist trade partners to assist with a bathroom remodel.

“Being able to see people who are struggling because of their life circumstances and help contribute to a better lifestyle fuels that personal satisfaction for helping,” Scott commented. “And for DPR, we’re relatively new to this market, so being integral and indispensable to our neighbors helps show we’re engaged in something that is making a difference beyond the construction industry in this community.”

Volunteers removed fencing from the front of Pendelton Place and rebuilt it to give better access to the facility.

Dover Boys & Girls Club Repairs

In a rural, agricultural region east of Tampa, Florida, DPR took on a Service September project at the Dover Boys & Girls Club the weekend of September 21-22. DPR’s awareness of the Dover Club and its many facility and funding needs came as a direct result of Hurricane Irma last year, when DPR donated several hundred cases of water to the facility. Less visible than some of the other Boys & Girls Clubs in the city of Tampa that DPR has already partnered with in the past, the Dover Boys & Girls Club primarily serves Hispanic, low income migrant families. A vital resource for those families, the Dover Club, in many cases, provides the only hot meal some of those kids receive each day.

When DPR’s Brandon Facini met with the director, he saw that the facility needed significant repairs. After taking an inventory of the most pressing and future needs, about 20 volunteers came together and contributed well over 100 hours painting the club’s computer room and large portions of the 20 picnic tables (the rest will be painted later) and performing a host of landscaping improvements to spruce up the facility, among other things.

A strong joining of forces between craft and administrative employees, who normally don’t work together, made a difference on this project. “It was a great showing by our employees, and a great way to come together and interact internally while also giving back,” Brandon said. “We are happy to be making an impact in the lives of the members of the Boys & Girls Clubs around the Tampa area.”

DPR employees, who often don't work together, were able to come together internally, while also giving back to the community at Dover Boys & Girls Club.

October 8, 2018

Advancing a Paradigm Shift in Construction at LCI Congress

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

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

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

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

Matching Methods with Culture

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

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

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

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

Aligning Lean Approaches with Customers

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

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

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

Technology as a Time Machine

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

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

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

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

October 2, 2018

Builders at our Core: David Lopez

David Lopez pictured on a DPR jobsite.
David Lopez came to a Project Engineer career track by starting in the trades. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

In 2010, David Lopez started his career at DPR in Phoenix, AZ as an apprentice, working as a laborer and operating an elevator for seven months. One day, he helped with layout and discovered his passion. He started reading plans and working on layout in the field full-time.

After honing his expertise in layout and continuously learning from mentors on his team, Lopez became a BIM engineer in 2015 and is now in training to become a project engineer. He mentors other DPR teammates in layout and is passionate about giving back to the community and sharing his knowledge, empowering others to grow in their careers, just as he has.

Lopez recently reflected on how he got to where he is today, sharing a few of his proudest moments over the course of his nontraditional career path:

Q: What do you love most about construction?

Lopez: What I love most is the end-result. I’m proud of what we build. To this day, I take my kids and drive around to show them what buildings I’ve been a part of. I take pride in delivering a high-quality product to our owners.

Q: Your career path is nontraditional—what made you pursue your career as a project engineer?

Lopez: My motivation has always been that DPR gives you the opportunity to do what you really want to do. Why not give my family a better future? If I could become a project engineer, why not do it, if I have all the tools and support?

David Lopez sits in a jobsite trailer with a VDC tool.
Lopez has combined his knowledge of work in the field with skills that are an asset in the jobsite trailer. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What’s your proudest moment at DPR?

Lopez: When I graduated as a journeyman from the carpenters’ union, I was given the Golden Hammer award, meaning I was the best student out of the 2012 class. When I was an apprentice at DPR, I was already laying out, which was part of the final exam’s scope of work. One of the reasons they picked me was because DPR had already developed me into a journeyman; DPR had already given me all the tools and knowledge I needed to grow.

Q: What’s the most complex or technically challenging thing you’ve ever worked on?

Lopez: The project I’m currently on is Banner–University Medical Center Phoenix (BUMCP). It’s one of the biggest projects DPR has ever worked on in Arizona. Completing spool sheets and creating the model for BUMCP was both one of the biggest accomplishments and greatest challenges I’ve had here at DPR.

My field experience helped me tremendously as I modeled every single floor, including every opening and penetration in the emergency department expansion and new patient tower. It made it easier for me to comprehend what’s going to be built out there in the field, and from there I developed my skills further.

David Lopez on site helping another craft worker.
Lopez enjoys mentoring other members of the team. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What advice do you have for the next generation of builders?

Lopez: In my mentoring classes, I tell people that school isn’t for everyone. If you want to go the construction craft route, there is the possibility of growing, and I’m the perfect proof of it. I’m doing it because I want to, because I had the motivation. Without my mentors at DPR, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.

Q: Over the course of your career, what is the most important lesson you have learned?

Lopez: Always share your knowledge. Never hold back. The more we teach people, the more we grow our industry, and the more we teach our DPR teams knowledge within the field, the better we will be. I wouldn’t have been able to become a BIM engineer or a project engineer without the support of my teammates, who always mentored and taught me. If someone wants to learn, don’t deny that opportunity. That’s how I got here.

David Lopez laughing on his job site.
Lopez enjoys his work from the field to the office. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

September 28, 2018

Collaborating with Customers to Pilot Innovations that Drive Value

Innovation isn't synonymous with technology. Innovation at DPR Construction can be anything that creates new ways of working more efficiently and delivers value to our customers and projects. Achieving that often takes collaboration with key stakeholders from owners, trade partners, end-users and project team members.

“It seems like for most people innovation has become synonymous with apps and devices, but we believe it’s more about changing how we work,” said DPR’s Tim Gaylord. “We want to focus on how we can do more for customers and be more efficient, whether it’s using technology or simply Lean thinking. Either way, it takes customers and project teams who are willing to try things on their projects and seeing what delivers value.”

That’s exactly what’s underway in Leesburg, VA, where DPR is expanding Inova Loudoun Hospital and using the site as a proving ground for a new way to monitor recent concrete pours with embedded devices.

These devices are embedded into concrete to deliver key measurements.
A DPR team member shows one of the devices that are under pilot.

Traditionally, concrete cylinder samples need to be tested off-site to determine strength. Separate core tests measure moisture content. Doing so involves taking several samples, sending them to a testing facility and waiting for the results. The project team saw an opportunity to see if there’s a more efficient method to measure these aspects in real time.

“We’re embedding sensors into our concrete pours,” explained DPR’s Louay Ghaziri. “The sensors will provide us with strength and moisture content readings that we normally test. We will compare those numbers to what traditional testing returns to see if similar results make this a more efficient solution moving forward.”

DPR’s crews are working in tandem with architecture partner HDR’s research arm. The idea is that, if the readings are reliable, the sensors will cancel out the need to send samples in for testing, therefore saving time, while also helping determine project sequencing and eliminating rework.

A sensor installed prior to concrete pouring.
The sensors are attached to rebar prior to concrete pours.

“On our project, this could make a big difference when it comes to putting in flooring,” Ghaziri said. “At that stage, it’s vital to know exactly how much moisture is in the concrete. Anything that can bring certainty to schedule on a complex project gives the customer more peace of mind.”

A DPR site in Sacramento will also pilot the sensors soon; testing in different climates helps establish the effectiveness of the tool.

It’s the latest example of DPR finding appropriate places to try new methods. Some have taken off; one solution for managing jobsite progress photos has saved hours of time for DPR and its project partners. The solution was first piloted on jobsites in Arizona, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Washington, DC region. Today, it’s used on more than 100 DPR projects because of feedback from architects and owners that showed it was delivering value.

DPR and its design partners use jobsite progress photos for a variety of reports and verification needs. Customers also like current photos for their own purposes including keeping stakeholders or employees/end-users up to speed on progress. Occasionally, they’re needed to help troubleshoot an issue. No matter the stakeholder, finding photos for their specific uses was a cumbersome process, often taking skilled people off their "normal" job for hours.

Visualization showing the digital model compared to progress.
DPR is using software that allows quick ways to compare progress versus a digital model.

“The old methods meant a project team ended up with thousands of pictures in a shared folder with titles like ‘IMG_541’ and no real context,” Gaylord said.

Stakeholders always disliked how a simple report could turn into a day-long process. DPR team members, as well as its trade, design and customer partners all reported a much better, faster experience when DPR implemented a process and software that integrated existing digital site plans with automatic curation of photos.

“Now, we drop a pin in a room, take a 360-degree photo and all the curation legwork is done for us,” Gaylord said.

The result is more time spent building and collaborating with much less time trying to find "that one photo."

DPR looks for things that deliver value in the form of cost savings, schedule certainty or simply better customer service. While technology can be part of the solution, the true innovation usually ends up ticking one of those boxes.

“If it’s just a shiny object, customers aren’t going to be interested,” Gaylord said. “They want to know, with good reason, what’s in it for them. So, we combine being curious about emerging solutions with an environment where we can test things out and see what works, not only for us, but for the customer and project.”

September 17, 2018

University of Georgia Unveils Sanford Stadium’s West End Zone Enhancements

Just in time for college football season, The University of Georgia (UGA) formally unveiled its enhancements to the west end zone of Sanford Stadium, the tenth largest college football stadium in the country.

Led by DPR’s Lauren Snedeker, the project team embraced the challenges of renovating the stands, locker room, recruit club, plaza and concourse area of UGA’s beloved Bulldogs, all while over 94,000 curious fans flooded the stadium during last season’s six home games. Through careful planning every week, the team demobilized the entire jobsite prior to each game day.

The $63 million project, funded primarily by donor support, creates a new game-day experience for current and future student-athletes, as well as fans. The 120,000 sq. ft. of new and updated space includes:

  • A 10,500-sq.-ft. hospitality lounge for hosting prospective student-athletes and their guests on game days. The lounge is the first of its kind at Sanford Stadium for the Georgia football program.
  • New locker room, including fully equipped locker and shower facilities, as well as additional storage space for sports medicine, equipment and coaches’ locker rooms.
  • New plaza replacing all existing entrances in the stadium’s west end.
  • Expanded and enhanced concession and restroom facilities as well as a new video board that is 33 percent larger than the previous one.

“This extension, renovation, and expansion project has made Sanford Stadium, already one of the finest college football environments, even better,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “It is one more step that the University of Georgia is taking to reach new heights of excellence across all our athletic programs.”

President Jere W. Morehead addresses the audience during the dedication ceremony for the project. Photo courtesy of Andrew Davis Tucker
UGA officials, DPR team members and HOK wait in anticipation for the cutting of the ribbon at the ceremony. Photo courtesy of Andrew Davis Tucker
The new locker room includes fully equipped locker and shower facilities, as well as additional storage space for sports medicine, equipment and coaches' locker rooms. Photo courtesy of Skyler Herring
The $63 million project creates a new game-day experience for current and future student-athletes. Photo courtesy of Skyler Herring

September 12, 2018

Cutting the Ribbon on Two New Central Arizona College Facilities

Central Arizona College (CAC) recently opened two new, ground-up facilities that DPR Construction delivered on its Signal Peak Campus in Coolidge, AZ: the Mel A. Everingham Student Union and a Science Building. CAC President Dr. Jackie Elliott, CAC Governing Board members, staff, students and the local community joined to celebrate the ribbon cutting ceremony as the new school year kicked off.

The new Student Union promises to be a new campus landmark and a destination for all students, enhancing the student experience with a modern campus hub. Architekton designed the 40,600-sq.-ft. facility to mirror the surrounding mountainous landscape with an undulating, angular roofline that provides a soaring open feel to the interior public space. The Student Union houses a full-service kitchen and cafeteria, a bookstore, student lounge, meeting rooms and the campus public safety office. An 8,900-sq.-ft outdoor seating and landscape area provides space for students to relax between classes and includes AV infrastructure to convert into an outdoor amphitheater to host large events, such as graduation.

The exterior view of the new Central Arizona College Student Union.
The new CAC Student Union's design takes cues from the surrounding landscape. Photo courtesy of Gregg Mastorakos

Just north of the new Student Union, the new two-story, 32,250-sq.-ft. Science Building offers students and faculty a Maker Space/STEM classroom with 3D printers and robotics, teaching labs, wet and dry labs, prep room and faculty offices.

“The efficient and functional learning space of the science building is designed to draw and engage students in a 21st Century educational atmosphere,” said Daniel Childers of Architekton. The building’s design offers nods to the surrounding desert with an outdoor garden and a water feature running through the building with roof drainage.

A dining area inside the new CAC Student Union
The new CAC Student Union enhances the student experience with a modern space for eating, studying and socializing. Photo courtesy of Gregg Mastorakos

It was critical for DPR to deliver both buildings in time for the start of a new school year. To help ensure the schedule was met, DPR used Digital Building Components, a Phoenix-based custom fabrication facility that uses robotic technology to precisely roll aluminum studs and build framing components. The CAC Science Building had all exterior panels fabricated at Digital Building Components and delivered sequentially for immediate installation at the project site, reducing the exterior skin installation time from four weeks down to a day and a half.

A science classroom at CAC featuring lab tables and fume hoods.
CAC students can take advantage of top notch facilities in the new science building. Photo courtesy of Gregg Mastorakos

September 2, 2018

Builders at our Core: The Guzman Brothers

Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

In honor of Labor Day, DPR Construction is launching a new blog series, Builders at our Core, dedicated to sharing stories of DPR’s self-perform work teams. These builders are successfully executing complex, technical projects for some of the world’s most progressive and admired companies.

With diverse career paths, we’ll hear from people who got to where they are in very different ways, but have a few key things in common: a passion for continuous learning, growth and building great things.

The Builders at our Core series kicks off with the story of Jesus, Ruben and Isidro Guzman, three brothers who started their careers at DPR as carpenters in Reston, VA. Over the course of nearly a decade, all three have grown and developed their careers at DPR:

  • Jesus, the youngest of the Guzmans, was the first of his brothers to join DPR as a carpenter in 2008 and has since been promoted to general foreman. After hearing about DPR’s unique culture, his brothers came on board as well.
  • Ruben joined DPR as a carpenter in 2009, and went on to become a foreman, general foreman, assistant superintendent and is now a superintendent. He has also worked his way into estimating, and shares estimating duties 50/50 with another teammate in DPR’s Reston office.
  • Isidro, who prior to DPR began his career as a carpenter at age 15, joined DPR in 2010 and has since been promoted to foreman and assistant superintendent.
Guzman brothers
Over the course of nearly a decade, Isidro, Jesus and Ruben Guzman have grown and developed their careers at DPR. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

The Guzmans recently shared their passion, expertise and advice for the next generation of builders with us:

Q: What do you love about construction?
Ruben: It’s never the same; every day is something different. You are never finished learning. You keep yourself busy all the time. I fell into becoming a carpenter, but I found out it was actually what I wanted to do. When I came to DPR, I saw that DPR operates differently than more traditional general contractors. I really liked that, and it was one of the things that drove me to put more effort into what I did.

Isidro: I started in construction when I was young. I didn’t have the opportunity to go to college; everybody has a different path. I like everything about construction: putting work together and working around people, as well as managing teams and empowering them to do good work.

Jesus: The big responsibility. Sometimes people don’t see it like that, but I like to have responsibilities and do my work the best that I can.

Guzman brothers
The Guzman brothers enjoy managing teams and empowering them to do good work. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: To be successful in your role, what skills does a person need?
Ruben: In my case, it helps me a lot to come from the field, knowing how to build things. You can see the drawings, imagine people building it and know what it takes.

Isidro: It’s important that people have experience on the actual job that they’re doing. If you have experience doing things with your hands, that makes everything easier. It’s important to prepare yourself with trainings, and do as much as you can to be successful.

Jesus: A person needs to be open-minded to learning about all kinds of work, and be able to build good relationships with all the trades.

Guzman brothers
The Guzmans encourage the next generation of builders to never give up and never stop learning. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What’s your proudest moment at DPR?
Jesus: At the holiday party in 2015, I was one of ten people, including my brother Ruben, recognized for safety. I completed 10,000 work hours without any incidents. People who work at DPR do good work, and DPR takes care of them.

Ruben: It was the first year DPR did these awards in Reston, VA. It makes people proud to be one of the few recognized for the 10,000 incident-free hours.

Isidro: The most important thing when you are a leader is to get better at it. It’s not easy, and it’s a lot of responsibility. You might have 100 people onsite, working around the clock, and you are responsible for the safety of every person. You are responsible for making sure they go home to their families at the end of the day. That’s the reason I am proud of getting the job done on time and without injuries.

Q: What would your advice be for the next generation of builders entering the field?
Ruben: Never give up. Don’t believe that because you are a laborer or a carpenter, you can’t become a project engineer or superintendent. As long as you have goals, and you study, it’s possible for everybody. If you need a tool to learn, people will always help you at DPR.

Isidro: Don’t be complacent; always try to learn new things. Carpenters, think about being foremen; foremen, think about being general foremen. It’s possible. Think about it, and work hard to get it. There are a ton of possibilities.

August 14, 2018

From Bioreactor to Learning Tool: Project Engineers Gain Hands-On MEP Experience Through Project Tinman

Working together at a confidential life sciences project in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, project engineers Devin Kennedy and Ben Salsman noticed that their customer was disposing of a few old bioreactors. Designed to grow and develop cells to extract proteins that are used to create injectable medicines, bioreactors are an important aspect of life sciences–a piece of equipment that engineers usually learn about out of a book.

Wanting to gain more hands-on MEP experience in DPR’s culture of continuous learning, Kennedy and Salsman decided to turn the discarded 60-liter bioreactor into a learning tool. With a core team of DPR’s technical experts, they brainstormed what they could do, such as adding valves and instruments, building a control panel and developing a sequence of operations. They stepped up to the biggest challenge: making the out-of-service bioreactor fully functional.

To gain more hands-on MEP experience, project engineers turned a discarded 60-liter bioreactor into a learning tool. Photo courtesy of Amy Edwards

A team of 20 project engineers in DPR’s Raleigh-Durham office set out to create a physically self-contained bioreactor on one skid and understand how its components (sensors, valves, pumps, controls, wiring) interacted in a highly controlled, pressurized environment. Through hands-on workdays led by DPR experts focused on mechanical, controls and electrical aspects of the bioreactor, the project engineers gained experience from design through commissioning.

The project engineers stepped up to the biggest challenge: making the out-of-service bioreactor fully functional. Photo courtesy of Amy Edwards

Focusing on the “why,” not just the “what,” the project engineers looked at the bioreactor as a holistic system that helped them connect to DPR’s work. They gained hands-on experience with concepts including controlled automation systems, welding and wiring–all of which reappear in projects across core markets, and all of which project engineers typically don’t get to touch with their own hands.

“Knowing how the bioreactors work, and knowing how to build them through their own experiences only makes our project engineers better team members for our customers,” said David Ross, who leads DPR’s life sciences core market in the Southeast. “On a broader level, Project Tinman helped them better understand our life science customers, as well as the perspectives of trade partners and equipment manufacturers.”

The team gained hands-on experience with concepts including controlled automation systems, welding and wiring–all of which project engineers typically don’t get to touch with their own hands. Photo courtesy of Amy Edwards



What started as an idea between two project engineers has become a learning tool that will help countless more people at DPR become better builders. Photo courtesy of Amy Edwards