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Exterior render view of Block 185 with Austin skyline from the water.

Block 185 Office Tower

Block 185 Office Tower | Austin, Texas

DPR Scaling New Heights at Block 185 in Austin – Largest Self-Perform Concrete Job to Date

They say that everything is bigger in Texas y’all. As if to illustrate the point, DPR is building a project in downtown Austin that literally takes “big” to new heights. The new 37-story, 590-foot-tall Green Water Block 185 project represents the largest vertical high-rise concrete structure that DPR has ever built including its largest self-perform concrete project to date.

The Challenges

Constructing the largest self-perform concrete project in DPR history comes with immense challenges. Aided by two giant luffing cranes, crews are erecting the structure using a self-climbing core wall forming system. Extensive planning and cycle scheduling detailed to the hour for deck pours, have been essential to maintain the critical schedule, which includes liquidated damages if not met.

Another key hurdle has been preventing water intrusion from the adjacent lake and creek all while working in busy downtown Austin. The team’s solution – constructing a massive six-level, 70-ft.-deep diaphragm wall – was a complex endeavor itself. The wall is socketed 10 feet below the mat foundation and encompasses the entire perimeter of the building serving as the below grade foundation wall. Its construction allowed crews to avoid water intrusion issues during the below grade work.

After excavating 145,000 cubic yards of dirt from the site – enough to cover the entire Austin city limits with one-and-a-half inches of dirt – and following nearly nine months of detailed planning and coordination, DPR crews successfully completed the single largest mat pour in DPR’s history.. A symphony of nearly 900 cement mixers continuously poured approximately 8,650 yards of concrete over the span of a single 36-hours period without a single safety or quality incident.

While there are many challenges still to come on this multi-year project, key early milestones are early indicators that this project is headed for a Texas size success.

cranes set up large frames
workers control construction equipment
Teams work to pour and lay the concrete MAT in the foundation of the building.

“From top to bottom, the team has embraced VDC tools on every aspect of the work. We intentionally focused on being a leader in the use of VDC for self-perform concrete to improve communication, plan production and ensure we hit our targets.”

Jacob Skrobarczyk

DPR VDC lead

The Solutions

A VDC-enabled workforce, from our SPW teams to PEs to Superintendents, has incorporated a high level of building information modeling into virtually every aspect of the project. This includes detailed modeling to coordinate and construct the exterior curtainwall to the skilled, best-in-class SPW concrete team using VDC and 4-D scheduling to plan and execute what is arguably the most complex and single biggest self-perform concrete project that DPR has undertaken.

Employing a diaphragm wall to de-risk the site was another unique solution DPR brought to the table, differentiating this project from neighboring jobs that similarly battled water intrusion issues using more traditional approaches. DPR drew upon its national resources and expertise from other regions to successfully complete the wall.

Finally, building a high performing team from the start that is focused on meeting the owner’s expectations for schedule, quality and cost has been a fundamental solution on this project. That has included leveraging DPR’s SPW concrete crews and self-perform teams that successfully delivered other local Austin projects including Third and Shoal and the Marriott Austin projects.

View of construction site from street
teams work to lay rebar and concrete
construction crews and equipment on the job site.
The Results

“It’s been a pleasure really just working with DPR, and their attitude day to day – it’s all about the team and the people. To take a project and not put it out to the market, and just sole source it to a company, the biggest project you’ve ever done, it says a lot about their ability and the comfort level that I have with them.”

Mark Fowler

Senior Vice President | Trammell Crow - Block 185 Project Owner