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In 2016, DPR’s Gretchen Kinsella gave birth to her daughter at Banner University Medical Center Phoenix (BUMCP), in one of the very same rooms that she helped build back in 2004. Gretchen is DPR’s youngest project executive in the Phoenix region, managing the largest project that DPR has ever built in the area—the $318-million BUMCP.

When she started at DPR as an intern in 2002, Kinsella’s first full-time project at DPR was Banner Good Samaritan Hospital (now BUMCP). 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.

Today, Gretchen reflects on her special moment, and shares how passion for her work empowers her to be her best self, making her the best mom that she can be.

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

Construction is underway at Inova Loudoun Hospital’s (ILH) new patient tower in Leesburg, Virginia. Scheduled for completion in 2020, the tower is one phase of ILH’s $300 million master plan for expansion of facilities and services.

The 7-story 385,000-sq.-ft. patient tower was designed by HDR in collaboration with RSG Architects to create a patient-focused experience that elevates the human spirit. The tower will include:

  • Private, patient-centered rooms
  • New obstetrics unit and expanded Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
  • Expanded Progressive Care Unit (PCU) and Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
  • Expanded Inova Heart and Vascular Institute Schaufeld Family Heart Center
  • More tertiary services, including Level III Trauma at the Inova Virts Miller Family Emergency and Trauma Center and throughout the hospital
  • Outpatient services, diagnostic imaging, a café and hospital support
  • Shell space for future expansion
Groundbreaking photo
The team broke ground on Inova Loudoun Hospital’s new patient tower in September 2017. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Shumaker
Aerial photo
Construction on the 7-story, 385,000-sq.ft. patient tower is underway. Photo courtesy of Louay Ghaziri
Rendering
Scheduled for completion in 2020, the patient tower is a part of Inova Loudoun Hospital’s $300 million master plan for expansion of facilities and services. Photo courtesy of HDR
Virtual Reality photo
A staff member at VCU uses an Oculus Rift headset to view the design and layout of the renovation. Photo courtesy of Justin Schmidt

Virtual reality (VR) technology is experiencing a resurgence after its initial experiments in the 80’s and 90’s. Since recapturing the public’s attention on a large scale in 2014 when Facebook purchased Oculus VR, virtual reality has evolved into a powerful tool with widespread applications and benefits.

Whether it is during the project pursuit, design development, MEP coordination/installation, safety and site logistics planning, or during the facilities maintenance stage, VR is proving it is far more than a fleeting new technology. DPR recognizes VR as a strategic tool that project teams across the country are increasingly leveraging to:

  • Increase stakeholder engagement
  • Increase communication
  • Resolve project challenges
  • Improve project predictability and outcomes.

To learn more about DPR’s VR initiative, read The Benefits of Virtual Reality authored by Kaushal Diwan, Raymond Huynh and Ocean Van. 

Example of a virtual reality model
A virtual reality mockup that helped hospital staff experience what the final room would look prior to completion. Photo courtesy of Justin Schmidt
Building upon lessons learned at the Aloft Austin Downtown and Element Austin Downtown hotels (pictured above), White Lodging’s Marriott Downtown Austin will take creative use of prefabricated skin panels to the next level. Photo courtesy of Starwood Hotels & Resorts

Building upon prefabrication strategies and lessons learned from the nearby dual-branded Aloft Austin Downtown and Element Austin Downtown hotels, White Lodging’s Marriott Downtown Austin, which broke ground in January, will take the creative use of prefabricated exterior skin panels to the next level. At the Marriott Downtown Austin, prefabricated skin panels will be built with gaskets added to the top and side edges of the panels to create the skin’s first layer of waterproofing and a temporary weather seal to protect the building upon installation.

Scheduled to open in summer 2020, the Marriott Downtown Austin will complement the existing JW Marriott Austin to together provide more than 1,600 rooms and nearly 180,000 sq. ft. of meeting space within two blocks of the convention center.

“The Aloft Austin Downtown and Element Austin Downtown hotels represent how the team creatively overcame the challenges of a tight, downtown jobsite to safely and efficiently deliver a first-of-its-kind dual-branded development for a repeat customer,” said Matt Murphy, who leads DPR’s commercial core market nationally. 

The Aloft and Element hotels are located on a crowded block in the heart of downtown Austin, leaving the team with no laydown space. Photo courtesy of Aero Photo

On a crowded block in the heart of downtown Austin and the city’s renowned 6th Street entertainment district, a 34-story tower is home to both the Aloft and Element hotels, which opened in summer 2017. Surrounded by a theater, adjacent historic hotel, restaurants and shops, the LEED-certified hotels are separate, but share amenities including a terrace, fitness center and meeting space. The 278-room Aloft is aimed at travelers in town for short trips, and the 144-suite Element caters to longer stays with kitchenettes and functional workspaces. On the hotel’s exterior skin, the hotels are differentiated by EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems) plaster panels for Element, and gray metal panels for Aloft.

At many downtown sites, below-grade parking provides much-needed laydown space for the team, but the Aloft and Element hotels do not have any parking onsite above or below ground, and are valet-only for customers. The team heavily scheduled deliveries, forcing themselves to be precise and not make exceptions, because they didn’t have a place to store materials. 

The team heavily scheduled deliveries, forcing themselves to be precise and not make exceptions, because they didn’t have a place to store materials. Photo courtesy of Turner Kerr

Closely collaborating with architect HKS and a Dallas-based prefabrication subcontractor, the team secured early and final design approval to prefabricate the hotel’s panelized skin offsite. In the safe and controlled environment of a warehouse, the team lost no days to weather conditions at the actual jobsite. The panels, built to very precise tolerances, included windows, which were set and sealed while rigged to a forklift. All water testing was also done offsite, enabling the panels to arrive at the jobsite in Austin ready to be installed, caulked at the perimeter joints and waterproofed by DPR’s self-perform work crews.

In a market where construction is booming and there is a high demand for labor, the prefabricated skin allowed the team to use smaller crews on-site, meaning less people on an already crowded downtown jobsite, and less people exposed to fall hazards by working on the leading edge of the building. Safety risks were also mitigated by the fact that workers needed to go up and down the side of the 34-story tower less frequently than they would have if the panels were not completely prefabricated offsite. To install the skin with minimal impact and disruption to neighbors, work was done at night, with small crews installing an average of one floor a week. A traditional installation of one floor of skin typically takes three to four weeks of onsite work, which the team reduced to three nights of onsite install time. 

A traditional installation of one floor of skin typically takes three to four weeks of onsite work, which the team reduced to three nights of onsite install time. Photo courtesy of Turner Kerr

“Aside from schedule savings and greater safety for the workers, the offsite prefabrication reduced the burden put on shared resources onsite, from the single delivery lane to the personnel hoist, aiding every subcontractor onsite,” said DPR’s Nick Sultenfuss. “The hotels were also built with a smaller environmental impact, as the jobsite reduced waste by 10% compared to traditional systems.”

As it brings these creative prefabrication strategies to the Marriott Downtown Austin, not only will the DPR team continue to reshape Austin’s fast-changing skyline, but it will keep innovating and challenging itself to find ways to do it more efficiently.

As it brings these creative prefabrication strategies to the Marriott Downtown Austin, not only will the DPR team continue to reshape Austin’s fast-changing skyline, but it will keep innovating and challenging itself to find ways to do it more efficiently. Photo courtesy of Nick Sultenfuss
Topping out celebration
Photo courtesy of John Alexander

An important milestone was celebrated today as DPR Construction placed the final beams on the highly anticipated Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s (GBI) Coastal Regional Crime Lab.

The day marks a massive effort that began back in 2015, when Pooler city officials approved a resolution to convey the land to the state of Georgia for the new lab.

“This is a terrific day for us to commend our partners and everyone involved in bringing this much anticipated facility to life,” said Deborah Anderson-Purcell, chief of facilities and support operations for the GBI. “DPR’s extensive knowledge of the area and the topography of coastal land we are building on has resulted in successful execution of the project to date.”

DPR has worked with more than 20 local trade partners and collectively put in more than 22,000 man-hours to reach today’s “topping out” milestone.

“At DPR, we exist to build great things. Collaboration is in our DNA; we know that to deliver the best project we need to work with the very best local trade partners. Today is about celebrating their collective effort,” said DPR’s Darryl Strunk. Strunk estimates that at project completion, more than 40 local trade partners will have participated in the project.

eye level rendering
Photo courtesy of JMA Architecture, Inc.

The new crime lab will be a unique building for the coastal region and will include a three-story laboratory and Medical Examiner’s office. Because of the sensitive nature of the equipment the facility will house, DPR has utilized the latest BIM technology to model all the components of the building while at the same time implementing lean construction practices throughout the entire construction process.

The lab is being built on a 5-acre plot on Isaac G. LaRoche Drive, situated between a city fire station and the West Chatham YMCA. Once complete, the new center will allow investigators to examine projectiles, drugs and biological samples from crime scenes in 23 Georgia counties, and provide forensic biology services for another seven counties in the state. It will replace the current lab facility on Savannah’s Southside that is more than 30 years old.

The new facility will stand three stories tall and will be able to house up to 60 employees. The new crime lab is expected to be complete in the Spring of 2019.

Photo of employees outside the PG&E Gas Safety Academy.
The PG&E Gas Safety Academy is the primary training center for employees learning to operate and maintain every aspect of the company’s natural gas infrastructure. Photo courtesy of David Wakely

In the small town of Winters, California, on 40 acres of former tomato fields and apricot orchards, is the PG&E Gas Safety Academy, a training center that will make California a safer place. One of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the U.S., PG&E will use the facility as its primary training center for employees learning to operate and maintain every aspect of the company’s natural gas infrastructure.

After breaking ground in fall 2015 and completing in winter 2017, the Gas Safety Academy becomes the third in a series of gas safety facilities opened by PG&E since 2013. The academy uses simulators, virtual learning resources and hands-on scenarios to field-train and educate employees about gas transmission and distribution pipelines, meter maintenance, heavy equipment operation, welding pressure control and excavation, among other curriculum. The academy is a constant reminder of the importance of education, safety and the critical role PG&E employees play in keeping customers safe while delivering reliable service.

Image of PGE Gas Safety Facility.
The academy uses simulators, virtual learning resources and hands-on scenarios to field-train and educate employees about gas transmission and distribution pipelines, meter maintenance, heavy equipment operation, welding pressure control and excavation, among other curriculum. Photo courtesy of David Wakely

“This one-of-a-kind training facility not only represented a complex, technical project, but also reflected many of DPR’s own values,” said project manager Ian Bolnik. “Safety, integrity, and self-initiated change while striving for continuous improvement in quality and service are tenets that motivated us every day as we built the gas safety academy, which will foster the same principles for its trainees.”

Mirroring its customer’s commitment to safety, the DPR team (including subcontractors) completed more than 140,000 hours of work with no recordable incidents, as it built the $82 million, 96,000-sq.ft. facility during Northern California’s wettest winter on record (National Weather Service). Bordered on two sides by a Caltrans drainage canal, the site was used as a contingency relief area during years with heavy rain. According to drainage studies completed in the 1970s, if the water levels in nearby Putah Creek were too high for the canals to drain excess water into, the water would back up onto the tomato field. Prior to the start of construction, a civil engineer coordinated with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to create a diversion channel and remap the site. To avoid impacting schedule, DPR found a solution to raise the building pads by 6 inches to get them above the flood plain, allowing construction to begin. 

Mirroring its customer’s commitment to safety, the DPR team (including subcontractors) completed more than 140,000 hours of work with no recordable incidents, as it built the $82 million, 96,000-sq.ft. facility during Northern California’s wettest winter on record. Photo courtesy of David Wakely

Because of its various labs and simulators, the academy has a uniquely large amount of both gas and high-pressure compressed air below grade, as well as inside the building, which was installed by PG&E’s own crews. This amount of gas and compressed air is typically installed beneath roads, not under active construction sites. The DPR team engaged with PG&E subject matter experts and coordinated with other utilities to ensure that the infrastructure beneath the facility was installed safely.

PG&E employees will be trained in three distinct buildings on the campus:

  • The Learning Center: In addition to eight classrooms, a simulator room, and electrical workshop, the learning center includes a flow lab for high pressure gas simulation and gas chromatography, where employees gain hands-on experience in regulating and monitoring the pressure and flow of natural gas. A focal point of the facility, the flow lab contains large, 46-ft. long pipes that have nearly every valve that PG&E technicians might encounter in the field on transmission and distribution gas lines. The pipes are pressurized by a large 300-horsepower air compressor, about the size of an SUV, capable of reaching pressure between 700-800 PSI, allowing PG&E to train their technicians under real-world conditions without the hazards of actual gas. 
  • Transmission & Distribution Tech Center: This area includes a utility worker covered training area, plastic fusion lab and an industrial safety at heights training area, giving students a simulation experience on trucks and excavation machinery used in the field.
  • Weld Lab: The lab accommodates apprentice welders during three-year apprenticeships. 
Labs create real-life scenarios to train gas service representatives about different types of equipment they might encounter at residences. Photo courtesy of David Wakely

Outdoor training areas include the Utility Village, made up of 15 small homes to create near real-life conditions of emergency response and leak detection training for gas service representatives, the people who would come to customers’ homes if someone thought they smelled gas. At the mock neighborhood of single-family residences, duplexes and apartments, technicians practice everything from soft skills such as knocking on the doors of homes, to the technical skills of detecting, stopping and repairing gas leaks.

Designed to achieve LEED Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, the academy has reduced water usage by 35 percent, energy usage by over 20 percent and recycled 75 percent of construction waste. Other sustainable features include the site’s stormwater management, as well as sunshade louvers on exterior windows, deep overhangs and covered outdoor areas on the building’s south side.

Employing 150 people, the academy provides nearly 36,000 hours of training each year as PG&E trains its next generation of energy experts. Through its commitment to continuous improvement, the academy will create ripple effects throughout the state as its graduates create safer gas and electric transmission and distribution lines, making California a better place to live for all. 

Employing 150 people, the academy provides nearly 36,000 hours of training each year as PG&E trains its next generation of energy experts. Photo courtesy of David Wakely
Merck K 22 Rendering Energy Star Jpeg
Photo courtesy of Gensler

Energy efficiency is a challenge for many mission critical, energy-intensive data centers, but top pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck and Company’s new Tier III data center facility in Kenilworth, New Jersey has achieved just that. The facility recently received coveted ENERGY STAR certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Delivered by the integrated design-build team of Merck, DPR, Gensler and CCG, the data center has been commissioned to satisfy Merck’s stringent design criteria and performance-based certification process to earn ENERGY STAR designation. This is the first ENERGY STAR certified data center for Merck.

Designed and built in just eight months, the integrated team delivered the facility a full month ahead of schedule. The project scope included conversion of a one-story, steel-framed manufacturing building into a new state-of-the-art energy efficient data center. The 42,000-sq.-ft. facility includes two data halls and administrative support space. Major components include a chilled water cooling system utilizing prefabricated chiller plants and computer room air handler units in each data hall, and an electrical system comprising two power train systems in an N+1 redundancy configuration. Each of those systems consists of switchgear with dedicated standby generators and four uninterruptable power supply modules.

Korn added, “ENERGY STAR certification shows that a company is looking to reduce costs and to operate the facility in the most efficient way possible, even while focused on creating highly reliable infrastructure. In data centers, you’re putting in redundant equipment which can impact energy efficiency. By installing highly energy efficient data processing equipment that allows the facility to operate at higher temperatures, Merck achieved maximum efficiencies and lowered its operating costs. Monitoring and documenting the equipment’s performance for a full year afterwards was key and takes time and patience.”

Merck Energy Star Infographic Jpeg
Photo courtesy of ENERGY STAR

Engaging a design-build team with the level of technical construction expertise and data center experience that Merck, DPR, CCG and Gensler possess was also crucial to the project’s success. The project team focused on achieving energy efficiency goals from the onset. The team meticulously tracked and adhered to performance milestones to help the facility achieve both ENERGY STAR status and LEED Silver certification from the US Green Building Council.

At the end of the day, Korn pointed out that multiple factors contributed to driving the project forward to successful completion and to helping it attain ENERGY STAR status, including:

  • a knowledgeable motivated client committed to achieving specific energy-related savings goals and willing to take a different path in the design, construction, operation and monitoring of their data center facility;
  • a highly experienced project team that pursued targeted energy-related goals from day one, understanding if any system deviated from pre-established guidelines, it could not negatively impact the energy consumption of the facility;
  • the appointment of specific individuals on the project team responsible for actively tracking and monitoring the design criteria, systems, and performance indicators to ensure milestones were met; and
  • the team’s willingness to innovate by employing lean construction and extensive levels of prefabrication (estimated at 25 percent of the facility).

This data center project has allowed Merck to meet its business objectives in the region while building a solid foundation for future work and forging a lasting bond between DPR and Merck. “Merck’s mission is ‘Inventing for Life’ by improving the quality of life for the world,” shared Michael J. Abbatiello, who oversaw creation of Merck’s design criteria document which outlines the required technical specifications used for bidding, detail designing, commissioning and operating the facility. “Not only do energy efficient facilities reduce operating costs, but they also represent the environmental benefits that align with our mission.”

The Merck project was DPR’s first major new customer for its New Jersey office, which initially opened in 2008 and has doubled in size, serving customers throughout the state.

ENERGY STAR certification requires that energy consumption data be continuously tracked and professionally verified using an online reporting tool via EPA, hitting specific benchmarks. Recertification is required annually. For more specifics, go to www.energystar.gov/ENERGYSTARS.

VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital’s new C.A.R.E. Building opened in February 2018, creating a comprehensive medical center housing clinics, administration, rehabilitation and education services for the residents of southern Virginia and northern North Carolina.

Adjacent to the Community Memorial Hospital in South Hill, Virginia, the $14.4 million, 67,000-sq.-ft. C.A.R.E. Building represents VCU’s commitment to make comprehensive healthcare as accessible as possible for its patients. It is home to physician practices and hospital services including cardiology, pulmonology, family care and orthopedics. The new facility will also house a family dental clinic that is set to open later this year.

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Photo courtesy of Judy Davis
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Photo courtesy of Judy Davis
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Photo courtesy of Judy Davis
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Photo courtesy of Judy Davis

This time last year, DPR Construction launched a monthly blog series dedicated to sharing stories of women who build great things in honor of International Women’s Day, International Women’s Week, Women in Construction Week and Women’s History Month.

Construction is a traditionally male-dominated industry that is only 9.3 percent women (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Since spring 2017, the Celebrating Women Who Build blog series has told stories of women who are successfully executing complex, technical projects for some of the world’s most progressive and admired companies. The goal has always been to help connect and inspire women in the industry as they build meaningful careers—whether it’s as a project engineer, a superintendent, a project executive, an architect or an owner.

The experiences, challenges and ambitions of the Women Who Build featured in the series resonated with people across the country, who responded with encouragement, support and excitement. Many reached out to share how the determination, strength and spirit of women they read about positively impacted their day, life or career path.

DPR’s initial yearlong campaign culminates with a video, but the Celebrating Women Who Build blog series will continue, just like our efforts to create a strong, inclusive environment where everyone thrives.

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Roughly 3,500 sq. ft. on the seventh floor of a historic building will become Sharefest’s flagship youth center. Photo courtesy of Sharefest Community Development

A project that will benefit scores of underserved youth in Southern California is getting some much-needed help from DPR volunteers, who are leveraging their skills as builders and planners to help transform a former jail in San Pedro, California into Sharefest’s new Youth Development Center. Sharefest, a non-profit organization that aims to build strong communities by fostering volunteerism and preparing youth to lead positive change, will use the center as a year-round safe space for Los Angeles youth.

Over the past two years, DPR teams have stepped up to lend their preconstruction expertise and time to help get the project off the drawing board and into construction. After participating in past rebuilding projects and developing a strong connection with the organization, DPR saw a prime opportunity to make a difference when Sharefest announced its plans to convert roughly 3,500 sq. ft. on the seventh floor of a century-old, historic building in San Pedro into its flagship youth center. The organization has received a long-term, low-cost lease with the city of San Pedro for the space. 

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DPR is self-performing concrete work on the project to help Sharefest turn the vision for its new youth development center into reality. Photo courtesy of Sharefest Community Development

Sharefest’s new Youth Development Center is envisioned as a safe place for under-resourced youth to positively engage with one another and in their communities. The organization has served over 3,100 at-risk youths through its Youth Development Academy alone.

“DPR’s volunteer efforts are saving Sharefest hundreds of thousands of dollars on construction costs by providing skilled labor we can trust. We can now use that money saved to invest in the programs we are creating to help youth break the cycles of poverty, find their purpose and become the people we know they can be,” said Chad Mayer, executive director of Sharefest.

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After participating in past rebuilding projects and developing a strong connection with the organization, DPR saw a prime opportunity to make a difference at the Youth Development Center. Photo courtesy of Sharefest Community Development

Recognizing there was an unfilled need for subcontractors on the project, the DPR team set to work enlisting the help of five major trades, including plumbing, mechanical, electrical and fire protection subcontractors. To assist with outreach efforts, DPR employed 360-degree photo technology to capture the existing space, allowing subcontractors to conduct virtual job walks before committing their resources.

While the team has contributed significant hours during the preconstruction phase, DPR will continue to be involved, and will be self-performing concrete work on the project to help Sharefest turn the vision for its new youth development center into reality. Construction work began earlier this month, and the project is slated to be completed later this year.