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Coming together under the Arizona sun, DPR Construction joined Arizona State University (ASU), leaders from Mayo Clinic and community leaders to celebrate the groundbreaking of ASU’s Health Future Center (HFC). With completion scheduled for October 2020, this greenfield project represents another step towards the future of healthcare in Phoenix.

Groundbreaking
DPR Construction joined Arizona State University, leaders from Mayo Clinic and community leaders to celebrate the groundbreaking.

A Clear Vision of Future Care

HFC will be a 150,000-square-foot, three-story ground up medical learning facility adjacent to the Mayo Clinic. The new facility will provide the surrounding communities with new technology including a med-tech innovation accelerator, biomedical engineering and informatics research labs, and an education zone. In addition, it will provide a new, innovative nursing program model where students are taught to treat patients through a whole health model. Based on the strength of a decade-long relationship with ASU, DPR was chosen to kick off the development and construction of the first building on this new breakthrough campus.

HFC will be the blending point between Mayo Clinic and Arizona State University Alliance for Health Care, a team brought together with the goal of transforming medical education and health care in the U.S.

The new facility will provide the surrounding communities with new technology including a med-tech innovation accelerator, biomedical engineering and informatics research labs, and an education zone.

“Having the opportunity to work alongside two industry leaders, such as Mayo and ASU, and deliver a world-class research facility that will transform the medical education field and improve the lives of future generations is what I am most excited about for myself and for DPR,” said DPR’s Casey Helburg, who serves as project manager.

The Power of Preconstruction

Determined to deliver ASU’s vision for the new medical facility, DPR’s preconstruction team collaborated with the design team to better deliver accurate estimates of each program type (user group of the space) and its components (value of materials) during early design stages. This level of precision accurately identifies where the budget is being allocated at any given stage of design—providing real-time information and the opportunity to make key decisions for the project earlier.

“Normally our program estimate is by program space, but our estimator, Shashi Sriram, developed an estimate down to the room space. Basically, she could sort the estimate by over 400 rooms, which is such a granular level of information at programming, but was extremely useful information,” said Cassie Robertson, who serves as the project’s preconstruction manager. “When the project partners were making early program adjustments it was easy to measure out the changes at a higher level which was the first time we were able to do that.”

HFC will be a 150,000-square-foot, three-story ground up medical learning facility adjacent to the Mayo Clinic.

Robertson and Sriram communicated in real time with ASU about the interior build-out cost, MEP cost and total tenant improvement cost before the start of schematic design. These benefits allowed ASU to collaborate efficiently with the design and construction team to iterate multiple estimating scenarios in a matter of one to three days.

Creating a Vision Together

During the groundbreaking ceremony, the Mayor of Phoenix, Vice Mayor and the CEO of Mayo Clinic shared their personal stories to set the stage for what the HFC really means to the City of Phoenix and the impact it will have on the biomedical industry.

“We think that the two of us together can be the corpus or the center or the anchor of what could evolve to be something that hasn’t yet developed in this country and hasn’t yet developed anywhere in the world, and that is the broadest focused health futures place,” said ASU President, Michael Crow.

The Desert Ridge area is north of where most Valley construction activity is taking place. The greenfield plot, however, will serve as a focal point for future development.

“Having the opportunity to work alongside two industry leaders, such as Mayo and ASU, and deliver a world-class research facility that will transform the medical education field and improve the lives of future generations is what I am most excited about for myself and for DPR,” said DPR’s Casey Helburg, who serves as project manager.
For Drywall Foreman Fedor Carrillo, a job isn’t worth doing unless it’s done right and exceeds customer expectations. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

“Fedor Carrillo was one of first people in DPR’s Raleigh-Durham location. He really helped build that office,” says DPR Superintendent Bruce Worcester. “He’s very demanding because he wants things done the right way. He’s excellent quality control on a project.” Worcester underscores a significant benefit that DPR’s self-perform workforce delivers: better quality control on DPR’s projects. To Carrillo, a drywall foreman, a job isn’t worth doing unless it’s done right and exceeds customer expectations. In this way, he embodies DPR’s drive to be a truly great builder.

Q: How did you come to work at DPR?

Carrillo: I started at DPR in November of 2007. I had been working for another construction company and had just finished a project when a friend told me DPR was looking for people. I started here as a carpenter, and after a couple years they gave me the opportunity to become a foreman and gave me a lot of training to move into that.

Before that, in 1999, I had to leave El Salvador because it was dangerous. The government was unstable. I lost my family and was on my own at 13, stocking soda on shelves to earn money, then driving a truck and a city bus. When I came to America, I worked hard to become successful here, and I felt so thankful to have a company like DPR see my hard work and give me more opportunity. I try to let younger people see that if you work hard and do the right thing, it will open doors. I try to set a standard for the younger people.

Q: What is the most challenging thing you’ve work on?

Carrillo: Right now, we’re finishing up a day care center located inside a client’s campus—we renovated one of the buildings for the employees. The building was occupied while we worked, so that was the big challenge, but we tried to disrupt them as little as possible. We put up temporary walls to separate us from their employees during the day. Many times, we worked at night so the noise wouldn’t bother them. We did a lot of pre-task planning and communicating with the customer here.

Carrillo makes the most of every learning opportunity offered at DPR, and he passes on his knowledge by training others. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What do you love about your job?

Carrillo: I love this company. It’s not like any other one I’ve worked with. Every day I learn something. When I don’t understand something, my bosses help me and give me training. People are willing to be patient and go through everything with you—new technology, iPads, types of drawings. And when I understand it, I train others because it’s important to me that everyone does things right.

Q: How have you grown since you started here?

Carrillo: DPR trusted me with responsibility and let me rise to the challenge. They had confidence in me, and that made me feel like I could do the job. The responsibilities they gave me built my confidence in myself. It made me want to learn more and do a good job, always learning more, becoming better, and taking on more responsibility.

Carrillo attributes his success to the view that “it’s not just about building a better building; it’s about building myself to be better.” Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What is the most important thing you have learned over the course of your career?

Carrillo: To do a good job and to do the right thing. DPR helps me feel successful because it’s not just about building a better building; it’s about building myself to be better. I’ve been able to advance because they trust me to do the right thing.

Q: What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Carrillo: For me, the most challenging thing at first was that I felt like my English wasn’t very good. I wasn’t confident communicating with people. But DPR helped me with that. They gave me training, and there has never been a problem with my work.

Carrillo knows that you have to make the most of every opportunity you are given, and he has worked hard to be successful. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What would your advice be for the next generation of builders entering this field?

Carrillo: DPR is a good company. My son even works for DPR, in an apprenticeship program here in North Carolina. DPR is about trust and opportunity. They give you opportunities to grow, but you have to make the most of them. I tell young people all the time: You have to work hard so you can use the opportunities to be successful.

Says Carrillo, “I feel so thankful to have a company like DPR see my hard work and give me more opportunity.” Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Fedor Carrillo makes the most of the trust DPR places in him, to always work in the best interest of the project, the customer and DPR—empowering him to be a great builder. Says Worcester, “We’re here to build good people, not just good buildings. Fedor has always met each challenge and advanced. It’s enriching for us to see that success.” It’s not just about experience and skill sets; it’s about zeal and drive. Great people make great things happen.

“Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story-tellers, and singers of song.” – Pam Brown

The DPR family is growing! As employees become fathers/father figures throughout the years, we watch as our friends take on new roles that transform who they are. This year for Father’s Day, we are celebrating the first-time dads of DPR. We reached out to employees who have entered fatherhood over the past year and asked, “What kind of father/father figure do you want to be?”

The responses show the uniqueness and heart of our employees, who help us change the world not only through the buildings we build, but the people we grow.

Assistant Superintendent Andres Martinez points to improved quality and schedule as benefits SPW crews bring to each project. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

The world’s largest medical complex sits just west of Texas State Highway 288, in south-central Houston. It is a two-square-mile district teeming with life, housing more than 60 medical institutions employing upwards of 106,000 people. Amid this densely occupied healthcare hive, Self-Perform Work (SPW) Assistant Superintendent Andres Martinez is putting to use one of the most valuable benefits SPW brings to each project: the ability to better control project schedules.

Hospital construction projects are inherently complex, with challenges amplified by occupied structures that continue to function during construction. Andres’s commitent to planning, with robust communication both internally between trades and externally with customers, helps make his projects successful.

Q: What is your role at DPR and describe the path you took to get there?

Martinez: I’m an assistant superintendent for SPW drywall. I started as a carpenter three years ago, when a previous boss asked me to come to DPR to work with him. After about six months, I became a foreman. A year after that, they gave me the opportunity to train to be an assistant superintendent, and I’m still here! It’s a big challenge, but I’ve learned a lot.

Q: How have you grown since you started here?

Martinez: I’ve gotten to do a lot of new things because we get a lot of opportunities. If you want to learn something new, DPR gives you the chance. I always ask for training so I can do something more for the company, and for myself and my family. I have a wife and two kids, with one more on the way in two months! In the future, I hope to become a superintendent. There are always opportunities to learn more and more.

The culture of learning and improvement have helped Andres Martinez succeed in his career at DPR. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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

Martinez: Learning how to work on computers. Before I came to DPR, I never worked much with them. Here I get to learn different building software that makes our work so much easier. That’s what I like.

Q: What’s the most technical part of the job you’re working on now?

Martinez: Right now, we’re doing a tenant improvement project at a hospital tower. We’re re-doing floors seven through ten on the east side of the tower, which is phase one. It’s a bit different for me because it’s a remodel. The work itself is the same, but we’re really working with the occupants to make sure we don’t disrupt them or the hospital. We’re doing ceilings, doors, restrooms, nurses’ stations—we’re building in sections and being really careful to accommodate the work and schedules of the employees and the patients.

Q: What’s been the biggest challenge?

Martinez: Scheduling is the biggest challenge, but we’ll put in as much work as we need to get it done on time. We work nights if we need to. We communicate with each other and with the customer to make it work. It’s important to make a good plan of who needs to go in and when because the space is a bit tight and won’t accommodate everyone at the same time. That’s the toughest part.

Andres Martinez employs open and robust communication to ensure his projects run smoothly. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What do you love about construction/your job?

Martinez: Pretty much everything. I love what I do. I’m learning every day—always learning something different. I started in the field and now I’m working more in planning, working on the computer. But to be honest, I really like all the people here. I love DPR, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable going somewhere else.

Q: What are you most proud of?

Martinez: I feel proud every time we finish a job! That’s when I feel excited to move on to the next project. It’s a feeling of accomplishment. When we finish, we relax and say, “Ahh… we’re done!” And SPW brings more quality to every job, so that makes me proud.

Q: To be successful in your role, what skills does a person need?

Martinez: I think experience is the most important thing. It’s important to work a bit in the field so you know what you’re talking about. Also, listen to people’s concerns and help resolve them. Respect the people and take care of them.

Martinez has embraced the use of building software and other tech tools available at DPR to ensure project success. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What would your advice be for the next generation of builders entering this field?

Martinez: Work in the field as much as you can. You can do a lot on the computer and it makes building a lot easier, but if you know nothing about the field you don’t have the whole picture. And learn as much as you can about all the trades and everything that goes into building.

When Martinez says goodbye to his family in the morning, he takes pride in knowing he is part of an organization that helps create opportunities not only for him, but for the community around him. He is proud to be part of an organization that enables him to grow as a builder as he continues to build great things for his community.

Through the buildings we create, the people we grow and the communities we serve, DPR has a real opportunity to transform our world. We strive to be integral and indispensable, and we are fortunate to have motivated employees who like to roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty and put their core building skills to use throughout the year.

Last month, DPR offices across the country joined with partner Rebuilding Together to take part in the non-profit’s National Rebuilding Month. Volunteers included all-female groups, admin employees, craft workers and students who worked together to repair and ultimately transform spaces to better serve their communities.

SHEBUILDS showcases the ability of women in construction and design industries to assist and empower other women, even from their own backyard.

#WomenWhoBuild in San Francisco

DPR’s Women Who Build in the Bay Area participated in the third annual SHEBUILDS event in San Francisco. SHEBUILDS showcases the ability of women in construction and design industries to assist and empower other women, even from their own backyard.

Several women from IBEW Union Local 6 and the local carpenters union brought their apprentices and students to the site, where they joined around 40 DPR employees. Together, the all-female group completed a full day of hands-on-work and repairs at the Oakes Children’s Center, a non-profit school in the city’s Outer Mission/Bernal Heights district. The organization serves over 200 students who require an alternative, resource-intensive learning environment.

Together, the all-female group completed a full day of hands-on-work and repairs at the Oakes Children’s Center, a non-profit school in the city’s Outer Mission/Bernal Heights district. The organization serves over 200 students who require an alternative, resource-intensive learning environment.

“The newly painted spaces are bright, clean and so incredibly welcoming,” said Annie Crowder, director of Oakes Children’s Center. “The redwood bench/planter boxes are amazing, and I was especially struck by the way the carpenters patiently taught their apprentices and students how to construct the benches.”

With a goal of making the space safer and more inviting, work ranged from painting and beautifying the outdoor space, to electrical and lighting work. All levels of experience were welcome, and everyone played a role.

“The energy was amazing with all these women,” DPR Community Initiative Coordinator Rena Crittendon commented. “There was a lot of enthusiasm to get in there and get to work, and for people to stay as long as they did [nine or even 11-hour workdays] and keep going was really neat.”

“The energy was amazing with all these women,” DPR Community Initiative Coordinator Rena Crittendon commented. “There was a lot of enthusiasm to get in there and get to work, and for people to stay as long as they did [nine or even 11-hour workdays] and keep going was really neat.”

After a day to be proud of, Crowder added, “Overall, I could not have imaged a better day with more dedicated, strong, compassionate women who literally transformed our campus in a matter of hours. We are so very grateful for SHEBUILDS, DPR and all the wonderful volunteers for their service!”

Saying “Thank you” in Houston

A few hours away in Houston, volunteers thanked a military vet for his service by renovating his and his wife’s home.

Jeff Griffin, DPR’s self-perform lead for the Houston office and cochair of DPR’s Rebuilding Together initiative in the region, brought together craft and jobsite workers, project managers, project engineers, admin employees and others for an effort involving an estimated 240-plus volunteer hours over the course of two days.

A few hours away in Houston, volunteers thanked a military vet for his service by renovating his and his wife’s home.
“The before and after pictures are incredible,” Griffin commented.

“In general, our people like to get out there and swing a hammer, dig a hole, paint, spread mulch, or whatever,” Griffin commented. “Everybody was excited about helping out and making the house look beautiful again. The before and after pictures are incredible.”

Rebuilding Throughout the Year in San Diego

Volunteers keep the momentum of National Rebuilding Month moving in San Diego. In May, DPR’s Preconstruction Team worked with Rebuilding Together to repair the house of a resident who has battled cancer for several years. Volunteers repaired drywall and flooring, painted, fixed a broken shower and performed other miscellaneous work to improve the safety and livability of the house.

We strive to be integral and indispensable, and we are fortunate to have motivated employees who like to roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty and put their core building skills to use throughout the year.

Sarah Williams, who heads DPR’s San Diego community initiative group, said hands-on projects generate a lot of interest and enthusiasm.

“Being a construction company, this is where we most like to use our skills, and people tend to get pretty excited about these opportunities,” Williams said. “There is just so much need, and it’s good to be able to find areas where we can really help out using our core skillsets.”

Community events help employees live out DPR’s enjoyment core value.

The Sharp Santee MOB project team is looking forward to June, not only for the summer sun, but for the volunteer opportunities. At least 20 members of the project team, including DPR, the architect and design-build subcontractors, have planned to make repairs to a family home. Scope includes painting, electrical work, and landscaping repairs to make the home more habitable for a family in need.

With pride in her team, Williams estimates both projects combined will tally at least 400 volunteer hours.

Earlier this year, the University of Virginia Health System continued a rich tradition of innovation coupled with community service by completing an extensive renovation of its Children’s Hospital and Women’s Health floors at UVA Medical Center. The facility is a 600-bed teaching hospital that serves as the Regional Perinatal Center for Northwest and Central Virginia and is home to 6 ranked Pediatric programs by US News and World Report.

The University of Virginia Health System recently completed an extensive renovation of its Children’s Hospital and Women’s Health floors at UVA Medical Center. Photo courtesy of Lee Brauer

With the goal of improving its function, usefulness and appearance, this 58,000-sq.-ft. interior renovation project was a complex, three-year endeavor. DPR Construction, general contractor for the project, worked with architect HKS, Inc. to navigate the challenges of renovating this key area of the hospital, which remained operational throughout construction while prioritizing the safety of its patients. Since the renovations encompassed roughly half of the 7th floor and nearly as much of the 8th, it was necessary for the team to take a well-coordinated approach to design implementation, a process that was carried out in five phases. Robust communication between the teams and the Medical Center was vital to ensure this was a smooth process.

Not only did the renovation deliver a cleaner look, it also improved hospital workflow. Photo courtesy of Lee Brauer

Fifteen post-partum rooms, several of which look out onto nearby Carter Mountain, were updated to make them more convenient and comfortable for new moms and their loved ones. Bathrooms and facilities were refreshed, and outdated furniture was replaced with more comfortable, updated pieces.

Bathrooms and facilities were also refreshed in the renovation. Photo courtesy of Lee Brauer

“The space really needed to be refreshed and updated from the 1980s,” said Dr. Christian Chisholm, UVA Health System Obstetrics Medical Director. Not only did the renovation deliver a cleaner look, it also improved hospital workflow. The medication area was expanded, making it easier for nurses to prepare medications. And with the renovated rooms being adjacent to the hospital’s delivery rooms, new moms are no longer required to switch floors after giving birth. There is also a central area from which nurses will monitor post-partum rooms, resulting in more privacy for patients and a more seamless process for hospital staff.

There is a central area from which nurses will monitor post-partum rooms, resulting in more privacy for patients and a more seamless process for hospital staff. Photo courtesy of Lee Brauer

Included in the renovation was the 14-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), which admits about 1,000 children each year and is one of the Southeast’s top referral centers. The project also featured a 4-bed pediatric bone marrow transplant unit (BMT), a 34-bed acute pediatric unit with both private and semi-private rooms, a new continuing care nursery and procedure area, women’s health triage and family waiting areas. To maintain continuity, the team incorporated the established Children’s Hospital graphics, finishes, theme, and millwork into the existing Level 7 West and Central Units and Level 8 East and Central patient units.

With a resolve to move ever forward, UVA Health System’s Women’s Health and Children’s Hospital renovation lives up to its community’s ideals of innovation in service to its people.

Who we build is as important as what we build. The power of DPR has always been, and forever will be, our people…innovative, entrepreneurial, empowered, disciplined, caring, aggressive and bullet-smart.

This year for Mother’s Day, we want to pay tribute to the remarkable moms/mother figures of DPR employees. Thank you for helping to raise and nurture individuals who change the world we live in by building great things every day. Thank you for making a distinctive impact.

The response was overwhelming to the survey we sent out asking employees to provide images and answer the question, “What makes your mom/mother figure unique or special?” Following is a taste of the heartwarming and powerful stories. Happy Mother’s Day!

Delivering a new landmark, DPR Construction celebrated the completion of its Domain 11 project. The project is part of what many consider to be Austin’s “second downtown” within the growing Domain North development.

In just over 17 months, DPR’s team, including a robust self-perform work (SPW) crew, constructed a 16-story office building and parking garage that contains a 338,900-sq.-ft., nine-level office core/shell and a 560,000-sq.-ft., seven-level parking structure. The ground floor includes parking, lobby, occupied office space and 8,100 sq. ft. of retail space. Targeting LEED® Silver certification, Domain 11 can be seen from miles away as the tallest office tower within the whole development.

“It’s pretty sweet, and Domain 11 was definitely the tallest Class A office tower to come to the Domain. It has made a visual statement as much as anything. You can see the Domain 11 & Domain 12 office towers from downtown’s {Austin} office towers,” says Brett Bickford, Project Manager in Austin.

Exterior View
The project is part of what many consider to be Austin’s “second downtown” within the growing Domain North development. Photo courtesy of Cambrella Photography

Innovation Leads to Savings

DPR’s preconstruction team tapped into the SPW team’s concrete and formwork expertise to adapt the overall structure to better suit the customer. Originally, plans called for a concrete pan joist slab structure, which often requires extra labor and more time to construct the formwork system. SPW concrete crews instead used the Doka formwork table system, with tables up to 48’x 28’ in size, that could be quickly transferred to the next level, reducing the overall duration required to form the concrete frame structure.

Doka formwork
DPR’s preconstruction team tapped into the SPW team’s concrete and formwork expertise to adapt the overall structure to better suit the customer. Photo courtesy of Cambrella Photography

Using the Doka formwork table system led to increased productivity and a tighter schedule. The method saved money and increased productivity on top of saving four weeks on the construction schedule.

Additionally, the formwork system provided a better concrete finish on the underside of the elevated decks. Exceeding expectations of a Class C finish, the customer was impressed when the concrete was close to a Class B finish, providing higher quality and featuring exposed structure in the design.

“We were consistent in DPR’s values and goals for customer service. This was the second project with TIER REIT (developer). Client satisfaction was always top priority for our project team,” said Brett.

Construction view
Using the Doka formwork table system led to increased productivity and a tighter schedule. Photo courtesy of Cambrella Photography

Embracing the DPR culture on the jobsite with SPW

The Domain 11 team consciously worked to build a culture that made every worker feel like an integral part of construction. All of the SPW trade partners and the project management team worked in the same jobsite field office, fostering collaboration and inclusion between different partners. With a unified team, the relationship with the customer grew as everyone rallied for the same goal—the team finished concrete work a month early, translating to savings for the customer, and with clear communication, predictable outcomes were ensured.

SPW crew
The Domain 11 team consciously worked to build a culture that made every worker feel like an integral part of construction. Photo courtesy of Cambrella Photography

“We had amazing SPW partnerships. This project team has strived to perform work as one team, eliminating the labels in the office (i.e. GC team, Concrete team, etc.). We are just DPR,” says Brett.

Above It All

Rising high above its surroundings, Domain 11 leaves its mark on the northern Austin skyline and gives people a new perspective of the city.

“This was a very exciting project to be a part of! The Tier Reit, Endeavor Real Estate Group, Gensler, DPR Construction team was one of the best I have worked with. This collaborative team produced a top-notch project and had fun doing it. Currently, the Domain 11 office building is the tallest building in North Austin. As the building was constructed, the higher the structure went the better you could see Austin’s downtown skyline. It was cool to see this new perspective of Austin. Soon, Domain will have its own skyline,” says Brandon Murphy, Project Executive.

DPR is looking forward to being a part of the “new downtown” as northern Austin continues to grow and innovate.

Exterior view
Rising high above its surroundings, Domain 11 leaves its mark on the northern Austin skyline and gives people a new perspective of the city. Photo courtesy of Cambrella Photography
Joe Rogers is a best in class foreman who has contributed greatly to the success of DPR’s prefab project at UC Davis’s Webster Hall. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Machines that spit out objects at the touch of a button. Robots that do our work for us. These concepts have long been the stuff of science fiction and Sunday morning cartoons—things the Jetsons took for granted but were out of our grasp. Today, innovators are changing this paradigm by creating new technologies aimed at ever increasing efficiency.

DPR is embracing this paradigm shift through its use of prefabrication, but not in the old cookie-cutter fashion. By using strategic partner Digital Building Components to transform computer models into precise-to-spec building assemblies, DPR uses prefab technology to create significant cost and schedule savings for clients, as well as improved safety and quality onsite. DPR’s self-perform corps is on the front lines of this movement. Joe Rogers, lead foreman on DPR’s SPW crew at the University of California Davis’s Webster Hall dormitory replacement, gets to see this firsthand as he and his team manage the install of fully custom, prefabricated panels on the 101,000-sq.-ft, four-story structure.

Q: What is your role at DPR and describe the path you took to get there?

Rogers: I’ve been working for DPR in Redwood City for the past four years, but I’ve been in construction since 1989. I’ve seen the industry change a lot for the better. I started out as a stocker and scrapper right out of high school. Then, I was offered an apprenticeship and worked my way up. I had heard about how good DPR was, so I reached out to them and they hired me on the spot.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to build/type of project to work on

Rogers: Honestly, I like all types. What I really like is that I’m not always on the same job or in the same place all the time. I get to meet different people and personalities on each project. I get to interact with other trades—we’re all working together. It’s never the same. I could be doing a hospital one year and a tenant improvement project the next. One thing about DPR, we have a lot of good people. Everyone communicates. Everyone gets to contribute to the success of the company.

Joe Rogers thrives on being recognized for making daily contributions to DPR’s success. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What’s the most technical thing you’ve worked on?

Rogers: Right now, I’m working on a four-story dorm with custom prefabricated panels. It’s pretty much one-of-a-kind; it’s 100% prefab. For this type of job, you have to follow all of the details exactly, right down to each individual screw, so there’s a lot of planning involved. Digital Building Components custom makes the prefabricated panels according to the plan model—they’re made robotically. They’re numbered and labeled, so I think of it as being kind of like a puzzle. The team really had to plan ahead, to discuss the flow and how to best stock, move and install. There’s a lot of collaboration between everyone. We’re shaping the best practices and constantly moving forward. We’re leaders out here.

Planning is key for Joe Rogers, as he and his team manage the installation of prefabricated panels at UC Davis’s Webster Hall project. Photo courtesy of Chip Allen

Q: How have you grown since you started here?

Rogers: My DPR family has really helped me since I first started. This is the first company I’ve worked for that’s done BIM modeling and uses iPads and spool sheets, which are basically printouts of the length of the wall with the stud placement showing. DPR has helped me all the way throughout the process. They didn’t just throw me out there. I’m learning the new techniques that DPR already has in place and pushing them forward to always be better. And I want to do a good job because they have confidence in me.

DPR’s use of technology to deliver its projects has helped Joe Rogers grow as a builder. Photo courtesy of Chip Allen

Q: To be successful in your role, what skills does a person need?

Rogers: Planning! You need to be prepared to look out ahead for possible issues. You do your best to plan for everything, but there’s always the chance that there’ll be a hiccup. You just have to plan as much as you can, deal with hiccups, move on and try to be as efficient as you can.

It’s also important to keep taking any training opportunities that come your way. DPR is excellent at keeping up to date with new ways of doing things, and at giving you any training you need. When I first joined, I didn’t know the technology stuff, but everybody on the team helped me and showed me how to use the technology.

Q: What would your advice be for the next generation of builders entering this field?

Rogers: For the younger generation, just always do your best. Don’t worry about what the other person is doing or thinking. Keep your focus on what you want, on what you want to do in the future.

DPR’s focus on training and education helps Joe Rogers equip a new generation of builders. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

With an eye to the future and a drive to push himself ever forward, Joe Rogers embodies DPR’s purpose—building greatness within himself and utilizing it to build great buildings for his customers.

DPR Construction recently completed a series of complex electrical and power monitoring upgrades on Merck’s Kenilworth, New Jersey campus that will help ensure scientific work there will go on without interruption for years to come. The work, which included upgrading five existing primary substations and associated feeder systems, along with the demolition of three substations in their entirety, showcased how DPR’s MEP expertise and approach to planning can lead to exceptional results and the kinds of predictable results customers rely on.

“This location is the world corporate headquarters for Merck, with active research and development labs and critical data center operations. Any impact to this campus could have major implications,” said Michael Abbatiello, Director of Engineering for Merck.

A new indoor electrical substation.
One of the new substations DPR installed on the campus. Photo courtesy of Michael Denora Photography

Getting Out of Tight Spaces

The Merck EM1/EM2 Substation and Feeder Replacement Project was a three-year project performed under a design-build contract in conjunction with a teaming agreement with Forest Electric, the electrical subcontractor. The project upgraded 40-year-old systems that were no longer as reliable as a global corporate headquarters and mission critical lab required. Executed without interrupting work on the active campus, DPR relocated one 26 kV substation into an existing structure while prefabricating and building another new 5 kV substation across campus. Both existing substations were demolished and the 26kV and 5kV cables feeding the campus’s eight major buildings were replaced. Additional work included the replacement of electrical equipment at two outdated 5kV substations, the demolition of an existing decommissioned substation, and a brand new 5kV substation to feed the main corporate administrations building on campus.

“This was a very complex project with a high risk of injury to people and disruption to Merck’s operations,” said Abbatiello. “Planning and communication between site operations and the project team was critical. This project outperformed others in this regard and it was a major contributor to its success. The overall execution and performance on this project was outstanding.”

Much of this technical work, however, needed to be coordinated with various campus stakeholders to ensure switching service from old to new infrastructure did not affect research and development of life saving medications. Additionally, much work required access to systems through manholes, which required confined space permits and heightened safety supervision. To alleviate this safety hazard, crews employed remote control cable cutters.

Complex electrical systems in the lab.
Work required managing technical, but high-risk work in tight spaces. Photo courtesy of Michael Denora Photography

“The remote control cable cutter was a practical and safe tool for cutting wires,” said DPR’s Brandon Bell. “The wireless remote communicates with the tool via a mutually exclusive connection, and a lineman can arm the cutter and move away from the area to perform the work safely.”

Winning Safety Performance

Indeed, safety was paramount throughout the project, with DPR’s team aligning with Merck’s existing safety culture. One key factor: customer involvement. Aided by the design-build approach, the entire team took safety to be its job, with the customer leading the way.

“It just goes to show how important owner and stakeholder involvement in safety is,” Bell said. “When we combine our own approach to safety with an owner that shares our safety value, it strongly reinforces our culture.”

The results speak for themselves: by March 2019, the project had amassed more than 200,000 worker-hours and one recordable incident. Merck recognized DPR for its efforts with one of its regional safety awards, highlighting its excellent safety practices.

Outdoor electrical systems.
Work on the campus took place in both complex indoor environments and outdoor areas where the elements presented a different set of challenges. Photo courtesy of Michael Denora Photography

Collaboration in Action

Ultimately, the use of a design-build contract in conjunction with a teaming agreement took what could have been just a successful project and turned it into an outperformer all around. The job was finished on schedule and under budget, aided by a collaborative approach that made delivery as seamless as possible.

“There were several instances where we had to deviate from the initial plan, such as moving away from fully prefabricated conduit racks because they wouldn’t work logistically,” Bell said. “In those instances, the integrated team was able to tackle the challenge together with no negative bearing to cost or schedule.”

In addition to safety, cost and schedule results, the high level of collaboration had a positive influence in building rapport with other project partners, as well.

“It was, easily, one of the best project experiences with subcontractors in several trades,” Bell said. “We were also able to train a variety of subs and partners in Lean techniques and associated systems, which means we can take the same approach to future work.”