The recent topping out of the 30-story Third+Shoal project in Austin, TX marked the first time in company history that DPR self-performed all formwork and concrete work on a vertical high-rise structure.
Located in Austin’s booming new downtown business district, the 392,000-sq.-ft. Class-A office building is DPR’s first for Texas-based development partners Cielo Property Group and TIER REIT. Facebook will be the building’s primary tenant after the project completes this fall.
Working on a highly collaborative team with the clients (TIER REIT, Cielo Property Group, and BRDS), Gensler and other key firms, DPR was challenged during preconstruction to seek creative ways to save cost and time while maintaining the highest level of quality in design and construction. Together with structural engineer, Cardno Haynes-Whaley, the team devised a new approach for the tower. They transitioned from the originally designed pan slab and post-tensioned (P/T) girder on all floors to a P/T slab and beam in garage levels, and flat slab and P/T beams in the office level. The revised approach was more efficient to build and offers more aesthetic flexibility for tenants who want open space or exposed ceiling type finishes.
Cost, Time Savings
DPR was awarded the $25 million contract to perform all formwork and concrete work on the project with in-house crews. The resulting savings to the owner were substantial–shaving over $2 million from the budget and approximately two months from the schedule.
“We worked with the structural engineer to redesign the entire structure around the formwork system that was different than what most of the players in the market use,” said DPR’s Andrea Weisheimer. The modified formwork system allowed the concrete work to be installed faster and more efficiently, but proved far more complex to design and construct.
“Literally nothing on the entire 25,000-sq.-ft. floorplate is flat,” said DPR’s Kyle Weisheimer. “Everything is at a varying degree of slope or even cross slope. Building that kind of formwork is extremely complicated. The fact that we self-performed the formwork on one of the more complicated structures you will find, and did it successfully, is kind of a badge of pride if you will and speaks to our core value of innovation and thinking outside the box.”
Approximately 55 DPR crews self-performed the concrete formwork and installation of 35,000 cubic yards of concrete on the project, in addition to waterproofing and specialty construction product work. All totaled, DPR has delivered nearly 30 percent of the overall project with in-house forces. “With our in-house services, we can engage from the start and not have to rely on what can be an overwhelmed subcontractor market on some projects,” noted Kyle Weisheimer.
To help successfully deliver the self-perform formwork on the Third+Shoal project, DPR tapped the expertise and knowledge base of vConstruct, which specializes in providing virtual design and construction services, on the latest BIM platforms.
“We used vConstruct heavily on this job to help us coordinate and understand what we were building before we built it,” said Kyle Weisheimer. “We were able to leverage that in-house resource to take on an endeavor that we really hadn’t done before, and to do it successfully.”
Paul Byrne, director of construction at Cielo, said DPR’s ability to undertake the largescale self-perform contract delivered big benefits to the project’s bottom line.
“By having self-perform capabilities, DPR offers the expertise of a true builder on every project,” Byrne commented. “We saw this on the Third+Shoal project with concrete operations; from the onset, the team worked collaboratively through a target value design approach to yield the most effective solution given cost and schedule constraints.”
In addition to the project team’s strong technical design and construction know-how and their willingness to innovate, the owner, design and construction team share a collaborative mindset that helped drive the project forward since it began in 2015, according to Andrea Weisheimer. “It’s been a collective team effort to constantly look at ways to improve what we’re doing,” she said. “The goal is to have a beautiful building, but to do it a lot faster and a lot leaner. Our collaboration tools on this project really have made that possible.”
Greg Brooke, senior vice president of development with TIER REIT, pointed to that spirit of collaboration and teamwork as key success factors on a project that is now just months from completion this fall. “The DPR team we’re working with has a very strong teamwork and problem-solving mentality, and we could not be happier with the result so far,” he said. “When things come up, the team usually comes back with an appropriate and cost-effective recommendation.”
“The fact of DPR self-performing the work, really it’s seamless,” Brooke added. “I think we all row in the same direction. I think we’re going to finish this on time, on budget. It’s a huge success for us.”