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Accelerate Live! talk: An AEC giant’s roadmap for integrating design, manufacturing, and construction

In this 15-minute talk at BD+C’s Accelerate Live! conference (May 10, 2018, Chicago), Skender CEO Mark Skender and Chief Design Officer Tim Swanson present the construction giant’s vision for creating a manufacturing-minded, vertically-integrated design-manufacturing-build business model.


For more than two decades, BD+C editors have written about innovations and advances in the use of factory-built assemblies and modular buildings on commercial construction projects. From bathroom pods to MEP trade racks to entire prefab rooms, offsite construction is starting to take hold as more Building Teams realize the benefits of improved quality, refined scheduling, and, in some cases, reduced costs.   

But while most GCs are taking small steps toward a manufacturing-driven future for construction, Chicago-based Skender is taking a giant leap. In March, the 300-person construction company announced plans to build a comprehensive modular manufacturing plant, acquire a boutique architecture firm, and hire several key tech and design professional. 

Skender’s goal: to crack the code on true integration of design, manufacturing, and construction. 

In this 15-minute talk at BD+C’s Accelerate Live! conference (May 10, 2018, Chicago), Skender CEO Mark Skender and Chief Design Officer Tim Swanson present the construction giant’s vision for creating a manufacturing-minded, vertically-integrated design-manufacturing-build business model.

Mark Skender

Since joining the firm in 1989, Mark has played an integral role in the development of the organization's values, long-term vision and strategic direction. He leverages more than 30 years of construction experience in his active oversight of the firm's operations, innovations and strategic planning. Under Mark's executive leadership, Skender has grown into one of the nation's largest and most admired construction firms with annual revenues exceeding $400 million. As a pioneer in Chicago's Lean construction movement, Mark helped create and implement the vision for Skender's industry-leading approach to lean project delivery. He is a frequent speaker and writer on the subject and a founding member of the Lean Construction Institute's Chicago Community of Practice. Mark is active in many business and philanthropic organizations. He is a board member of the Illinois Housing Council and sits on the board of trustees, as well as served as chairman of the board for three years, for Frances Xavier Warde Schools in Chicago. He actively served in the Builders Association of Greater Chicago (BAGC), the local chapter of Associated General Contractors (AGC), holding various officer positions, including chairman in 2000. Mark served as board chair from 2010 to 2014 for Hosteling International USA, a nonprofit organization promoting youth travel and cross-cultural experiences. He has served on its national board of directors since 2003 and served on the Chicago board between 1994 and 2007, including serving as chair between 2000 and 2002. During his tenure on the national board, Mark led the transformation of the organization from 23 separate local 501(c)(3) entities into a single unified national organization. He also serves on the board of directors for Skender Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization focused on strengthening communities through funding, volunteering and partnering. Mark earned his undergraduate degree in environmental engineering from University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.

Tim Swanson
Chief Design Officer

Designer, urban planner, innovator, teacher, leader and entrepreneur, Tim leads Skender's team of architects and designers—bringing his passion for integrating the design and construction process to the firm's clients. Tim joins Skender from his former position of Chicago office director at CannonDesign, where he was the youngest office leader in the history of the century-old firm. In his decade there, Tim quickly grew into one of the firm's most dynamic leaders, overseeing a team of more than 200 architecture, engineering and planning experts. He also led its City Design practice, a national group focused on helping cities around the world grow and prosper. Tim is known for encouraging teams to pursue breakthrough design solutions that enrich health, education, community, science and more. Tim is focused on leveraging design to elevate the human condition in remarkable ways. Having lived in Abu Dhabi, rural India and major American cities like New York and Chicago, Tim brings a unique, global perspective to his design work. He is an advocate for smart growth and sustainable development, working with leaders at the intersection of urban planning, public health and education. He has vast experience identifying new ways design and strategy can positively influence socioeconomic conditions. And he has delivered successful solutions for cities, universities, businesses and institutions that enrich their holistic environments. Tim earned a Master of Architecture, with a specialization in urban development and infill, from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and undergraduate degrees in fine arts and economics and design from Colgate University. He is a member of the School of the Art Institute Chicago Design Council, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee School of Architecture Design Council and City Colleges of Chicago Architecture Advisory Board, as well as a board member of Archeworks. He was named to the NewCity "Design 50: Who Shapes Chicago" and the Building Design+Construction "40 Under 40" in 2017.


Skender revolutionizes how the industry builds, integrates design, construction, and manufacturing

Takeaways and recap from BD+C's 2018 Accelerate Live! innovation conference

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