Dallas tech firm chooses downtown retrofit over new suburban build

July 06, 2011 |
Drew Ballensky

The CEO of a Dallas high-tech firm says that it chose to retrofit an old downtown building rather than build a new one in the suburbs, which was a less expensive option, for a number of reasons that go beyond the bottom line.

“While the economics favored migrating to a purpose-built facility in the suburbs, we believed strongly that the company, which had been a corporate resident of Dallas since its founding, should remain in Dallas and seek to restore an older building,” says J.W. Roberts, head of General Datatech. “Such a project would help preserve history, be more environmentally responsible, and produce a facility with dimension, texture, and character—as opposed to more typical, generic spaces.”

The company has applied for LEED Gold status on the retrofit. Among the building’s new green features are:

• A 30,000 gallon rainwater collection system that handles all of the irrigation needs for a native plant landscape.
• A 100-kilowatt solar array.
• Digital signs located in common areas and outside conference rooms that are used to display company news, upcoming events notices, and other information in lieu of using paper posters and notices.

The office space was configured so that “a project manager sits next to an engineer and an account manager, who sit beside a structure/cable expert and a logistics manager,” Roberts says. “We are all within arm’s reach of each other, which ensures ease of communication and collaboration.”

Drew Ballensky | Reconstruction Blog

Drew Ballensky is general manager of Duro-Last Roofing, Inc.’s central U.S. facility in Iowa and company spokesman for Duro-Last’s cool roofing, sustainability and architectural education programs. He is past-president of the Chemical Fabrics and Film Association and chairman of CFFA’s Vinyl Roofing Division. Drew earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial technology from the University of Northern Iowa and master’s degree in business administration from Florida State University.
Drew has over 29 years experience in business and industry in various engineering and managerial capacities. He has worked in the U.S. and Canadian operations for a major international manufacturer of pre-engineered steel buildings, was a financial analyst with a major athletic apparel manufacturer and was an owner of a general contracting company.

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