flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
catfish1 - bottom
Currently Reading

Contractors warm up to new technologies, invent new management schemes [2014 Giants 300 Report]

Contractors warm up to new technologies, invent new management schemes [2014 Giants 300 Report]

Here’s a sampling of what Giant GCs and CMs are doing by way of technological and managerial innovation.


By Robert Cassidy, Editorial Director | July 18, 2014
Lookout Mountain Elementary School, Phoenix, Ariz. Photo: courtesy Adolfson & Pe
Lookout Mountain Elementary School, Phoenix, Ariz. Photo: courtesy Adolfson & Peterson Construction

“UAV.” “LATISTA.” “CMST.” If BD+C Giants 300 contractors have anything to say about it, these new terms may someday be as well known as “BIM” or “LEED.” Here’s a sampling of what Giant GCs and CMs are doing by way of technological and managerial innovation.

Hoar Construction is using UAVs—$1,200 unmanned aerial vehicles—to replace aerial photography and video on job sites. C.W. Driver is using its new Quad-copter drone to record building conditions and capture live video for inspection purposes. The firm is also using Structure Scanner to take millions of measurements of field conditions and compile the data into point-cloud files for modeling purposes.

In the BIM/VDC arena, Bernards claims that its use of BIM and Lean construction principles has led to a “dramatic reduction” in RFIs and change orders. HITT Contracting says it can now provide virtual O+M services via BIM to help clients improve ongoing building maintenance. Adolfson & Peterson Construction employs BIM on a fourth of its projects, largely for above-ceiling coordination of MEP/FP systems, but expects to deploy BIM more frequently in the future as projects grow in size and complexity.

TOP CONTRACTORS

2013 Contractor Revenue ($)
1 Turner Construction $9,979,430,000
2 Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., The 4,945,423,597
3 Skanska USA 4,866,277,915
4 PCL Construction 4,120,167,281
5 Gilbane 4,018,478,800
6 Balfour Beatty US 3,809,444,142
7 Clark Group 3,602,639,993
8 Fluor Corporation 3,396,120,000
9 Structure Tone 3,152,076,000
10 Lend Lease 2,707,076,000
SEE FULL LIST

 

TOP CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT FIRMS

2013 CM+PM Revenue ($)
1 Jacobs $1,663,220,000
2 Barton Malow 473,626,515
3 Hill International 383,000,000
4 URS Corp. 267,251,113
5 Harkins Builders 189,000,000
6 JE Dunn Construction 175,307,980
7 STV 168,215,000
8 Parsons Brinckerhoff 159,724,478
9 Turner Construction 140,640,000
10 JLL 125,969,026
SEE FULL LIST

Off-the-shelf apps are proving popular with GCs. Paric Corp. and PCL Construction have found Autodesk’s BIM 360 Field useful in providing project content in the field via iPads, laptops, and smartphones. (PCL also uses BIM 360 Glue.) PlanGrid, which S. M. Wilson implemented this year, gives team members—including designers, owners, and subcontractors—instanteous access to construction documents, specifications, punch lists, photos, notes, and RFIs. 


Giants 300 coverage of Construction Firms brought to you by Armstrong www.armstrong.com/fastshipclips

Messer Construction has been using LATISTA management software on 80% of its projects in the past year to perform field-based quality control in support of its Lean Daily Management program. LPCiminelli has set up its own customer enterprise system, BRICKS, to drive down costs.

Prefabrication is also grabbing contractors’ attention. Walbridge built 125 complete bathroom units off site for a renovation at the University of Michigan and is building another 750 bath units for a new residence hall at Michigan.

DPR Construction has partnered with OES Supply Company on the development of a “temporary dust containment system” that replaces temporary gypsum board walls. Ten linear feet of the containment barrier can be installed in 10 minutes. Over a three-month period, using 20 linear feet of the anti-dust barrier could save 50% over drywall, says DPR. 

Technical innovation is evident at Columbia University’s massive $6.8 billion Manhattanville expansion in West Harlem, where Lend Lease constructed a gigantic slurry wall around the 17-acre plot—“a huge geotechnical accomplishment,” according to Lend Lease. For the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, the contractor is using “top-down” construction, in which work proceeds in both vertical directions simultaneously—a first for the Big Apple, says Lend Lease.

 

CONTRACTOR INVENTIVENESS NOT LIMITED TO TECH

Contractors are also making headway with management innovations. Summit Contracting now limits its project managers to a single job at a time so that they can devote their undivided attention to that one owner’s project. 

Materials delivered to Hoffman Construction sites are used within three workdays; excess items are immediately stored in wheeled, covered receptacles to keep work sites safe.

KBE Building Corp. has implemented a disaster recovery system. All data stored in the firm’s main server in Farmington, Conn., is automatically copied to a backup server in Columbia, Md., reducing recovery time in the event of a disaster to two hours, rather than three days.

Firms are widening their horizons, too. DLR Group has created a Building Optimization Group to provide commissioning, retro Cx, energy modeling, and building analysis services. Shawmut Design and Construction reached out to recent college graduates with its Construction Management Skills Training (CMST) program, a three-year rotation through the firm’s project management, estimating, and field divisions—and got 2,000 applications for 30 positions.

 

Market perspective: Hill International’s David Richter

“We’re still climbing out of the recession, although the industry’s certainly in a growth mode,” says David L. Richter, President/COO of Hill International, Marlton, N.J. Richter’s father, Irvin, founded the company in 1976 to provide claims consulting, which still constitutes 25% of revenues. Hill, which went public in 2006 (NYSE: HIL), has grown into one of the biggest project management firms in the world, with 4,200 employees in more than 100 offices managing more than 1,000 projects.

Eighty percent of its business is outside the U.S.—half of that in fast-paced non-buildings sectors like transportation and energy—putting the construction management firm on a steeply upward path, says Richter, a BD+C “40 Under 40” superstar (Class of 2006). He will step up to the CEO role in January; his father will stay on as Chairman. 

In recent years, the Richters have moved the business in the direction of program management—clients who have multiple massive projects going on at any one time. “Developers in places like the Middle East rarely put up one building,” says Richter. “It’s four, five, six or more at a time, and you can really drive down costs when you have that kind of scale.”

The company is currently managing 40 programs in the billion-dollar range. Current projects include new airport terminals in Abu Dhabi ($2.93 billion), Bahrain ($950 million), and Muscat, Oman ($5.2 billion).

In the U.S., most of Hill’s vertical portfolio is on the East Coast, primarily in higher education and healthcare. Last December, the firm acquired 20-person Collaborative Partners, a Boston firm with strong ties to the New England K-12, healthcare, and biosciences sectors. “That deal has already started to pay off for us, with work at UMass Boston and Northeastern University’s Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex,” says Richter.

 

Read BD+C's full 2014 Giants 300 Report

Related Stories

Lighting | Mar 4, 2024

Illuminating your path to energy efficiency

Design Collaborative's Kelsey Rowe, PE, CLD, shares some tools, resources, and next steps to guide you through the process of lighting design.

MFPRO+ News | Mar 1, 2024

Housing affordability, speed of construction are top of mind for multifamily architecture and construction firms

The 2023 Multifamily Giants get creative to solve the affordability crisis, while helping their developer clients build faster and more economically. 

Multifamily Housing | Feb 29, 2024

Manny Gonzalez, FAIA, inducted into Best in American Living Awards Hall of Fame

Manny Gonzalez, FAIA, has been inducted into the BALA Hall of Fame.

K-12 Schools | Feb 29, 2024

Average age of U.S. school buildings is just under 50 years

The average age of a main instructional school building in the United States is 49 years, according to a survey by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). About 38% of schools were built before 1970. Roughly half of the schools surveyed have undergone a major building renovation or addition.

MFPRO+ Research | Feb 28, 2024

New download: BD+C's 2023 Multifamily Amenities report

New research from Building Design+Construction and Multifamily Pro+ highlights the 127 top amenities that developers, property owners, architects, contractors, and builders are providing in today’s apartment, condominium, student housing, and senior living communities.

AEC Tech | Feb 28, 2024

How to harness LIDAR and BIM technology for precise building data, equipment needs

By following the Scan to Point Cloud + Point Cloud to BIM process, organizations can leverage the power of LIDAR and BIM technology at the same time. This optimizes the documentation of existing building conditions, functions, and equipment needs as a current condition and as a starting point for future physical plant expansion projects. 

Data Centers | Feb 28, 2024

What’s next for data center design in 2024

Nuclear power, direct-to-chip liquid cooling, and data centers as learning destinations are among the emerging design trends in the data center sector, according to Scott Hays, Sector Leader, Sustainable Design, with HED. 

Windows and Doors | Feb 28, 2024

DOE launches $2 million prize to advance cost-effective, energy-efficient commercial windows

The U.S. Department of Energy launched the American-Made Building Envelope Innovation Prize—Secondary Glazing Systems. The program will offer up to $2 million to encourage production of high-performance, cost-effective commercial windows. 

AEC Innovators | Feb 28, 2024

How Suffolk Construction identifies ConTech and PropTech startups for investment, adoption 

Contractor giant Suffolk Construction has invested in 27 ConTech and PropTech companies since 2019 through its Suffolk Technologies venture capital firm. Parker Mundt, Suffolk Technologies’ Vice President–Platforms, recently spoke with Building Design+Construction about his company’s investment strategy. 

Performing Arts Centers | Feb 27, 2024

Frank Gehry-designed expansion of the Colburn School performing arts center set to break ground

In April, the Colburn School, an institute for music and dance education and performance, will break ground on a 100,000-sf expansion designed by architect Frank Gehry. Located in downtown Los Angeles, the performing arts center will join the neighboring Walt Disney Concert Hall and The Grand by Gehry, forming the largest concentration of Gehry-designed buildings in the world.

boombox1 - default
boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category




K-12 Schools

Average age of U.S. school buildings is just under 50 years

The average age of a main instructional school building in the United States is 49 years, according to a survey by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). About 38% of schools were built before 1970. Roughly half of the schools surveyed have undergone a major building renovation or addition.

halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021