What’s it like building a New York City subway?

In some ways, Skanska’s work expanding New York City’s labyrinth of subways is like most of our other heavy civil assignments across the nation: blasting rock, moving earth and pouring concrete are common tasks everywhere, as is ensuring the unimpeded and safe passage of pedestrians and traffic.

But in other ways, working beneath the Big Apple’s streets is an undertaking found few other places. You might not see daylight for your entire shift, and your mobile phone likely won’t have service. Roaming in this different world are tunnel-boring machines, which use their heft – up to five stories tall and stretching the length of a football field – to carve subway tubes out of hard Manhattan schist. And as everything going to and coming from an underground site is transported through an access shaft, the crane atop that shaft becomes your lifeline.


Up to 16 inches of sprayed-on concrete is part of the structural system for the new 86th Street subway station in New York City. (Photo: MTA Capital Construction)

Here are what some Skanska team members had to say about the experience:

“It’s like building a ship in a bottle.”

– Nick Vitucci, superintendent

“This is a different kind of job. Here, you have to create the area in which you work.”

– Mike Ceglio, safety engineer

“I’ve been on really long concrete pours from maybe 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. Afterward, we’d surface and there might be a foot of snow on the ground – it had fallen when we were underground and we hadn’t expected it. Those are always interesting experiences.”

– Michael DeMonaco, field engineer

“Down here, everyone has each other’s back. You spend more time with your family down here than with your family at home. Everyone on our team is a really good person – salt of the earth.”

– John Kiernan, superintendent

In this video, our teams used their smartphones to capture one another describing what it’s like working on these projects.

Many roles in current subway expansions

Skanska’s roles in both of New York City’s major subway expansion projects cover all aspects of new subway construction, from the gritty tasks involved with shaping the rock to the detailed craftsmanship associated with installing the escalators, wall panels and signs that will be part of New Yorkers’ commutes for generations to come.


Beneath yellow waterproofing material, a concrete form and rebar template are being readied to pour the arched ceiling at the 86th Street subway station. (Photo: MTA Capital Construction)

In our work bringing the Second Avenue Subway line to Manhattan’s dense Upper East Side, a joint venture of Skanska/Traylor is mining and concreting a cavern at 86th Street for a new subway station. This builds on previous work that a joint venture of Skanska/Shea/Schiavone performed in boring two 22-foot-diameter tunnels between 63rd and 92nd streets for the trains to roll.

On Manhattan’s Far West Side, a joint venture of Skanska/Railworks is installing architectural finishes and mechanical, signal and other systems in new tunnels and a new station to extend the No. 7 line to the city’s rapidly growing Hudson Yards section. Again, this adds to yet another joint venture that Skanska participated in (Shea/Schiavone/Skanska) in boring the tunnels – which extend 1.5 miles from the Times Square station – and building the structure of the new station.


Share this postFacebookGoogle+StumbleUponPinterestTwitterRedditLinkedInEmail

How to conceive healthcare environments in a better way – the Prognos way

Skanska’s Prognos early cost modeling app for healthcare projects – which InformationWeek magazine lauded this month as one of “20 Great Ideas to Steal in 2014” – originated out of frustration two years ago. Back then, Senior Vice President Andrew Quirk thought that designers, builders and owners began planning healthcare projects with too many preconceived ideas – about room sizes, finishes and so on – beyond what’s required by codes and standards.

By not starting from a mostly blank sheet of paper, opportunities were being missed to deliver more efficient building programs, and in turn potentially increase each client’s return on investment, thought Quirk, national director of Skanska’s Healthcare Center of Excellence.

“I was trying to get to a point where you could help clients think differently about a project, and challenge them to think outside of norms,” Quirk said.

Quirk saw the solution as a tool that would enable Skanska clients to conceive their new physical environments in a better way – and that tool is now Prognos, available for iPads through Skanska’s App Store. With Prognos, healthcare clients build only what they need at the cost they can afford, plus capitalize on revenue-generating spaces and realize energy savings when possible. Prognos (means “prognosticate” or “predict” in Swedish – Skanska’s roots) shows an owner these elements at the onset of a project.

photo 4

App in action

Using this app begins with a Skanska team working with a client to evaluate building components –  such as the number of hospital beds, number of floors, size of the emergency department – in real time. The resulting cost model can easily be modified to show different options.

Prognos’ additional features make it unlike anything else in healthcare. Once a construction cost is determined by each hospital service line, Prognos then allows the user to perform “what-if” calculations for energy usage, square foot efficiency and sustainability calculations, as well as to do an ROI analysis. The data is stored in the cloud – enabling adjustments to continue in the future – and a report can be sent directly from an iPad to the client as a reference for future conversations.
To serve clients across the United States, geographical zone information is used for energy calculations, and a city index is used to calculate construction costs, which vary by region.

photo 1a

But even more important than the numbers is the process that leads to them.

“This supports having a more in-depth dialogue with the client,” Quirk said. “The idea is that by filling out the layers of this app together, both the client and Skanska start asking, ‘What if we did this – what would it do to the model?”

Share this postFacebookGoogle+StumbleUponPinterestTwitterRedditLinkedInEmail

Four ways to enable innovation in construction

At Skanska, we encourage our employees to continuously innovate for the benefit of our customers and our communities, transforming the way the construction industry approaches problems and solutions. Over the past few years, our employees have come up with ideas that have changed the way we manage and deliver projects, especially in the areas of prefabrication, BIM and through the use of mobile apps.

How have we fostered such innovation? Here are four principle ideas we follow:

1. Provide tangible support

In any industry, it’s tough to break away from “the way things have always been done,” especially when it requires a time commitment outside of the normal work day. We had to come up with a better approach.

In 2010, we launched an Innovation Grant Program, with dedicated resources and staff. At its foundation, the grant program provides funding to individuals and teams to research, develop and transform their ideas into repeatable solutions that deliver value. We “put our money where our mouth is” and, to date, Skanska has invested over $1 million in the grant program to support 25 projects. We have three full-time staff members devoted to this initiative: working with employees to brainstorm ideas, conducting research and implementing successful products throughout our organization. Additionally, we have established connections with nearly 15 universities and colleges to help work on grant research, which helps ensure our developments are on the cutting edge and which provides a way for talented students to engage with our industry.

2. Connecting people


 The inSite Monitor app, which helps us better monitor environmental conditions in sensitive environments.

Meeting face to face is key to understanding people and the challenges they face. In the first year of our grant program, we traveled to jobsites across the country, meeting people and hearing what on the job might be keeping them up at night. After hearing several of the same stories, we started to connect people who shared issues and got them to brainstorm ways to improve. When people know they aren’t the only one facing an issue, they are more likely to work together to find a solution.

Our inSite Monitor app, for example, originated from our hearing about a hospital renovation project in Tampa, Fla., at which we needed to monitor dust and noise near an active neonatal intensive care unit. We had also been in touch with an employee in North Carolina who was interested in exploring mobile app technology (still an emerging technology at the time). We connected employees at both jobsites and, together, they came up with a concept and applied for a grant.

Today, the inSite app is a turn-key system any of our jobsites can put into use. The system monitors noise, vibration, dust and differential pressure and connects to an iPhone app so anyone on the project can view the data and will know of any issues in real time – compared to the old system where readings had to be taken manually at intervals throughout the day.

3. Create repeatable solutions

review tabs

The time our teams save using this DayFacts digital daily superintendent report gives them more time to devote to critical jobsite activities.

Grant applicants must keep in mind that ideas must be applicable across multiple regions or projects. This is important as Skanska has 39 offices nationwide. We want to focus on areas of our business where adoption of new methods will be high and scalable across the country.

Before DayFacts , our digital daily superintendent report, craft workers manually wrote down their daily reports of manpower, equipment, safety and weather, and submitted them to project superintendents – this process was time consuming and hard to track and archive. With this new web-based system that mirrors the old process, teams save three or more hours a week doing their reporting. Currently, the system has been used by over 250 jobsites across the country.

4. Recognize people

Our employees feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when they see their ideas through to implementation, as they know they are positively affecting how Skanska – and their colleagues – operate. We make sure to recognize our employees for their extra time and work. Throughout the grant process, we showcase the names and a faces of applicants on any internal publicity. Additionally, at our annual National Management Meeting, we give out an Innovation Award to someone who has gone above and beyond in their work supporting innovation.

These four principles have enabled Skanska to be at the forefront of such initiatives as BIM, prefabrication and jobsite efficiency, helping us lead the way in innovation.


Share this postFacebookGoogle+StumbleUponPinterestTwitterRedditLinkedInEmail
Tony Colonna

posted by Tony Colonna

Vice President, Prefabrication Operations

More Posts - LinkedIn

How patient-centered medical homes can help both healthcare providers and patients

Beyond reducing the number of uninsured Americans, the Affordable Care Act is driving new types of healthcare facilities, especially patient-centered medical homes. PCMHs are spaces that support a team-based approach to patient care, with physicians, nurse practitioners and some specialists operating under one roof – a one-stop shop for patients. Through this collaborative approach, PCMHs enable better patient care and improve the efficiency of delivery.

But where might a PCMH work from a real estate perspective? And how might such an environment enhance the medical care being delivered within?

At Skanska, we’re seeing PCMHs work in a variety of settings, including:

1. On campus-solutions: This is the old model of medical office building combined with preventive care, education centers and diagnostics.

2. Retail settings: More clients are talking about going into vacant big box retail locations. This solution is exciting because you are going into a retail setting that is already established, has existing clientele, and the local healthcare provider’s name would be on the side of the building – a significant branding opportunity. One example of this is Vanderbilt Health in Nashville. Vanderbilt went into the space that once housed the One Hundred Oaks Mall, which was in decline and threatening to become another casualty of suburban blight, and transformed and rebranded it into a healthcare complex known as the Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks.

3. Redevelopment of existing office space: In some areas, developers are coming out of the recession holding a lot of space, including office space, which is being repurposed for medical office use. There is not a lot to do to re-purpose– often, office space features a very nice, high-end entry that carries over to healthcare uses. It also requires a fairly low investment level (tenant build-out) with a faster return.

Patient-Centered Medical Home

Once the most appropriate site has been selected, the interior and technological approach to the PCMHs can also reap significant dividends, including:

1. Energy reduction: Energy presents one of the best and biggest opportunities for the healthcare industry to reduce costs with an efficient use of day-lighting, shared resources and better planning. With building types like PCMHs, we can really affect the amount of energy used in the healthcare industry.

2. Technology integration: Healthcare technology has rarely been incorporated directly into the built environment. For example: space is built for MRI or CT scans, but the building itself doesn’t fully integrate with such equipment.  As we move to hand-held devices, robotics and telemedicine, this becomes increasingly important. With PCMHs, it is possible to bring three or four physicians into a room with a patient with only one doctor physically present and the rest connected through video conferencing.

3. Medical records storage: We are starting to see is a reevaluation of all square footage– looking at an existing facility and making sure every square foot owned is generating revenue. The use of electronic medical records vacates spaces in the healthcare environment that could be revenue producing spaces.

The whole idea of the PCMH concept is that it goes beyond sharing files and equipment: to make everything patient centered while also decreasing overhead, and lowering initial capital costs. As a result, doctors can experience return on investment much faster and patients can receive more convenient care. This is where the industry is headed.


Share this postFacebookGoogle+StumbleUponPinterestTwitterRedditLinkedInEmail
Andrew Quirk

posted by Andrew Quirk

Skanska USA Senior Vice President and national director of Healthcare Center of Excellence

More Posts - Website - LinkedIn

At Florida Polytechnic University, building under the spotlight

Many have built designs by noted architect Santiago Calatrava, but few – if any – have delivered these highly complex structures within the clients’ budget and schedule goals, and through a smooth construction process. After all, if a starchitect designs the building, won’t the project be so complex that it’s destined to be late and over budget.

Skanska is proving that notion wrong as we near completion of the 160,000-square-foot Innovation, Science and Technology Building in central Florida, the centerpiece of a new campus for Florida Polytechnic University. Projects don’t get much more complex than this, with 90 percent of the building on a radius; the glazed roof covered with operable louver arms that will reach up to 12 stories above grade to regulate light into the building; and a soaring cast-in-place concrete structure that required the highest standards of craftsmanship. All this was done on a $60 million budget.

“We’re proving the naysayers wrong,” said Chuck Jablon, Skanska vice president. “Our team is getting this project in budget without compromising Calatrava’s design.”

While it’s been under construction, this building has been in a Dodge Ram commercial, has developed a popular mascot – Kittiago Calatrava (the team’s adopted kitten) – and has been the subject of scores of media attention. Here’s a recap of some of what the media has to say about this compelling project:

Pictures are worth a thousand words, but to really get a feel for the building take a look at these videos:

This video shows Santiago’s vision for the Florida Polytechnic University campus and the Innovation, Science and Technology (ITS) building.

ABC Action News takes a look at the new university’s construction.

Share this postFacebookGoogle+StumbleUponPinterestTwitterRedditLinkedInEmail

After the flood: restoring Colorado’s Highway 7

On Nov. 26, two days before Thanksgiving, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and other officials joined residents in a small town 45 miles northwest of Denver. They were there to give thanks to what a Skanska joint venture team had accomplished.

Colorado floodwaters

State Highway 7 was heavily damaged – and rendered impassable – in September after northern Colorado received as much rain in a few days as it normally gets all year. Some called it a 1,000-year flood. Water poured down the steep canyons of the Rocky Mountains’ Front Range, causing tremendous damage: boulders the size of school buses rolled down the mountain and rivers spilled over their banks, completely washing away some sections of road.

People living along these roads were either stranded at home or unable to get home from where they had taken refuge. The few fortunate enough to not suffer significant property damage found themselves cut off from the towns they depended on for food, medical care and employment.

When our team was awarded the Highway 7 project, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) asked for one passable lane – not necessarily paved – to be open by December 1. Instead, those officials gathered on two newly-paved lanes stretching for 14 miles nearly a week earlier than scheduled – a remarkable feat. What’s more remarkable is the story behind it all.

“Colorado needed this highway rebuilt and rebuilt quickly,” said Skanska’s Dan Howell, who led the project. “The issue, though, was where to even begin.”

Into the unknown

Our team started from a blank slate. Given the emergency nature of this project, CDOT was operating at a rapid-fire pace, advertising and awarding the work in less than one week. None of the normal plans and specifications associated with projects was available.

“We didn’t even know what the scope of the work was, other than to fix roads,” Howell said.

The first task faced by our team – including joint venture partner R.L. Wadsworth Construction of Utah – was assessing the damage. They focused on reconnaissance during the week between contract award and the start of reconstruction on September 30. They even brought in a helicopter for aerial views.

The results showed the immense work our team had before them. Of the 14 miles of highway our team had to repair, sections totaling about seven miles had been washed away by the St. Vrain River.

“We had no initial plan because no one knew what was going to be there,” Howell said. “After the helicopter, we could start to put together how we would attack the project.”

The solution: Skanska crews would start on one end of the 14-mile work area, while our partner Wadsworth would start on the opposite side. Each would send an excavator and a bulldozer ahead for “pioneering,” helping clear a stable path for even larger equipment.

Before any significant road work could take place in a given spot, crews had to literally put the river back where it belonged.

“The floods changed the flow of the river, with debris, pieces of highway and boulders sitting where the river should be,” said Jeff Smith, Skanska project manager. “The first thing we had to do was get in the water, move rocks and form a new embankment where we could build a road.”

To align the rebuilt road, GPS couldn’t be used, as satellite signals didn’t reach the ground in the steep and narrow canyon – having granite cliffs hundreds of feet tall and at some points just 100 feet wide – through which the highway and river passes. Our team had to be rather primitive in their survey work: at points, they just tried to match whatever pavement remained.

“There was no grade requirement,” Howell said. “The requirement was to get a road open.”

Logistical and safety challenges


As work began, quick repairs were made to sections of the road on either end, allowing some residents to access their homes. These “soft closure areas” were manned 24 hours a day by local authorities to prevent drivers from entering unsafe areas.

Even those efforts, though, didn’t solve a larger problem: getting work vehicle access to the site. Not only was Highway 7 impassable, but surrounding roads also could not be traversed. This meant a three- to four-hour, 160-mile one-way trip from one end of the job to the other. Further, physical and electronic access throughout the job was difficult, as the canyon walls rendered jobsite radios and mobile phones useless.

“There was no communication from one end of the job to the other end,” Howell said.

Our team also faced unique safety challenges. Rocks loosened by the rain continued to roll down the steep canyon walls. And constantly changing weather – from as low as minus 10 degrees to as high as 65 degrees – affected the stability of the slopes our team was working on and around.

The joint venture’s 80-person team worked more than 40,000 hours with no lost-time accidents, an accomplishment they attribute to ongoing communication. Safety hazards were shared not only before each day’s work began as part of pre-task planning, but also as conditions changed.

To overcome those challenges, work continued 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week for the six-and-a-half weeks it took to reopen the highway. Improved weather paired with a committed crew got the job done early.

The results speak for themselves. More open road than planned, ahead of schedule – and to the delight of nearby residents. And although it took a tremendous effort, the incredible sense of shared purpose and camaraderie between our team, CDOT and residents made the hard work enjoyable.

“We had a lot of fun,” Howell said.

Before and After

Share this postFacebookGoogle+StumbleUponPinterestTwitterRedditLinkedInEmail

What upgauging means for airport design

The air travel world is entering a period of dramatic transformation, thanks to significant internal changes (including mergers and acquisitions) and external changes, such as rising fuel costs and new technologies. Not only will tomorrow’s airlines and airplanes need to be different to adapt to this shifting environment, but airports will need to evolve too.

One key change is that in responding to higher fuel costs, technological advancements and shifting travel markets, airlines have increasingly been “upgauging” to larger jets, rendering the previously favored smaller, regional jets uneconomical. Compared to the 50- to 100-seat regional jets, larger planes like the Boeing 737-800 and the Airbus 321 are far more fuel efficient and provide better value in terms of seat-miles for airlines. It’s clear that the upgauging trend will have lasting impacts on the industry, especially where it comes to airport design.


Airport owners will need to rethink the layouts of their facilities in order to stay ahead of the upgauging trend. Terminals at smaller airports designed for slim regional jets, with gates close together, will need to be reconfigured to accommodate airlines’ new fleets. They will also likely require new jet bridges that can accommodate larger planes and connect them to terminals.

However, it is not just what happens on the tarmac that will have to be redesigned, but also the interior layout of terminals. Internal corridor space will have to be re-sized to handle the increased number of passengers disembarking from the larger planes. Passenger hold areas will have to increase in size to accommodate the greater number of passengers on each flight. Concession areas will have to expand as well to serve the additional travelers, and to help defray the costs of renovations. Without these changes, it will become more difficult for airlines to serve outdated airports, likely resulting in less service – something that is a loss for airlines, passengers and cities.

Major airports, home to specialized regional terminals that may retain that service for the time being, will have to make design changes as well, as forward-looking airport authorities will opt to create flexible spaces that can be sustained over many stages of industry evolution. As airlines continue to move towards bigger, more-fuel efficient jets, airport design will continue to evolve along with it.

As builders and providers of facility solutions, we are constantly seeking ways to assist our aviation clients in meeting their business goals. We work hard to understand the factors that are affecting our clients’ businesses, so we can be their partner in developing solutions.

Share this postFacebookGoogle+StumbleUponPinterestTwitterRedditLinkedInEmail
MacAdam Glinn

posted by MacAdam Glinn

Skanska USA Vice President

More Posts - LinkedIn

Skanska’s bridges by the numbers

Bridges are some of our most eye-catching projects. We build and rehabilitate bridges of all types, from landmarks like the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine, Fla., to interstate thoroughfares like Interstate Highway 10 over Florida’s Escambia Bay. We’ve overseen the seismic retrofitting of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge in California, construction of the Cooper River Bridge (also known as Arthur J. Ravenel Bridge) in South Carolina, as well as worked on the iconic East River bridges in New York: the Brooklyn Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly the Triborough Bridge).

In celebration of these feats of engineering, here is a look at some of Skanska’s bridge projects, by the numbers.

155 miles per hour: The speed of Hurricane Ivan’s winds that ruined sections of the Interstate Highway 10 twin bridges between Florida’s Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in 2004. Skanska designed and constructed two replacement bridges to stand 25 feet above water, more than twice the height of the original bridges.

215 feet: The height of the Bayonne Bridge after a Skanska joint venture raises the roadway by 64 feet. The bridge’s current 151-foot clearance cannot accommodate the next generation of new Panamax container ships, which will begin service from Asia by about 2015, following the widening of the Panama Canal.

1883: Year the Brooklyn Bridge, one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States, was completed. We’re currently reconstructing the approaches and ramps in both Manhattan and Brooklyn.

35,000 tons: The amount of waste concrete and asphalt, together with 5,400 tons of recovered steel, that the Skanska team recycled at our 11th Street Bridge replacement project in Washington D.C. Our design-build team performed 70 percent of construction without affecting existing traffic flows.

78,000 vehicles: The number of cars, trucks and motorcycles that cross the Manhattan Bridge each day. The 5,800-foot-long bridge, which spans the East River between the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan, was built in 1909. Years of use caused rapid deterioration to this historical and architectural monument, forcing the New York City Department of Transportation to initiate a massive reconstruction program. Skanska rehabilitated the bridge’s north spans.

2.5 miles: The length of the Cooper River Bridge. Skanska completed this design-build project in Charleston one year ahead of schedule. The 1,546-foot main span, which is 186 feet above the river, is one of the longest cable-stayed spans in North America.

17.6 miles of bridge/tunnel: The length of over-and-under water Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, one of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World. We built the bridge-tunnel over three-and-a-half years through a joint venture with four other contractors.

25 feet: The height of Los Angeles’ Gold Line Bridge’s basket-like concrete columns that pay tribute to the indigenous people of the San Gabriel Valley and the oversize iconic roadside traditions of nearby Route 66. Skanska completed the 600-foot-long bridge in 2013.

3.3 million lbs: The weight of the steel Skanska used to strengthen the 350-foot tall main towers of the Williamsburg Bridge, during its rehabilitation and seismic retrofitting. Intermediate towers were strengthened with 1.8 million pounds of steel.

31 million lbs: the weight of extensive structural steel retrofit added to the Richmond-San Rafael Seismic Retrofit Project in California, which included the strengthening of the four-mile long bridge’s truss components and tower legs, the installation of special moment resisting pier frames, installation of seismic isolation bearings, viscous dampers, and seismic restrainers.

Share this postFacebookGoogle+StumbleUponPinterestTwitterRedditLinkedInEmail

Skanska part of World Green Building Council’s major green research effort

At Skanska, we believe in developing a more sustainable society, and green building is a strategic step in that journey. As such, we harness technologies that make buildings more resource-efficient, comfortable and healthy. We believe this is one of the greatest services we can provide to the environment, our clients and the public. For this reason, Skanska is partnering with the World Green Building Council on a major global research effort to establish common ways of measuring health and productivity benefits arising from green buildings, and to provide best practice guidance on the types of green building features – such as increased daylighting and ventilation – that enhance them. This information can then be used to better inform investment decisions.


At our planned Capital Tower project in Houston, we’re advancing green building technology to support worker health and productivity.

“The situation today – where buildings’ impact on human health, well being and performance is usually not taken into consideration – is not good enough,” said Staffan Haglind, Skanska AB’s green business officer and a member of this project’s steering committee. “I’m totally convinced that optimizing premises from a human perspective will help people as well as organizations to thrive and outperform. To support the development of the tools and metrics needed to make this happen is perfectly aligned with Skanska’s company values.”

With salaries and benefits comprising 85 percent of the expenses of some companies, according to the WorldGBC, even modest improvements to staff health and productivity can have a dramatic impact on organizational profitability.

“While there is a growing body of research that firmly supports the connections between sustainable buildings and improved health, productivity and learning outcomes of those who occupy them, this evidence is yet to inform investment decisions in the same way as traditional financial metrics,” said Jane Henley, WorldGBC CEO.  “This project aims to identify the metrics that will support investment in greener buildings.”

This new project builds on earlier WGBC research for which Skanska was also a partner. This undertaking, a report entitled “The Business Case for Green Building,” highlights the compelling benefits of green buildings throughout their life cycle; this list also includes lower operating costs and higher asset values.

The Green Building Councils of Hong Kong, United Kingdom, United States and Colombia are also partnering on this project. The final report is expected this fall.


Share this postFacebookGoogle+StumbleUponPinterestTwitterRedditLinkedInEmail

Celebrating women in construction

The theme of International Women’s Day this Saturday, March 8, is “Inspiring Change.” At Skanska, women have spearheaded some of the most important changes and developments in our business. In honor of International Women’s Day and Women in Construction Week, let’s take a look at two inspiring stories.

Stacy Smedley: Designing a Living Building

Stacy Smedley, with a degree in architecture from the University of Washington, is the architect behind the extension of the Bertschi School Science Classroom in Seattle.

The Science Classroom has been certified as the world’s fourth Living Building - making it a giant step on our journey to Deep Green and the greenest Skanska building project to date.


After working as an architect, Stacy decided to join Skanska after getting to know the company that realized her vision.

Where does your commitment to sustainability come from?

My awakening for the environment came when I was eight years old. I was standing on the deck of the house I grew up in, sobbing as I watched the acres of trees I only knew as my trees fall down and be replaced by asphalt pavement and empty dirt lots that turned into just another suburban housing development. I can still see it clearly, smell that newly cut wood sawdust smell, and hear the chainsaws followed by the creak and the thump the trees made as they fell to their demise – the trees I would sit under to read my books. I can still feel the fiery feeling that spread through my chest as I watched – it was a feeling I’d never had before – the feeling of anger coupled with that deep ache mourning brings as I watched something I loved dearly be taken away.

I turned to my mom and vowed to her, through my tears, that one day I would build buildings and not cut down trees, and that’s what that little girl’s voice whispers to me in those moments when I wonder what it is that I’m working so hard to change.

Do you now feel that you have made your contribution to a better world?

The Bertschi project, for me, was only the beginning – a first step down the path of providing kids the opportunity to experience hands-on learning in restorative environments.  Bertschi was the prototype – taken on by an entire team of fearless first adopters who somehow already knew the impact and example the project would create. And now, there is so much more to do! (Editor’s note: Early adopters refer to the Restorative Design Collective, the group of professionals, including Skanska, that signed on to design and build the Bertschi School Science Classroom, pro bono.)

I really hope that the experiences the kids have in spaces like the Bertschi School are inspiring and impactful enough to instill within them the desire to care for their environment. That they grow up and have their eight-year-old voices whispering them reminders of hope and the need for more living, inspiring spaces.

What is keeping you busy now?

I’m Skanska’s sustainability consultant on the 400 Fairview and Alley111 projects, and I’m assisting the Stone34 project with complying with the Seattle’s pioneering Deep Green pilot program – Skanska is the developer as well as the builder on these projects. There’s also the Tahoma High School project that has high sustainability goals in which we have worked with the architects and the school district to create a sustainability matrix that includes assessing life cycle cost, educational opportunities and LEED/WSSP certification compliance for each potential sustainable design strategy. And, of course, my non-profit, SEED is keeping me quite busy: www.theseedcollaborative.org.

Lisa Picard: Leading our commercial development business in Seattle

Lisa Picard joined Skanska in 2010 to establish our commercial development business in Seattle.  Since then, Picard, executive vice president and regional manager, has led Skanska to become one of Seattle’s most prominent developers.


The first pin on our Seattle development map is Brooks Sports’ new world headquarters – Stone34. This year, Brooks will move to one of the best locations in the Seattle area, and right on the Burke Gilman Trail – a 26-mile recreational trail along Lake Union and Lake Washington. It’s the perfect location for a running shoe company.

A pioneering project
Brooks will also be able to pride itself at being located in one of the greenest office buildings. Not only is Stone34 pre-certified as LEED Platinum, but it’s also a pioneering project for Seattle’s Deep Green pilot program, creating a platform for advancing green building technologies within the city.

Next stop is 400 Fairview, which is a nucleus within Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. This office project is designed to maximize bright, open and efficient floor space. The 13-story building – which will also include retail on the ground floor – is targeting LEED Platinum certification. 400 Fairview is scheduled for completion next year, and has already secured Tommy Bahama as its lead tenant - this fancy clothing company taking over 30 percent of the building.

How have you helped customers choose Skanska in this highly competitive market?

We think like them and try to serve their customers. Fundamentally, we care about the communities we work in because we live here too. We want to make the companies doing business in our markets even more competitive and successful at what they do. This takes a lot of time to understand them and take off your Skanska hat. When we do this, we earn a lot of trust.  Further, we never talk about ourselves using nouns or adjectives. We only use verbs to talk about our intentions and what we aspire to achieve for our clients and customers.

What will happen next?
Our customer’s needs will always keep changing.  Right now, there is so much disruption happening in our markets, that our clients and customers are constantly managing change.  I think Charles Darwin said it best when talking about survival: it’s not the strongest or the smartest that survive, but the one that can best adapt to changing conditions.

Share this postFacebookGoogle+StumbleUponPinterestTwitterRedditLinkedInEmail