Changing the Way We Watch The Game

Americans are passionate about their sports. From the pros to collegiate teams – and even some elite high schools – fans love heading to their home stadium or arena for a game.

But the way fans watch a game has shifted dramatically over the last 10 to 15 years, says Tom Tingle, Skanska SVP and national director of our Sports & Entertainment Center of Excellence (COE), and venues are responding with a retooling of stadium and arena amenities from seating to concessions to technology.

“Owners are incredibly strategic about the amenities they build into their facilities,” says Tingle, “Being smart about what to offer your fans to enhance their experience while at the game can make or break a team’s revenue stream. We help owners see the possibilities of not just building new, but renovating what they already have to keep pace with the demands of the new fan.”

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Skanska USA renovated the football stadium at the University of Kentucky, which added fan amenities including expanded standing room near food and beverage stations and seats and gathering spaces closer and lower to the field of play. Credit: Phebus Photography.

Trying to get someone with a stocked refrigerator easily within reach off their couch? Tingle says to give them lounge seating at the game, waiter service and big screen TVs at their seats (in addition to a great view of the field).

Want to attract the fans that use second screens – including social media platforms – as part of their experience? Tingle points to distributed antenna systems that can support thousands of mobile devices, paired with active campaigns from teams that encourage fans to interact online, post pictures of their experience and use pre-determined hashtags, which he says can also help drive additional revenue.

“Gone are the days of watching a game from the seat you paid for. The modern fan moves around the stadium to take in the game from multiple vantage points,” says Tingle. “That means giving these mobile fans places to land, including standing food and beverage areas with clear views of the field of play that encourage traffic flow and further enhance the experience.”

Owners are also rethinking the premium experience, he says. “Suites don’t have the allure they once did and so incorporating premium seating, with access to services including food and beverage, are being accomplished through surgical renovations to stadiums and arenas rather than full scale, tear down jobs.”

Skanska’s Sports & Entertainment COE experts are responsible for some of the more amazing NFL Stadiums, including MetLife Stadium (home of the NY Giants and NY Jets), Gillette Stadium (home of the New England Patriots) and NRG Stadium (home of the Houston Texans).

Read more from Tom about the “Battle for the Fan” in this piece on Construction Dive.

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Competing for a Sustainable Future

Each year, competition for the best young talent in the construction industry grows. Skanska has taken an innovative approach to recruitment by partnering with the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) for its annual student competition.  Held every year in Nevada, this event attracts students from top construction and engineering schools including Oregon State, Virginia Tech, University of Washington and University of Florida.

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Project Executive Pat Prendergast discusses career opportunities at Skanska with interested student. Credit: Skanska USA.

“Between 2015 and 2016,  we have hired 33 candidates for positions on the East and West Coasts whom we found at this competition,” explained Skanska HR Service Manager Shannon Carver.

The problem statements and oral prompt portions of the competition are hypothetical, based on similar challenges Skanska teams have experienced on a project. Our team of judges looks for how individual students and teams adapt to changing circumstances, expectations and stress when scoring written responses and presentations.

Skanska sponsors the only Sustainable Building and LEED problem statement in the competition, drawing on our pool of sustainable projects.

This year, the Skanska competition problem statement focused on the Transbay Transit Center project in downtown San Francisco, which Skanska is currently building. The new center will replace the existing terminal and serve as a hub for 11 bus and rail systems, encouraging the use of public transportation and providing a more convenient, sustainable alternative for the estimated 100,000 daily passengers. At five stories tall, it will incorporate sustainable design features such as a 5.4 acre rooftop park.

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Senior Project Engineer Shelby Ohlund reviews student resume as they fill out Skanska’s app-based recruiting questionnaire. Credit: Skanska USA.

“I have had the opportunity to participate in and lead the problem statement team,” explained Project Manager, Dan Fredrick. “It always amazes me that the schools come back year after year saying they are excited to see how we are going to challenge them.”

The three-day event is overflowing with opportunities for students, faculty and staff to engage. While students work on their problem statements and presentations, the faculty and staff interact with and learn from industry leaders. Topics of discussion have ranged from sustainability and Great Boss strategies to diversity and inclusion.

The competition is also a professional development opportunity for Skanska employees. Over the course of five months, a group of Skanska employees from across Washington, Oregon, California and Arizona collaborate to produce the written and oral problem statements and prepare to recruit and interview potential candidates for employment.

“When we are creating these problems, we hope it will help students gain an understanding and appreciation of the green building methods that the construction industry employs, specifically Skanska, in day-to-day operations,” said Project Controls Engineer Brian Thomsen. “More than that, we hope that students will look to incorporate these ideas into their daily lives outside the classroom and in their future careers.”

As Skanska prepares for the 2017 competition, the team will look for ways to integrate Envision and other green strategies into the written and oral problem statements to continue to challenge students and share our continued efforts in building what matters.

For more about the competition, check out this video from ACS:

 

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Upgrading Our Hospitals Will Take a New Approach to Design

The last time you were in a hospital, did you take a good look around? What did you see?

Since the middle of the last century, hospitals have grown in size and complexity, but their physical layout has not kept pace with technological innovations and taken advantage of evidence-based design. Yes, they may look different, and feel modern and welcoming, but they have also grown, somewhat unchallenged, in square footage, materials and support systems.  One can look at a healthcare facility and come close to identifying the decade in which it was put into use.

Our Healthcare Center of Excellence (COE) helps hospitals push the boundaries of hospital design, and build for the health care delivery methods of today with an eye to the technologies of tomorrow. Andrew Quirk, head of our Healthcare COE, describes this approach in this piece on Building Design + Construction, here.

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Skanska recently handed over the first patient wing of the Karolinska Solna Hospital in Sweden, which designers say put the patient in the center of the planning. All patients receive a single room and a “thematic care” approach means doctors and specialists visit the patient rather than the other way around.

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Not Your Grandpa’s Library

Asked to envision a library, one might conjure up images of stacks of musty books, dimly-lit wood-paneled rooms in hushed silence and cabinets of Dewey Decimal cards that lead to a prized tome.

Our Dayton Metro Main Library project in Ohio is anything but that: with design elements that include glass, steel and natural materials that bring in natural light, open space and encourage social interaction in a model that turns traditional library construction on its head.

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The Main Branch of the Dayton Library will incorporate future-proofing elements like raised floors for cable runs and back-of-house space for next-gen technologies that will make the structure more inviting and longer-lasting. Credit: Skanska USA.

“It’s more like a community center than a library – there’s an emphasis on programming and connection,” says Senior Project Manager Greg Lowery. He describes the all-glass building as maximizing exposure “in every nook and cranny” and incorporating movable glass partition walls to make the space as nimble as possible to accommodate groups both large and small.

The Main Library is one of five buildings Skanska is working on for Dayton’s expansive library system – and one of two projects with an expansion component we are constructing there. A third is a completely new building.

Lowery says his favorite elements in the renovated building include a grand staircase entrance and a planned fireplace with exposed brick that will provide a welcoming space to read and interact. A coffee shop will fill the space with inviting aromas.

Beyond the design elements, Lowery says Skanska’s expertise came through in making the building flexible for its future needs. He points out the building has raised floors rather than concrete slabs, allowing installation of new cable and utility runs simply by removing a panel. He says that will make future room re-configurations easier and save money for the library and the city.

“We helped look beyond the immediate plans for the library to leave room for technologies and expansions that will come 10 and 20 years from now,” he says. “We helped preserve options for future developments no one can even predict today.”

Skanska has particular expertise in this area, having provided preconstruction and construction management at risk services for the multi-award winning James B. Hunt Jr. Library on North Carolina State’s Centennial Campus.

Lowery credits the Skanska preconstruction teams with helping to cost-benefit the future-proofing concepts and convincing the client of its importance.

“And kids will love it,” he says. “With USB charging ports and tablets available to search for information, it’s a long way from when I sat in the basement of my library searching microfiche archives for a term paper.”

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Ready for Takeoff at Tampa International Airport

Air travelers passing through Tampa International Airport (TIA) will discover some significant changes the next time they arrive, as a major component of the Skanska-built transfer concourse opened to the public on Friday, July 22. When complete, Skanska’s $130 million portion of TIA’s largest expansion ever will include 65 new retail, dining and beverage locations.

“It’s all aimed at making the traveler experience more pleasant and more convenient,” says Danny Valentine, Communications Manager at TIA.  “Increased seating and more electrical charging stations were critical – as well as offering places to eat, drink and shop.”

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In this rendering for the project, a view from the existing monorail tracks, the roof of the new public dining and retail concourse curves up and away from the parking deck. Credit: Tampa International Airport.

Spanning approximately 18 months, more than 300 Skanska workers have worked on the expansion to date.

“From the start of the project, it was evident that the two most important missions for the owner were the safety of the patrons and workers, and the patrons travel experience so they can maintain the airport’s award-winning customer service ratings. So we knew we had to be safe and invisible,” said Roger Stephan, Senior Vice President on the project. “We continue to work with the TIA staff to enhance our phasing plan and signage to be as invisible as possible, working night shifts to minimize and almost eliminate all noise activities so travelers wouldn’t notice the ongoing construction.  Directional signage remains paramount to make sure passengers get where they need to be as fast as possible.”

“Working with Hillsborough County Aviation Authority (HCAA) to bring this first big main terminal reveal has taken a tremendous effort from everyone and should generate even more excitement as the rest of the program evolves,” said Denise Muth, Project Executive for Skanska USA. “We’re very proud to be part of this historic project with HCAA and look forward to more exciting unveilings as the work continues.”

Crews unveiled the east side of the expansion, including two new restaurants, glass curtain walls and new, more modern finishes. The space will invite more natural light into the space and expand the footprint that made the new amenities possible. And the airport took the opportunity to bring a little bit of Tampa to everyone who passes through.

“We wanted to bring a local feel to every one of our air travelers, so we incorporated local food and beverage options,” says Valentine. “Gasparilla’s is named after a mythical Spanish pirate captain who supposedly operated in Southwest Florida. Every year Tampa has a festival named after him. Our bar is even shaped like a pirate ship.”

The expansion is also serving a critical need to simply expand the footprint of the airport, which has seen its usage swell in recent years. “Passenger decongestion was a primary goal of this project as well as providing a more comfortable and user-friendly atmosphere. And it’s the first time we’ll have pre-security, outdoor dining options where you can watch the planes taking off and landing. Along with the Florida climate we expect it to be quite beautiful.”

Above: Time lapse video of Skanska-built East Side Expansion at Tampa International Airport.

View shows the construction of one of two glass curtain-walled dining and shopping concourses that opened on July 22, 2016. Courtesy: Tampa International Airport.

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Getting Ahead of the Curve

When it comes to driving value for customers, bringing innovative solutions to problems is a powerful asset.

In Skanska’s Building Division, the preconstruction group has been utilizing Building Information Modeling (BIM) and parametric estimating technology to help accelerate the building process from concept design to final estimate – to the growing delight of customers and colleagues.

It started – as most great ideas do – with the need to solve a problem.

In Boston, Preconstruction Estimator Tony Meade and Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) Managers Matt Emond and Jeremy Thibodeau  realized that their preconstruction work of estimating costs for projects was made challenging by the limited availability of information at the early stages of design. They knew enhancing early design concepts from designers by using advanced BIM technology tools could speed projects and help customers. So they developed a way to create their own models that would allow them to start their estimating work sooner.

“In early designs, the detailed information we rely on to estimate a job is often lacking,” says Matt Emond. “Estimating needs to start before a design has been fully fleshed out. By creating a 3D model and sharing it with the entire team, you eliminate those delays.”

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(left to right:) Kelsey Stein, David Kabasin, Jeff Courtney, and Teresa Morales, of the Tampa Preconstruction department, look over a parametric estimating job, also displayed on the screen behind them. Credit: Skanska USA.

Our preconstruction team in Tampa, FL is utilizing what it calls a “Revit Takeoff Template” to extract material quantities using 3D models. Estimator Kelsey Stein says the process helps express a design intent and include costs. The “Takeoff Template” is proving to be a very helpful estimate expediting tool, one which was developed along with a training lesson to share the knowledge with other Skanska Preconstruction Teams throughout the US, according to the team.

“We spend less time counting and measuring so we are able to spend more time addressing issues that make the project better,” says Stein. “We are also standardizing how we can express the quantities for a building.”

Some iterations of the technologies allow project details to be changed on the fly and provide cost changes for the customer, instantly. “We can move a wall or change a finish and the estimate can rise or fall based on the change, right there on the screen. That’s an enormous advantage,” says Emond.

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An example of parametric estimating that allows real-time adjustments to material costs (at left) as the design of a building is modified (at right). The result speeds projects through multiple iterations keeping a close eye on cost.

The innovation has had added benefits – with seasoned estimators and younger technical experts sharing information in both directions – a kind of two-way mentoring system.  “Experienced team members are learning model usage to their benefit and our tech savvy model users are climbing the estimating learning curve quicker by working together behind the wheel of a BIM model,” says Steve Stouthamer, EVP for Project Planning.

“From an architectural standpoint, this is the future of construction,” says Tampa-based Preconstruction Manager Jeff Courtney. “We’re looking to take lessons learned from this template to develop other 3D tools; this is just the beginning.”

Thibodeau, a member of Skanska’s Innovative Construction Solutions Group, says the merger of images and bottom-line cost can help avoid having customers fixate only on the budget of a project, and allow a discussion about the benefits of building something to its maximum potential.

“A client was flipping through a project cost proposal and had a question, and recalled the model we had created. It demonstrated the power of images and how they connect to the data. It was an ‘a-ha’ moment for us, knowing we had moved the project in the right direction,” says Thibodeau.

“We want to use the extra time the models give us to add value to the project,” says Stein. “With the time we get back, we can more carefully scrutinize pricing levels, analyze sustainability options and review other important elements.  Everything we do in advance of construction makes the project better for the people who build it.”

“I see us doing more and more of this because it’s a benefit to the client, and it helps us build better,” says Emond.

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Preserving our nation’s heritage at the Menokin Glass House project

At the Menokin Glass House project, our team is taking a unique approach to preserving the ruins of the house of Francis Lightfoot Lee, one of the seven signers of the Declaration of Independence from Virginia.

As the owner’s project manager on the project, our team is overseeing the conservation and repair of the historic manor house in Warsaw, Virginia. Rather than a traditional rebuild, however, the project includes preserving and stabilizing the existing ruins, and building an enclosure of structural glass which will protect the remains and allow visitors to enter and explore the site.

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The Menokin Foundation is embarking on a revolutionary re-imagining of this historic structure. Led by the architecture firm of Machado Silvetti, the Menokin Foundation hopes to transform this house and 500-acre classroom into an educational and environmental experience like no other. Photo credit: Menokin Foundation.

“Through the project’s innovative glass enclosure, the Menokin manor house ruins will in effect be a full size artifact that invites everyone to inspect, touch and experience eighteenth century construction techniques and methods,” said Senior Project Manager James Ingle. “It will merge art and architecture.”

The house’s historical significance presents the project’s most difficult challenge, but also makes the project incredibly rewarding. The team is working closely alongside archaeologists, a structural engineering firm and architect Machado Silvetti to ensure that the delicate ruins are preserved. In order to work safely, they have installed mesh netting overhead to make sure any pieces that could potentially come lose are caught. They have also mocked up a corner of the house to test building stabilizing techniques prior to beginning work.

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Menokin was the home of Francis Lightfoot Lee, a Signer of the Declaration of Independence, and his wife, Rebecca Tayloe Lee of Mount Airy Plantation. Photo Credit: Historic American Buildings Survey

The Menokin house was built in 1769 and was designated as a historical landmark in 1971 for its significance as the home of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. It sits on a 500-acre property along the shoreline of the Chesapeake Gateway.

“This is one of the first times this method of preservation is being used, and I believe it will be replicated in the future because it is an incredibly sustainable solution,” James explained. Only 20 percent of the home remains standing, and this project will mimic the missing volume and manor house profile.

Discover more about the Menonkin Glass House Project here.

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Wheel in the Sky

We’re hard at work on Staten Island, in New York City, where last weekend we finished the second of two massive concrete pours for the foundation of the New York Wheel, a 630-foot observation wheel that will rise over the southern end of New York Harbor and provide unique views of the Manhattan skyline. Our team has been working at the site — adjacent to the St. George Ferry Terminal — for 13 months, preparing the foundation for the 950-unit parking garage.

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Our team executed two massive concrete placements – several weeks apart – for the observation wheel pile caps, beginning work at 3 AM on each day to coordinate each of the 13-hour, 400 truck operations. Each placement saw nearly 4,000 cubic yards of 10,000 psi, self-consolidating concrete that was placed continuously over 14 hours. The pile caps are founded on 96 drilled shafts installed by underpinning and foundation group.  Each shaft is 67 inches in diameter and approximately 110 feet deep. Underpinning Foundation Group (UFS) offered an alternative reinforcement method for the shafts that saved time and space. Our engineering team designed a sheet pile support of excavation, utilizing a mud mat as bearing so that the excavation was free of walers and struts.

The operation was so well planned, teams wrapped up the first pour several hours ahead of schedule.

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Our teams collaborated and created a thorough plan and schedule to ensure the project’s success. The Boston office provided the initial 3D modeling which was a valuable resource to our team in coordinating the installation of the reinforcing steel and embedment system.  “This project allowed Skanska to demonstrate its ability to employ its diverse capabilities for a common goal” said Atul Murthy, field engineer.

Each of the pile caps is forty feet wide, eleven feet deep and approximately the length of a football field. Because of the heat generated by a concrete placement of this size, a cooling system had to be employed. Thousands of feet of cooling pipe was installed in the foundation, which were fed chilled water by a chiller plant assembled on site. Four local concrete plants supplied 85 dedicated trucks to the placements. Three concrete conveyors were used to execute the operation.

As part of the pour, New York Wheel President & CEO Rich Marin presided over a short ceremony that saw the burying of a time capsule in the Skanska-poured foundation, set to be opened in 630 years (signifying a year for every foot of elevation of the Wheel).  Check out the video of the ceremony to find out the contents of the time capsule and see it being buried in the foundation:

The Wheel is predicted to be the tallest of its kind in the world, surpassing the Las Vegas “High Roller” – which is 550 feet tall – and is predicted to attract 3.5 million visitors a year, according to its creators. The structure will begin to rise later this summer.

For more on The New York Wheel click here.

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Solar Town, USA

Run an entire town on solar power?  It’s not the stuff of imagination anymore.

On June 28, ground was formally broken for “Founders Square” in Babcock Ranch, Florida, with the construction of the initial downtown district getting underway. As the social and commercial hub for the new residential community, it will also include the first of several common area “micro-communities” of solar panels to power the development.  Large shed metal roofs facing south maximize solar power collection.

The buildings surrounding Founders Square will serve as the social and commercial hub for the first residents of Babcock Ranch, who will start moving into the innovative, solar-powered town early next year.

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The project is the creation of Kitson & Partners, with Phase One, Founders Square, serving as the permanent lakefront anchor for the downtown district that will expand southward in future phases of construction.  The park provides a central gathering place and features splash fountains, shade structures, a band shell and lakefront boardwalks.

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Groundbreaking at the new Babcock Ranch Founders Square project on June 28, 2016.

“We are working to provide a whole new way of life with expansive opportunities to connect with nature and neighbors,” said Syd Kitson, Chairman and CEO of Kitson & Partners.  “Founders Square is designed to serve as a regional gathering place, drawing in our neighbors to join the fun at the heart of a vibrant new town.”

Designed by Harvard Jolly Architects, all Founders Square buildings are being constructed by Skanska.

“Babcock Ranch is set to have a great impact on Florida and the surrounding region.  As more communities turn to green building, Skanska continues to bring sustainable development to the projects we build,” said Fred Hames, Skanska USA Building’s General Manager and Executive Vice President for Florida.  “The Founders Square will serve as an integral part of Babcock Ranch’s thriving Downtown and we look forward to seeing this unique community take shape.”

See how local media covered the event here.

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South Florida Tops Out in a Different Way

“Topping out” – putting the final piece of the vertical structure of a building in place – is a pretty regular thing for Skanska.

But on June 18, members of our South Florida team topped out a project of a different kind, as they volunteered their time with Habitat for Humanity in Pompano Beach, FL, helping to construct a home for a mom and her teenage daughter.

A squad of about 10 Skanska colleagues – including construction superintendents and office staff – put on their PPE to secure a roof on the single family home, using pre-prepared trusses that conformed to the local hurricane-oriented building code.

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The South Florida Skanska team in front of the Habitat for Humanity home they helped to build. Left to Right: Jose Cortes, Kenny Jenkins, Tamara Ray, Ms. Sharron (Beneficiary), Dan Halmi, Ivy Armstrong, Andy Allen, Adrian Cofino, Kris Nickerson. Credit: Skanska USA.

“We were thrilled to be able to support our local community with our time and our hearts,” said Adrian Cofino, Project Engineer, who organized the effort. “Saying ‘We Build What Matters’ carries a lot more weight in this case because this will be a home for a deserving mom and her daughter. There will be a lot of memories that get made here.”

Our team’s contribution to the project only took a day of their time, but the experience of working with colleagues taught them new lessons about themselves and each other.

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Raising the roof (back to front): Kris Nickerson, Jose Cortes, Adrian Cofino, Tamara Ray, Andy Allen. Credit: Skanska USA.

“We’re women who work in the office but we know how to swing a hammer,” said Ivy Armstong, Project Engineer, who also volunteered. “Seeing the great talents and work ethic of our colleagues was a great bonding experience for us.”

The Skanska Young Professionals Group in our South Florida office has supported a number of similar projects in the last year, including Rebuilding Broward, which builds and improves homes for military veterans.

“The collaborative work ethic of the Skanska volunteers really came through,” said  Linda Jones, Volunteer House Leader with Habitat for Humanity. “It was one of the most organized and effective crews I’ve worked with.”

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