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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Building Bridges, Connecting Communities

With our joint venture partners, Kiewit and ECCO III Enterprises, Skanska is building the new Kosciuszko Bridge in New York City, with construction of the first of the two 275-foot towers that will support the main span complete.

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The first of two towers for the new Kosciuszko Bridge, next to the existing bridge. An identical tower will be constructed on the opposite creek bank and the roadway will run between them. At right, one of the two bridge approaches is also visible.

This will be a busy summer of work on the project. Installation of the steel girders for the main span’s new roadway deck and the cable stays that will attach the roadway is underway.  The portions of the bridge in Brooklyn and Queens that lead to the main span (the approaches) are nearing completion. And construction is ongoing on the sections of the bridge in Brooklyn and Queens that will connect the existing Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) to the new BQE, which will cross over the creek.

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A rendering of the new Kosciusko Bridge.

The Kosciuszko Bridge in New York is one of the city’s oldest bridges, constructed in 1939 and spanning the Newtown Creek, linking the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. As a critical artery for intracity traffic – the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE) runs over it – the new bridge will carry traffic between Morgan Avenue in Brooklyn and the Long Island Expressway Interchange in Queens, requiring the team to reconstruct and realign more than 11 local streets in Brooklyn.

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At left, the northbound approach to the new Kosciuszko Bridge will provide a less-steep grade that allows traffic to maintain more even speeds.

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The majestic new cable-stayed Kosciuszko Bridge will transform the skyline between Brooklyn and Queens. It will also feature wider travel lanes, standard shoulders and a reduced roadway incline, enabling trucks to maintain a consistent speed on the bridge. New parks and open spaces in the local communities and improved waterfront access will also be part of the project.

For additional information on the project, visit www.dot.ny.gov/kbridge.

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Road Trip! Midtown Tunnel Opens To Public Ahead of Schedule

Six months ahead of schedule, the Elizabeth River Tunnels (ERT) Project opened one lane of its new Midtown Tunnel to traffic on Friday, June 17, marking the first time the public could use the new passage under the Elizabeth River connecting Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia.

In a show of pride, Skanska employees, along with our JV partners from Kiewit Construction and Weeks Marine, Inc., walked through the nearly one mile length of the tunnel in the morning, surveying the fruits of their hard work.  In the afternoon, cars queued up on the westbound side and at 1:40 p.m. proceeded through, signifying the tunnel had officially gone into operation.

To execute the opening, crews shifted the single lane of U.S. 58 West Midtown Tunnel traffic, which carries traffic from Norfolk to Portsmouth, into the new Midtown Tunnel. The existing Midtown Tunnel will continue to carry eastbound traffic in a single lane from Portsmouth to Norfolk.  The single lane configuration in each tube makes it possible to conduct rehabilitation of the existing Midtown Tunnel ahead of schedule and finish construction in the new tube. In order to advance completion of both Midtown tunnels, construction will continue in one lane of each tube.

“This is a terrific day for this project and I couldn’t be more proud of our team,” said Wade Watson, ERT Project Director for SKW. “Four years ago when the project began, the team set an aggressive schedule. Opening six months early speaks to quality of team, attitude, planning and efforts to make this come together. More than 50,000 man hours of training and more than 4.4 million man hours of work went into this.”

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CREW’S ALL HERE: The team gathers in one of the approaches to the Midtown Tunnel before the official public opening. Credit: Skanska USA.

The $1.5 billion project is Skanska’s first major infrastructure public-private partnership (P3).

The project is divided into four sections:

• Construction of a brand new, two-lane tunnel under the Elizabeth River, adjacent to the existing Midtown Tunnel
• Extending the MLK from London Boulevard to Interstate 264 with an interchange at High Street
• Minor modifications to the interchange at Brambleton Avenue/Hampton Boulevard in Norfolk
• Maintenance and safety improvements to the existing Midtown & Downtown Tunnels

The project is remarkable from a technological perspective, being only the second all-concrete immersed tube tunnel in the United States and the first deep water all concrete immersed tube tunnel. Historically, tunnels in the US have been built with steel.

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Drivers will benefit from reduced emissions and congestion and shave as much as 30 minutes a day off the average round trip commute. Full completion on the project is expected in August 2018.

Click here for more on how this amazing tunnel was built.

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Breaking Ground at LaGuardia

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Vice President of The United States Joe Biden, and a host of officials gathered at LaGuardia Airport on Tuesday to mark the start of construction of the Central Terminal Building – a key milestone for the project that is expected to help grow the airport into a world-class “front door to New York City,” according to the Governor.

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Vice President Joe Biden and NY Governor Andrew Cuomo share the stage at the official groundbreaking for the new LaGuardia Airport Central Terminal Project on Tuesday, June 14. Credit: Michael Benabib.

LaGuardia will be our largest global project ever, with a 70 percent share of the $4 billion contract, worth about $2.8 billion, and the largest public-private partnership in the United States.  As part of LaGuardia Gateway Partners (LGP), Skanska will help to finance, design and build this critical air hub that currently serves 14 million air travelers a year – expected to grow to 34 million a year by 2030.

“LaGuardia is a key driver of New York’s economy and transportation network, but for far too long it has been outdated, overcrowded, and unworthy of the Empire State,” Governor Cuomo said at the announcement.  “Today, we are not just breaking ground – we are building an entirely new LaGuardia and transforming it into a world-class transportation gateway for the 21st century. This state has always been built to lead and now that legacy continues with this unprecedented project that will drive growth and generate continued prosperity for generations to come.”

See new renderings for LaGuardia on the Governor’s flickr site, here.

The vision for the new LaGuardia includes the world’s first dual pedestrian bridges spanning active aircraft taxi lanes and connecting the terminal to concourses A and B.  The plan also includes a new 35-gate Terminal B, Central Hall, West Garage and related roadways and supporting infrastructure. The more than 1.3 million square feet of the new Central Terminal B is expected to achieve LEED Silver certification for sustainable design, a designation of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Vice President Biden explained how the project exemplified what the United States needs the most at the moment – a reinvestment in critical infrastructure to fuel the economy. “The greatest city in the world needs the greatest infrastructure in the world. We rank 26th in the world in transportation infrastructure. How can that stand? New York will make an enormous difference in our economic resurgence.”

The Vice President also lauded the economic activity that will be created by the project – both temporary and permanent – including the union workers that will build the project, which is predicted to generate $1.3 billion in wages and $5.2 billion in regional economic activity, according to PANYNJ.

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Skanska’s Mike Viggiano, Richard Kennedy and Magnus Eriksson (5th, 6th and 8th from left, respectively) participate in the ceremonial groundbreaking for LaGuardia’s new Central Terminal Project on Tuesday, June 14. Credit: Michael Benabib.

“Governor Cuomo’s commitment to a modern, 21st Century Central Terminal at LaGuardia carries on the legacy of the airport’s namesake,” said Richard Cavallaro, President and CEO of Skanska USA. “Much like Mayor LaGuardia, who pushed for an airport in the city, the governor’s vision for building a modern facility at LaGuardia through a public-private partnership model not only will make getting to New York City easier for millions of people every year, it is a blueprint for how to smartly rebuild our country’s infrastructure. Skanska is honored to be part of the consortium that is financing and rebuilding an essential part of New York City’s transportation network.”

During construction, the existing terminal will remain fully operational and flights will not be affected. New facilities will begin opening in 2018, with scheduled substantial completion in 2022.

You can watch the entire ceremony here:

 

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High above Portland, it’s IFE (with a view)

Nearly 200 feet above SW Broadway in downtown Portland, Alan Jones of Cascade Tower & Rigging can see a number of projects he’s worked on, including the Portland State University (PSU) Academic and Student Recreation Center, completed in 2009.

His main focus from his seat at the controls of a tower crane, though, is the new School of Business building for PSU, working to erect elements of a building that will be a local landmark, mainly for its unique design.

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“As the crews have been pouring concrete, there have been more and more blind picks, where I have to rely heavily on the crew on the ground,” Alan says. “We work together to make sure we have clear communication about what’s needed from the crane.”

Alan has been an operator of different sorts of cranes for decades. Years of experience have helped make certain aspects of his job second nature. He knows how to take the swing out of his line after moving the trolley along the jib with just the right touch on a lever. He can judge how far his hook is from a nearby rooftop at a glance.

Those instincts, paired with a great respect for working safely, show how our trade partners are a key part of our journey to an Injury-Free Environment, or IFE.

“In my career, there have been certain phrases I’ve come to recognize as red flags,” Alan says. “I haven’t heard them on this site, thankfully. But, there have been times when someone on the ground has called up ‘be careful with this one.’ I hear that, I don’t want it on my hook. We’re either going to do the pick safely or not at all.”

From his perch, he’s also had to use his judgment about when conditions will allow for safe operations.

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“We had a day recently where the wind was really going,” Alan says. “I could see and feel how it was affecting the line. I knew if we moved ahead with a pick, there was a good chance we could hit the active pedestrian sky bridge adjacent to our site. I told the crew and we shut down the crane for the day. It was the right decision.”

That sort of technical expertise paired with the willingness to only work safely has made him a valued part of the crew.

“Alan has been a great partner for us,” says Senior Superintendent Jason Koski. “When we’re putting our crews together, he’s the kind of person we always want to have on our team.”

The job has its perks, too. Alan’s happy to show a picture of Mt. Hood at sunrise, something that you can’t see from the street level of downtown Portland, but something he frequently has a front row seat for atop the crane.

“I’ve been working with cranes since I was 17 and my father operated cranes,” Alan says. “There’s just nothing like it.”

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Building the Future at LaGuardia Airport

This is a bright moment in the history of Skanska.

Today we take pride in announcing that we — as member of LaGuardia Gateway Partners — have become the official redeveloper for LaGuardia Airport’s Central Terminal Building in New York City. It is our largest global project ever, at approximately $4 billion, and the largest public-private partnership in the United States.

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The importance of this project cannot be overstated, and will have a positive impact on air travel in the United States, with a ripple effect that will be felt around the world. It’s also terrific news for the local New York City community, which will benefit from the jobs created building and operating the new terminal.

The vision for the new LaGuardia is exciting, with the world’s first dual pedestrian bridges spanning above active aircraft taxi lanes and connecting the terminal to concourses A and B. The plan also includes a new 35-gate Terminal B, Central Hall, West Garage and related roadways and supporting infrastructure.

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We’re excited to start work on the new LaGuardia Airport right away, with most of the new terminal opening in 2020 and substantial completion during 2022.

You can read more about the project here and at the LaGuardia Gateway Partners website here.

Renderings credit LaGuardia Gateway Partners

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Mentors Teach Valuable Lessons – and Learn Something, Too

Mentors can change people’s lives.

In addition to sharing invaluable insight learned through personal experience, a mentor can provide support and encouragement along an employee’s career path that can drive them toward greater success and achievement.

At Skanska, we seek to develop our employees through strategic pairings, based on goals and areas of expertise. The Metro NY chapter of the Skanska Women’s Network recently completed its latest 6-month Mentorship Program with 21 pairs of mentors/mentees across multiple parts of our business.

Constructive Thinking spoke with three recent program participants who describe how being part of a mentor/mentee relationship has changed their outlook on their careers.

Matheus de Lima, mentee
Accountant – Parsippany, NJ

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“I believe that everyone needs a mentor. After the SWN Mentorship Program, I realized how important it is to share ideas with someone who has a different perspective and more experience than I have. My mentor has taught me how to deal with specific situations and especially how to be more patient – a trait that can often be in short supply and can negatively impact one’s career path. With a mentor, you have someone to share all your career expectations, desires, frustrations and they help put things in perspective so that you may see things you normally do not see. I would encourage everyone to find a mentor, in any area. It’s always easier to run a race when you have someone who already ran the race willing to walk with you.”

 

Jessica Miller, mentor
Project Manager on the Kosciuszko Bridge project – Queens, NY

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“Looking back on my career, I have been fortunate to learn from some of the best mentors at Skanska, from when I joined the company in 2003 until today.  I have learned so much from these folks – some of whom are now the executive leaders of our company.  My mentors have inspired and guided me along my career, providing support, networking, technical advice, and friendship.  Having gained that experience from my own mentors, I wanted to pass along that same experience to someone else!  Additionally, as a woman in (the male-dominated world of) construction, I was excited about the chance to share lessons I had learned over the past 13 years and to offer a female voice and perspective on career development. My mentee and I were a great match from day one.  Coming from two different business units provided a perfect opportunity for us to explore how the various parts of Skanska operate.  Our formal relationship grew over the program as we reviewed architectural and design documentaries, shared ideas over dinner and toured job sites in the rain.  It was a fulfilling six months exploring Skanska and our career development.  We are excited to keep the mentor/mentee relationship going!”

 

Jillian Condiracci, mentee
Field Engineer at the Bayonne Bridge project – Bayonne, NJ

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“I have had many mentors over my career.  Being a good mentor takes patience, time and effort. My mentor, Paul Pedini, took the time to always fit me into his schedule – even when he was booked solid. One of my fondest memories was a visit to the First Street Tunnel in Washington D.C. To anyone else, this trip could have just been another job site visit, but to me it was much more. Not only did I take technical experience from this trip, I also was able to meet one of my Skanska idols, Gary Almeraris. Being able to witness this “tunneling guru” in action was a moment that not even my Instagram could capture. Six months later, Gary visited my current job site at Bayonne Bridge and I was able to return the favor and give him a tour my current operation. The first time I met him I was 100 feet underground and now six months later I was standing next to him 200 feet in the air. Reflecting back on those short six months, not only was I standing taller but my confidence in myself and my ability grew as well.”

To learn more about the Skanska Women’s Network, please visit http://www.usa.skanska.com/about-skanska/our-core-values/diversity/skanska-womens-network-swn/.”

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Building Communities, Changing Lives, South of the Border

For the second year in a row, Skanska employees trekked to Mexico to lend a hand on a building project that would change people’s lives in a community in need.

It was before dawn on Saturday, May 14, when approximately 30 Skanska colleagues piled into a bus to make the trip from our Riverside, CA office to Tecate, Mexico, to participate in the Skanska Corazon Build project.

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This year, the team of construction veterans and relative newbies brought their enthusiasm and building skills to construct a community center that could function as both a classroom and day care center (rendering, above).

“Driving down from the comforts of Southern California into the hills of Mexico, you take in the scenery and see the living conditions in this town and it’s humbling,” said  Alex Six, a Riverside-based participant in our Core Competency Training Program. “Homes are literally made from scrap sheet metal, and when it rains you get a flood in the house. To put these modern structures up for people to use is really a game changer for them.”

Many of the Skanska employees involved had taken part in last year’s build in Tijuana, which gifted a simple – but invaluable – home to a family.  This year’s build was more architecturally complex, says Six, with an inverted roof and “extra math and angles” that had to be figured out.

“When you first get there you’re excited, it’s fun. You meet colleagues that are helping. Some aren’t familiar with building or how to swing a hammer, and there’s a lot of teaching and communication going on,” he said.

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The team ended up erecting the walls and roof of the community center, leaving some of the finishing, windows and door installation for a future team.

“At end of the day, it kind of hits you that you’ve done something extraordinary. It’s great to help people who need it,” says Alex.

Others had a similar reaction to the volunteer experience.

“I’ve always tried to be very mindful and thankful for all that I have in life. This trip down to Tecate has opened my eyes even more. Their poverty and living conditions there is nothing like poverty here [in America],” said Dana Zuccarello, Document Control Coordinator, “I’ve always taken for granted the fact that I have locks on my doors and that I don’t have to worry about people coming in to steal my food.  And to hear one woman tell the story of being thankful for a lock on her door just amazed me.  If given the opportunity again next year, count me in!”

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The structure will be completed in time for an opening ceremony in October, which Six says he will return to take part.  Six said there were some tears shed by the locals at the close of the day, because they were excited to see this important building starting to take shape in the middle of their town.

“It was [your] positive attitude; this belief that what you were there to do was important and by working together, we will get it done.  I expected a certain level of proficiency from a group like Skanska, but [your] patience and enthusiasm was inspiring to me, and was especially inspiring to the locals who were there,” said Terry Mackprang, Corazon’s US Vice-President and the leader of the build project. “They told me how exciting it was, what a great building it was going to be as their classroom and day care center.  For me, this has always been the most important aspect of US volunteers coming down [to Corazón]. I want you to know what a difference you have made for [our] families.  I think it may have made a lasting impression on them as well.”

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Sustainability and the Role of the Financial Professional

At Skanska, we pride ourselves on being a leader in green and sustainable building, from our offices to our job sites.

Helping clients to see “green” and “sustainable” as project elements that are not only attainable but essential is a core part of our values which drive us to be the best company we can.

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Being green and sustainable isn’t just for the designers, engineers and builders seeking certification for a project. A critical piece of the equation lies in the initial stages of development, with the finance professionals who oversee the budgetary implications of these choices.

Finance professionals need to play an active role in the conversation to help companies remain competitive, enhance future bid opportunities, and realize stronger margins.

Our Ed Johnston, Vice President in our Civil business unit, helps our customers see those realities. Check out his piece on  Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) for more on the subject.

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