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:

 

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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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.”

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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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.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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A Q&A with architect Santiago Calatrava

Bill Flemming, president of Skanska USA Building, met with world-renowned designer Santiago Calatrava to discuss the successes of our two joint projects: Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, Fla., and, in New York City, the World Trade Center Transportation Hub and its dramatic Oculus entrance structure.

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Florida Polytechnic University

Flemming: Santiago, in your opinion, what were some of the successes of the Florida Polytechnic project that stand out to you the most?

Calatrava: One of the main successes of this project is how my team and Skanska worked together to deliver a price certain design and construction process for such a complex building. Effective collaboration is the key to success. It shows that great things can be built.

Flemming: When you are dealing with a complex project like Florida Polytechnic – or the Oculus– what is the most important characteristic you desire in a contractor?

Calatrava: I have always respected contractors and admired their capacity to deliver. When working with Skanska on the Polytechnic project, we could not believe how easily you were able to attack the most complex components. There were never any problems that couldn’t be addressed. And in the end, you gave us better solutions. This project is an exceptional project. And it will be completed under budget.

That is truly exceptional.

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The Oculus entrance at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub

Flemming: Getting to price certainty is a real challenge in this industry. What do you think the best solution is?

Calatrava: When the architect and builder work together, the owner always benefits. If you, as the contractor, give us the chance to design something better, we will take that opportunity. When you are working hand-in-hand, the building will only be more innovative.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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In Washington D.C., celebrating how our bridge connects communities

11th street bridge DC

These overlooks to the left – built on top of the former bridge’s piers – provide great views of the DC skyline

With two marching bands, a bayonet-tossing Navy drill team, the Washington Nationals’ Teddy mascot and even a fireboat spraying water high into the air, the third and final river span of D.C.’s 11th Street Corridor Design-Build project was inaugurated on Sept. 7. The day was not just to recognize the efforts of our team, which has worked since July 2009 on the project, but to also celebrate the bridge’s improved connection between the Capitol Hill and Anacostia communities.

This bridge for local traffic is the final element of the $284 million first phase of the 11th Street Bridge project, which has improved mobility in southeast D.C. by providing separate bridges for interstate and local traffic; previously, motorists had to use neighborhood streets to connect to and from the freeways, causing much congestion. While this first phase is complete – it was delivered six months early, with the interstate bridges having opened in late 2011 and early 2012 – Skanska’s joint venture team is continuing work on the $90 million second phase, which includes a flyover ramp.

During the ceremony, the marching bands were used to symbolize how the bridge is improving connections between D.C. neighborhoods: the Eastern Senior High School marching band from Capitol Hill to the north started on its side of the bridge and marched to the center, while the Anacostia Senior High School marching band started from the southern end.

Members of the Skanska team were proud to see the city embracing their creation.

“It’s great to give back to the city in this way,” said Brook Brookshire, Skanska vice president. “I give my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has given so much to this project. Their dedication has made this the world-class infrastructure it is.”

Speaking at the ceremony, Terry Bellamy, director of the District Department of Transportation, praised the project stakeholders for successfully delivering this bridge, the largest project undertaken by DDOT.

“This project has been delivered in an exemplary fashion,” Bellamy said.

Focus on more than cars

More than that catering to cars, the bridge was also designed for pedestrians and cyclists. A 14-foot-wide sidewalk connects to trails on both sides of the river, in contrast to the narrow sidewalk of the previous bridge. Additionally, the piers from the former bridge were salvaged and converted to overlooks with great views of the D.C. skyline; this created a great new community amenity while eliminating the need to demolish and dispose of that structure.

“We’re really excited about the connections to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail – it expands where we can comfortably bike,” said District resident Steve Skripnik, who cycled to the celebration. “We’re impressed to see what a priority the bridge places on pedestrians and bikes – a lot of times that’s an afterthought.”

Greening the bridge

Both the bridge and its construction represent green practices. Our team recovered and reused 100 percent of all concrete and asphalt from the demolition and resurfacing phases. Additionally, highly efficient LED lamps will be used for lighting.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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Building children’s smiles through hospital construction

For anyone, but especially a child, staying overnight in a hospital isn’t fun. Yet on a recent morning, a three-year-old patient was so excited that he couldn’t wait to get out of his bed at the Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del.

The reason? He knew he was about to spend time with some of his favorite type of action heroes – the Skanska team expanding the hospital.

Just before 7 a.m., the boy and his mother were led to a third-floor balcony overlooking the 450,000-square-foot expansion, parallel to the existing building and just 70 feet away. Going there, they thought perhaps one or two construction team members would be there to talk with them. Instead, a line of hospital staffers greeted Will and his mom. The children were given neon yellow Safety Week shirts to wear – after all, it was the fourth day of our Safety Week. Then they were told to look over at the expansion where directly across from them on the new building’s third floor about 230 workers were waiting to have the kids lead them in Stretch and Flex, a happy activity that distracted them from why they were at Nemours

“That activity really brightened his whole day, and he still raves about it all the time – it’s his favorite story,” his mother said. “I want to make sure that the workers who did it realize how much they’re impacting little children by doing what they did. It’s an amazing and wonderful thing. What they did for Will was awesome.”

Nemours hospital

Helpful diversions

The Skanska teams building hospitals tend to have a special connection to what they’re creating, as they understand the healing that their efforts will enable. That connection runs deeper with hospitals devoted to treating children. It’s even more unique on this campus, with the children able to watch from their rooms as the expansion rises.

Stretch and Flex is one of numerous activities we’ve done in partnership with Nemours to help brighten the stays of children, many of whom are there for months at a time and begin to consider the hospital their home. Our team has outfitted a wheelchair like a Cat bulldozer for the hospital’s Halloween parade. They’ve had excavators and loaders do demonstrations for kids watching from a balcony, and sung happy birthdays via two-way radios to children. They’ve discovered it’s possible to order child-sized hardhats and safety vests.

And, working in partnership with Nemours, we developed Freddy – a nearly eight-foot-tall cartoon construction worker made out of aluminum that our team has been hiding on the construction site every morning, for the children to look for from their rooms.

“Count your blessings”

“You come away from this and count your blessings,” said Frank Gavaghan, a Skanska superintendent. “And you hope that if you ever have a child in this situation, that others would be so caring and giving.”

Team members said it’s been easy to recruit both Skanska colleagues and craft workers to help out. All of these efforts are voluntarily done, and normally over lunch breaks.

“Helping these kids has touched the hearts of even the most hardened construction workers,” said Marty Corrado, Skanska project executive.

Added Chris Manning, Nemours senior public relations manager: “These activities are fun for us. But they’re monumental for the kids.”

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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Intern stories: from the North and South

Two interns from two different cities (Boston and San Antonio) reflect on their experiences as interns at Skanska. From pre-task planning to business development, here’s what they had to say….

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Michael Gonzalez, USA Building – San Antonio (rising senior studying construction science and management at the University of Texas at San Antonio)

How do you view the construction industry after seeing it firsthand this summer? Did your experience change your thinking in any way? This internship has affirmed all the reasons why I selected construction science and management as a degree. I have experienced a broad spectrum of the construction processes on this project – the St. Philip’s College Renovation and Elevator Addition – including filing daily pre-task plans, writing and processing RFIs, and partaking in minor coordination in the field with subcontractors. However, the most impactful aspect was viewing firsthand the importance of relationships in accomplishing goals. My thought processing and mindset has grown from a student learner to a professional learner over the past two months. This internship has been very beneficial and a spectacular experience. I am thankful for this opportunity.

What are your future career plans? My future career plans are to graduate from The University of Texas at San Antonio and hopefully be considered for future opportunities with Skanska.

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Susan Stukas, USA Building – Boston (rising senior in civil engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute)

What was the most beneficial aspect of your Skanska internship? That was the ability to split my time between being in the office and being on-site. I was able to see the corporate/business development side in Boston and also receive field time at two high school projects, allowing me to get a view of the construction aspect of program management through Skanska Integrated Solutions. Overall, my internship was a truly rewarding experience.

How do you view the construction industry after seeing it firsthand this summer? Did your experience change your thinking in any way? After this summer, I was able to develop a newfound appreciation for the hard work, time, and commitment that goes into program management. Much of the work done is behind the scenes preparation; being able to be a part of that changed my way of thinking for the better. It has helped me understand a different side of construction management than what I already knew.

What are your future career plans? Heavily based on this internship, my future career plans include going into construction management.

 

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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What is it like to intern for Skanska?

With summer winding down, that means our interns are heading back to their universities, with many hopefully to return as full-time Skanska employees. They’re leaving having made valuable contributions to the Skanska projects and offices at which they were based, and with a stronger commitment to and a better understanding of the construction industry than they had before.

We asked some of our interns to reflect on their summer experiences. Over the next week we’ll be sharing their stories. Stay tuned!

Sam Santos

Sam Santos, USA Building – Seattle (rising senior studying architectural studies and construction management at the University of Washington)

What was the most beneficial aspect of your Skanska internship? My transition from preconstruction to construction. In precon, I learned how to properly analyze drawings and specifications on a variety of projects. The design development drawings of 400 Fairview (a USA Commercial Development project) were actually one of the first sets of drawings I estimated different parts of in 2012, when I began interning with Skanska. Now that I’m working as a project engineer intern, I am able to see the project at another perspective, adding a second layer to my understanding of the project.

How do you view the construction industry after seeing it firsthand this summer? Did your experience change your thinking in any way? My whole experience here at Skanska has been nothing but amazing. It’s been more than helpful attending school and working at the same time to be able to exercise and implement the tools I’m given in school. When I first began, I was coming from more of an architectural background and perspective. As I continue in my studies and internship, I now am able to see projects from both the construction and architecture standpoints – that has increased my appreciation for the built environment. I had an idealized vision of what construction and design entailed, but I never realized the true complexity of the process to get an idea into reality. This is definitely an industry of which I am proud to be a part.

What are your future career plans? After graduation, I hope to continue working on 400 Fairview and see it to the end of construction. After that, I hope to be part of projects that are heavily design-build in order to work even closer with all design and construction team members to maximize the project potential.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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How we spent our June: Living Building Challenge infographic, Bayonne Bridge kick-off and more!

We can’t believe how fast the first six months of 2013 have gone! Our accomplishments in June provide a glimpse of the many great projects and initiatives Skanska USA is working on, and the people behind them all. One of the main highlights of the month was the release of our “How a Living Building Comes to Life” infographic.

Skanska_Living_Building_Final

As part of the Restorative Design Collective, our team created the Bertschi School Science Classroom Addition in Seattle in line with the Living Building Challenge, the world’s most stringent green building certification. Our infographic shows the factors that make up this project, and how it became the West Coast’s first certified Living Building. We’re also proud and honored to have had the infographic featured on TreeHugger and Mother Nature Network. Below are more highlights from June.

Bayonne Bridge “Raise the Roadway” project

bayonne bridge

On June 26th, a crowd of hundreds – consisting of Skanska employees along with union workers and community members – gathered with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to celebrate the beginning of the historic Bayonne Bridge “Raise the Roadway” project. This bridge connects Bayonne, N.J., with Staten Island, N.Y.

The Skanska-Kiewit joint venture project team will raise the roadway on the Bayonne Bridge by 64 feet for a total of 215 feet of clearance. This will be essential in accommodating the next generation of container ships, called “New Panamax,” which will begin shipping from Asia following the widening of the Panama Canal by 2015.

The importance of resilient infrastructure

Another notable event that happened in June was New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “A Stronger, More Resilient New York” plan with recommendations to rebuilding the communities impacted by Sandy and an overall plan to increase the resilience of infrastructure, a topic we care deeply about.

university medical center

University Medical Center (pictured above), which our joint venture team is building in New Orleans, is a great example of building to resist a hurricane. The structure is replacing another hospital that was ruined by Hurricane Katrina. Learn how this structure will be ready for another superstorm here.

Using diversity to develop the best project solutions

diversity

Of the 27 employees at the headquarters of Skanska’s North American Infrastructure Development unit near Washington, D.C., nine different nationalities are represented and 30 percent of the employees are female. This group – which develops public-private partnership (PPP) solutions for infrastructure needs that include highways and tunnels – relies on this diversity to develop the best solutions for clients, drawing on employees’ global worldviews and experiences. Shown above is a photo of our global Infrastructure Development team.

Nikon Theater at Jones Beach on Long Island, N.Y.

nikon theatre

Last October, Hurricane Sandy tore through the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater on New York’s Long Island, severely damaging this historic venue that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. On May 31, thanks to the efforts of Skanska’s design-build team – including designer Ewing Cole – the 14,000-seat theater reopened for the season, hosting a concert by country superstars Rascal Flatts. See a slideshow of the restoration here.

I-215 freeway improvements in California

perris california

In Perris, Calif., we’re improving a 14-mile stretch of Interstate 215 southeast of Los Angeles. Shown above is a bridge our team is widening as part of that work. The project will widen the highway from two lanes, to three.

Atlanta’s Best and Brightest Companies to work for

atlanta's best companies to work for

On June 20th we were honored at Atlanta’s Best and Brightest Companies To Work For luncheon.

7 Line subway extension in New York City

7 line extension

A group from our Skanska Young Professionals group spent an afternoon touring the 7 Line Extension project our joint venture team is working on in NYC. It’s great building projects that will make such a difference in people’s lives!

Overall, June was a great month in terms of spreading Living Building awareness, progressing on notable construction projects and team building. We look forward to what July will bring! To stay on top of Skanska USA activities, be sure to “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram. We reached 9,000 Twitter followers on June 20th and look forward to more great conversations.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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Building people while connecting communities

Living in southeast Washington, D.C. – not far from the U.S. Capitol but a world apart – I’d ride the bus overlooking the 11th Street Bridge every day to and from my job as a crew foreman for D.C.’s Department of Public Works. As a native Washingtonian, I was proud to be helping maintain this great city. But it also felt like it was just a job – I would look forward to getting off work. It didn’t have the goal-driven atmosphere and rewarding happiness I really wanted.

And then – as happened to millions of others in our nation – unemployment struck. In February 2011, I was laid off during a department-wide budget cut. I didn’t know what I’d do next. In the tough economy, I could have easily added to the already high unemployment rate in my Ward 8 neighborhood. But I thought back to those bus trips when I looked out at the work being done by the Skanska joint venture erecting the replacement spans for the 11th Street Corridor Design-Build Project. I was always amazed to see so much equipment moving about each day, individual units that worked together as a team.

11thstreetbridge

The 11th Street Bridges and Interchange

I decided I wanted to be part of that project. So, I walked into the project office and inquired about a job as a laborer. I was interviewed, and soon after I was hired. I was both honored and excited.

A few months after joining the project, my hard work earned me the chance to advance: I was asked to join the project’s on-the-job training program. This program aims to help D.C. residents contribute to the project while advancing their careers. To graduate, I needed to complete 1,040 hours of on-site training while working. Many people don’t graduate from the program because after obtaining employment on the project, they become complacent and no longer give full attention to their duties. I never lost focus on my quest to graduate, having been inspired by my Skanska family of goal-oriented team members. The training was extremely challenging, yet I completed those hours faster than anyone else. I wanted to be on this project, surrounded by winners.

As the first phase of the bridge was ending in the summer of 2012, I was blessed to be offered another opportunity – to work in the project office as an administrative assistant. I’ve stepped up to handling the payroll for this project’s 80 hourly workers, and now I’m helping process invoices too. I keep asking for and receiving more responsibility. In April, I was privileged to co-chair the 11th Street project’s Diversity and Inclusion Week committee.

My success has only been possible because of the support and encouragement from leaders on the 11th Street project. They have placed a lot of responsibility and trust in me, and I consider myself one of the luckiest men in the world. I love what I do, I love working with my colleagues and I love Skanska!


Richard LaFontant

Richard LaFontant

Administrative assistant

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