Looking Back on 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on the projects, the people, and the values that propelled our company in building what matters this past year.  Across the country, in urban centers and suburban neighborhoods, we’re grateful to have had the opportunity to develop and construct the roads and bridges, hospitals and schools, aviation and transit projects and more that connect communities and make our world a better place. These are just a few of our favorites.

We’d love to know what your favorite Constructive Thinking post was from the past year. Follow us on twitter and share a post – and tag @SkanskaUSA in the message.

Northeast

A worker’s perspective on the Oculus and PATH Hall at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub – One of our workers coined it “the most important project I’ll ever build,” because if its significance not only to New York but to the entire country. From our work on the original Twin Towers in the 1970s to the Santiago Calatrava-designed terminal dubbed “an instant selfie magnet” by the New York Times, Skanska has come full circle at the 16-acre site.

A Seaport Renaissance in Boston – The news that we sold our 101 Seaport commercial development property in Boston was reason for celebration. The 17-story, 440,000-square-foot LEED® Platinum office building in the Seaport District was completed in record time, helping this neighborhood springing to new life.

Southeast

Road Trip! Midtown Tunnel Opens To Public Ahead of Schedule – The Elizabeth River Tunnels (ERT) Project opened one lane of its new Midtown Tunnel to traffic on Friday, June 17, six months early, marking the first time the public could use the new passage under the Elizabeth River connecting Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia.  It was the first of two deadlines we hit early for this massive public-private partnership that will help reduce commute times and vehicle emissions in the area.

At Duke University, a Remarkable Transformation – Our Duke West Union project restored the beloved on-campus dining halls designed by Horace Trumbauer in 1920 while inserting a new full-service dining environment and activity spaces for students to interact and socialize.  This ambitious renovation began in 2013 and was needed to accommodate a growing student body, while also providing a modern and exciting campus experience.

Central

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 earth tones that bring in natural light, open space and encourage social interaction in a model that turns traditional library construction on its head.

Building a home where Alzheimer’s patients can thrive – With the U.S. population aging, Alzheimer’s has become the sixth leading cause of death, affecting more than 5.3 million people.  Alzheimer patients require specific environments designed to alleviate some of the disease’s unique challenges. Abe’s Garden in Nashville, Tenn. was a special project for us, believed to be the first memory care community in the U.S. designed and built to demonstrate and disseminate best practices that will improve the lives of individuals and their care takers affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

West

Building What Matters: From “Grand to the Sand” in Los Angeles – Building what matters took on a new definition for our Los Angeles EVP Mike Aparicio, as he took us inside the Expo Line Phase 2 project, which opened to the public for the first time in May, connecting downtown Los Angeles to the Santa Monica beach by rail for the first time in 60 years. The project is getting people out of their cars (and out of legendary Los Angeles traffic), in some cases, cutting commute times in half.

Building Communities, Changing Lives, South of the Border – For the second year in a row, Skanska USA employees took time out of their weekends 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.

Innovation

Getting Ahead of the Curve – When it comes to driving value for customers, bringing innovative solutions to problems is a powerful asset. In our Skanska USA Building Business Unit, 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.

Sustainability

Living Buildings take Sustainability to the Next Level – For years, sustainability has been more than just a buzzword in the construction industry – and with good reason.  As stewards of a planet with limited natural resources, it’s in our own interest to build projects that consume less. The concept of Net-Zero construction has pushed the boundaries of sustainable green building farther, as we enter the era of the Living Building, the industry’s most rigorous performance standard to date.

 

Just like our Skanska USA projects aim to create new possibilities for our customers, this blog aims to help give a peek behind the curtain at our company and our industry.  Thank you for being part of our stories – here’s to more great projects in 2017.

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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At Duke University, a Remarkable Transformation

Updating a historic or beloved structure carries its unique challenges.

At Duke University, Skanska was tasked on The Duke West Union project to restore the dining halls at the union building, designed by Horace Trumbauer in 1920, while inserting a new full-service dining environment and activity spaces for students to interact and socialize.  This ambitious renovation began in 2013 and was needed to accommodate a growing student body, while also providing a modern and exciting campus experience.

Skanska Project Manager Will Senner is a Duke alumnus who played a key role in helping to complete the stunning renovation. Constructive Thinking spoke with him about the project.

The Duke Union Dining Hall spaces have remained intact, restored to their original architectural significance, while the core of the building was demolished to allow for a new open atrium, housing a variety of dining venues. A vertical glass south facing wall overlooking the plaza and West Union Quad provides views and natural daylighting. The project is pursuing LEED Silver Certification with sustainability features such as heat recovery wheels, solar hot water heating and storm water collection, and reuse.

CT: Tell us about how you came to work on the project.

WS: I graduated from Duke in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Master of Engineering Management. I started with Skanska shortly afterward and spent my first four years in preconstruction. Prior to the Duke West Union project, I worked on the Hunt Library at North Carolina State University and Penn Pavilion at Duke.

CT: What attracted you to wanting to work on the project? 

WS: I am very involved at my alma mater, serving on the board of directors for the Duke Alumni Association and as part of the engineering alumni council. The project was more than about just expanding capacity; the dining program encourages students, faculty, and alumni to share meals with one another to foster a greater sense of community that will benefit students on campus and beyond.  It’s also the most ambitious renovation project the university has taken on to date.

CT: As a Duke alumnus, how did you feel about working on such an iconic building, especially one that would emerge from its renovation so fundamentally changed?

WS: It’s really been an exciting honor. From day one it was evident that the entire team – the staff and administration at Duke, the design team and our Skanska team – was so passionate about what the West Union renovation could mean for the Duke community.  It was a long road bringing the project to fruition, filled with challenges to deliver an architecturally and technically complex building on a demanding schedule. With everything now open, it is rewarding to see the West Union full of life and excitement, building community as it was imagined.

I think the team was successful in preserving key elements of the original West Union – the Great Hall and Cambridge Inn with their amazing wood clad truss ceilings and historic windows – while blending in new modern spaces. Bringing the new and old together is really a central theme in the renovation but it was also quite challenging.

I think the Devil’s Krafthouse is also a great new space. The team’s ideas to use the original Duke Stone exterior walls as an interior finish is unique. The addition of the relics from the demolition process is also a great way to celebrate West Union’s past in a modern, new space.

Plus, the fact that it is located in the same part of the building as the old “Hideaway” student bar seems fitting – I can remember enjoying “E-Kegs” (engineering socials) in what is now the outdoor pub terrace and Crown Commons. It is great to see that space reinvented and to have had a hand in making that transformation.

The Duke West Union (Before and after)

The Duke West Union (before and after)

CT: What were some of the challenges you faced on the project? 

WS: The restoration work itself was very complex. During the demolition phase, the team had to carefully extract the core out of the existing building while leaving the perimeter “horseshoe” intact. We had to cut in more than 50 openings, many of them eight feet wide and more than 20 feet tall, through the 18-inch thick, original load bearing walls which separated the perimeter legacy spaces from the new core area. We had to lower the basement in the “core” area by six to eight feet to accommodate modern air handlers, which required significant rock removal as well as soil nailing of the existing footings on the portion of the remaining building.

We also took painstaking steps to restore key elements of the structure’s façade, including  the “Duke Stone” walls; the more than 300 original windows; the hand-chipped and painted clay roof tiles; and the wood cladding on the steel roof trusses in the Great Hall and Cambridge Inn legacy spaces.

Of course, all of this work took place in the heart of the West Campus, in the shadow of Duke Chapel. We minimized our impact by limiting deliveries to a small service road, coordinating work around the academic calendar, adding sound protection to the windows on adjacent dorms and using sound deadening blankets. We also worked to ensure pedestrian safety by stationing permanent traffic guards and installing signage outside the site that was regularly updated as construction progressed.

CT: What has been the reaction to the new dining hall? 

WS: It’s been very positive and I’m very proud of it. I think the new West Union honors Duke’s history by blending the grand Gothic look with a contemporary design that matches the innovative space. This is a world-class building that continues Duke’s legacy of leadership, innovation, and inspiration.

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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