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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Now arriving in NYC: Skanska’s completed World Trade Center Transportation Hub

For the last 15 years, lower Manhattan has been under construction. Building after building and milestone after milestone, New York City has been slowly rebounding – and healing – from the events of September 11, 2001. This week, another milestone marked the journey in that process, with Skanska’s substantial completion of six-and-a-half years of work on the World Trade Center Transportation Hub and Oculus, opening the final part of the main passenger hall to the public.

Linking multiple subway and commuter rail lines, the completed Transportation Hub serves hundreds of thousands of commuters every day and contributes to the larger vision of a fully-rebuilt World Trade Center site.

Skanska Project Director Gary Thomson has been there from the start. Standing in the Hub’s soaring Oculus entrance hall, which opened in March 2016, he watched the masses of travelers flowing past him and reflected on his time there.

“Seeing the smiles on people’s faces as they walk through here gives you a sense of gratitude,” Gary says. “This is more than a construction project – this is a memorial for the families of those lost in the attacks. That’s something we felt every day working here. I’ll never build another project with this kind of emotional impact.”

Skanska Project Director Gary Thomson (left) and Project Superintendent Wayne Paliga share stories of more than six years of work in the World Trade Center Transportation Hub and Oculus in New York City.

Skanska Project Director Gary Thomson (left) and Project Superintendent Wayne Paliga share stories of more than six years of work in the World Trade Center Transportation Hub and Oculus in New York City. Credit: Michael Benabib.

Great obstacles

Skanska’s joint venture at the World Trade Center faced unique challenges in delivering the project, most of which is underground. The Hub’s main section sits below the National September 11 Memorial, which opened in 2011 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the attacks. To allow that to happen on time, Skanska built the Hub from the top down, rather than from the bottom up, a non-traditional construction approach that added and additional layer of complexity.

The newest and final section of the WTC Transportation Hub PATH tracks opened to the public days before September 11 and marked the substantial completion of the project.

The newest and final section of the WTC Transportation Hub PATH tracks opened to the public days before September 11, 2016 and marked the substantial completion of the project. Credit: Michael Benabib.

The No. 1 subway line bisects the Hub’s subterranean site, and it needed to stay operational during construction. So while the subway was suspended 70 feet in the air, Skanska crews built under, over and around it. They also safely built around the thousands of commuters, as they went to and from a temporary plywood-and-concrete train terminal.

Further complicating Skanska’s work was Hurricane Sandy, which in 2012 flooded the subterranean project with some 40 feet of floodwater, more than 200 million gallons.

“When Sandy hit, we had to take a big step back. We were able to quickly and safely switch gears, get new equipment in and rebuild,” said Project Superintendent Wayne Paliga. “A further adjustment was keeping the station active while building these final platforms, which was a constant and everyday challenge we were proud to overcome.”

The complex logistics of the World Trade Center site itself – with many structures being built simultaneously – further challenged our crews. At one point, 13 cranes and more than 4,000 workers were packed into the five city blocks of the site.

“I’m very proud of our teams that we finally got to the finish line,” Gary says. “It’s been a long time coming.”

One of the support beams of the original Twin Towers, destroyed on September 211, 2001, seen below the floor of the newest PATH platform inside the Transportation Hub.

One of the foundation beams of the original Twin Towers, destroyed on September 11, 2001, seen below the floor of the newest PATH platform inside the Transportation Hub. Credit: Michael Benabib.

Rising again

Visitors to the Transportation Hub are now greeted with expanses of smooth Italian marble and huge exposed steel beams that ripple overhead – all of it pure white. It’s a place teeming with life, but also a place to remember what happened 15 years ago. Reminders of that day are throughout the Hub, including visible sections of the original Twin Towers’ steel framework and concrete foundation (both built by Skanska in the 1970s).

It’s also a place to be proud of the tremendous efforts of those who labored to bring this hallowed ground back to life.

“We’ve come back from the ashes,” says Gary, who lost two close friends on 9/11. “It’s all back together now after so many years.”

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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By the Numbers: How We Built the WTC Transportation Hub and Oculus

The New York City World Trade Center Transportation Hub and winged Oculus that sits atop it was incredibly complex to build.

We developed this infographic to explain just how our workers did it:

2016 INFOGRAPHIC-WTCOculus

Check out the story of the construction – in our employees own words – here.

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 worker’s perspective on the Oculus and PATH Hall at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub

Over the last six years, our project team of 5,000 workers has logged more than 600,000 hours to complete the Oculus World Trade Center transportation hub, which opened March 3 in downtown Manhattan. We are so grateful to everyone who worked around the clock, seven days a week for their hard work and dedication to complete an iconic new structure connecting 11 subway lines, PATH rail system, Battery Park Ferry Terminal, the WTC memorial, WTC Towers 1, 2, 3 and 4 as well as the World Financial Center and Fulton Transit Center.

Watch to hear more from the team who built the Oculus and PATH Hall.

Here’s a perspective on the project from the people who built it, in their own words:

Paul (1)

 

“What Grand Central is to midtown, the Oculus is to downtown. It’s in the heart of the Financial District and will connect all the downtown workers to the rest of the tristate area.”

—Paul Orso, Senior Engineer

 

“The Oculus was a tough job to work on, but the challenges are what made it great. My family worked on the original Twin Towers so I was proud to be part of the next generation of construction workers building at the World Trade Center.”

—Steven A. Koch, Project Manager

 

“Downtown Manhattan was strictly business. Now it is becoming more residential and tourist focused. The World Trade Center is becoming a more central point and tying everything together adds to the area’s rejuvenation.”

—Steven Rosen, Office Engineer

 

 

“The Oculus is special to me because I worked at the World Trade Center doing the clean up after the towers dropped. I’m proud I was able to be part of rebuilding and bringing it back up.”

—Jimmy Beckett, Iron Worker

 

“I am so proud I had a part in building the Oculus. I always tell the team they should be proud of the project, their kids will be proud of it, and their family and friends will be proud of it.”

—Bobby Fennell, Iron Worker

 

 

“For a lot of the people that live in New York City, especially that were hit so hard by the tragedy that happened on 9/11, it’s great to see that New York City has come together to build something new here. To me this project says, ‘you could hurt us as much as you want but we’re gonna come back stronger than last time.”

— Hayden Weschler, Assistant Superintendent

Ryan Hirce

 

“I think a lot of people didn’t know what we were building at the World Trade Center because they couldn’t see, but as it’s opening up now, they’re saying, ‘Wow, this is amazing.’”

— Ryan Hirce, Superintendent

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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Year in review: Our 10 most popular blog posts of 2015

As 2015 comes to an end, we’ve compiled the most popular blog posts of the year according to you – our readers. Whether we’re explaining important issues or offering an inside look at some of our most complicated projects, you have followed along – and helped us celebrate some major milestones too. From our Florida Polytechnic University project being named Engineering News-Record’s Global Project of the Year to  testing exciting new technology that will advance project safety, 2015 has been a year of  Building What Matters.

We’re proving that even heavy civil construction can be sustainable at our Elizabeth River Tunnels project, a public-private partnership project in Virginia.

Below are our 10 most popular blog posts of 2015, ranked in order:

1. What will it take to rebuild and upgrade our country’s crumbling infrastructure? Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are an innovative solution to help governments deliver much-needed U.S. infrastructure projects, from bridges and roads to hospitals and airports. We break down how design-build-finance-operate-maintain PPPs work in our infographic: Rebuilding (and financing) America’s infrastructure through public private partnerships.

2.  We’re exploring how virtual reality, real-time location systems, drones and other technologies can be used to improve project safety and provide higher levels of customer service. Tony Colonna, senior vice president of our Innovative Construction Solutions group, examines how these three emerging technologies may help improve jobsite safety.

3.  On September 11, General Superintendent Mark Irvin wrote a heartfelt tribute to the victims of 9/11, and shared the immense pride, passion and commitment that he and many others have from helping reconstruct the World Trade Center. Read his inspiring essay: From atop the Empire State Building on 9/11, pride in our work rebuilding the World Trade Center.

wtc100814___232

Skanska cranes in action as we worked to build the Oculus entrance portal to the World Trade Center Transportation Hub last year, part of the ongoing rebuilding effort.

4.  Houston’s 35-story Capitol Tower office project – for which Skanska is both developer and builder – involved a complicated 19-hour and 20-minute concrete pour to establish the structure’s nine-and-a-half-foot thick mat foundation. Our planning was so precise that we finished the pour within three minutes of our estimate. Check out the time-lapse video here: A 20-hour concrete pour, planned to the minute.

5.  In Washington, D.C., we’re creating ice walls of up to nearly 10 feet thick to help us safely construct vertical shafts as part of our project to alleviate flooding in two densely populated neighborhoods. Learn more about how we’re freezing the ground in D.C.

6.  At Miami’s Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science , we assembled 32 concave orange peel-like pieces to form a full dome planetarium. Each panel weighed about 50,000 pounds and required 24-hour-a-day/seven-day-a-week work over two-and-a-half weeks to place and connect each panel. Here’s how we did it: In Miami, successfully assembling an “orange.”

MSM

In the foreground, 32 concave pieces make up the planetarium at Miami’s iconic Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science.

7.  Regional Environmental Manager Carissa Agnese challenged our joint venture team at Virginia’s Elizabeth River Tunnels project to take sustainable construction of a civil infrastructure project to a higher level. See how we rose to the challenge: If you don’t think heavy civil construction projects can be green, think again.

8.  Wendy (Li) MacLeod-Roemer isn’t just a senior project manager: this past year she also finished her doctorate in organization management at Stanford University. In her thesis, she explored how lean manufacturing-inspired performance management can transform construction projects. For key takeaways on performance management and her research – including what leads to happier customers – check out her post: This thesis shows how performance management can improve client satisfaction.

9.  According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the single greatest safety risk on a construction site is falling. Aerial work platforms are safer than ladders for working at heights, but even AWPs have risks. In this post by Chief EHS Officer Paul Haining, learn how we’re taking aerial work platform safety to new heights.

10.  Last but definitely not least: in 2015 our Innovation, Science and Technology Building project at Florida Polytechnic University won Engineering News-Record (ENR) magazine’s highest honor: Global Project of the Year. In this blog post, we explore what it took to bring to life this intricate design from world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava: The path to ENR magazine’s highest honor.

 

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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From atop the Empire State Building on 9/11, pride in our work rebuilding the World Trade Center

We all have heard the term circle of life. Most say it refers to the symbolic representation of birth, survival and death. In school, we were taught that a circle has no beginning or end. In other words, we can say a circle ends at the start point; life ends at the beginning point, and starts over again. At some point in your life, you will experience some form of this. For me, it seems that 9/11 has opened my eyes to this circle.

Forty years and four months ago, I was a young tourist from Holland, Pa., on a Catholic grade school class trip to New York City, a place of mind-blowing vastness. While visiting, back in 1975, the place everyone had to go was the Empire State Building. It opened a new world for us, as until then the trees we climbed as kids were the highest places we had even been. It was everything the chaperones could do to keep the bunch of us rowdy kids from climbing up on the metal bars high atop on the observation deck. We had no fear – truly, we were at the top of the world! Like every other person who has visited, we took countless pictures: of course, one shot was a picture of the World Trade Center’s twin towers, new to the skyline by only a few years and boasting of kingship in the city’s silhouette. Truly, it was a childhood experience that no one ever forgets.

The original World Trade Center stands proudly in this photo taken by Irvin on his 1975 grade school class trip to New York City. It hangs in his office today.

The original World Trade Center stands proudly in this photo taken by General Superintendent Mark Irvin on his 1975 grade school class trip to New York City. It hangs in his office today.

I never came back to the city, not until September 2001. Four days after 9/11, I found myself at the World Trade Center site along with other construction workers, drawn to the city to help in any way possible. We spent the day – 16 hours – simply carrying water to the rescue teams. Then we went home to our families, to sob, like most of the world. Again, I thought I would never go back, believing that the circle was complete. Then, a few years later I was asked to join the Skanska joint venture that was helping reconstruct the World Trade Center: I committed without hesitation, obligated by my honor, pride and emotion. Those that know me, those that have read my novelettes about the years I spent working to rebuild the World Trade Center, know the passion, pride and commitment I and my teammates have to be part of such a construction project, one that is a testament to the strength of the American people. It’s ironic that I came back to New York City for a purpose of which one would never think.

And yet, the circle of life – having no ending – continues. I finished my tour of duty at the World Trade Center, near six years of memories, tears and smiles. And as life continues, so do new opportunities, new construction projects. As I write this on September 11, I am high atop the Empire State Building once again, almost in the exact same spot that I visited as a kid. Now, I am rejuvenating the 84-year-old building’s mooring mast, which runs between the 90th and 101st floors, some quarter mile in the air. Call it fate or destiny, but I see the new World Trade Center every night my team and I are up here: it’s back in our hearts, and back to having a commanding position in the city’s skyline.

DCIM100GOPRO

One World Trade Center, as seen in the distance from Irvin’s current project atop the Empire State Building.

On September 11, we remember, honor and respect those who have lost, and those who have fought for us and continue to do so. On this night, my team – a small part of the many millions who bow their heads today – are especially proud to be Americans. We are even prouder when we look south and see resiliency at its finest.

The circle of life is not a myth, for I have witnessed birth, survival, death and full-circle re-birth. I truly am proud to have been part of bringing the World Trade Center back to life, proud of my teammates who continue to strive to reach its completion and proud to be part of this nation. Please don’t judge any step of life’s path as more important or advanced than the others. Wherever we are, it’s perfect!

For just a moment, take a break and bask in the greatness that’s all around you. See your family, your friends and all of your life. Never forget that day, I ask. The circle is never complete.

wtc100814___232

Skanska cranes last year working to build the Oculus entrance portal to the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. Our teams bring much passion, pride and commitment to the World Trade Center rebuilding effort. 

Mark Irvin

General superintendent, Skanska USA

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May highlights

May was another busy month for us at Skanska, but the highlight was our ninth annual Safety Week, which included the launch of our new InjuryFreeEnvironment.com website. Here, all year our teams, project partners and others can learn and share safety best practices and strategies for achieving an Injury-Free Environment®; we see this website as a resource to improve safety throughout the construction industry. Other Safety Week 2013 highlights: live demonstrations; a webinar featuring our top executives sharing their personal views on safety (click here to view the webcast); and plenty of Stretch and Flex, a daily routine for all Skanska sites – even for our office workers.

Safety Week 1

At one of our Boston-area jobsites, the Cambridge Fire Department performed mock personnel extraction for a Safety Week demonstration. This was performed with one of our tower cranes which flew the rescue basket into our 50 ft. excavation.

Red Cross

A Red Cross trainer instructed Skanska Infrastructure Development employees in Virginia on how to properly respond to injuries and conducted mock emergency scenarios.

May post safety week 3

This is why we work hard to create an Injury-Free Environment – so our employees can go home safely to their families.

In New York City, the World Trade Center Transportation Hub Oculus takes shape

Another notable event this month: In New York City on May 6th we installed the first of 110 upper portals at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub Oculus, for the first time installing steel above street level that will be a visible part of the finished structure. This project will connect 11 subway lines for 250,000 daily commuters.

NYC Hub Oculus

Here is the first upper portal at 25 feet high weighing 60,000 pounds!

Check out this great video inside the Oculus showing the installment of the upper portal.

Topping out at the University of North Carolina Hosptals’ Hillsborough Campus

On May 8th we topped out on the University of North Carolina Hospitals’ Hillsborough Campus main building.

UNC The 242,000-square-foot structure has two main components – a bed tower and a diagnostic and treatment tower – connected by a walkway.  The hospital is targeting LEED certification. So far, the project has peaked at 300 crew members, has installed 1,500 tons of structural steel, placed 800 truckloads of concrete and moved 25,000 dump truck loads of dirt.

Working to improve healthcare in Connecticut

We held a groundbreaking ceremony on May 14th for the expansion of Stamford Hospital, our largest project in Connecticut in nearly a decade.

Stamford Hospital The team at the Stamford Hospital site breaks ground on what will be a 10-story, 650,000-square-foot project. In addition, we will also build a new 33,500-square-foot central utility plant, parking lots and site infrastructure. See the groundbreaking in action.  

In Philadelphia, building the next attraction at The Franklin Institute

We were excited to top out the first expansion in 20 years for The Franklin Institute science museum in Philadelphia.

Franklin Institute

Photo Credit: The Franklin Institute

Our team raises the final beam on the 53,000-square-foot pavilion, which has been named the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion.

Franklin Institute

Photo Credit: The Franklin Institute

The team celebrates by signing the final steel beam of The Franklin Institute.

Here is footage of the beam being lifted in to place.

Lady Bird gets ready for tunneling

The enormous tunnel boring machine (TBM), nicknamed “Lady Bird,” got ready for tunneling on May 21st. Our joint venture team will use Lady Bird to burrow almost five miles through clay 100 feet below Washington, D.C.’s Potomac and Anacostia rivers. This will create a tunnel 26 feet in diameter to hold raw sewage waiting to be treated.

Lady Bird

Photo Credit: DC Water

Here, the first section of Lady Bird is being lowered into the vault where the full TBM will be assembled.

In Tampa, demonstrating construction workers’ big hearts

We ended the month of May by holding a fishing tournament that raised nearly $100,000 for Tampa Bay’s American Heart Association.

American Heart Association

Members of the Tampa Bay team proudly hold up a ceremonial check to give to the American Heart Association.

Last but not least, teams honored Boston after the recent marathon bombing.

Boston Strong

Overall, May was a great month in terms of progressing on notable construction projects, promoting safety in an Injury-Free Environment and for participating in community service outreach. We look forward to what June will bring! To stay on top of Skanska USA activities, be sure to “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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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