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CONCE ALING A GA S LINE
AMERICAN BUILDERS QUARTERLY
Alliance Pipeline buried 80.1 miles of pipe under North Dakota’s surface ME T ROPOL I TA N M A K EOV ERS
Paramount Group gives five prime downtown buildings a new look
CALIFORNIA H IGH-SPEED R AIL
The trek to complete the track MEE T KEITH PROBYN
Shell’s VP of real estate is reinventing the firm’s development efforts
DA TA C E N T E R
GENIUS JAY PA RK’S 2 A.M. BRE A K T H ROUGH BROUGH T FA C E B O O K A NE W, HIGHLY
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In This Issue
10 Fast-Tracking High-Speed Rail The California High-Speed Rail Authority is looking to finish the first line in the nation, which will take passengers from San Francisco to LA, by 2029
30 Facebook’s Energy-Efficiency Genius Jay Park woke up at 2 a.m. one morning and drew a power-system design on a napkin; his middle-of-the-night inspiration has led to a US patent and three (soon to be four) hyperefficient Facebook data centers that have sent ripples through the technology industry
On the COVER In a corner of Facebook that many don’t see stands Jay Park, the man with the plan. His mission: to improve the energy performance of data centers worldwide— and to honor the memory of his son, who died tragically last year. Park’s achievements are already historic, and he’s not done yet.
38 Now You See It, Now You Don’t For a state with as much natural beauty as North Dakota, an 80.1-mile pipeline seemed like a threat, until Alliance Pipeline worked its magical disappearing act, skillfully preserving the land 128 Improving a $10B Portfolio How Marce Sanchez maximizes the potential of Paramount Group’s properties, located in prime spots in the hearts of New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, DC 143 Innovating Shell’s Practices VP of real estate Keith Probyn changed the way the oil company sources its projects—learn how
Photograph by Sheila Barabad
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VIEW FROM THE TOP
16 A Veteran of Senior Living Glenn Kaplan built his first senior-living facility in the 1970s and has seen the market boom over the past 35+ years—find out how he’s innovating the industry today
19 Chicago Architecture’s Up-and-Comers In 2013, Perimeter Architects added two new partners, and the firm’s portfolio of work is set to blossom with $96M of construction over the next three years
22 Master Planning Vista Canyon The story behind Santa Clarita, CA’s newest live-work-play community, nearly 10 years in the making 27 Growing Old in Paradise Tennis player-turned-Kisco Senior Living CEO Andy Kohlberg has built a brand of communities that focuses on high-quality staff and sought-after environments, including its newest in Hawaii
22 62 Laying The Groundwork It took just 10 years for HTI Polymer to become a leader in the industrial-flooring industry, and it continues to attract big names such as Boeing, Starbucks, and Costco by developing deep partnerships
78 Protecting Coastlines Everywhere The 124-year-old Great Lakes Dredge & Dock has made an indelible mark in Chicago’s history, expanding not only across the country but overseas as well; its most recent work is at PortMiami
67 From Hurricane Cleanup to Superfund Sites Clean Harbors has earned a reputation as the go-to contractor for truly harsh conditions; its emergency-response expertise has led to work in Superfund cleanup and building in the tundra
83 Save the Salmon When the State of Washington passed the Salmon Recovery Act in 1999, Morgan & Son Earthmoving found its new niche: fish-habitat restoration
72 Growing the Family Business Ken Bressler purchased Builders & Remodelers in 1995 and, together with his sons, is expanding into new services, a new warehouse, and postrecession growth
102 An Unlikely Match Proved Successful Callison general counsel Lisa Strauch Eggers’s experiences with such firms as Amoco and Starbucks more than make up for her inexperience in the architectural world
110 Pinkberry’s Real Estate Ringer After working for Panda Restaurant Group, BJ’s Restaurants, and Jamba Juice, Ryan Patel joined Pinkberry, and he has taken the frozen-yogurt chain to more than 250 locations worldwide
105 Protecting a 108-Year-Old Company PCL Constructors’ sales have grown nearly 100 percent since it launched its legal department in 2006—almost exactly 100 years after its founding
113 Branching Out to Olive Branch, MS Nabholz Construction Services’ executive VP and general counsel explains the challenges behind the firm’s expansion to the greater Memphis, TN, area
108 “I ask a lot of questions” How Jim Archibald, partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, stays on top in the field of construction law
115 Morgan Stanley’s ArchitectTurned-Project Manager “Architecture is not about buildings; it’s about the people who use them or live in them,” Saeid Garebaglow says—see how his philosophy informs his workplace designs
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87 Managing the Three Rs of a Project Waste Connections’ Recycle360 tool helps project managers easily track waste for certifications, giving them more time to get creative with their efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle
120 Cutting Back to Stay in Business A breakdown of the methods Builders FirstSource employed to stay afloat during the recession, and how the company is poised for a comeback 123 Down to Business Paul Cohen, who has served as Golder Associates’ general counsel since 1992, provides insights into the employeeowned organization’s success 141 Gulfport Energy and Utica Shale A by-the-numbers look at the pureplay company’s natural-gas production progress in Ohio 149 Laying Down the Law How Burns and Roe’s senior VP and general counsel Andrew Ratzkin avoids the extraneous costs of outside counsel
45 Zero Energy Ready in Michigan Cobblestone Homes strives to oneup itself year after year by seeking new efficiency challenges; its latest work meets the DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home program guidelines
49 The New R&D Campus ProTecs’s specialty in R&D and manufacturing facilities led it to Advance Realty’s New Jersey Center of Excellence at Bridgewater, a live-work-play R&D community unlike any other
54 Luxury Homes for the C-Suite Fore Group founder Fotis Dulos leveraged his managementconsulting skills to create an exceedingly successful highend homebuilding firm with CEOs and CFOs as clients 58 Juniper’s New HQ The story behind the hurdle-laden construction of Juniper Networks’ new campus in California on an old Lockheed Martin site full of surprises
52 Riding The Waves in Las Vegas Mountain Vista Development saw Sin City through boom and bust and has become leaner and meaner through it all
58 90 Al Jazeera America’s NYC Studio When the renowned broadcast network needed a US-based studio in 60 days (a project that should’ve taken nine months), it was Dennis Darcy Construction Group to the rescue
94 Multimillion-Dollar Coastal Dwellings The luxury Northeast beach homes of Dewson Construction
90 166 Shopping or Working? Rackspace’s new HQ inside an abandoned San Antonio mall is a new facet to the work-meets-play culture of today’s tech companies
156 Wood Partners’ Budget Guru “Most people look at project costs as an overall price per unit or per square foot, but I’ve never looked at it that way. … You miss the big picture,” Clayton Myhre says
169 Rescuing a Phoenix Hotspot How De Rito Partners worked with a local Native American tribe to redevelop and revitalize a shopping and entertainment plaza
158 26 Years with Clayton Homes General counsel Tom Hodges tells of his trial-byfire start at the manufactured-home builder, and the effects the firm felt from the Dodd-Frank Act
172 “The modern-day general contractor is a pencil pusher” Bob Knepper is an old-school kind of guy, so the renovation of a historic Denver home was right up his alley
160 Founding Father One of the nation’s leading surety bond lawyers, Robert Watt welcomes difficult cases; it’s how he led his firm to the top of the construction-law field
150 The Culmination of a Career Litigator-turned-real estate manager Alan Di Sciullo recounts his career and his role with Shearman & Sterling, one of the world’s largest law firms
174 Hitting the Jackpot To Loeffler Construction, the renovation of Jackpot Junction Casino is just the beginning of what it hopes will be a long-standing relationship with the Lower Sioux Indian Community
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Photo: Michelle Nolan
“Genius” is not a word I throw around lightly. WE COVER MANY INNOVATORS in the construction industry, but few, if any of them, have been worthy of being called “genius.” Until this issue. Until we met Jay Park. A kind, gracious man with serious brain power, Park conceptualized a power-system design and natural-cooling system for Facebook’s data centers (which are known to overuse energy) five years ago. This year, he was promoted to vice president of data-center design, construction, and facility operations for the social media giant. A few weeks later, his design finally received its patent. In the time between his idea and his accolades, three data centers were constructed under his supervision, all of which consume 38 percent less energy than comparably sized data centers. A fourth data center is in the works, and Park’s designs and the centers’ performance data are being shared with the world via Facebook’s opensource platform, the Open Compute Project (opencompute.org). The company also provides a dashboard that shares real-time readings of the centers’ power-usage effectiveness. It was 2 a.m. when Park first sketched his DC UPS power-system design—on a dinner napkin, no less (see a scan of it on p. 30). The napkin now hangs, framed, in Facebook’s headquarters. You can see why this is my favorite article in this issue and our cover feature. The story just writes itself; it’s that good. In a way, Park is a living legend. And, certainly, a genius.
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INDEX PEOPLE & COMPANIES
Hodges, Tom HTI Polymer Issa, John
A B C Advance Realty AECOM Al Jazeera America Alliance Pipeline Archibald, Jim Ashland Associated General Contractors of America Backer, James Berry, Steve Boeing Bouck, Steve Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP Builders & Remodelers Builders FirstSource Burns and Roe Bressler, Ken California High-Speed Rail Authority Callison, LLC Campton, Chris Carlise, Chuck CBRE Centerbrook Architects and Planners Ceridian Clayton Homes Clean Harbors Cobblestone Homes Cohen, Paul Costco Crow, Chad
49 144 90 38 108 49 77 22 87 63 87 108 72 120 149 72 10 102 62 169 144
90 169 94 94 49 150 75 55 19 102 30, 64 75 54
GHI Garebaglow, Saeid, 115 Golder Associates 123 Great Lakes Dredge & Dock 78 Gulfport Energy Corporation 141 Hainsworth, Josh 52 Helicopter Transport Services 65 Hines 144
JKL JSB Development Juniper Networks, Inc. Kaplan Development Kaplan, Glenn Kapson Senior Quarters Kaufman, Molly Kinch, Jamie Kisco Senior Living Knepper, Bob Knepper Construction Kohlberg, Andy Kristin A. Park Residential Design Lavoy, Katie Les File Drywall Lockheed Martin Loeffler Construction & Consulting Loeffler, Doug Loeffler, Tammy Lucas, John
172 78 75 58 174 174 174 58
Malone, Mark 141 McCann, Jacinta 144 McDonald, Michael 67 Mooz, John 144 Morales, Jeff 10 Morgan & Son Earthmoving 83 Morgan, Dan 83 Morgan, Laurie 83 Morgan Stanley 115 Mountain Vista Development 52 Myhre, Clayton 156 Nabholz Construction Services 113
PQR Padavano, Kurt Paramount Group Park, Jay Patel, Ryan PCL Constructors Perimeter Architects Pinkberry Probyn, Keith ProTecs Rackspace Ratzkin, Andrew Richards, Steve Roosevelt, Theodore Rowland, Phil
49 128 30 110 105 19 110 143 49 166 149 105 40 144
STU Safeguard Sanchez, Marce Shearman & Sterling
Shell Soft-Lite Windows Sorrell, Lynsey
143 73 19
VWXYZ 22 58 16 16 16 169 166 27 172 172 27
MNO 178 121 158 67 45 123 66 120
DEF Dennis Darcy Construction Group De Rito Partners, Inc. Dewson Construction Dewson, Tim DiPaolo, Christopher R. Di Sciullo, Alan Dryvit Dulos, Fotis Dvorak, Branyo Eggers, Lisa Strauch Facebook File, Jason Fore Group
158 62 19
169 128 150
Valenziano, Steve Wahl, Mark Wahl, Melissa Waste Connections Watt, Robert Watts, Bill Watt Tieder Hoffar & Fitzgerald, LLP Wood Partners Woods, Andrea Zuckerberg, Mark
22 45 45 87 160 38 160 156 113 30
ADVERTISERS AdvanTech 179 AECOM 145 Alliance Land Planning & Engineering Inc. 25 Armistead Mechanical, Inc. 48 Assurance Ltd. 53 Atlas-Acon Electric Service Corp. 131 Atlas Copco 51 Baker Hughes 41 BBRL 109 BDO 153 Broderick Phillippi Wright & Card 77 Buckley Sandler LLP 159 Building Supply Depot 101 C & J Energy Services 142 CANY 133 Capitol Light 28 Caterpillar 37 CBRE 145 Chips Unlimited 66 Clune Construction Company 131 Connell Foley 125 Cupertino Electric Inc. 2 d5 Design and Metal Fabrication 18 David Pattillo & Associates 165 Delta Consulting Group 164 DEWALT Power Tools 180 Donnelly Mechanical 131 Ellensburg Cement Products 82 First American Title 18 First Quality Products, Inc. 26 Friday, Eldredge & Clark LLP 114 Gensler 155 Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company 89 Group70 International 28 Harvey 145 Henegan Construction Co., Inc. 119 Hiller Electric Company 107 Hines 147
Icon Interiors, Inc. 135 Jacobs 147 John Gallin & Son 133 Jones Walker LLP 82 JSB Development 25 The Kenrich Group LLC 164 KPF 133 Law Journal Press 153 LCM Architects 57 Lewis Bess Williams & Weese P.C. 66 Lockton Companies 104 MasRam Mechanical, LP 157 McKenney’s 37 Metropolitan Mechanical Contractors, Inc. 177 Moye, O’Brien, Pickert & Dillon, LLP 107 Natural Resource Group LLC (NRG) 43 NSC Facility Management 171 NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate 153 Office of James Ruderman LLP 137 OneLine Power Systems 29 Paradise Custom Kitchens 101 Paramount Group, Inc. 127 P.E. Stone, Inc. 137 Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP 148 PinPoint Commercial 122 Priority Sign 140 ProBuild 48 Rio Grande Drywall Supply Co. 77 Robert Derector Associates 135 Rosendin Electric 29 Safeguard 171 Sanford & Hawley, Inc. 57 San Jose Construction 59 Sears Commercial 4 Soft-Lite Windows 73 SolarGalss 173 SOM 137 Sovereign Mechanical Corp. 135 Specialty Wood Products 173 Steele Land & Inspection 43 Stinson Leonard Street 107 Structure Tone 140 Studley Commercial Real Estate Advisors 155 Summit Law Group 104 Taft 71 TPG Architecture 140 Tri-City Electrical Contractors, Inc. 155 Tutor Perini Corporation 15 VVA Project Managers & Consultants 114 Waldorf Demolition 140 Weyerhaeuser 122 Wood Designè 93
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Californiaâ€™s high-speed rail system will reach speeds of 220 miles per hour and make the trip between San Francisco and LA in less than three hours.
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The California High-Speed Rail Authority wants to finish a line from San Francisco to Los Angeles by 2029, and CEO Jeff Morales is cutting through red tape and finding funding to maintain momentum as the project finally gets under way by Christopher James Palafox
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VEN BY 2029, it’s unlikely we’ll all be fer-
rying ourselves to and fro via flying cars and hoverboards, but if all goes according to plan, the state of California will still have an exciting, new, more-grounded form of travel: high-speed rail. The system, which is being developed by the California HighSpeed Rail Authority, will run from San Francisco to the Los Angeles Basin. It will be the first of its kind in the nation, and at speeds of up to 220 miles per hour, it will transport passengers between the two cities (both of them currently rated among the world’s worst traffic regions) in less than three hours. Eventually, the system will run to Sacramento and San Diego as well, with as many as 24 stations and 800 miles of track—which, according to the authority’s estimates, will help revitalize the state’s downtown cores and create more than 100,000 jobs. The railway will also reduce emissions equivalent to those produced by a 500-mile-long line of cars packed onto a California freeway. And, it will save the state as many as 171 flights daily by 2030; by 2040, it will have reduced the state’s total vehicle miles of travel by almost 10 million a day.
It’s an ambitious vision, but again, this is all assuming that everything goes according to plan. So, the authority is currently doing all it can to ensure its hypothetical becomes a reality through proper organization, preparation, and collaboration. “THIS IS A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY
to do something that is a once-in-a-generation investment,” says Jeff Morales, CEO of the authority. “It’s something that needs to happen, and it’s our job to make it happen.” Reaching all the way back to the early 1980s, the need to create a better transportation system for the Golden State has been in various stages of development for so long that the idea is now middle-aged, but it only received tangible traction in 1996, the year the authority was formed. The organization was chief ly brought together to handle the planning for a ballot measure regarding the system, scheduled for a vote in the 2004 general election. The proposal for the measure was met with two setbacks, though, which delayed the vote—first to 2006, then 2008. That year, voters finally approved the issuance of bonds, and four
CALIFORNIA HIGH-SPEED RAIL Sacramento
Stockton Modesto Merced
San Jose Gilroy
San Luis Obispo
years later, in September 2012, the Obama administration gave its own endorsement, fast-tracking the project. Notably, the president’s approval—aptly named the “We Can’t Wait” initiative—streamlined the permitting process for the segment of track from Fresno to Bakersfield. But, as it is with any massive state project, winning public approval for the rail line is a continual challenge. (Morales is quick to point out that the Golden Gate Bridge—a San Francisco icon—had more than 2,000 lawsuits filed against it during its construction in the Depression.) So, the authority is making a concerted effort to interact with the state’s populous through outreach programs for those directly affected by the project and through the disbursement of information. And, though the lawsuits against the rail line have been settled, allowing momentum to gather, the authority will have to maintain a fast pace to keep energy for the long-term project alive. As the CEO, Morales has had a major hand in bringing together a team he hopes is different from that of a typical state organization, and he has concentrated on keeping it lean so that it’s more akin to a public-private partnership. It has approximately 125 employees and growing, and it comprises top people from a range of public and private industries. Together with a private project-management team and the Federal Railroad Administration, the state-run authority is working toward a blended system that will include new tracks as well as upgrades and connections to existing regional and local rail infrastructures. Its $68 billion, five-step 2012 business plan arose from the passing of Senate Bill 1029 in July 2012, and the authority updated the outline in 2014 to adapt to the setbacks inherent in a project affecting tens of millions of citizens.
Palmdale San Fernando Valley
Initial Operating Section Early Investment in Caltrain and Metrolink Corridors Bay to Basin Phase 1 Blended Phase 2 Amtrak Surfliner Service Nothern California Unified Service (San Joaquin/Capitol/ACE)
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Los Angeles Anaheim
The final high-speed rail system, which will cost approximately $68 billion to construct, will blend new track with existing lines and local infrastructure that have been upgraded. The rail line is expected to revitalize downtown corridors, and it will likely create more than 100,000 new jobs as each of its five phases goes up. Eventually, it will extend to Sacramento and San Diego as well.
California will take the knowledge that Japan has gained from its renowned Shinkansen—the long-running bullettrain system—and adapt it to a new geographic and economic climate.
THE FIRST PHASE, costing an estimated $5.85
billion, will offer immediate statewide benefits. Construction will begin in the Central Valley, an area infamous for its high unemployment rate, and it will generate more than 20,000 jobs annually over the course of five years as crews work on 114 miles of track. Funding for the initial build will come from
a combination of federal and state sources, but future segments will be backed by a combination of state-bond funds and a program designed to bring in private investment. The first section of track will run from Madera County to Bakersfield, and after it’s completed in 2019, additional work will be done to electrify the Bay Area’s Caltrain
Corridor and help improve Bay Area rail infrastructure. The measures will provide passenger-rail transportation from the Central Valley to Southern California for the first time. By 2022, a 300-mile section from Merced to the San Fernando Valley will run without an operating subsidy, hopefully attracting private investment for the system’s expansion. In 2027, the line will expand from San Jose to Gilroy, and it will then be connected to the Merced portion. (The route will halve the time it takes one to traverse the same distance by car.) By 2029, all the segments will be connected, allowing high-speed travel for more than 520 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The final phase will extend the rail to Sacramento and San Diego, adding 280 miles of track. As Morales sees it, this is an aggressive yet realistic schedule with a lot of work that will need to be done simultaneously. To hit each goal, his organization is constantly evaluating new methods that will help streamline the process and shorten the time frame, but the fact remains that the project will be a long undertaking.
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“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something that is a once-in-a-generation investment.” Jeff Morales, CEO
MUCH OF THE RAILWAY’S DESIGN, its general route, and its connection points were decided upon simply to meet the guidelines of the US Department of Transportation, but in finalizing the construction plans, Morales and his team looked at everything from environmental impact to community impact. The project will draw from the latest technology and best practices, and the authority has even established consulting relationships with numerous countries that already have highspeed rail systems. One such relationship is a memorandum of understanding between the authority and the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism,
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which can be traced all the way back to California’s early rumblings for high-speed rail in 1981. The state will take the knowledge that Japan has gained from its renowned Shinkansen—the long-running bullet-train system—and adapt it to a new geographic and economic climate. Hopefully, by being at the forefront of high-speed rail in the United States, Morales and the authority will act as exemplars for other states looking to adopt similar programs. They could become industry leaders for high-speed rail in the process, ushering in still more economic opportunities for the Golden State. “It’s about preparing California
In total, the system could have as many as 24 stations and 800 miles of track, and it will save the state roughly 171 flights daily by 2030 and reduce its total vehicle miles of travel by almost 10 million a day by 2040.
for the future,” Morales says. Such lofty ambition is what drives the organization’s board members to dedicate large portions of their time to the program. The board is a who’s who of finance, public-transit, infrastructure-development, and environmental-law professionals appointed by the governor and state legislature—but they are all still technically volunteers. California’s population of 38 million is projected to climb to 50 million by 2050, so the state’s zeal for high-speed rail has been born out of necessity more than anything else. And, with millennials gravitating toward walkable, urban neighborhoods, it only makes sense to cater to their needs. Increasingly, people—Californians or otherwise—are fantasizing about ditching their cars to ride the rails, but currently the infrastructure does not allow it. The authority hopes to realize their dream (at least on a local level) and show that if you build it, they will ride.
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VISION Glenn Kaplan’s Career Milestones
1972 Glenn Kaplan and his real estate partners complete their first senior-housing development after the State of New York requested the project to fill a void
GILDING THE GOLDEN YEARS
Senior-living facilities have become dramatically more inviting in the past three decades, and Glenn Kaplan and his various development firms have been there to capitalize on every step of the evolution by Kelli Lawrence
The Bentley Commons at Zephyr Hills is one of many independent-living communities that Glenn Kaplan has built since he got into the senior-housing market in the 1970s and helped transform it.
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1985 Kaplan develops his 10th senior-housing project and decides to found his own business, Kapson Senior Quarters, to focus exclusively on the market
HERE WAS A TIME NOT THAT LONG AGO
when the words “senior living” generated little more than blank stares. Nursing homes were an understood industry, but independent and partially dependent living establishments for senior citizens? Not so much. “It’s certainly a lot different now than when we started, when we had to do a dogand-pony show explaining exactly what we were doing and how we planned on doing it,” says CEO Glenn Kaplan, recalling the era when his first company, Kapson Senior Quarters, tried to secure bank financing for its senior-living construction efforts. “The good news is that there are enough [financial]
1998 Kapson Senior Quarters goes public
1999 Kapson Senior Quarters is bought out by Lazard Frerer
2002 Kaplan reenters the market with Kaplan Development Group LLC
2005 The company conducts its first expansion of multiple properties
2007 The company completes its first ground-up construction
2006 Kaplan watches his business surpass the 10property mark in its portfolio
2008 The Kaplan team completes a historical renovation of the multiproperty Bentley Commons at Keene in Keene, NH
2007 Employees celebrate as Kaplan Development reaches 1,000 units in its portfolio
2013 All American Assisted Living opens, serving as a model for 20–30 more developments Kaplan intends to build
2010 Kaplan sells a four-property, multistate portfolio to AEW Capitol Management while retaining management contracts on two properties in Massachusetts
2012 Construction begins on All American Assisted Living in Hanson, MA
institutions today. Not all of them will [fund senior-living development], but they understand it. And we’ve got enough of these built now where they’ll come out and take a look.” Kaplan initially entered the market when the State of New York approached him in the 1970s, requesting that he and his real estate partners produce a senior-housing development to fill a void. One project eventually led to more projects, and by 1985, Kaplan and his partners knew that this was where they wanted to focus all their developing efforts. “It was a huge evolution as to what was going on in the world and the infrastructure of family life,” Kaplan says. “People were resolving that, because they had to work, they couldn’t take care of mom and dad full-time, ... and they couldn’t afford to have caregivers and people around the clock.” Thus the need arose for a greater variety of senior-living establishments: assisted living, retirement communities, retirement homes, and the like. Kapson Senior Quarters was at the forefront of the industry boom, and its early efforts to get financing paid off in spades decades later. The company went public in the mid-1990s, was bought out a few years later, then Kaplan accepted a can’t-refuse offer that got him back into it all and led him to create Kaplan Development Group LLC. “We’d ended up with a lot of small mom-andpop [investors] and one-offs that joined what we were doing, and a couple of us broke out of the mold and decided we were going to do it in a much bigger way,” he says. “It worked out to our advantage—and to the advantage of some of those companies that also went public with us at that point in time. It just sort of turned the curve.” The result of his continued efforts is, today, Senior Management LLC, a whollyowned subsidiary of Kaplan Development with a mission of developing top-notch senior-living spaces focused on compassion,
2010 The company gets its first management contract, for the renovated Bentley Assisted Living at Branchville facility in Branchville, NJ
integrity, and respect. More than a dozen Kaplan Development/Senior Management residences now stand in seven different states up and down the eastern seaboard, and for each project, Kaplan himself is involved with financing, acquisition, construction dollars, and oversight of the operational team—a corporate staff of 15 that he feels is key to his company’s success. Customer feedback, in a manner of speaking, is progressing at Kaplan Development as well, and proof of this can be found in one of its newest communities: the All American Assisted Living facility in Hanson, Massachusetts. At 48,000 square feet—compared to the 80,000–90,000 square feet of older structures—it’s more cost-controlled while still providing premium service to its residents. Kaplan Development found that an increasing number of clients with diminishing funds were wondering how to keep their senior family members in choice facilities.
Private Rooms Common Spaces Administrative and Staff Areas Rehabilitation Facilities Lobby Bathrooms
The All American Assisted Living facility in Hanson, MA, has 48 two-bedroom apartments and can accommodate as many as 16 cognitively impaired residents, and Kaplan hopes to build 20–30 more facilities just like it over the next few years.
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“[Independent senior living is] certainly a lot different now than when we started, when we had to do a dog-and-pony show explaining exactly what we were doing.”
Congratulations to our valued client Glenn Kaplan, President & CEO of Kaplan Development Group, on all of his success! Adam B. Cutler Vice President and Special Counsel 215.606.3626 email@example.com
Glenn Kaplan, CEO 866.561.5047 q www.firstam.com/ncs
So, the company responded by focusing on a new design that is “more like a college dorm unit,” Kaplan says, explaining that the communities still have private sleeping quarters but also place a greater emphasis on shared living spaces. “The [common areas] are being used, there’s activities, there’s always something going on,” Kaplan says. “And, as a result, people are finding it to be very homey. So, it’s working exactly as we planned.” In all, the two-story facility features 48 two-bedroom apartments, accommodates up to 16 residents with Alzheimer’s or other cognitive impairments, and boasts 24-hour security, a stateof-the-art emergency-response system, a bistro, a media room, and an arts and crafts room, among other amenities. Kaplan Development is looking to build 20–30 more properties like this one over the next few years. The All American is “It’s nice to build something for a spedesigned like a dorm: it cific group of people and have it be sucemphasizes shared living cessful—to know that you’re providing spaces while still offering private sleeping quarters. a service and taking care of people,” “The [common areas] Kaplan says. “We continue to build more are being used, there’s and get different mixes from within the activities, there’s always industry ... it’s very gratifying. That’s why something going on,” we like to do it.” Kaplan says.
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VISION LUXURY CONDO BUILDING Perimeter is currently designing a 16-story luxury condominium building in Chicago’s popular River North neighborhood. The firm designed a custom, high-performance building skin and incorporated luxurious finishes inside. “Each 3,200-square-foot fullfloor unit has stunning Chicago skyline views and massive outdoor decks,” partner Lynsey Sorrell says. “The developer has shown great confidence in us on this project, and we look forward to future collaborations.”
BIG PROJECTS With a team of just six, who can work nimbly and closely with clients, Perimeter Architects is landing a number of large-scale design jobs
Text by Maureen Wilkey Renderings by Perimeter Architects
FTER NINE YEARS IN BUSINESS, Chicagobased Perimeter Architects expanded in 2013 when John Issa brought on two new partners: Branyo Dvorak and Lynsey Sorrell. The company is now bigger, but with only six people total, it’s still not exactly big. Yet, by culling together their trusted clients and strong portfolios, Perimeter’s three partners have been able to successfully secure substantial new projects and align themselves with local developers. As a result, their company has $96 million in construction work to be completed over the next three years. As they see it, their success is simply a matter of thinking big while working small. “We all come from larger-firm backgrounds; Lynsey and Branyo came from Holabird & Root, and I was formerly with Perkins + Will,” Issa says. “We took that experience and calibrated it with smaller-design-office intensity.” Issa founded Perimeter in 2004 and primarily focused on private residences after receiving his graduate degree from Columbia
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FULTON MARKET MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENT One of the firm’s large-scale projects is a mixeduse 225,000-square-foot development in the “increasingly hot” Fulton Market area of Chicago, Issa says. The lower levels will serve as space for high-end retailers and restaurants, above which will sit a parking component, and above that will be six stories of condo units. “The developer liked our aggressive mentality and wanted to see us grow,” Issa says. “They saw we had the ability to do something this big, and it was a compliment. We are up to the challenge.” HOUSE AT 1117 W. LILL AVE., CHICAGO Described as “one of our favorite smaller projects right now” by the Perimeter team, this single-family residence in the popular Lincoln Park neighborhood has “fantastic” owners who placed their confidence in Perimeter to let the team “design the project well beyond their expectations,” Issa says, noting that the project began in the summer of 2014. “[The clients] engaged us in the design process, and we engaged them in the peculiarities of how they live. It is a great residence.”
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John Issa (far right) founded Perimeter Architects in 2004, and in 2013 he brought on Branyo Dvorak (far left) and Lynsey Sorrell (not pictured) as partners. All three have backgrounds with larger firms and continue to think big while working small.
University in New York. Ten years later, his firm is designing a 20,000-square-foot office for a 120-person green-energy company, a 140,000-square-foot mixed-use project in the Fulton Market neighborhood, and a 16-story luxury-condominium building in River North. Outside the Chicago area, it’s also working on a multilocation project for a nationwide yoga-studio chain. Explaining how the small firm manages so many projects at once, Dvorak says, “Some projects have much shorter durations, and the bigger projects don’t move as fast.” At a larger firm, clients might meet with a principal at the outset of a project and not see that person again until the ribbon-cutting, but Perimeter appoints one principal as the lead on each of its projects, and that person will be there from start to finish, present at nearly every meeting. “We are architects,” Sorrell says. “We like to design, work with consultants, engage with contractors, and build relationships with our clients. When a senior staff isn’t involved with a project from concept to completion, the client suffers, and we miss solving the technical issues and being in the mix.” Collaboration is also extremely important at Perimeter. In-house project reviews often involve the entire staff; ideas regarding sustainability, architecture, construction techniques, building technology, and design are thoroughly debated; and everyone sets aside
“We all come from larger-firm backgrounds. ... We took that experience and calibrated it with smaller-design-office intensity.”
Portrait: Ana Miyares Photography
John Issa, Principal & Founder
his or her ego to design the best project. “You have to be cognizant of each other’s skill set and be able to criticize without getting personal, but you also have to know what you’re good at and let others take the lead [so that] their strengths shine,” Dvorak says. Perimeter believes in the craft of architecture. The team will often test design ideas through large-scale models, and with CNC modeling and the multiple fabrication techniques available today, they can push the limits of design even within tight budget constraints. “We do not draw what we cannot speak of intelligently with a contractor,” Issa says. “We know how to build. We’re able to show a developer our cohesive work, including planning, architecture, and interiors.” As a small firm, Perimeter also relies on its competitive rates and low overhead as final measures that help it beat out other architects. “With the breadth and depth of experience in the building industry that the three of us have, we can be decisive,” Sorrell says. Often, the company is then able to land more projects from the same developer by gaining its trust. Handling multiple jobs at different scales takes organization, and clients often expect quick turnarounds. Fortunately, Perimeter can deliver thanks to its senior staff’s involvement. Larger firms often delegate tasks, but Perimeter operates with a flatter structure where young architects work alongside the partners. This approach is likely to remain, even as the company continues to expand. “We’re not afraid of growth,” Issa says. “Over the next five years, we are set to double our staff to maintain the projected construction Perimeter Architects has in the works.”
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Main Street America Revival Vista Canyon is more than just a neighborhood—the Santa Clarita, CA, community, proposed by JSB Development, is designed to unite living, work, and recreational spaces in one place by Zach Baliva
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AMES BACKER AND STEVE VALENZIANO were
standing before the City of Santa Clarita, making a presentation. They had preliminary drawings, a development team, and a plan for a new residential neighborhood in the California community. There was just one problem: the city didn’t want another typical development. “When we interviewed residents and interacted with city officials, we discovered that people really needed service providers,” Valenziano says. “There was nowhere to go for dinner, nowhere to go shopping, no hotels, and few jobs. People were driving 30 miles to Los Angeles for work and play.” Backer and Valenziano rethought their development and instead created plans for Vista Canyon, a lively hub that combines living, work, shopping, and recreational spaces on the city’s east side.
Backer knows a thing or two about city planning. He has worked in the valley for three decades and was involved in developing the master plan for the community of Valencia. He started JSB Development in 2000 and calls himself a “developer of new projects” who finds creative ways to turn unused land into valuable property. Valenziano, a consultant with a deep background in commercial brokerage and real estate, joined Backer in 2005 to partner specifically on Vista Canyon. Prior to 2005, a friend approached Backer about a 40-acre parcel of land. Upon further examination, Backer discovered problems: the property was close to the freeway but lacked access, and it was surrounded by a dense collection of homes and schools. Backer tried to make the best of the situation and move forward with development, but he needed more entry points from surrounding land. The deal went to escrow but failed when other deals for adjacent land never materialized. That’s when Valenziano came aboard. Convinced his colleague had a viable project, the consultant helped acquire the adjacent land, eventually achieving a total property size of 100 acres. Then the duo met with the city and discovered its need for services. “This whole idea has always just kind of evolved naturally,” Valenziano says. “That fits the project because we want it to be sensitive. We want it to fit the needs of the community.” Some previous problems—such as limited access—disappeared on the second go-round. The city approached Backer and Valenziano about moving a Metrolink station to their site. The commuter rail will connect at Vista Canyon, which will provide more services and parking options for commuters. Addi-
tionally, the train station will anchor the walkable and transit-oriented village. The expanded 185-acre community will include seven parks and four miles of pedestrian, cycling, and equestrian trails. On the eastern side, Backer and Valenziano have planned multifamily apartments, townhomes, and courtyard homes. A town center with a pedestrian-friendly main street will house office space with ground-level retail, and Vista Square will offer a mix of restaurants, boutiques, specialty markets, hotels, open-air theaters, and other businesses. “This development has become what the city was looking for,” Backer says, adding that Santa Clarita was overloaded with amenities on its west side. During the approval process, JSB hosted or attended more than 80 community forums to solicit feedback. They uncovered many concerns, including those from residents who drive 10 miles to patronize drug stores, restaurants, and retailers across town. Vista Canyon provides much-needed balance, and its developers expect their project to generate 4,000 new jobs, $100 million in wages, and $5 million in tax revenue. Another important element of Vista Canyon is its River Education & Community Center, through which JSB will preserve and share the land’s history. “The valley has deep roots that date back before the turn of the century, and we don’t want to lose that,” Backer says. The land, settled by gold prospector Thomas Mitchell in the 1860s, was home to Santa Clarita’s first school. It still contains ancient oak trees and a historic cemetery. The site also includes a stretch of the Santa Clara River, which is dry most of the year. The Vista Canyon Bridge will span the river, creating Vista Canyon’s entry point.
The highlight of JSB Development’s revamped Vista Canyon master plan will be a walkable central corridor with a mix of restaurants, retailers, hotels, and theaters. The 185-acre community will also have seven parks, about four miles of pedestrian and cycling trails, and a Metrolink station.
5-foot concrete pedestrian walk 8-foot concrete pedestrian walk and bike path 12-foot decomposed-granite multiuse trail 15-foot asphalt-concrete or concrete walk and bike path 12-foot decomposed-granite equestrian trail Class II bike lanes
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The transit-focused, integrated project is truly a walkable community—a throwback to the days of Main Street America. It’s designed on a grid to minimize road impact. It connects all the way to downtown Los Angeles via Metrolink. Residents can walk to their jobs. Neighbors have spaces where they can interact. “We want it to be a special place,” Valenziano says. “We want Vista Canyon to have a positive impact.”
JSB is also working to build sustainable elements into the project. The very design of Vista Canyon will discourage and limit automobile use, and solar products, sun orientation, efficient systems, and waterconservation practices will further limit carbon emissions by almost 30 percent. Additionally, Vista Canyon will use only recycled water, supplied by a privately financed, new reclaimed-water factory with an output expected to exceed residential and commercial demand. The City of Santa Clarita will operate the reclamation plant and sell excess water to a local provider. Without the efforts of chief entitlement officer Glenn Adamick, Backer says, the water factory and the innumerable complexities of the Vista Canyon project would not have been possible. Despite the potential, projects of this size are difficult. Vista Canyon has been in the making since 2004, and JSB is finally
“There was nowhere to go for dinner, nowhere to go shopping, no hotels, and few jobs. People were driving 30 miles to Los Angeles for work and play.” Steve Valenziano, Development Partner
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LAND PLANNING & ENGINEERING INC.
PLANNING • CIVIL ENGINEERING • PROJECT COORDINATION
• Innovative Land Planning and Hillside Design • Feasibility Studies and Engineered Land Planning Concepts • Residential and Commercial Site Planning • Tentative Subdivision and Parcel Maps • Agency Processing
• Residential and Multi-family Subdivision • Mass/Fine Grading • Roadway Design and Improvement • Commercial and Industrial Site Planning and Engineering • Storm Drain, Sewer, and Water System Design and Analysis • Hydrology and Hydraulic Studies • Water Quality Design • Site Plans • Plot Plans • Agency Plan Processing • Surveying
• Due Diligence/Feasibility • Agency Coordination • Cost/Fee Estimating • Building Permit Processing
DEVELOPMENT collaborating with archiJSB Development expects its project to generate 4,000 tects to design the develnew jobs, $100 million in opment’s key buildings wages, and $5 million in while working to attract tax revenue. The firm went like-minded retail comto more than 80 community panies. The job is putting forums to understand area needs. Backer and Valenziano’s 50 years of combined exp erience to the test. “It’s been a wild ride,” Backer says. “It takes the full combination of all our consultants and partners to get something of this magnitude off the ground.” Vista Canyon’s part of Santa Clarita has been farmed and occupied since 1860. Now, 154 years later, the development is becoming the land’s first permanent settlement. But first, JSB will have to clear a final hurdle. Although the city council approved Vista Canyon in 2011, and though JSB has been hard at work cleaning up and relocating existing structures, the project has been sued under the California Environmental Quality Act—par for the course for a California project of such size. As Backer and Valenziano defend their project in court, they’re hoping to break ground in late 2014 or early 2015.
James S. Backer, President 27451 Tourney Road, #250 Valencia, CA 91355
(661) 255-3275 www.jsbdev.com OCT | NOV | DEC 2014
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Aging in Place— in Paradise Kisco Senior Living’s focus on local branding, a continuum of lifestyle options, and inclusive amenities and practices has led to Ilima at Leihano, its first property in Hawaii by Brian Justice
AWAII IS UNQUESTIONABLY BEAUTIFUL
and popular, but when it comes to property development, it remains one of the most statistically underserved markets in the United States. The high costs of land acquisition, construction, and labor— along with difficult regulatory, political, and entitlement processes—make for a limited supply of homes and unique building challenges, and many major players in real estate would rather just not bother with the
whole state. Andy Kohlberg, though, is not among them. The former ATP-ranked professional tennis player is now the president and CEO of Kisco Senior Living, and though the career transition may seem unusual, he says the lessons he learned as an athlete—preparation, discipline, focus, and understanding the competition—often come into play in his current venture. Starting with his first purchase of a Virginia Beach community in 1990, he has
“At the end of the day, residents and their families choose Kisco because we have better-trained people and a warm and friendly environment.” Andy Kohlberg, President & CEO
grown his company and developed more than 20 properties across the country, including, recently, Kisco’s first in Hawaii: Ilima at Leihano on the island of Oahu. This newest location is emblematic of the company’s specialty: developing properties in hard-to-enter markets. The 84-unit community, designed by Group 70 International, is scheduled to open in 2015, and it’s establishing itself in the area by conforming to regional styles and ideals. Like those of the firm’s other communities, Ilima at Leihano’s identity as a Kisco property is secondary. “We really believe that each community is a local business and that its identity is not as brand-driven as other residential or hospitality businesses such as hotels,” Kohlberg says. “Generally, our properties are known by their local name and not by a corporate brand, and at the end of the day, residents and their families choose Kisco because we have better-trained people and a warm and friendly environment. It’s really a local, hands-on business where the quality of the on-site staff is a key factor in determining success.” A prime example of the high quality of the on-site staff is the full-time wellness director, which each Kisco community has. The wellness director is responsible for that community’s health and wellness programs; the company encourages its residents to participate in a wide array of programs designed to help them live healthier, happier, more active lives. One such program is Stand Strong, designed to improve balance and reduce falls in order to help seniors stay mobile. Kisco communities also tend to be largescale campuses—for a variety of reasons, but mainly because the company is dedicated to offering multiple lifestyle options, including independent living, assisted living, and memory care. “Residents and their families want them to age in place and move through the continuum,” Kohlberg says. “It’s a more difficult operational challenge, but we’ve done well from a resident perspective.” Residents also want the comfort of knowing that, as their needs change, they can remain on the campus, in the community that becomes their home and around the friends and staff they come to know. Finally, larger communities enable Kisco to hire better executive
Kisco Senior Living’s Ilima at Leihano community, on the island of Oahu, is the company’s first in Hawaii. It’s scheduled to open in 2015, and it will have 84 units and conform to regional ideals and styles.
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directors and staff and update, improve, or add additional amenities such as multiple dining venues because costs are spread over a larger number of residents. Kohlberg sees the future of senior living being driven by the vastly different lifestyles and expanded expectations of the next generation of retirees. “The generation that’s coming through now lived through the Depression,” he says, “and they did not have a healthy lifestyle, exercising regularly or doing yoga, meditation, or tai chi. The next generation will be a very different group of customers. They are going to want more choices, they’re going to be willing to spend more money on themselves, and they’re going to expect more in terms of variety and quality of services.”
Frequent site visits and focus groups are key to maintaining the quality of Kisco’s communities, and they are, in fact, among the things that Kohlberg enjoys most about his role. Meetings with residents and front-line associates give Kohlberg insight into areas that need improvement, into the changing needs of residents, and into their expectations. “One of the questions I ask is, ‘Why did you choose to move to this community, and where did you move from?’” he says. “It gives me a good sense of what prospects and their families are really looking for when they’re moving to a community and what things we can do to continually improve our communities and services.” One of Kohlberg’s big goals for Kisco is to double its number of units from 3,500
to 7,000 within five Ilima is large and equipped to house years. “We’ve been residents as they move ver y successf ul … through the aging because we been continuum. The company selective and responalso encourages health sible in our growth, through a series of wellness programs. and I want to keep doing that,” he says. “That’s really our strategy, to just continue to implement and execute and evolve what’s been a successful strategy. … What differentiates Kisco is our warm and friendly environment. It’s part of our principles and values and beliefs, and when I ask residents why they chose one of our communities, 90 percent say, ‘The first time I walked in the door, I got a warm and friendly feeling. That’s why I chose to live here.’”
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OCT | NOV | DEC 2014
AUSPICIOUS SCRIBBLES Engineer Jay Park drew the DC UPS power-system design for Facebook’s new data centers on a napkin during a 2 a.m. fit of inspiration. It was so innovative that a patent for the design was just approved this year. The napkin now hangs framed in Facebook’s Menlo Park, CA, headquarters.
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STROKE OF GENIUS From a simple napkin doodle rose Jay Park’s concept for Facebook’s new, naturally cooled data centers, and the company is now sharing the idea for the betterment of all by Russ Klettke Dedicated in loving memory to Jay Park’s son, Jason Park, who wanted to become an engineer and make the world a better place to live
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ON SEPTEMBER 23, 2012, the New York Times ran a page-one article under the headline “Power, Pollution and the Internet.” Detailing the wasteful use of energy and water in data centers—especially those run by the largest and most recognized Internet-based companies—the roughly 4,300-word report ruffled many feathers in the digital world. But, its criticisms had (and continue to have) some validity. The use of energy and water (mostly for cooling, which the hot servers generate a considerable demand for) has been a tertiary concern in the ongoing hypergrowth era of the information revolution. E-commerce is an inventive and evolving industry on steroids, after all, where everyone from entrepreneurs to programmers to engineers are working 24–7 to devise smarter ways of doing what they do. Matters of resource use have fallen by the wayside because being the fastest, most robust, and failsafe is what has proven to be the real difference between a $140 billion IPO (for Facebook) and a $545 million loss (which Rupert Murdoch ate on MySpace). The reality of energy and water overuse in data centers is still real in many quarters, but it’s now a bit behind the times with regard to the work of Facebook—particularly that of Jay Park, the company’s vice president of data-center design, construction, and facility operations. In earlier stages of its explosive growth, the company operated under service-level agreements with third-party data centers (known as colocation companies), but when Park joined in 2009, he was the first person on staff whose mission was to build the company its own more efficient data center. And, he had to do it on a pace that matched the growth of the social networking behemoth, which went
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from 350 million users in 2009 to 1 billion by the end of 2012. He has since fixed the problem—and then some. Not only have he and his engineers devised new ways of configuring, locating, and building data centers; they’ve actually gone open-source with what they’ve learned, sharing it with the world. The real marvel, though, is that all their plans and designs can be traced back to a 2 a.m. sketch Park made when solving the matters of efficiency for himself. “It was in my mind,” Park says, recalling the night in 2009 when he had an epiphany and instinctively reached for the nearest available piece of paper: a dinner napkin. “I was constantly thinking and dreaming about it. I had to get rid of two components: inefficiency and the problems that can result when you make radical changes. Those problems included harmonics and short-circuited current.” In simplest terms, harmonics are undesirable voltage and current characteristics caused by nonlinear loads, such as servers, that cause power-quality issues and inefficiencies. Park wanted to do away with these.
Jay Park began by studying The following civil engineering in college, morning, he took but he soon switched to the napkin sketch— chemical engineering then which still exists, finally moved on to electrical framed on a wall engineering. “Controlling power is what I love,” he says. at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California—to the company’s chief hardware engineer, who examined it and declared Jay Park’s DC UPS system feasible. The world of data centers effectively changed that day; the two engineers were eventually proven right, and the system has since been patented. Power-usage effectiveness (PUE) and water-usage effectiveness are dramatically improved with Park’s configuration. And, it actually helped Facebook in a relatively short period of time. “Smart engineers try to utilize what’s already developed,” Park says. “We didn’t want to create something that was entirely new. We didn’t have three to five years to build.”
FACEBOOK’S SERVERS NOW RESIDE IN
350,000-square-foot data centers, the functionality of which depends largely on
Photo: (above) Sheila Barabad, (opposite, bottom) Alan Brandt
A ductless air-distribution system draws cold air in from the outdoors and pipes it into the server room of each of Facebook’s data centers, negating the need for chiller plants, cooling towers, and associated pipes and pumps.
the power-usage effectiveness rating of Facebook’s Prineville, OR, data center (the industry target is 1.5, and a perfect score is 1.0)
Facebook sought to reduce the 21–27% efficiency loss that plagues typical data centers. It did so by eliminating the need for a centralized uninterrupted power-supply system, and it now uses 38% less energy than its counterparts.
of Facebook’s Prineville data center is made from recycled materials
350,000 sq. ft. the size of each Facebook data center (currently there are three, and a fourth will open in 2015)
of construction waste was recycled during the building of the Prineville data center
outside economization is achieved by Facebook’s Prineville data center, eliminating the need for a chiller plant or cooling towers
air handling, outdoor temperatures, and humidity, making the location of each new center a primary concern. The first was sited in Prineville, Oregon, centered in the high desert climate of the state, where cooler and dryer air is a predominant local feature. “Nothing is cheaper than bringing in cool air from the outside,” Park says. The system inside each data center is capable of 100 percent outside economization and air-evaporative cooling and humidification, which means a chiller plant is not necessary nor are cooling towers or associated piping, pumps, or controls. Instead, ductless air distribution brings cooler air in via a built-up penthouse and sends it down into the data center through drywall airshafts. (The outdoor air is treated with direct evaporative cooling and humidification if necessary.) The cooler air enters through the front of the servers in the “cold aisles” and is exhausted into the “hot aisles,” which draw the hot air up through the ceiling plenum. In summer, the air is eventually expelled back outside, but in winter, the hot air is mixed with more outdoor air to achieve an optimal supply temperature to cool the servers. Then, waste heat from the servers is used to warm the centers’ office areas. Facebook data centers also feature a new power-distribution configuration (the DC UPS
system that Park sketched on his famous napkin) that influences everything from the incoming utility power to the server power-supply level. Park’s team, which now comprises 100 people, sought to reduce the 21–27 percent efficiency loss that is typical in data centers by eliminating the need for a centralized uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system and 480V and 208/120V power-distribution units. Instead, 480/277V power is supplied directly to a custom-designed power supply that also takes in 48VDC from a local battery backup system. The result is a set of buildings that consumes 38 percent less energy than comparably sized data centers. The Prineville location even achieved a PUE of 1.09 in 2013. (The industry target is 1.5, with 1.0 being the perfect score.) Additionally, the facility earned a LEED Gold certification and a Best of the Best citation from Engineering News-Record in 2011. Outside of air handling, its other LEED points came mainly from its recycled and locally sourced materials (which make up 27 and 30 percent of the building, respectively), its use of FSC-certified wood (which makes up 91 percent of the building), and its recycling of 530 tons of its construction waste. “LEED Gold is the standard of all our data centers,” Park says. There are currently two others—one in Forest City, North Carolina, and the other in Lulea, Sweden—and a fourth is scheduled to open in Altoona, Iowa, by 2015, powered entirely by a local wind farm. The Prineville center is run by a 100-kilowatt solar array, and clean, renewable hydroelectric energy runs the entire Lulea facility.
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Photo: Alan Brandt
Facebook sited its first data center in the high-altitude desert region of Oregon because the areaâ€™s cool, dry air is ideal for reducing heat loads inside the facility.
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SOCIAL MEDIA DATA CENTERS + OPEN SOURCE = A BETTER WORLD While no one can claim that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg actually held Jay Park’s middle-of-the-night design inscribed on a napkin, “he certainly heard about it,” Jay Park says. But, as crucial to the business as the innovation was, the social media entrepreneur had no intention of keeping it confidential and proprietary. In at least two ways, Facebook shares how the resource-stingy data centers are configured and constructed and how they are performing. First, the company established the Open Compute Project (OCP), applying open-source software models to hardware. Through a dedicated website (opencompute.org), the organization offers CAD files on eight key components of the new generation of data centers: the server, storage, data-center design, networking, hardware management, certification, open rack, and solution providers. Second, the company provides a dashboard (via a Facebook page, of course) that shares real-time readings of the centers’ power-usage effectiveness and water-usage effectiveness, broken down by the minute, day, week, month, quarter, and year. Why all this openness? “Mark says it’s better to share this with the world,” Park says. “Data centers are our core business, and we take energy savings very seriously, which is why he founded the OCP—so that everyone can save energy and help make our planet more green.”
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VISION In the summer, the air-distribution system at each of Facebook’s data centers expels hot air back outside. In the winter, it mixes the hot air with more cold air to achieve an optimal cooling temperature.
“Nothing is cheaper than bringing in cool air from the outside.” Jay Park, VP of Data-Center Design, Construction, and Facility Operations IF ANYONE WAS MEANT TO DEVISE THESE BREAKTHROUGHS, it was Jay Park. His edu-
cational path toward better server management took a circuitous route and began long before the term “social media” entered our lexicon. “I loved math as a child,” he says. “But when I started to study civil engineering in college, I knew mixing concrete was not for me.” Not that there’s anything wrong with it—after all, he acknowledges, the rapid deployment of Facebook’s facilities in remote locations took some smart and skilled civil engineers and construction people—but he decided instead to switch to chemical engineering, and after that he got into electrical engineering. “Controlling power is what I love,” he says.
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Through the better part of the 1990s, Park worked in the semiconductor industry and was even responsible for building a semiconductor plant. He observed that the industry was moving offshore, though—China surpassed the United States in semiconductor manufacturing in 2013, with Japan, Taiwan, and Korea already controlling well over half the global market—so by 1999 he had transferred his skills to data centers. The decision turned out to be a fruitful one for him personally, but his entire industry should be grateful that it happened, too, for his experience helped him to fundamentally alter the physical management of data. “We learn from everywhere, from everything we do,” he says. “We apply it everywhere as well.”
A MESSAGE FROM CUPERTINO ELECTRIC Electrical engineering and construction leader Cupertino Electric is pleased to join American Builders Quarterly in recognizing the talent of Jay Park. Cupertino Electric is a private company headquartered in San Jose, CA, that has provided expert engineering and construction services for a constantly evolving world for 60 years. Cupertino Electric is ranked one of the largest specialty contractors and solar EPC contractors in the nation, and it is renowned for designing, procuring, constructing, installing, commissioning, and maintaining complex electrical systems. The company delivers custom solutions for clients in a variety of industries, including biotech, commercial, data center, education, health care, hospitality, manufacturing, retail, solar, and transmission and distribution. For more information, visit www.cei.com. A MESSAGE FROM MCKENNEY’S McKenney’s is the Southeast’s most trusted name in facility construction, operation, and maintenance. For more than six decades, our proven approach has ensured high-quality, energy-efficient solutions at every stage of a building—design, build, manage, and maintain. McKenney’s offers expertise in HVAC, process piping, plumbing, and building automation and control systems as well as service and maintenance. Our in-house engineering, fabrication, installation, and commissioning resources ensure cost-effective delivery of the highest-quality solutions.
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Alliance Pipeline used an assembly-line-like process to weld the Tioga Lateral Pipeline together and bury it in sections. Teams were able to complete approximately 1â€“1.5 miles of the pipeline every 24 hours.
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FOR ITS LATEST TRICK, ALLIANCE PIPELINE USED MINIMALLY INVASIVE CONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUES TO HIDE THE TIOGA LATERAL PIPELINE BENEATH THE
FERTILE SOIL OF NORTH DAKOTA AND MAINTAIN THE STATE’S NATURAL BEAUTY
TEX T BY GEOFF GEORGE PHOTOS COURTESY OF ALLIANCE PIPELINE
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“I HAVE ALWAYS SAID I WOULD NOT HAVE
been president had it not been for my experience in North Dakota,” Theodore Roosevelt once said. He first visited the state in 1883, and seeing such natural wonders as the brilliant Painted Canyon formation in the west and the endless prairie fields in the east was a transformative experience that later inspired him, as the 26th president of the United States, to dedicate his administration to the preservation of the natural world. Today, despite the Peace Garden State’s oil and gas boom, much of the splendor that Roosevelt encountered and felt moved by still exists there, and the more responsible companies in the region’s rapidly growing industry are working to keep it that way. Among them is Alliance Pipeline, an Alberta-based transmission business recently tasked with the construction of the Tioga Lateral Pipeline— its first lateral pipeline in the United States— across 80.1 miles of the state’s northern half. The project gave the company the opportunity to prove its environmental and so-
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“We’re part of the community, and we want to make sure our impact is as minimal as it can be.”
cial-consciousness bona fides all over again for the people and places affected by the new line’s installation. “We’re part of the community, and Bill Watts we want to make sure our Senior Project Manager impact is as minimal as it can be,” senior project manager Bill Watts says. Alliance first got involved with the project through an agreement with Hess, a company that was working to update its gas-processing plant in Tioga, North Dakota. As a transmission business, Alliance is exclusively concerned with moving natural gas from one location to another, and its main pipeline—in service since 2000—runs 2,311 miles from northeastern British Columbia to distributors in Chicago. The Tioga Lateral Pipeline offered Hess a way to get its product to market. To begin work, Alliance first had to conceive, propose, and win approval from the
In total, the Tioga Lateral Pipeline required 8,000 joints of 12-inch-diameter pipe. Semitrucks transported 16 joints at a time to the pipeline route, where they were bent and shaped to conform to the landscape.
FULL ALLIANCE PIPELINE Taylor Blueberry
Morinville Irma Kerrobert
Estlin Alameda Towner
TIOGA LATERAL DETAIL
Olivia Albert Lea CHICAGO
White Earth River
Des Lacs River
White Earth River
Alliance’s central pipeline extends 2,311 miles from British Columbia to Chicago. Its new Tioga Lateral Pipeline runs 80.1 miles across North Dakota and links with the main line just south of the US-Canadian border.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the route of the pipeline from Tioga to the main line, which crosses over into the United States near Sherwood, North Dakota. In between are the Lostwood, Des Lacs, and Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuges, and Alliance had to take special care navigating around two and through one of them. The company also had to coordinate permitting with the various townships and counties it would be passing near and across, and it negotiated fees for damages with area farmers to compensate them for the farmland they would be prevented from using during the pipeline’s installation. Watts joined the project as construction began in October 2012, and his and his team’s main goal was to conduct all work as carefully and considerately as possible. “We want to make sure that the land disturbed for construction purposes is returned to the
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same state as it was prior to construction,” Watts says. “That means that we salvage the topsoil, we bring it back, we make sure there’s no compaction in the subsoil.” To do this, the construction team first sent out crews to establish a 75-foot-wide “right-of-way” for the pipeline. Starting at Tioga, personnel began stripping away topand subsoil in order to dig an eventual trench through the middle of the right-of-way. The soils were then stored along the sides of the route so that they could later be put back in the proper order, and they were covered by mulch to keep them from blowing away during winter winds or washing away during spring rains. The team then started stringing 12-inchdiameter steel pipe along the route, confining equipment and crews—of up to 300 people per day—to the right-of-way as semitrucks delivered 16 joints of pipe at a time to be bent and welded. North Dakota has a “knob and kettle” terrain consisting of shallow depressions and low hills that were formed millennia ago when glaciers traversed the land, so Alliance’s piping had to be shaped and arranged to conform to the slight changes in
elevation. Following the welding, crews dug the actual trenches for the pipe, specialized tracked machines referred to as “side booms” helped lower the pieces into the ground, and, finally, more equipment helped backfill the trenches and return the topsoil. The whole process was carried out continuously in assembly-line fashion each day, and crews completed roughly a mile to a mile and a half of the pipeline every 24 hours. The total 8,000 joints of pipe for the project also came precoated with fusion-bond epoxy, which prevents corrosion, and each installed section underwent hydrostatic testing, which essentially entailed filling the pipe with water to check for leaks and ensure that each section could withstand a pressure of at least 1.25 times that of the maximum operating pressure. The biggest obstacles along the route were the three waterways the pipeline had to cross: the White Earth, Des Lacs, and Souris Rivers. The line had to go under each one, and though the White Earth was small enough to pose little challenge, the other two were significantly wider, requiring the Alliance team to employ a sophisticated horizontal-directional drill (HDD). The remote-controlled device dug
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All of Alliance’s personnel and equipment had to be confined to a right-of-way that was only 75 feet wide for most of the pipeline route. The company did this to disturb the surrounding land as little as possible.
24 -inch-wide tunnels beneath both rivers, the deepest and longest running 80 feet below the bottom of the Des Lacs for a little more than a mile. For two river crossings along the route, Alliance Once that was done, used a horizontal-directit was just a matter ional drill to dig 24-inchof pulling sections diameter tunnels under of pipe t hrough the water, and it then strung pipe through each each hole and linkhole. One tunnel stretched ing them together. more than a mile. Crews were careful to maintain proper pressure in both HDDs, though, in order to avoid a release that could have tainted either of the waterways with bentonite drilling fluid. A pair of Alliance-hired environmental inspectors and a compliance monitor appointed by the FERC were on hand throughout the construction process to ensure that the company adhered to the highest safety and environmental-preservation standards. Alliance had done research before submitting its proposal, and in addition to the typical eco-
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logical concerns, it determined that, because of the project’s many water crossings, there were two sensitive bird species it needed to watch for: the bald eagle and the piping plover. “Largely, that was mitigated by constructing in the late fall and wintertime, to be sure those species had migrated away,” Watts says. Alliance completed the pipeline in September 2013, and it took five days to “commission” it, which Watts explains as, “You’re essentially energizing your systems. It’s when you bring natural gas into the line for the first time. ... You’re testing your tubing to make sure all your instrumentation is correct and working.” The commissioning was a success, and since then, Alliance has been following up all along the pipeline route, reseeding areas of native prairie and grassland and conducting surveys to ensure bald eagle and piping plover habitats haven’t been impacted. And, 95 percent of the farmland should already be usable again for the coming season, Watts says, adding, “We want the landowners and farmers to be using the land as they were using it prior to construction.” In the wrong hands, naural gas can be a volatile substance, but Alliance’s extreme
“Ultimately, it’s our intent that, five years out, you wouldn’t know there’s a pipeline under there except for the pipeline marker signs.” Bill Watts Senior Project Manager
caution during construction and after helps prevent accidents and incidents along its lines. The company also encourages any nearby landowners to call in issues right away so that it can address them within 48 hours. And, by paying just as much attention to environmental concerns, Alliance is ensuring that the North Dakota landscape will continue to appear almost as untouched as when Roosevelt first laid eyes on it. “Ultimately,” Watts says, “it’s our intent that, five years out, you wouldn’t know there’s a pipeline under there except for the pipeline marker signs.”
Building in the 99th Percentile
Mark and Melissa Wahl build sustainable custom homes in Michigan. Seen here is the kitchen area of one of two dwellings the company has built to the Department of Energyâ€™s Zero Energy Ready Home standards.
Only one hundredth of existing homes meet the guidelines of the Department of Energyâ€™s Zero Energy Ready Home program, and Cobblestone Homes has built two of them BY JULIE SCHAEFFER
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“We initially found [HVAC-systems requirements] very challenging, and a lot of builders dropped out of the program because of it. Now we think it isn’t stringent enough.” Melissa Wahl Owner
200 square miles of water
In 2008, Cobblestone partnered with the American Lung Association on the “Health Home” project, which taught the Wahls the importance of passively controlling radon, which is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. “At the time, 25,000 people died a year because of small increments of radon exposure over an extended period of time,” Melissa says. “I was appalled that smoke detectors are mandatory in every home when only 2,500 people die in house fires a year, but we weren’t doing anything about radon. Today, we put passive radon detectors in every home.”
1st LEED home
The first Cobblestone project was a spec home, and the Wahls thought they’d do more of those, but “we found our true passion in custom-home building,” Melissa says. She stopped work on a postgraduate degree in education to start her business, and in the 14 years since, she and Mark have developed a number of processes similar to those used by production homebuilders. “It’s strange to mesh custom homebuilding with the systems of a production builder, but it’s a model that works for us,” Melissa says. The company now builds 50–60 homes a year, 90 percent of which are custom, the rest are spec homes.
100% Energy Star-certified
Per the Zero Energy Ready Home rules, this Cobblestone home has an HVAC system that can pass the most rigorous testing, even in the cold clime of the Great Lakes Bay region.
In 2006, Cobblestone was the first company in the tri-city region to win Michigan’s Energy Star grant. And, in 2007, it built the area’s first Green Built Michigan home.
Mark and Melissa Wahl founded Saginaw, Michigan-based Cobblestone Homes around the year 2000, after already remodeling a number of homes. Originally, the couple planned to rent the houses they constructed, but after speaking with some friends in the business, they realized they could serve a space in the market by selling. “We saw a need for homes that are energy-efficient and showcase top craftsmanship but also represent a tremendous value,” Melissa says. The business now serves Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay region, the state’s largest watershed. Comprising four counties, the region features nine different rivers that intertwine and drain into Saginaw Bay; because of these waterways, approximately 200 square miles of the region is H 2O. The water and other natural resources are a major draw to the area.
Every year since 2005, Cobblestone has embraced at least one project that has challenged the firm in terms of building-science knowledge and business practices. “We say, ‘We’re going to use this as a growth project. What can we learn from it? What will we take away from it to use in our everyday work?’” Melissa says. In 2005, for instance, the company committed to building 100 percent of its homes to reach Energy Star certification.
25,000 deaths per year
in Great Lakes Bay
As it developed, Cobblestone Homes continued its efforts in sustainability, even constructing its region’s first LEED Gold home and—along with partners such as Dow Chemical Company—Michigan’s first net-zero energy home. By 2011, however, the Wahls wanted a new challenge. Melissa says she asked herself, “What can take us to the next level?” She found her answer in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Zero Energy Ready Home initiative.
1% of homes
The Zero Energy Ready Home project guidelines are so strict that only one percent of all homes currently meet them, and the energy standards, Melissa says, are particularly tough for many builders. Like Energy Star, the DOE requires an HVAC system that is sized properly and sealed tightly enough to pass the harshest testing, and this can be difficult to achieve in Michigan’s colder climate. “Two years ago, when we began [sizing and testing HVAC systems] for Energy Star, we initially found it very challenging, and a lot of builders dropped out of the program because of it,” Melissa says. “Now we think it isn’t stringent enough.”
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The Cobblestone home is also outfitted for solar shingles, and it has an owner-operated controlled-recirculation pump that can heat water before it pours from the tap so that none goes wasted.
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Today, Cobblestone is finishing its first two Zero Energy Ready Home projects: one has solar shingles, and one is ready for solar shingles if the homeowners want to install them. However, the locations’ energy efficiency was less challenging to the Wahls than their waterdelivery systems. Potable water makes up just two percent of the world’s water supply, so to conserve it, the Zero Energy Ready Home standards require builders to find ways to reduce the amount of water that goes down the drain when users are waiting for the delivery of hot water. “When you turn on a faucet, you can’t have more than 0.6 gallons flow before the water gets hot, which has to happen within a certain time limit,” Melissa says. The obvious solution was a continuous recirculation line in the hot-water tank that would constantly pump hot water through pipes, but the DOE objected on the grounds that it would consume energy. “We really had to look at how we were plumbing homes,” Melissa says, explaining that ultimately she chose an owner-operated controlled-recirculation pump. “You get up in the morning and go into the bathroom, and instead of turning on the faucet, you push a button, get undressed, and 30 seconds later have hot water.”
FULL SERVICE MECHANICAL CONTRACTOR A MESSAGE FROM PROBUILD ProBuild is one of the nation’s largest suppliers of lumber and building materials to professional builders and contractors. ProBuild currently operates in 42 US states and sells a broad selection of building materials, including lumber, plywood, engineered wood, millwork, trusses, roofing, siding, windows, doors, and cabinets. To learn more about ProBuild, visit www.probuild.com.
Plumbing | Process Piping | Pipe Fabrication | HVAC High Purity Orbital Welding | Clean Room Pipe Prefabrication Institutional Lab Plumbing | Data Center HVAC | Engineering/Design Build 3D CAD/Coordination | QA/QC | Service/Repair/Maintenance
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THE BOOMERANG EFFECT As big players exit legacy R&D campuses, smaller tenants need help taking them over, and ProTecs and Advance Realty are doing their part with the newly refurbished and apportioned New Jersey Center of Excellence at Bridgewater BY ZACH BALIVA
IT’S 1985, and John is a clinical researcher at the region’s largest pharmaceutical company. Each day, he commutes 40 minutes to work. When he arrives at the sprawling campus surrounded by razor wire, big iron gates swing open, and he presents a tattered ID badge to a security officer. He works all day in a sterile environment, only pausing to select a mediocre meal from the 40,000-square-foot cafeteria. John dines alone. Thankfully, those days are long gone. The modern workplace culture is changing, and big pharma is changing with it. Over the past decade, due to financial concerns, major corporations have moved away from humongous R&D campuses and instead outsourced the work, funding small biotech companies that each work toward one “sure thing.” Collaboration is key, and businesses are looking
for creative space that will foster these new relationships. Enter ProTecs. ProTecs is a nationwide design-build and construction-management firm. Christopher R. DiPaolo founded it nine years ago when he noticed smaller tech companies were leasing modest single-story flex space throughout the marketplace and larger companies were starting to farm out more of their R&D and manufacturing operations. He works with tenants and landlords to deliver high-tech facilities at the lowest possible price through a patented project-delivery system he calls “Target Costing.” The process focuses on performance, conformance, and price guarantees at the earliest onset of a project. Basically, DiPaolo and vice president of operations Jay McKenna are catering to displaced scientists who can’t afford to purchase and renovate buildings at $400–$500 per square foot or more. “We can get them into a building suited for their needs at an eighth of the cost,” DiPaolo says. “It’s a huge benefit for jobs, the local markets, and the industry.”
ProTecs and Advance Realty are creating the New Jersey Center of Excellence at Bridgewater from the skeleton of the former campus of pharma giant Sanofi.
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ProTecs and Advance are transforming the Bridgewater campus into an incubator that will accommodate research firms of varying sizes rather than one big tenant.
IN 2011, PROTECS SIGNED a lease-to-own agreement on a multitenant property once owned by a large REIT that didn’t have the vision or patience to create a life science innovation center. The company targeted smaller start-ups as potential tenants and had full occupancy within 15 months of purchasing the property. Then, Ashland, a specialty chemical and technology company, hired ProTecs to help it relocate. ProTecs found a spot in Bridgewater, New Jersey, on an expansive parcel once owned by pharma giant Sanofi. The Bridgewater site comprises 1.2 million square feet spread over 110 acres. Sanofi exited in 2012, leaving behind a centrally located and well-maintained facility with labs, research facilities, meeting rooms, offices, parking structures, café space, a central utility plant, a cogeneration system, basketball courts, and even a helipad. ProTecs repurposed one of the site’s pharmaceutical buildings for Ashland, who ended up leasing 198,000 square feet. That’s when Sanofi sold the site to a developer, Advance Realty, who liked what ProTecs did and hired the company to work on the rest of the campus, now called the New Jersey Center of Excellence at Bridgewater. Kurt Padavano is the COO of Advance Realty. His company has been in the market for 50 years and became attracted to the Bridgewater location and its infrastructure. Advance’s plan is to retain 850,000 square feet of mod-
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“We have the opportunity to create a new product out of something that has been a gated research campus for 50 years.” Kurt Padavano COO, Advance Realty
ern lab, research, and development space and demolish 350,000 square feet that has become obsolete. Then, the company will build 450 apartment units, 200,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, new offices, new labs, and a hotel. “We have the opportunity to create a new product out of something that’s been a gated research campus for 50 years,” Padavano says. “It will now become part of the community again and meet the needs of today’s users.” Sustainable features, ample green space, walkways, and bike paths will combine to create a comfortable site where people can reside, eat, shop, and visit. The Center of Excellence will be open to the public and will truly connect back to its community. “As we look at the changing demographics of the workforce, we see that younger professionals increasingly value a live-work-play atmosphere,” Padavano says.
MCKENNA AND PROTECS HOPE the project catalyzes what he calls a “boomerang effect.” The site’s previous tenant had a huge facility it didn’t need, and few (if any) new single tenants were big enough to use the large space on their own. When large, specialized companies exit a municipality, they often displace hundreds of workers with very specific talents. Those people either leave the community in search of a job or pool their resources to launch a new company. But, if they launch a new company, they have nowhere to go. That’s the problem the Center of Excellence is built to address. “We hope to create a space where someone with a viable company can come, grow that company, and add employees,” McKenna says. “Before long, we’ll see a number of successful organizations that are the next acquisition targets for big pharma.” The model will also stimulate the local Bridgewater economy by helping retain taxes and jobs. After ProTecs used its patented Targeted Costing system to get Ashland into the Center of Excellence on time and on budget, Advance found a second tenant (a drug manufacturer) to take 150,000 square feet. Advance will accommodate users of 50,000 square feet and above in single buildings and subdivide structures for smaller tenants. The biggest challenge will be metering utilities, allocating costs, and splitting common areas such as loading docks, elevators, and mechanical rooms, but Padavano says his company’s deep experience with multitenant projects is helping it provide solutions. He’ll also rely on Advance’s relationship with ProTecs and DiPaolo’s process that provides guaranteed up-front costs. “We’re project-driven to meet all of our clients’ goals and objectives—whereas everyone else is task-driven,” DiPaolo says. By doing repeat work at Bridgewater, he’s able to understand more fully the cost and performance goals and then work with all disciplines to get everyone on the same page. Padavano and DiPaolo see huge potential for the Center of Excellence to have an impact on both the local economy and the scientific community. In fact, DiPaolo is so convinced that he’s planning to move in. Later this year, ProTecs will open a full-service office of its own on the campus.
Surviving in Sin City Even Las Vegas wasn’t immune to the economic downturn, but construction firm Mountain Vista Development managed to make it through to the other side thanks to its adaptability
BY JULIE SCHAEFFER
IN THE PAST 50 YEARS, Las Vegas has played host to some of the largest construction projects in the world, reveling in its adult-playground reputation and widespread popularity. Then, in 2009, everything changed. “We saw construction firms that in the past wouldn’t move a muscle for contracts under $10 million now competing for contracts under $100,000,” says Josh Hainsworth, vice president of Mountain Vista Development, Inc. The city watched development come to a halt seemingly at once. Homebuilders and contractors lost almost all their work and turned to commercial and government jobs, but then those projects dried up as well. This created aggressive competition for the small amount of work that was still available, and prices dropped drastically. Small margins led companies to close their doors or leave the
state, and that, in turn, gave rise to another wave of competition as many contractors and subcontractors started working for themselves. It was the only way they could afford to work for the small margins the market would allow. “The downturn of the economy hit us hard and fast,” Hainsworth says. “We were forced to reduce our overhead, including downsizing employees and internal systems and services that were no longer cost-effective.” Such measures, though, allowed Mountain Vista to compete at very low margins, and though those margins didn’t translate to profitability, they allowed the firm to keep its doors open and focus on new areas, including government work. “We started to focus on where government funding was being spent and found that there were sizable allocations being made for projects that allowed for energy-efficiency retrofits and new green building,” Hainsworth says. “We put a lot of our energy into competing for these contracts and were successful.” Using this approach, the firm won a competitive-bid process to refurbish two buildings for the Seigle Diagnostic Center, where students of the Clark County School District obtain evaluations for speech impairment, hearing problems, traumatic brain injury, and associated maladies. The $4.5 million project involved the renovation of 40,000 square feet of interior offices, including a complete interior demolition and build-out, and, outside, refurbishment of the landscaping and the asphalt parking lot. “The plans By concentrating on projects with government funding, Mountain Vista Development found and won the bid for the $4.5 million renovation of the Seigle Diagnostic Center. The firm demolished and rebuilt the interior. At the same time, the company completed work on seven projects for the Caliente Youth Center, including improvements to dorms and construction of a 2,000-squarefoot recreation building, shown here.
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“For those of us lucky enough to still be in business, chances [are] starting to get better for being awarded new work.” Josh Hainsworth, VP
started with ambiguity, so we worked to create solutions from the start rather than wait for change orders to occur,” Hainsworth says. The revamped facility opened in 2010. As that project was winding down, Mountain Vista also completed seven concurrent projects for the Caliente Youth Center in accordance with its contract with the Nevada State Public Works Board (NSPWB). Per the contract, the firm was to provide design assistance, value-engineering proposals, and complex budgeting and scheduling options in order to calculate the most cost-efficient way to complete all seven projects. The first phase
involved improvements to four dormitories and the surrounding site; the second phase entailed the demolishing and rebuilding of a swimming pool with new concrete, reinforcing plaster, deck finishes, and equipment and connections for a solar heating system; and the third phase called for the construction of a 2,000-square-foot recreation building. With Mountain Vista’s help, the NSPWB saved more than $400,000 in construction costs on the $4.5 million project. Such work kept the firm in business, and by early 2013, the downturn had thinned its herd of competitors. “The amount of work
wasn’t increasing, but for those of us lucky enough to still be in business, chances were starting to get better for being awarded new work,” Hainsworth says. He also started seeing an increase in the number of property owners feeling out the market for new projects, and by early 2014, work began to steadily pick up for the first time in more than five years. “Now we are nearing the end of the second quarter of 2014 and are still seeing the same levels of growth,” Hainsworth says. “We’ve been inundated with calls for new projects and requests for proposals across the board; from commercial, residential, and government contracts, the potential projects are everywhere.” Because of the firm’s initial downsizing, however, it’s conservative when it comes to increasing spending and allocating resources to obtain this new work. “Our idea is to grow slowly but steadily back to a level where we are comfortable operating,” Hainsworth says. “We hope that by the end of 2015, we will be back to where we want to be.”
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Jefferson Crossing, Connecticut Many developers shied away from the best piece of real estate in Farmington, Connecticut, because of environmental restrictions protecting the endangered Jefferson salamander. Fore Group, however, took on the project. Working with a herpetologist and environmental scientists to provide a sustainable environment for humans as well as amphibians, the company created a road and, along it, designed seven high-end homes with brick exteriors, slate roofs, and copper gutters that elicit the quality and luxury of the early 1900s. The 20.6-acre development is adjacent to a Metropolitan District Commission reservoir property, and Fore Group also donated five of its acres to the Farmington Land Trust, surrounding its homes with vegetation to provide exceptional privacy.
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“We’re polished compared to other builders. We can speak to the CEOs and CFOs at their level.” Fore Group founder Fotis Dulos explains how he parlayed his interest in architecture and his experience in management consulting into a career as a luxury residential developer
INTERVIEW BY JULIE SCHAEFFER
When you founded Fore Group in 2004, you were working as a management consultant. What inspired the change? I’d always been interested in real estate. I grew up watching my sister, who is 13 years older than I am, flourish in a career as an architect, and I like the aesthetics of nice homes. So, I financed a home for a builder and paid very close attention to what he was doing. I realized it’s a pretty straightforward process and leverages a lot of the experiences I had in management consulting. Can you talk about that a little more? In management consulting, there’s project management, issue management, scope management, change management—and all of these things are directly transferable to construction projects, especially to highend residential projects. The clients are also very similar. I used to deal with CEOs and CFOS, and with high-end construction
projects, you’re dealing with individuals that are equally successful—they either own their own companies or work at this same level of executive positions. What inspired you to focus on the luxury market? The amount of effort you put into building a house is similar whether it’s lower-end or higher-end, so it made sense to focus on the higher end. So, we typically work on homes that range from 4,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet and are priced between $1.5 million and $9 million. Was it a tough market to break into? We didn’t have the client confidence to go straight to the super high end from the beginning, so we did some spec homes. People quickly realized we had the capability, so we got some custom work. But, as it turns out, we’re really fitted to the high end of the market.
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“[Clients are] very interested in design and architecture. ... We give them all the relevant information and let them make the decisions, and they make the right ones.” Fotis Dulos Founder
Each of Jefferson Crossing’s seven homes will be tucked away among the green trees of the larger Farmington Land Trust, which Fore Group donated five acres of its land to.
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How so? We understand the client and vice versa. All of us at Fore Group have solid educational backgrounds, and most of us have worked in finance. As a result, we can speak to our clients at their level. They’re smart. They understand the analytics—how you’re costing the project, sequencing it, managing it. They’re interested in the details, down to the structural. And they’re very interested in design and architecture. That’s important, because there are a lot of decisions to be made: it takes around six months to complete a smaller home, as many as two years to complete a larger one. We give them all the relevant information and let them make the decisions, and they make the right ones.
House on Block Island, Rhode Island Block Island, which has about 40 percent of its land set aside for conservation, was named by the Nature Conservancy as one of the 12 “last great places.” Home to just a little more than 1,000 people, it’s now the site of one of Fore Group’s most notable projects. Although the home may have a traditional exterior, inside it’s a testament to all that is modern. Designed by celebrated architect Peter Bohlin, who is perhaps best known for designing the Apple stores, the home uses steel and natural materials, including a green roof, to complement its position on a bluff some 200 feet from the ocean. “It was a great learning experience for us,” Dulos says.
A MESSAGE FROM SANFORD & HAWLEY Sanford & Hawley has been supplying quality builders for more than 130 years from our locations in Unionville, Avon, and Manchester, CT, and West Springfield, MA. All locations are in the OSHA SHARP program.
Has your business model changed over the years? Not much. We started in the Farmington Valley in Connecticut, which is about 15 minutes away from Hartford. It’s a beautiful suburban area, but the goal was to eventually expand, and we did, working in New York and Rhode Island. And, while we started at a 50-50 balance between custom and spec homes, we’re now more like 75-25, but we’re still focused on the high end. What are people looking for in luxury homes today? The typical house around here is a traditional colonial-style home, and we do that well. But what sets us apart is our ability to do modern as well. It’s much more expensive per square foot and is harder to do. The architect is much more involved, and you can’t make mistakes in construction because everything is visible. I liken it to watching someone downhill skiing. The better they are, the easier it looks. It’s the same with homes. The simpler it looks, the harder it is.