American Builders Quarterly: Issue 37

Page 1

november/december 2010

lord foster takes flight, p.10

Platinum Water Resources, p.74 Housing Authorities Go Green, p.50


the little red schoolhouse The Camino Nuevo Charter Academy

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contents FEATURES 68 Reimagining the Little Red

Schoolhouse: The Camino Nuevo Charter Academy Daly Genik Architects, based in California, has reimagined how a public school looks and functions, with its four unique charterschool designs in downtown Los Angeles.

74 Water Works: The Watsonville

Water Operations Center

WRNS Studios designed this $11 million dollar, LEED Platinum-certified structure, which serves as a functional, educational, and visual extension of the Northern California water-recycling plant it supports.

p. 68 Students congregate at the Daly Genikdesigned Camino Nuevo Elementary School, one of four unique projects for the Camino Nuevo Charter Academy in Los Angeles.

Commercial Construction 16 caliber construction, inc. creates unique spaces that work hard for commercial clients.

18 j. benton construction, llc builds in the rugged conditions and unpredictable weather of the Caribbean Islands.

21 bell | knott + associates specializes in corporate structures that require both technology and security.

24 ram design + build has diversified

41 d’onofrio general contractors corp. specializes in underwater-construction projects throughout the NYC metro area.

Unique Products 43 strike tool changed the concrete

p. 32 Wheeler Kearns Architects designed this new state-of-the-art facility in the Trinity Christian College Art and Communication Center, which includes various classrooms, studios, and gathering spaces for students.

industry with the invention of its first product, a plastic spacer that eliminates rust and reduces freight costs.

its services to survive the tough retial marketplace.

26 david smith construction, inc. works in the commercial building market while also maintaining a family-owned retail location.

Designs for Education 28 george w. auch company took on the challenge of designing an educational facility for handicapped students.

30 larosa building group, llc takes on complex educational building projects throughout the East Coast.

32 wheeler kearns architects motivates clients to think “outside the box� when creating educational spaces.

Medical Facilities 35 deardorff, pang & weymiller, inc. has capitalized on the ever-growing demand for medical facilities.

37 fazio architects specializes in designing stylish, spa-like dental offices.

Marine Construction 39 rda construction corp. is a leader in marine and civil construction, specializing in above underwater construction.

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


p. 110 Preston T. Phillips Architects designed this Naples, FL, home in a zigzag fashion, allowing it to take advantage of the home’s views of Naples Bay and the surrounding area.

45 appalachian log structures, inc. has taken a pioneering role in loghome preservation.

48 jpi glass’ custom window installations on commercial projects have led to work in more-specialized markets.

Public Housing 50 the housing authority of the city of los angeles revitalizes existing projects and builds sustainable housing for generations to come.

52 the st. louis housing authority is pursuing public-private partnerships that bring quality construction to their public-housing sites

Building Amenities 55 ncg architects, inc. is an awardwinning firm specializing in custom design for residential, resort, and clubhouse work.

58 zausmer, frisch, scruton & aggarwal, inc., a design-build firm, works to provide creative solutions to office-improvement projects.

60 naiztat + ham architects creates amenity spaces for New York high-rises to improve common areas that attract and retain tenants.

62 ce hall enterprises creates clubhouses and lodges with authentic Southern style.

64 ethelind coblin architect, pc does extensive renovation work on Manhattan condominiums and apartment buildings.

Community Builders 80 bowman bowman novick inc. seamlessly integrates nature and architecture through a diverse portfolio.

82 jackson & ryan architects proposes unique designs in architectural projects that serve the public.

85 homeaid has provided nonprofit resources to build 1.4 million square feet of homeless shelters nationwide.

6 american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010

88 dick otke construction company works with organizations like Habitat for Humanity to utilize its building expertise.

Multifamily Developments 92 hathaway construction prides itself on skilled employees and quality construction for Atlanta’s multifamily market.

94 slce architects is well known throughout New York City for its efficient and elegant residential high-rises.

97 em design group utilizes its staff’s diverse architectural backgrounds and specialties to create unique residences throughout New York City.

Custom Residential 100 jaycox-reinel architects takes a specialized approach to residential architecture, incorporating unique and classic details.

contents 103 k. hovnanian homes has rebranded as a specialist in energy-efficient designs in the ever-changing Florida market.

105 lanco general contractor, inc. remodels and renovates homes with a custom touch.

107 burda construction corp. renovates historic brownstones in high-end areas of Brooklyn and Manhattan.

p. 14

Plus 8 editor’s note 10 american spaces 14 abq building excellence awards call for entries

Designed by Pugh + Scarpa Architects, Step Up on Fifth is an innovative mixed-use project in Los Angeles that provides housing, support services, and rehabilitation to the mentally disabled and the formerly homeless.

130 materiality

110 preston t. phillips architect creates innovative residential properties as it caters to clients’ tastes for modern design.

Niche Services 114 ameridian specialty services, inc. has pinpointed growth opportunities ranging from federal contract work to solar-energy initiatives.

118 bennett building systems, inc. specializes in custom-designed and -built metal structures.

120 wilkstone llc has made its reputation with stonework on New York City’s monumental high-rise lobbies, plazas, and indoor showpieces.

122 protecs works for high-tech clients to minimize their financial, performance, and conformance risks.

124 mcnolty mechanical is a piping contractor that specializes in mechanical installations and precision welding.

126 econo air specializes in residential and commercial, high-end, and ultra-highefficiency HVAC products.

128 rosso paving & drainage, inc. provides new construction for city and county bidding, as well as renovations in the private sector.

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


editor’s note

Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, p. 68

Photo: Nic Lehoux


his issue of American Builders Quarterly covers the American building market with an eclectic and comprehensive view of the industry’s latest trends. I am happy to report that a number of the building projects featured not only stand out in design and implementation but also in the way the buildings serve their surrounding communities.

Our cover story discusses the Camino Nuevo Charter Academy development, designed by Daly Genik Architects, which has changed the face of Los Angeles public schools (p. 68). Pueblo Nuevo Development, a nonprofit community-development organization based in Los Angeles, operates the charter schools, and has been working over the past decade to elevate one of the poorest communities in Los Angeles. Now, through the redesigned and reconceptualized charter-school complex, Pueblo Nuevo is building a ladder out of poverty for the children and families in its community. Daly Genik Architects has formed a close bond with the organization and the CNCA school system, and takes great pride in the now-completed school buildings. Kevin Daly, design principal on the project proudly states, “Like Pueblo Nuevo, we believe in the transformative power of small changes. An important part of the work we have done with the Camino Nuevo schools has been to reimagine the context of the buildings, and I think this is similar to what they do in reimagining the way the education system should work.” As you explore this issue of ABQ , we encourage you to draw inspiration from our featured projects and to think about your own contributions to the construction community. ABQ has always covered builders who embody excellence in their fields, and as we approach our firstever Building Excellence Awards, we continue that tradition proudly. I look forward to featuring the best of what the American building community has to offer. As always, we hope the articles in this issue motivate, inform, and inspire your work. Enjoy.

Molly Soat Features Editor

Introducing the all-new • View the latest issue of American Builders Quarterly® in a full-sized readable format • Get inspired by featured projects, builders, architects, and designers • Discover what’s in store for upcoming issues, and how your company can get involved • Find out what events the American Builders Quarterly® staff will be attending and more!





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The initial master-planning study of the campus revealed the ideal development site would be adjacent to Wright’s celebrated Johnson Wax Administration Building and Research Tower.

american spaces

fortaleza hall The work of Foster + Partners—a London-based architecture firm that is devoted to high-quality, modern design—has been added to the list of impressive architecture featured on the SC Johnson headquarters campus in Racine, Wisconsin. The iconic campus, which features work by renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, now includes Fortaleza Hall and The Commons, two new buildings linked by an entrance atrium, which continue the campus’ tradition of high-quality, inspired architecture. The contemporary, minimalist building celebrates the 15,000-mile flight made to Brazil by H.F. Johnson Jr. in 1935 to see the source of the Carnaúba palm tree, whose leaves were used to make the company’s most famous product—wax. Sam Johnson, the late SC Johnson chairman and grandson of H.F. Johnson Jr., recreated this epic flight with his sons in 1998, and Fortaleza Hall houses the plane used in their journey. The new buildings, which anchor an area conceived as a “town square,” serve as both a memorial to Sam and as a new central gathering place for SC Johnson staff members. Fortalezza Hall was built in collaboration with A. Epstein and Sons Inc., Chicago architects; Ralph Appelbaum Associates, New York designers; Buro Happold, structural engineers from New York; and Cosentini Associates, MEP engineers from Chicago.

Fortaleza Hall achieved LEED Silver certification from the USGBC thanks to its use of sustainable, local and efficient materials, like these carved benches.

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Photos: James Steinkamp


Foster + Partners designed the multilevel Fortaleza Hall to have an oval-shaped atrium flanked by various dining and gathering areas. One entire floor of the 68,000-square-foot building (40 feet tall, 132 feet long, and 86 feet wide) is below ground level, giving the structure a low profile that belies its actual size. LOWER LEVEL



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The floor of the central atrium features an inlaid wooden map, and the surrounding walls are acid-etched with a mural of the Brazilian rainforest to subtly evoke the spirit of the expedition.

Fortaleza Hall houses a replica of the plane H.F. Johnson flew in his journey to Brazil. The plane serves as the focal point, and the oval-shaped room gives spectators a 360-degree view of the aircraft.

The entrance atrium wraps between the masonry Commons and the glassy central space of Fortaleza Hall. It includes a lush green wall, floor-to-ceiling waterfall feature, a grand staircase, and a reflecting pool.


Photo: SC Johnson

THE SC JOHNSON CAMPUS Today the SC Johnson headquarters is, more than ever, an architectural showcase. Home to Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic 1939 Johnson Wax Administration Building and 1950 Research Tower, the SC Johnson campus is studied by architects the world over. “Fortaleza Hall has given us a unique opportunity to work alongside one of the finest Modern buildings in the world—the Johnson Wax building—and to tell a remarkable story of adventure and discovery,” says Norman Foster, chairman of Foster + Partners. “H.F. Johnson’s decision to commission Frank Lloyd Wright was an inspiring act of architectural patronage, as was our brief to design both Fortaleza Hall and the Community Building. This project celebrates a pioneering family, a remarkable company and an historic journey.” Photos: James Steinkamp


american spaces

step up Located in Santa Monica, California, Step Up on Fifth is an innovative, mixed-use urban-infill project providing housing, support services, and rehabilitation for mentally disabled and previously homeless individuals. Designed by Pugh + Scarpa Architects, the structure is comprised of 46 studio apartments of permanent affordable housing. The eye-catching faรงade features a multicolored, perforated-aluminum screen system that provides shade and privacy, while enhancing the existing streetscape and promoting a lively pedestrian environment (top right, bottom right). The 31,600-square-foot, five-story development also features a computer lab, parking, and community rooms that overlook the communal courtyards, which serve as the primary social spaces for the tenants (middle right). In addition, the building uses low-flow fixtures and is oriented to capture prevailing breezes and to filter sunlight through a large southeast-facing galvanized screen to the two interior courtyards (bottom left).

Photos: John Edward Linden Santa Monica, CA

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CALL FOR ENTRIES Registration Deadline: January 24, 2011

American Builders Quarterly速 is celebrating the very best in American building and design with the 2011 Building Excellence Awards

APPLY TODAY: The ABQ Building Excellence Awards recognize achievements in architecture, design, and community planning. Winning projects will receive featured coverage in the November/December 2011 issue of American Builders Quarterly速, in addition to prize packages available exclusively to Building Excellence Award winners. For more information, a complete list of categories, and downloadable entry forms, visit:

Eligibility: 1) Projects must have been completed between December 31, 2007 and December 31, 2010. 2) Entries are limited to construction firms headquartered in the United States; however, projects constructed abroad will be considered. Categories: One residential and one commercial project will be designated as the Project of the Year, and awards and honorable mentions will be given in over 15 categories across all residential and commercial building sectors.

commercial const. caliber construction, inc.

Caliber prides itself on its fast-paced construction process for all projects, including this break room for Phoenix Software.

caliber construction, Inc. Tenant-improvement specialists look toward a promising year by karen gentry

at a glance location: brea, ca founded: 1992 area of specialty: tenant improvements and renovations annual sales: $23 million

caliber construction, inc. has developed a solid reputation in Southern California with repeat business representing more than 90 percent of overall work. The company’s niche is tenant-improvement work (though it also does work in commercial, industrial/ manufacturing, retail, and new-construction sectors), with a business model keenly focused on customer service, says Doug Bassett, president of the Brea, California-based firm. “Office-space construction is extremely competitive,” Bassett says. “I think we’re known for a high level of service and a high degree of quality.” Both Bassett and Jim Roy, vice president of Caliber Construction, previously worked together at a larger construction firm before deciding to start their own business in 1992. Roy runs the field side of the business and Bassett the office/business side. For tenant improvements, Caliber deals with developers, property managers, property owners, and tenants,

16 american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010

Bassett says. Caliber provides a full scope of services for several companies, including sunglass manufacturer Oakley Inc., for which Caliber did retail and creative office spaces incorporating a metallic look. Many of Oakley’s spaces feature a style that is a cross between aerospace and military style, using a lot of metal, plaster, and glass. Caliber has also completed a manufacturing facility for the company, as well as a project in a highend shopping center. “We work with them year-round for projects ranging from several million dollars down to maintenance work in existing buildings,” Bassett says. “They value our ability to react and be nimble.” Bassett says many of Caliber Construction’s projects are completed within 60 days and often require a speedy response once corporate decisions are made. An example of a fast-tracked project was one for Vans, the wellknown apparel company. A corporate decision was made to move to a particular site, with an end date established. A lease had to be executed and decisions needed to be

caliber construction, inc. commercial const.

This break room for Phoenix Software exemplifies Caliber’s quality work in tenant-improvement and commercial-construction practices.

made on interior design before it went through the permitting process. “Oftentimes the design and permit processes take longer than estimated, cutting short the construction time,” Bassett says. “This leads to some hard choices about changing the completion date; and in the Vans case, I think we pulled a rabbit out of a hat.” That Vans project was completed five weeks after the permit was issued. Bassett says meeting that deadline required some intense scheduling efforts and cooperation from Caliber’s subcontractors. It didn’t hurt that the City of Cypress, California, knew Caliber’s reputation and allowed some of the work to proceed before the final permit was issued. Caliber Construction also completes more than 100 projects a year for CB Richard Ellis, a global real-estate service company. The work pertains to tenants entering into lease agreements, or for tenants at the conclusion of their lease. “The CB Richard Ellis relationship involves working with property managers, so we do a lot of work for them that starts with a sketch on a piece of paper,” Bassett says. “We take very limited information and turn it into an estimate they can rely on.” Much of Caliber’s success is due to its adherence to the latest building trends, which include using natural light, open spaces, and energy efficiency. Accent walls with richer colors splashed throughout various office spaces

Caliber incorporated a metallic look for Oakley’s retail locations and office spaces.

So far, 2010 looks to be an improvement over 2009. Although it’s too early to draw any conclusions, there’s a lot of pent-up demand out there. —Doug Bassett, President

are also popular, Bassett says, and the company incorporates HVAC systems into its projects. The company enjoyed its best year in its 18-year history in 2008, with sales in excess of $28 million. With the souring economy, the company saw a 20-percent drop in revenue in 2009, down to about $23 million—small compared to other companies. “It was hard to make a profit in 2009,” Bassett says. “So far, 2010 looks to be an improvement over 2009. Although it’s too early to draw any conclusions, there’s a lot of pent-up demand out there.” abq

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


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Email: ABQ Nov/Dec 2010 J Benton Construction - NR Electric 1/4.indd 1

PO Box 839 Bayamon, P.R. 00960-0839 Tel: (787) 798-8800 Fax: (787) 780-3387 Email:

Benton Construction-Polymer Industries.indd 1 5/19/10ABQ-Nov/Dec-1/4-J 5:22 PM

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commercial const.

J. Benton Construction was selected to provide design-build services to the DIAGEO Captain Morgan rum distillery, currently under construction in St. Croix.

j. benton construction, LLC Firm builds within the Caribbean’s rugged conditions and unpredictable weather by laura williams-tracy

find a builder ready to construct a wide range of building types capable of withstanding hurricane-force winds, frequent seismic activity, and a rainy season, and you’ve got a builder like J. Benton Construction, LLC. The rugged terrain and tropical climate of St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, has made this Caribbean-based general contractor a master in advanced planning and fast-track construction. “We have learned to really plan well over the years out of necessity,” says James Benton, president. “It’s not as easy as going down the street to a Home Depot to pick up what you need. After years of planning well in advance for all of the material, manpower, and equipment you need on a project, we have become proficient at successfully completing projects that need to be built quickly.” The lack of infrastructure on the island often means planning for an independent water supply from reverseosmosis plants, wells, or cisterns, to collect rainwater

from roofs, wastewater-treatment plants, and on-site power-generation capabilities. Such expertise helped J. Benton Construction win one of the highest-profile projects currently underway in the US Virgin Islands. J. Benton Construction was selected after a very thorough selection process to provide design-build services for London-based DIAGEO’s new state-of-the-art Captain Morgan rum distillery on the island of St. Croix. Benton is designing and constructing an administration building, barrel-filling building, laboratory/maintenance building, and more than 208,000 square feet of barrel-warehouse buildings, to store and age the rum. Benton’s contracts total more than $23 million of the $150 million project. The project is Benton’s largest to date, and will be the first LEED-certified project in the US Virgin Islands and one of the first in the Caribbean islands, Benton says. “We beat out two local competitors and three stateside

at a glance location: saint croix, usvi founded: 2006 employees: 85 area of specialty: custom homes annual revenue: $15 million

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


commercial const. j. benton construction, llc

After years of planning well in advance for all of the material, manpower, and equipment you need on a project, we have become proficient at successfully completing projects that need to be built quickly. —James Benton, President

companies to win this project,” Benton says. “The client has been extremely pleased with our progress and what we bring to the table as a local team member.” Benton says building on the Caribbean island comes naturally to him after growing up there where his father owned a construction company. Benton’s family moved from Naples, Florida, to St. Croix when he was in fifth grade. Benton graduated from a Massachusetts boarding school and majored in construction management at Wentworth Institute of Technology. Before founding J. Benton Construction in 2006, Benton then worked for his father’s company, a Massachusetts developer, and as the corporate construction manager for Treasure Bay Casino and Resort in Biloxi, Mississippi, after Hurricane Katrina. J. Benton Construction focuses on commercial and fasttrack construction, and its principals have extensive experience in aviation, telecommunications, medical, institutional, hospitality, and multiunit apartment buildings, as well as custom residential projects. One of its recently constructed luxury homes on the island was featured on the cover of Architectural Digest magazine. Today, J. Benton Construction employs 85 people and averages $15 million a year in revenue. Recent advancements, such as a 5,000-square-foot warehouse and computerized tracking system for manpower and equipment, keep the company running efficiently. “We are positioned to self-perform much of the work, and that allows us to control the quality of the work and the pace of the work,” Benton says. Furthermore, through design-build, Benton says the company can serve its clients best. “Design-build allows us to really meet the clients’ needs,” he says. “We can help develop the program and really understand early on in the process their concerns and priorities. We like to hold contracts individually, with all of the consultants, the engineers, the architect, and other professionals so that we can control the design and, most importantly, the budget. This allows us to more effectively make decisions and to move very quickly.” Benton says his company shines best when advanced planning is needed to deliver a complex project. “The projects that require more planning, more coordination, more client interaction, and team building, those are our types of projects.” abq

Top: The firm provides services for a wide range of projects, including this cooling-tower foundation. Bottom: The $150 million DIAGEO Captain Morgan project features 208,000 square feet of barrel warehouses for rum storage and aging.

20 american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010

commercial const.

Mechanical and electrical systems were incorporated into this laboratory and regional headquarters for a leading pharmaceutical company. Architect: Kerry L. Knott.

Bell | Knott + Associates Protecting sensitive data for the world’s top corporations by zach baliva

while many businessmen spend years pursuing major clients, Kerry Knott, cofounder of Bell | Knott + Associates, started his company with some of the world’s top names. That was in 1988. Twenty-two years later, he still works with the same major telecommunications, mutual-fund, financial, and pharmaceutical companies. His job is to design and build primary and backup facilities that will keep their sensitive information, equipment, and people safe from man-made and natural disasters.

Many of Knott’s clients came from his work with a previous company in the late 1970s, and he has spent 30 years cultivating those relationships by doing good and consistent work. In fact, he is drawn to businesses that are looking to build a long-term partnership. “Instead of doing a single job for a company, I target clients where we will be their architectural service provider for a long period of time,” he says. The strategy, he admits, leads to a lot of utilitarian work but ultimately also leads to prized projects with corporate clients. The work may not always be the most glamorous with award-winning architecture, but it is of most importance to clients. Bell | Knott specializes in what Knott calls “corporate “My definition of a successful project is one that meets architecture.” Although occasional work comes from other sectors, most of the cofounder’s time is spent work- program needs while maintaining the schedule and budget throughout,” Knott says. He attracts new clients ing on high-tech data centers, pharmaceutical testing through referrals, which often come when a corporate facilities, office-support structures, and technical laboemployee switches companies. ratories. Data centers have emerged as the company’s strongest area. “We’re a small firm with just over 20 employees, but we do highly technical facilities requiring The company, located in Leawood, Kansas, performs all architectural and design work while relying on special expertise,” Knott says. Major corporate clients subconsultants for engineering disciplines and expertise. have always been the essence of the business, and many Knott is careful to use the same groups of consultants for have mission-critical communication/data and laboratory facilities around the world, on which Bell | Knott + almost every project, selecting the right ones with the correct skills and resources available for each job. The Associates is the architect of record.

at a glance location: leawood, ks founded: 1988 employees: 22 area of specialty: corporate architecture of data centers and communication facilities

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


commercial const. bell | knott + associates

If one of our data centers goes down, one minute lost can equal millions of dollars lost to our client. Our buildings must stay running at all times. —Kerry Knott, Cofounder

approach helps the flow of communication and provides a consistent level of quality. The company’s highly technical facilities are driven more by their mechanical and electrical systems with less of an emphasis on architecture and aesthetics. Knott’s job, then, is to provide fundamental and functional solutions that work and are cost effective. Since the buildings house leading technologies, he must stay current. Critical power systems, for example, require data-center architects to put more kilowatts into less square footage while providing efficient systems capable of powering and cooling all elements. However, security remains one of the clients’ top concerns. Data centers can cost up to $2,000 per square foot to build, and are then

Bell | Knott performed comprehensive work for this LEED Goldcertified lab and regional headquarters for a leading pharmaceutical company. Architect: Kerry L. Knott.

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filled with some of the telecommunications industry’s most-expensive equipment. Bell | Knott provides structures with strong windand seismic-resistance properties where necessary. Many buildings have dual-roof systems, where a second roof protects from torrential rain in case the first is lost in high-speed winds. The centers range from Tier One to Tier Four, depending on the level of redundancy desired by the client. Tier Four facilities are generally poured-in-place concrete structures. The highly reinforced structures have every exterior opening protected to prevent flying debris from damaging any white space or support space. The largest structures may have more than 100,000 square feet of raised floor areas for hardware installations. Physical security must also be addressed, as companies worry about intruders and protecting their data. Knott’s team provides surveillance, card access, and other internal security systems, as well as fire protection. Most of Knott’s clients process financial records and mutual funds inside the buildings. “If one of our data centers goes down, one minute lost can equal millions of dollars lost to our client,” Knott says. “Our buildings must stay running at all times.” Additionally, Bell | Knott builds corporate critical facilities in underground limestone mine space. Knott estimates his company to have completed more than 2,500 projects during its 22-year history. Now, his team averages around 150 projects each year and 60 at any given time. The frequent work is a testament to Bell | Knott + Associates’ ability to perform top-level work quickly and competently while keeping its clients’ information and property safe. abq

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commercial const.

RAM ’s comprehensive design-build know-how is put on display in the Grand Harbor Retail Center, located in Katy,TX. Photos: Margaret Losinski

RAM Design + Build Providing turnkey architecture and construction services for the retail marketplace by sheena harrison

at a glance location: houston, tx founded: 1982 area of specialty: retail design and construction

“We don’t want to keep doing the same thing evolution has played a vital role in the over and over again. We want to anticipate the time, growth and survival of RAM Design + Build. When we want to anticipate the situation. We want to respond the Houston-based architecture and construction firm saw that its usual private clients were hurt by the recent to events before they happen and not necessarily after they happen.” recession, RAM became bonded so it could take on municipal and institutional projects. On any given day, Makover, who earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture you’ll find president and CEO Richard Makover, AIA, from the University of Houston, founded his architecreading publications related to construction and his clitural company in 1982. At that time, he and his business ents’ industries so the firm can stay ahead of challenges partner were the firm’s sole employees. “I basically that may affect the business. did everything on my own—I did the design, I did the drafting, I did the promotion and the construction,” says While other construction firms have faltered from the Makover, who also worked with subcontractors. economic downturn, RAM’s emphasis on staying up to date has allowed the company to grow. Last year, the After about a year in business, the company was able to company generated $3.8 million in revenue, and Makover expects sales to increase by 15–20 percent in 2010. hire two employees. At the same time, Houston was undergoing a real-estate-market crash that threatened “We don’t want to get frozen in amber,” Makover says.

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ram design + build

commercial const.

The 16,000-square-foot Shoppes on Dulles, in Stafford,TX, showcases RAM’s knack for contemporary retail design.

to hurt Makover’s business. He made the decision to add construction services to the company’s architectural work. That diversification allowed RAM to become a turnkey service provider, which has given the company a competitive advantage in the local market. “We are architects, engineers, construction managers, and constructors,” Makover says. “We encompass the entire spectrum of the industry. Because we are also architects, we are able to provide services to clients that generally have not been provided by strictly construction companies.” One of RAM’s most significant projects was The Shoppes on Dulles, a 16,000-square-foot neighborhood retail project in Stafford, Texas. The development, which was completed in 2008, was designed and constructed by RAM and has served as a beacon of the company’s contemporary design capabilities. “I’m particularly proud of the design,” Makover says. “The design is ours—it was a unique and very unusual design for this part of Houston. Houston is a very conservative town. We feel that that design and our vision of this has been accepted very well.”

We are architects, engineers, construction managers, and constructors. We encompass the entire spectrum of the industry. —Richard Makover, President & CEO

that we possibly can. We simply try to approach projects that we feel are best for our capabilities.” The company has also been conservative in regards to which clients it takes on. Makover says RAM’s strength has come from selecting work that fits well with RAM’s design philosophy and technical capabilities. “You have to know what you are capable of doing and what you are not,” he says. “Pursuing pipe dreams is a sure prescription for disaster.”

While RAM continues to work with private clients, the firm is growing by going after public and competitive-bid projects. While the company is fiscally healthy, Makover Makover is confident RAM will maintain those same says RAM is conservative with its spending—helping to judicious principles as the company continues to grow. ensure the business’ continued strength. “We are a very “The employees that we have are extremely motivated,” lean company,” he says. “We move very carefully. We he says. abq are not flashy. We try to get the best bang for the dollar

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


commercial const.

david smith construction, Inc. Commercial builders engage community and promote strong family values by zach baliva

the smith family knows that good building projects help make good communities. Their company, David Smith Construction, Inc. (DCSI), was started in 1982, and operates with a major focus on community involvement. David is the mayor of Inverness, Mississippi, where he also serves on the beautification committee. The family of general contractors sponsors many local events such as parades, fairs, and school activities. David’s son, Brady Smith, who is vice president of DCSI, says the philosophy was born many years ago on a cattle farm. “He’s only ever known hard manual labor,” Brady recalls of his father. There, he learned the values of honesty and integrity that still guide his family today. David worked for another homebuilder before forming his own company and then incorporating it in 1995. Once known as residential builders, DCSI now works exclusively in commercial general contracting. The move was made, Brady says, because the company purchased Sunflower Lumber and Home Center, and wanted to be fair to the local residential builders it would supply. This year, it purchased an old gas station and opened Inverness Service & Hardware. The store fixes flat times and carries hardware, electrical supplies, hunting materials, snacks, and drinks. “My dad truly believes in servicing a customer, and our new store is yet another way to show this,” Brady says.

at a glance location: inverness, ms founded: 1982 employees: 16 area of specialty: commercial general contracting

As full-service contractors, David Smith Construction will do almost any job. With experience in remodeling, new construction, additions, and historical renovations, the company is well suited to serve educational, religious, corporate, retail, municipal, and other clients with a complete approach. “We want to start with the demo or site work, and hand the owner the key at the end of the project,” Brady says. By working as prime contractors, the Smiths set the pace and schedule of each job while relying on good subs. A strong relationship with those subcontractors helps build consistency. The practice also eliminates surprises at bid time. “With our core group of subs, I know what they pick up and they know what I want them to pick up,” Brady says. “Our time for errors and profit margins are both minimal. One mistake on a bid

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can cost you.” He is able to retain quality workers by providing a safe and well-managed site, and by treating each person with respect. In fact, creating a good work atmosphere is instrumental in all parts of the business, whether in the field or at the office. The management team at DSCI strives to maintain a positive attitude that it hopes will transfer to employees. For a company that values its community, certain jobs have a little extra meaning. After a fire partially destroyed a historic building in Belzoni, Mississippi, David Smith Construction was hired to restore and renovate the property. Now the operations center and main branch of Guaranty Bank & Trust, the building was once the downtown Sears & Roebuck. The second level formerly housed doctors’ and lawyers’ offices and included an old store with soda fountains. “We had several people stop by during construction to tell us their memories over the years and explain what the building meant to them,” Brady says. DSCI gutted the property before recreating the entire structure to solidify the safety of future tenants. Then the team stripped the exterior limestone and covered the façade with an exterior insulation finishing system. As the building site in the heart of downtown Belzoni, DSCI found themselves navigating heavy traffic and pedestrian flow to complete the project in a timely matter—the job had to be finished in time for the World Catfish Festival. This year, Brady and David are working at a new Wildlife Management Area known as the Sky Lake Nature Trail. The 773-acre parcel of land is owned by the government and is being developed as a State Park. During the project’s first phase, DSCI will build a restroom building, picnic pavilion, and amphitheater. It will also finish a reforestation trail that includes a 3,000 linear foot boardwalk to the surrounding historic trees. The future park is home to bald cypress trees that are almost 2,000 years old, and the construction team must be careful to preserve the area’s natural habitat. “Hopefully I will be able to carry my grandchildren there one day and tell them that I was responsible for building the park,” Brady says. For a family-oriented business committed to its surrounding community, no goal would be more fitting. abq

PO Box 1203 Raymond. MS 39154


Phone: 601-857-0532

I N C .

ABQ Raymond Glass Company Inc. 1-2 Page‫‏‬.indd 1


Over Nagle PaviNg coMPaNy Asphalt Paving Contractors

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In the electrIcal Industry

2010 years

Commercial & Institutional Electrical Construction Educational Facilities • Healthcare • Large Retail & Office Buildings New Construction & Remodeling of Existing Structures

(248)533-0600 Michael SaNti

Rob Nagle

ABQ Nov/Dec 2010 George W Auch Company - Nagle Paving 1/4.indd 2

2010 George W Auch Company - Gillis Electric Inc 1/4.indd 1 5/6/10ABQ 5:00Nov/Dec PM

5/12/10 12:13 PM

Wing Lake’s colorful school-house designs provide direction from the building’s central core to various auxiliary areas.

george w. auch company Solid business practices and exceptional service sustain century-old general contractor by julie edwards

at a glance location: pontiac, mi founded: 1908 employees: 85–90 area of specialty: education, healthcare, institutional, and municipal construction average annual sales: $150 million average annual projects: 100–150

few companies can boast more than 100 years in business, but the George W. Auch Company can. So what’s the secret to the company’s success? Three simple rules of business: “First, we maintain continuous improvement of our services through innovation, education, industry relationships, and employee growth,” saysVince DeLeonardis, president. “Secondly, we foster employ growth by developing opportunities that provide challenges and the chance to succeed professionally. Lastly, we remain selective in the clients and type of projects we pursue, in order to ensure that our staff has the experience and ability needed to meet the challenges of the project while consistently delivering the highestquality service.” The company was founded in 1908, in Detroit, when George Auch left his career as a teacher to start a construction company—a change that he hoped would enable him to better support his family of nine children. This beginning, based on family, proved to be a thread that would continue to run through the company’s

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history. For more than 85 years, the company remained family and employee owned, continued to grow, and relocated to Pontiac, Michigan, in 1985. In 1994, the Auch family sold the business to Dave Hamilton, a seasoned construction professional, and the Auch Company underwent a restructuring that allowed for expansion while also setting the company up for success through generations of management. Dave retired in 2008, but he left the company in exceptional hands—those of the employees. “Our company is 100 percent employee owned,” DeLeonardis says. “We are focused on creating a rewarding work environment for our staff—we make sure we provide the training needed to grow and learn, and we primarily promote from within. As a result, we have very little turnover.” In fact, he notes that the majority of staff possesses more than 15 years with Auch Company. Hamilton also left the company with an exceptional history of growth. During his tenure, revenues increased

george w. auch company designs for education

from approximately $35 million annually to an average of $150 million. Today, Auch Company operates as a constructionmanagement and general-contracting firm specializing in educational, healthcare, municipal, and institutional construction, and the majority of the company’s projects are within a 100-mile radius of their Pontiac offices. “We are one of the top-performing firms in this market, which we prefer,” DeLeonardis says. “We would rather remain ‘best of class’ in serving the major institutions of southeast Michigan than be a national company.” One of the company’s recent notable projects is the Wing Lake Development Center, an educational facility for physically and mentally handicapped students. “Challenges abounded on this project,” says project director Jeff Hamilton. “First, the population that is served is keenly sensitive to environmental stimulus, experiences difficulties with mobility, and requires medical treatments throughout the day. Their health is a fragile balance that relies heavily on minimizing environmental stresses, and the facility had to be completely wheelchair accessible.” Hamilton adds that the existing facility was antiquated, and the grounds were adjacent to Wing Lake, a location that required protection of environmental resources. “The design team internalized the importance of each of these challenges as options were developed and evaluated,” he adds. “Of course, budget was a key consideration, as public funding for the entire project was limited to $10.6 million.” What emerged is remarkable. The new 40,000-squarefoot building opened in fall 2008, and features universal accessibility, increased therapy space, a media center with sensory teaching materials, and group-learning spaces for sensory-development activities. The site also incorporates best sustainable practices for drainage, with bioswales and bioretention to treat stormwater runoff before it reaches Wing Lake. Best of all, Auch Company was able to complete the project a month early and came in almost $300,000 under budget. As for the future, Auch Company plans to keep doing what it’s doing, because it works. “Our clients are our best sales people—approximately 98 percent of our business is either repeat business or comes from existing client referrals and commendations,” DeLeonardis says. “We are proud of this statistic, and, given the current economic climate, we are looking forward to a period of slow growth that will support the continued advancement of our staff and opportunities for new employees to become involved in our philosophy of customer service and construction excellence.” abq

Top: GeorgeW. Auch Company built the newWing Lake Center to correlate with the design of the original 1859 stone schoolhouse, seen in the foreground. Middle:The facility has many features, including group-learning spaces, universal accessibility, and restroom and changing areas cognizant of students’ medical needs. Bottom:Wing Lake includes multipurpose spaces used for mobilty and muscle development of students with special needs.

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


designs for education The Cooperative Educational Services Regional Center for the Arts Magnet School, in Trumbull, CT, was awarded an Associated Builders and Contractors of Connecticut Excellence in Construction award.

LaRosa Building Group, LLC Multifaceted Connecticut builders sustain steady growth thanks to a focus on challenging and complex educational projects by brigitte yuille

at a glance location: meriden, ct founded: 1979 area of specialty: multifamily housing, schools, and municipal work sales growth in past year: 6–8%

located in meriden, connecticut, larosa Building Group, LLC initially specialized in customhome construction and development, but over the past 30 years it has expanded to become a general contractor, construction manager, and design-builder. Today, it takes on complex building projects in areas including the military, affordable housing, and educational facilities. Its success has been maintained due to a long-held company value. “My father told me, when I was in the business as a project manager, that it really is a culture and a value in the company to tell the truth [and give] 100 percent of my effort all the time,” says James LaRosa, COO of the company. In 1979, founders Bob and Carmela LaRosa established the family-owned business. At that time, it was known as Bob LaRosa Company. In 1987, it changed its name yet again to R.N. LaRosa Corporation. Ten years later, it settled on its current name, LaRosa Building Group, LLC. “Over the last 30 years, we’ve been building a great experience on different types of projects, whether its K–12

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schools; government facilities, like town halls; college campuses; affordable housing; and multifamily buildings,” LaRosa says. “In the last 15 years, we’ve been growing at a very steady pace, about 6–8 percent per year.” Over the years, LaRosa Building Group has sustained its reputation of being fair and honest in its industry. “The construction industry sometimes has a bad reputation,” LaRosa shares. “To set ourselves apart from that reputation, we always put everything up on the table. If there’s an issue on the project, we don’t try to hide it. We always inform everybody on the project team, including the architect, the owners, and our subcontractors. We, as a company, push all our staff and subcontractors to say what they mean to say. We always consider our reputation prior to making decisions, even if it means losing money.” The company has started to compete with larger companies, as well. “In the last couple of years, we’ve noticed the large businesses—by large, I mean $100 million in sales—are bidding on smaller projects that they never

larosa building group, llc designs for education

We’re not looking for fast growth; with fast growth comes multiple problems that are out there. We like slow growth. That way, we can maintain a healthy company. —James LaRosa, COO

touched, meaning the $2 million or $5 million jobs. So our competition has grown,” LaRosa says. Because of this new competition, the company has grown accustomed to succeeding in challenging environments. “My father started the company, and he was very much involved,” LaRosa says. “His theory is to just sway with the times.” The business has weathered the recession because of the preconstruction projects it acquired prior to the recession’s peak. “Our clients were able to get funding through the federal government or private investors, and that allowed us to start the construction on those projects and maintain our sales volume and our employees,” LaRosa explains. “Connecticut’s layoff is around 30 percent. We, as a company, are only around 8–9 percent on layoffs. The challenge is to continue to get the work that we have been doing and save money at it, as well as keep our staff employed.” LaRosa Building Group has been focused on making its clients interests a priority and minimizing the company’s risk, as many contractors and subcontractors are bidding on jobs cheaply. “They’re trying to get work,” LaRosa says. “We’re not using those people, because they’re putting themselves out of business by doing work below their cost.” Instead, the company maintains its reputation of providing fair and honest numbers to its client, “to quantify the scope of work of the project, in order to

maintain the budget and have a successful completion of a project,” LaRosa explains. Currently, the company has completed state and federal work, such as activities involving the Army National Guard. It also has built the first LEED Gold-certified multifamily residential project in Connecticut. Now, it plans to continue its growth by getting involved in all of the market sectors it can. “We’re not looking for fast growth; with fast growth comes multiple problems that are out there,” LaRosa says. “We like slow growth. That way, we can maintain a healthy company.” abq

Craftsmanship is not a lost art, and our installers strive to provide you and your project with the quality you deserve.

LaRosa’s work on the Niantic Readiness Center at Camp Rell, in Niantic, CT, earned LEED Gold certification.

100 Prestige Park Road East Hartford, CT 06108

P: 860-291-0546 F: 860-291-0612

designs for education

larosa building group, llc

We value our staying power and tenacity in seeing a project through, no matter what kind of curveballs we are thrown. —Tom Bader, Partner

The Trinity Christian College Art and Communication Center incorporates many notable features, including this printmaking stuido and other fine-arts classrooms. Photo: Evan Thomas, StudioThomas.

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designs for education

Wheeler Kearns Architects Chicago designers meet building challenges head-on with straightforward solutions by sandra guy

wheeler kearns architects motivates its clients to consider an array of thought-provoking solutions to their problems, though the managing partners say the unique and mature process isn’t necessarily popular at the outset. “Most people ask, ‘What is the project going to look like at the end?’ We have both contemporary and traditional work in our portfolio, and sometimes it’s unnerving because our responses are not so simple,” says Larry Kearns, who serves as founding partner of Chicago-based Wheeler Kearns Architects, along with Dan Wheeler. “Our underlying emphasis is on an intensive search for solutions to problems at the very outset. We put a lot of emphasis on the first schematic drawings. This approach makes it less likely you’ll have a misstep, and meanwhile you’ve uncovered all of the possibilities. We don’t arrive at our first client meeting with a single solution.” Clients ultimately appreciate the intensive work method and the firm’s role in creating an exacting approach that yields impressive results. However, Wheeler Kearns Architects doesn’t save its approach for just high-end clients. “There is no minimum-value work that we do,” Kearns says. “We’ve taken projects as small as furniture design and as large as a high school.” The firm’s eye for detail and sustainable, clean design, as well as its reputation for sticking with challenging assignments until they are completed, is borne out of the firm’s many projects. Take, for example, Muchin College Prep High School in Chicago, the only high school located in a high-rise building in the heart of the city’s downtown Loop area. This unique $10 million project, the likes of which had never before been tackled in the city, proved a challenge in code compliance, meeting insurance and fire-safety mandates, and creating a daylight-splashed, easily navigable environment. The 70,000-square-foot space—in a former Mandel Brothers and then Wieboldt’s department store spread across three buildings on split-level floors—required Wheeler Kearns Architects to create identifiable landmarks so that students could find their way quickly. The firm

at a glance location: chicago, il founded: 1990 employees: 6 area of specialty: institutional and residential design

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


designs for education

wheeler kearns architects

Above:The $10.4 million Art and Communication Center features a new black-box theater, a TV-training studio, and houses the fine-arts department. Photo: Evan Thomas, StudioThomas.

designed a “glowing core,” with an illuminated wall as a counterpoint to a second core comprised of a wall of lockers with its own easily spotted ceiling lights.

the commercial kitchen that serves 10 campuses in the Noble school network. The school, which required nine months to build, opened in August 2009.

The school, part of the Noble Network of Charter Schools, boasts a variety of sustainable features, including a multipurpose room that occupies the space’s most prominent and day-lit corner, as opposed to hidden within the inner section. Wheeler Kearns Architects successfully placed most classrooms on the outer perimeter, utilizing window walls for daylighting.

Another project, the Trinity Christian College Art and Communication Center in Palos Heights, Illinois, took five years to complete. Wheeler Kearns designed the school’s “dream” project by housing the fine-arts department building and the black-box theater with a broadcast-TV training studio in a single building. The facility now attracts students from outside those disciplines.

Another feature of the school, which is expected to receive LEED Gold certification, is a heat-recovery system that captures rejected heat from the building and other tenant spaces, and uses it to heat water for the school and

The $10.4 million, 45,000-square-foot, L-shaped building—completed in three phases due to funding challenges—forms a new quadrangle on the northeastern edge of the campus (the site of a former golf course) in a wooded area set off by a creek and sloped embankments.



begins when you change the way you look at things


Wheeler Kearns overcame noise-conflict challenges by installing strong acoustical separations between the blackbox performance theater and the neighboring sculpture wood shop and metal shop for the arts department, says architectural partner Tom Bader. It also required the woodworking and welding classes to remain separate, and needed industrial air-exhaust systems in order to expel fumes from those areas, as well as from the oilpainting studios and paint-spray booths. The building opened in fall 2008. “We value our staying power and tenacity in seeing a project through, no matter what kind of curveballs we are thrown,” Bader says. Today, Wheeler Kearns employs six architects as partners, a unique arrangement aimed at enabling the architects to have a say in the business and feel committed and connected to a long-term career there. “We have six partner architects on three tiers of ownership,” Wheeler says. “The idea is to have a firm that can sustain itself rather than rest on the reputation of one or two people who eventually retire. The partnerships allow the architects to have a say in the firm’s direction.” Looking forward, the firm is seeking the next phase of its growth in leaping over the $20 million threshold to design and oversee larger-scale institutional not-forprofit projects. abq

DP&W designed the Desert Mirage Medical Plaza to feature a drop-off area directly adjacent to the entry, minimizing patient travel distances.

deardorff, pang & weymiller, inc. Personal attention to clients and long-term expertise propel these healthcare-facility specialists forward by sandra guy

the late 1980s recession, due in large part to the collapse of the savings-and-loan sector, taught the principals at Deardorff Pang & Weymiller, Inc.(DP&W) that their first love was indeed architecture, and that they enjoyed the day-to-day involvement with clients. “In 1989, our firm went from 23 people to a core of 4 for the next 4 years,” recalls Russ Weymiller, a principal with the firm along with Yin Pang and Bob Deardorff. “We found out that we got a lot more enjoyment out of being architects, doing the work, and having direct relationships with our clients.” The experience honed the firm’s focus, clarified each partner’s duties, and proved to the principals that they needed to keep their business small enough to provide personal and high-level attention to clients. The firm got its start in 1985 as a result of the merger of two already notable firms: Russell Weymiller & Associates, established in 1977, and Porter Pang & Deardorff, established in 1979. “Clients know they can pick up the phone and be able to talk to a principal,” Weymiller says. “They know they can contact us and get an immediate response.”

The firm sends clients weekly status reports—regular updates so that clients can keep tabs on their project’s status and are always in the know, Weymiller adds. The firm works as a studio, making each project unique based on the client’s needs and wishes. No one has an office or a cubicle or a headset, placing the emphasis on constant communication and collaboration. The partners don’t take themselves too seriously, as demonstrated by their website profiles, in which Deardorff, who specializes in construction-administration specifications and document review for quality control, lists reading the classics of literature and history alongside at a glance rollerblading as leisure activities. Pang, a native of Malaysia who oversees design development and construction documents, cites as good advice approaching life location: and problem-solving with a sense of humor. Weymiller scottsdale, az recalls his first car in vivid detail—“a canary yellow, founded: modified ’49 Chevy Fastback with a 283 engine”—and 1985 explains, “I was a kid of the ’60s.” employees: Says Deardorff, “We don’t have a particular architectural style. We craft each project for the client. The design becomes a reflection of them, not just DP&W.”

5–10 area of specialty: healthcare facilities

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


medical facilities

deardorff, pang & weymiller, inc.

The firm has stayed strong during the latest economic downturn by maintaining its solid and lengthy relationships with clients, as well as serving as the steady partner of two of Arizona’s largest medical developers and management companies, The Plaza Companies of Peoria, Arizona, and Ensemble/DevMan of Arizona, based in Phoenix. “Thriving in the down times means being prepared for them,” Weymiller says. “We understand, after 30 years, that business is cyclical. We maintain our clients during the down times and make sure our services are above and beyond others.” Two recent projects demonstrate DP&W’s expertise in designing and planning retail, industrial, manufacturing, and medical facilities while understanding complex local, state, and federal requirements for healthcare facilities. In addition, such facilities as outpatient surgery centers must meet strict guidelines and requirements of public and private agencies having licensing and accreditation jurisdiction. The first, Thunderbird Commons, is a four-building mixed-use-retail and medical-office complex with an outpatient surgery center in Peoria. The project posed a challenge in putting together all of the components the client needed to make a financially viable project, while meeting the detailed requirements of the City of Peoria Planning Department. Further complicating the design of the master plan was the presence of two existing buildings on the corner of the site. The 90,000-square-foot project cost $10.4 million.

We’re seeing a definite increase in activity in the medical profession. The aging of the [baby boomer] population and expanded health-insurance coverage will increase demand for medical facilities. —Russ Weymiller, Principal

a message from cr commercial contractors, inc. CR Commercial Contractors, Inc. continues to establish its reputation as a premier general contractor, building state-of-the-art medical and commercial office space in the state of Arizona. CR’s core belief is providing a product of value to our clients with a focus on personalized customer service.


The second project, the Desert Mirage Medical Plaza, is a three-building medical-office complex comprised of an outpatient surgery center, a large orthopedic practice, and several smaller physician practices. It serves as an example of how the firm designs for a specific demographic. Understanding the aging and physically compromised patient mix meant creating clear modes of wayfinding and reducing the distance the patients are required to travel as much as possible. This was accomplished by creating a central circulation courtyard and adjacent circular patient drop-off. The 42,600-squarefoot complex cost $7.7 million. DP&W looks forward to continued growth due to the confluence of President Obama’s healthcare-reform law providing health insurance to 38 million uninsured, as well as the influence of the baby boomer generation on healthcare. “We’re seeing a definite increase in activity in the medical profession,” Weymiller says. “The aging of the [baby boomer] population and expanded healthinsurance coverage will increase demand for medical facilities.” abq



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Pre-Construction Services •

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Fazio Architects’ design for Dr. Sullivan, Burd, and Roupas, in Mint Hill, NC, won the 2009 Dental Office Design of theYear award.

fazio architects A mastery of lighting dynamics and flow create dental offices that put patients at ease by zach baliva

architects that can cater to a specific client’s unique needs often enjoy continued success, and that has certainly been the case for Dave Fazio, owner and principal of Fazio Architects, in Austin, Texas. In fact, Fazio has carefully crafted a significant portion of his full-service firm to serve one specific type of client: dentists.

from the University of Texas at Austin. “It was Dr. Jim Pride and Dr. Harry Demaree whose revolutionary theories on dental-office design led me to develop this niche,” Fazio recalls, adding that the dental portion of Fazio Architects combines these lighting and layout concepts with appealing decor.

As long as there have been dentists, there has been a fear of dentists. Fazio, however, works with his clients to change that perception by creating inviting environments where patients feel welcomed. “An effective dental office is well organized and starts with efficient patient and staff circulation,” Fazio says. “The approach calls upon lighting dynamics to create a sense of a safe place verses the high-intensity, uniform light that is found in typical medical settings. The resulting space feels as comfortable as a professionally designed home.”

The relationship of a dentist to his patients and staff, the use of technology in an office, the ergonomics of the way a dentist provides his service, and the circulation and flow of a floor plan are all of great importance to Fazio. “We create highly efficient dental-office machines that have high-end aesthetics,” he says. “It’s like a sports car that takes the performance of a powerful engine and wraps it with beauty and sophistication.” Fazio’s projects stand out because they don’t look like standard offices but instead feature dynamic open space, increased visual appeal, and improved audio-visual technology.

Fazio graduated from Auburn University, worked and studied internationally, and received his master’s degree

Last year, the architect won the Matsco 2009 Dental Office Design of the Year (Group Practice) award for Mint

at a glance location: austin, tx founded: 1995 employees: 6 area of specialty: dental/medicaloffice design annual revenue: $1.7 million

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


medical facilities

fazio architects

We create highly efficient dental-office machines that have highend aesthetics. It’s like a sports car that takes the performance of a powerful engine and wraps it with beauty and sophistication. —Dave Fazio, Owner & Principal

Hill Dentistry in Mint Hill, North Carolina. The building, completed in October 2008, covers 8,114 square feet. The owners, Drs. Sullivan, Burd, and Roupas, wanted a building that would provide a functional work environment and increase patient comfort. Fazio provided the following design solutions: custom cabinetry that accommodates specific instrumentation; accessible work areas to improve efficiency; large flatscreen monitors for treatment plans viewable by patients; pendulum mounts in operatories to improve patient-doctor interaction; and sophisticated acoustics to allow for appropriate use of open space. Fazio’s approach also helped dentists in Green Bay, Wisconsin, improve their practices. There, he designed the East Shore Professional Center, a 26,000-square-foot building designed to let four specialty dentists work under the same roof. “Well-designed circulation patterns allow specialists to support one another and still have their individual practices,” Fazio says. The efficient and cost-effective building has been successful in meeting its clients’ needs. Designs were completed to provide a total of 22 operatories, 2 post-op rooms, and 2 consultation spaces for a periodontist, a prosthodontist, an endodontist, and an oral-surgeons group. Now, Fazio has started another enterprise. Dental Real Estate Solutions combines his resources and skills with those of associated partner companies who are teaming with developers to market dental sites. The company will help young dentists build freestanding offices and provide all development solutions under one umbrella. Their financing program covers site selection, ground purchase, design, equipment, and construction costs. The dentist receives immediate ownership interest without any equity requirement. Several sites are available in Texas, and Fazio is looking to expand into other states.

Fazio prides himself on his ability and willingness to work with contractors. “We’re all members of a professional team, and we all want the best possible product for the client,” he says. The company may specialize in dentistry, but Fazio Architects is a general practice with skills in many areas, including commercial and residential design. On each project, whether dental or not, the goal is to make the client smile. abq

HW At H.W. Wahlers, Inc., Mr. Wahlers is committed to finding solutions that create distinct advantages for your company, improve processes and communications, and are cost effective. H.W. Wahlers, Inc. is known for its ability to bring the complex down to its simplest form. As a general contractor, Mr. Wahlers offers you expert knowledge, and simple templates that work.

5293 FM 306 New Braunfels, TX 78132 210-389-8590 Mobile 830-606-3903 Office & Fax

marine construction

“Spinfin” piles, specially designed to hold securely as they are driven into the ocean floor, wait on a barge at RDACC’s LibertyWharf job in Boston Harbor.

RDA CONSTRUCTION CORP. Underwater-construction company dives into success on New England waterfronts by laura williams-tracy

the ocean has always been a big part of Eugene Kelley’s life. Growing up of Italian and Irish descent in Boston, he spent summers on the ocean and started diving when he was twelve years old. He has rarely come off the water since, and though his marineconstruction business now employs union divers, he still occasionally takes the plunge. Eugene’s RDA Construction Corp. (RDACC), for which he serves as president, is a leader in the Northeast marine- and heavy-civil-construction industry. The company specializes in underwater and on-the-water construction, including bridges, causeways, ferry terminals, seawalls, harborwalks, revetment construction, piers, pile rehabilitation and jacketing, pipelines, dredging, salvage, demolition, and foundation construction. Building at the ultimate waterfront locations requires

significant engineering and specialty construction that must withstand the elements of wind, storms, tides, and corrosion. RDACC has worked on many significant projects around the Boston waterfront, including the demolition and redevelopment of Jimmy’s Harborside Restaurant, a Boston landmark that has long been popular with the city’s most prominent politicians, including former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil and the Kennedy family. RDACC then managed the $7.5 million in-water construction work at Liberty Wharf that included driving new steel-support piles into the ocean floor and building the decking for construction of a new restaurant and hotel complex. “That was part of the revitalization of a part of Boston that had long languished as a purely industrial area,” says Meg Kelley, Eugene’s wife and co-owner of

at a glance location: canton, ma founded: 1981 employees: 50–130 area of specialty: marine construction

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


marine construction

rda construction corp.

I like being outside, the equipment, the cranes, the diving. It’s a little different, and not everyone is doing it. —Eugene Kelley, Co-Owner

the business. “It’s the up-and-coming area of the city now, filled with restaurants and galleries.” The company was also instrumental in building the Hold Baggage Screening project at Logan International Airport, the origination site of the airplanes used in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Boston’s Logan Airport was the first airport in the nation to implement the system, which screens 100 percent of checked baggage—a major component of homeland

Marine Construction Pile Driving Earth Support Systems Diving Concrete Bridge Work Demolition Excavation Marine Salvage


(781) 401-2500

defense. RDACC participated in the fast-track construction of the facility. Tom Ridge, then Homeland Security Secretary, remarked, “This is a group of people who took it upon themselves to do it once and do it right the first time…The notion that they were able to configure that airport in a permanent way…is truly a testament to will, to planning, to energy and…to the patriotism of everyone involved, because they decided they were going to do it.” RDACC has partnered on several large projects with Danish general contractor Pihl & Sons, including a seawall in Marblehead and the foundation for the new Battery Wharf Hotel in Boston. The $14 million foundation allows the hotel to cantilever out into the harbor. Other notable RDACC projects in Boston include a seawall for the US Coast Guard and a chain of harborwalks, or pedestrian walkways, that encircle Boston Harbor. Kelley grew up in a family committed to construction. While earning a degree in business management at Boston University, Kelley worked with his cousins at their marine-construction business. For a time afterward, he worked with his father, also a general contractor. “I did a marine job for my father, repairing the underside of Mystic Pier in Charlestown,” Eugene says. The job consisted of filling 1,500 steel piles with concrete and placing the piles underwater. “That’s really when I started to get interested in underwater work,” he adds. “I like being outside, the equipment, the cranes, the diving. It’s a little different, and not everyone is doing it.” Before long, Kelley launched RDA Construction Corp. His cousins hired RDACC to help with contracts to clean up Boston Harbor. From there, the company grew with new projects up the coast and the landscape Kelley knows and loves. Depending on workload, RDACC employs 50–130, many of them unionized workers from Local 56. The business is capital intensive, with a large fleet of cranes, barges, tugboats, and pile hammers. To remain strong during a difficult construction environment, the company has expanded its geographic reach, working on a 7.5 million job at the Newport, Rhode Island, Navy base and bidding on new projects, from Maine to New York to Delaware. Most days Kelley is in the office by 5:00 a.m., for an hour of planning time before the construction industry starts and the phones begin ringing. “He’s persistent,” Meg says. “People go that extra mile for him. If it’s a cold winter day and the water temperature is 38 degrees, they know Gene will put on his wetsuit and dive if they don’t. He lives by a saying coined by a friend of his: ‘The harder you work, the luckier you get.’” abq

DGCC is currently working on a LEED renovation of NewYork City’s historic Pier A. Photo: EminYuliyev.

D’ONOFRIO GENERAL CONTRACTORS Corp. Expert renovators of NYC’s piers, wharves, and underwater projects by joyce finn

established by three brothers in 1991, D’Onofrio General Contractors Corp. (DGCC), of Brooklyn, specializes in complex utility and marine-construction projects throughout the New York City metropolitan area. “We do a lot of underwater construction, such as piers and wharves, that requires special expertise and equipment,” says Jay H. Reichgott, assistant vice president. “We do all the same things everyone else does on a general construction project, but we do it standing in water.” DGCC, with 30-plus employees, has grown continuously since 1991, working on approximately 20–50 projects each year. The firm works mainly with repeat customers such as Con Edison, National Grid, and US Power Generating Company, as well as New York City federal and municipal agencies. With marine projects, DGCC must deal with additional marine-regulatory agencies such as the New York State Department of Environmental

Conservation, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Coast Guard, the Harbor Police, and Homeland Security. Reichgott points out that marine construction has unique challenges. Once work begins, DGCC has to deal with constant changes in water levels due to the tidal change of 7–10 feet. “What you’re working on may or may not be underwater,” Reichgott says. “You can’t fight the tides. On a marine site, problems are magnified—if the wind comes across the harbor for a mile or so, you can’t hide from it. Water is an aggressive environment to work in—it’s hard on your gear, it’s hard on your guys, and it’s hard on your tools.” Currently, DGCC is working on a three-phase reconstruction project of Pier A. This historic 1886 three-story, 30,000-square-foot structure is north of Castle Clinton, in Battery Park. When completed, this LEED for Core and Shell project will obtain a LEED

at a glance location: brooklyn, ny founded: 1991 employees: 30+ area of specialty: marine and utility construction 2009 revenue: $50 million+

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


marine construction

contractors corp.

Manhattan’s Battery Park Ferry Terminal is the new southern anchor for ferry service around New York City and New Jersey. The half-acre floating structure has a tensile roof, six slips, and two passenger service kiosks.

Silver certification. Battery Park City was made from fill dug out of the hole during the construction of the World Trade Center.

Water is an aggressive environment to work in—it’s hard on your gear, it’s hard on your guys, and it’s hard on your tools. —Jay H. Reichgott, Assistant Vice President

Phase 1 on the historic preservation of Pier A included structural repairs to strengthen the understructure of the pier. Phase 2, currently underway, is the reinforcement of the first floor, the pier deck, and the 100-yearold Department of Docks, which in the past has been a police station, as well as a fireboat station. Challenges facing DGCC with this project include a tight site with limited access, as well as all the usual regulatory constraints pertaining to historic building. Other construction projects include the Mott Haven Substation, which won a 2008 Design Award from the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute. Because Con Edison required the substation on the eight-acre site to look more like a brownstone condominium project than a substation, DGCC installed more than 200 windows and 40 doors solely for aesthetic purposes. DGCC was responsible for the precast design, engineering, fabrication, and erection of the building.


marine construction commercial diving i n s p e c t i o n s a l v a g e 908-623-6300

As experts in specialty roofing, the company completed construction of a tension-fabric roof with skylights on the ¾-acre structure sited on a floating barge at Battery Park City Terminal in 2009. The company is a Bayerlicensed applicator, trained in the use of BaySystems, a polyurethane-foam roofing system. “With this product, there’s not a lot of tear-down,” Reichgott says. “It gives a lightweight, monolithic roof membrane that’s self-flashing and adheres to any surface, and it’s got a huge R-value. Since it’s a specialty product, there are a limited number of applicators, and we’re one of the few certified applicators in the region.” As Reichgott points out, Manhattan is an island with lots of edges, many of which are built up over water. This unique location, along with the ever-increasing energy demands of New York City, make DGCC a valued and profitable company that is poised for future growth. abq

unique products

strike tool Designing light and durable products for concrete precasters by zach baliva

the word may not have meant much to Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate, but “plastics” is the foundation upon which Bob Banks has built his entire company. Banks, owner of Strike Tool, bought his first injection molder in 1985. Now his company manufactures innumerable accessories for the precast-concrete and concrete-construction market across North America. Banks’ first machine was purchased to manufacture a product that became an overnight sensation: plastic spacers. Cities and other municipalities were passing ordinances outlawing exposed metal on concrete structures. Banks designed a triangle plastic spacer that fit mandates, eliminated rust, and reduced freight costs. The company shared its first space with an automotive machine shop and produced items using 10 cavity molds. “We started this company on nothing but a total shake of the dice, but there were no other products like ours out there,” Banks recalls. He estimates he sold 30,000 spacers in his company’s first year, to quickly realize his initial investment. Now the number tops six million. Early success brought momentum, which Banks kept up by adding more products, including various spacers for precasters, polyethylene hole formers for manholes, an I&I barrier to prevent ground-water infiltration, and various accessories. One current best seller is Strike Tool’s precast bollard, a polyethylene pipe designed to form poured concrete while eliminating problems associated with using a steel pipe. Strike’s bollard is seven and a half feet tall and does not require painting or maintenance. “Our precast bollard provides big savings to contractors in terms of labor and secondary pour on the job site,” Banks explains. The product is essentially nothing more than a plastic skin over concrete and comes in eight standard colors, with custom colors available. As a mold maker and die maker, Banks is always developing designs and tools based on observed industry needs. He currently has three approved and three pending patents for various items, including an innovative I&I “tophat,” or plastic dam used to stop water from entering a manhole’s grade rings. Treatment plants must process

President and founder Bob Banks with an assortment of Strike Tool’s product offerings.

the overload produced by excess water, resulting in wasted time and money when precipitation is heavy. The I&I barrier stops the process and has the potential to yield huge savings. In fact, Kansas City has already speced Strike Tool’s product as the only one to be used in city contracts. Outrigger pads are another big item at Strike Tool. The pads are molded and filled with polyethylene that is the same density as oak board. The result is a round, stackable, lightweight item. The plates don’t absorb moisture, so they won’t rust, and they have no scrap value, so owners can expect less theft. Both injection molding and rotational molding are done at Strike Tool’s 30,000-square-foot machine shop in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. Banks retains 12 employees,

at a glance location: cannon falls, mn founded: 1984 employees: 12 area of specialty: plastic injection molding and rotational molding

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


unique products

strike tool

been developing new products,” Banks says. When one part of his company is down, another is inevitably up. He always works to maintain close contact with his customers, who often provide requests or inspiration for a new product. “We like to identify problems and find things we can address in a better way,” he says. “We like to work with customers who bring their needs to us.”

The biggest part of our success has always been developing new products. —Bob Banks, Owner

including his three sons, wife, and sister. Their work is tied closely to the housing market and city development. The Twin Cities, for example, have 40,000 manholes to be rebuilt. Although Banks stands to profit as groups continue to specify his products for each job, a close relationship to cyclical markets can be frustrating. In tough economic times, Strike has always endured behind its diverse line of products. “The biggest part of our success has always

Banks formed the strategy many years ago, after experiencing the industry’s ups and downs. He decided to sell his machine shop and spend time expanding his product line. Today, 26 years after he started Strike Tool, the company is still going strong. “People like the cost savings and other benefits of using a resilient and lightweight product,” he says. Recent sales have helped him expand again—Banks is in a hiring phase and bought another molder to handle increased volume. As it continues to expand the product line, Strike Tool is also expanding its reputation for introducing innovative products to the precast market. Over the years, the company has proven its uncanny ability to take ideas from steel products and turn them into more-effective tools through the use of plastics. abq

Merchants Bank…What Banking Should Be Merchants Bank is your community bank around the corner. We’re small enough to greet you by name, like we do for the Banks family, and treat you like friends and neighbors. We’re also big enough to draw upon the resources of the entire Merchants’ organization. Find out why Merchants is known as

“The Bank that Service Built.” “Strike Tool values its close business relationship with Merchants Bank of Cannon Falls. Their support to our financial needs has been a part of our success in growing our business. We take pleasure and enjoy working with a friendly Bank.” Robert S. Banks President, Strike Products

The Bank that Service Built Cannon Falls 300 West Main Street (507) 263-4281

Hampton 23280 Main Street (651) 437-9535

Red Wing 2835 South Service Drive (651) 385-7621 Member FDIC

Appalachian Log Structures used exposed, round log beams in this bedroom suite to accentuate the rustic theme the homeowner requested.

appalachian log structures, inc. West Virginia company takes pride in its pioneering advances in wood-preservation techniques and a unique 25-year warranty by sandra guy

based in ripley, west virginia, appalachian Log Structures, Inc. was the first to treat its logs with borate, a material made from or that contains a form of boron, to ensure that the wood doesn’t rot or get eaten by insects or other organisms, says Doug Parsons, the company’s president. Doug’s father, Fletcher R. Parsons, 84, who founded the company, is now retired, and three of his four children and his oldest grandson, Rob Romine, manage the company, which specializes in pestand weather-resistant log homes.

Today, while several other log-home companies offer borate-pressure-treated logs, Appalachian Log Structure was one of the first to use the innovative process, which it obtained when Fletcher teamed up with a Mississippi State University professor, Terry Amburgey, in the early 1980s, to figure out a way to use borate to protect log homes. The two helped bring to market the borate-pressure-treatment technology that enables Appalachian Log Structures to offer its unique, 25-year written warranty with its log homes.

Fletcher’s lifelong interest in log-home building started when he realized he loved the outdoors, leading him to obtain a degree in forestry from West Virginia University in 1950. Few attended college back then, but Fletcher was fortunate that both of his parents had taught in rural, one-room schoolhouses, and they encouraged their sons to pursue higher education. Within a couple of years, Fletcher started his own business, which grew into Burke-Parsons-Bowlby Corp. (BPB), a railroad-tie, utility-pole, and guardrail-post-making company with operations in five East Coast states. Seeking to diversify in 1977, Fletcher realized a business opportunity existed in solving the problems of decay and wood-eating insects plaguing the log-home industry, and so he started Appalachian Log Structures.

In 1990, Fletcher sold out his interest in BPB so he could focus solely on the log-home product lines. Starting out with 50 log-home customers and a “couple million” in revenue that year, Appalachian Log Structures has grown to $11 million, with clients all over the world, including Japan, Korea, Jamaica, Mexico, Canada, and, most recently, China. (However, the company earned less than half that amount in revenue during 2009, with $4.5 million—the worst year of the housing and banking crisis.) Such success is standard for Fletcher, a founding member and first president of the North American Log Builders Association, which later merged with another log manufacturers’ group to become today’s Log Homes

at a glance location: ripley, wv founded: 1977 employees: 38 area of specialty: pest- and weatherresistant log homes annual revenue: $4.5 million

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


unique products

appalachian log structures, inc.

We offer a [log-home] product that is protected against rot, decay, and wood-eating insects. That is our differentiation. —Doug Parsons, President

The company utilized massive logs and beams to surround the custom-cut stone 46Carolina american fireplace in this North quarterly nov/dec 2010

appalachian log structures, inc. unique products

Council—part of the National Association of Home Builders. Fletcher also won recognition for his leadership and his service to the community in 2002, when he was awarded the Jefferson Award by West Virginia Governor Gaston Caperton. The award cited Fletcher’s work in raising funds and coordinating the construction of a log-built public library in Poca, West Virginia, in honor of his parents and their careers in the Putnam County educational system. Appalachian Log Structures has garnered a number of awards, as well, winning a Governor’s Commendation for International Markets in 2004, 2007, and 2008, for recognition of its export of log homes to Jamaica, Mexico, and China. “We offer a product that is protected against rot, decay, and wood-eating insects. That is our differentiation,” Doug says. Dorie Workman, Doug’s sister, and vice president of marketing for the company, elaborates, saying, “We offer a 25-year, written warranty with our log homes. That is unique. We have customers who have outlived their warranty. That is significant in our industry.” Appalachian Log Structures sells eight different log profiles so that customers may choose their own corner notches, home design, thickness of wood, and species of wood. The variety of design and wood choices reflects the company’s respect for its customers’ desire to know “the little things that make a difference” about the

quality of the log homes, Doug says. The company also promotes its value, offering packaging options in which materials or components can be purchased separately. “We treat each customer individually,” Workman notes. Appalachian Log Structures operates two manufacturing facilities in and near Princeton, West Virginia, and maintains two sales offices, one at its Ripley headquarters, and the other in Gaffney, South Carolina, where Donald Parsons, brother of Doug and Dorie, oversees operations. Though the housing-industry comeback looks to be a slow one, Doug and other top executives at Appalachian Log Structures are involved in the development of the log-home industry’s building code and energy-efficiency standards. Doug once served as chairman of the Log Homes Council’s Technical committee, and Mark Feder, Appalachian’s vice president of sales, served as president of the Log Homes Council and as a member of its ethics and marketing committees. The log-home industry is an original green supporter, Doug says. “It doesn’t take much electricity to produce a log in the first place, and by putting the log to good use, such as providing shelter and preserving the wood, you can’t get much greener than that.” abq

The University of Kansas Medical Center is one of many Kansas City entities to employ JPI’s services.

JPI Glass Skilled employees, proven experience, and quality products help regional window company compete with national firms by zach baliva

at a glance location: kansas city, mo founded: 1978 employees: 40 area of specialty: window installation

there’s an old saying that rings true at Kansas City’s JPI Glass: “If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.” Company president Jim Plunkett started out his career in the stucco business in 1978, and later transitioned to working as a general contractor. He noticed that too few window contractors were available for his projects at the time, so Plunkett retooled his business and became a window installer. His wife, Sherri, joined him as vice president in the mid-1980s. JPI’s project portfolio lists jobs in new construction, historic restoration, and rehabilitation. The company works strictly on windows, storefronts, and curtain walls of commercial and municipal buildings like

48 american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010

condos, hotels, and schools. Recently, JPI has found work at several military bases across the nation. Government work requires extensive screenings and paperwork, but the additional projects have helped the Plunketts expand outside of the Midwest. Specialized products like blast glass are used for most military installations, and the jobs go to companies who demonstrate solid experience, financial strength, and good connections to suppliers. “We are always cultivating long-term working relationships with vendors who are important to the success of our company,” Sherri explains. The partnerships are based on trust and evolve over time, as both companies benefit from the symbiosis. JPI’s suppliers often meet with architects to get their

jpi glass

unique products

We meet our clients’ needs by staying educated on our products and using our experience to prove what approach will work in certain applications. —Sherri Plunkett, Vice President

products specified on projects. JPI then bids projects, educates architects, buys from the vendor, and installs the product. On every job, JPI Glass serves two clients—the building owner and its general contractor. “We meet our clients’ needs by staying educated on our products and using our experience to prove what approach will work in certain applications,” Sherri says, adding that her project managers work with various disciplines to show them which products will be most effective. Sherri and Jim are careful to examine industry and economic trends and discover ways to operate efficiently. In 2004, the Plunketts made a dramatic decision that has given them a competitive advantage: they moved to a 30,000-square-foot facility in which workers fabricate frames in-house. “Other glass companies fabricate on-site, but we fabricate in our own shop so our project managers can see our product before it even hits the job,” Sherri says. The method allows for better quality control, and saves JPI money because they eliminate costly setup and teardown in the field.

a local company with an office close to the job site, JPI Glass will end up saving its client millions of dollars. Since its formation in 1978 and incorporation in 1984, JPI Glass has shown an uncanny ability to adapt with the times and with clients’ needs. After becoming a full-service glazier in 1998, the company has installed more than 60,000 windows while maintaining relationships with suppliers. Projects may range from small renovations to multimillion-dollar jobs, but JPI always brings the experience and expertise necessary to complete every project well. abq

Some things are born green . . . others are designed that way.

Talented and long-tenured employees also help things run smoothly at JPI Glass. “Our loyal employees know us and we know them,” Sherri says. “They know what we expect, and we know how they work, so there are no surprises.” The company retains 40 full-time workers, whom Sherri believes are attracted to JPI’s nurturing and friendly atmosphere. Throughout its history, JPI has worked for many entities in Kansas City, including every school district in the area. Past projects include jobs at the University of Kansas Medical Center, Core First Bank, and Staley High School. In addition, JPI recently won a large job after competing with a large national firm. While the other company proposed a $7 million renovation at he Ambassador Building, JPI found a way to perform the same work at a fraction of the cost. Instead of tearing through marble and increasing work, JPI will use lessinvasive methods to install new windows in less time. As

TRACO aluminium windows and doors are designed to contribute to Green Building and LEED® Certification. — Take The Leap To Green

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public housing

the housing authority of the city of los Angeles Emphasizing community, redirection, and sustainability in public-housing revitalization by sandra guy

at a glance location: los angeles, ca founded: 1938 employees: 1,000 area of specialty: public housing annual budget: $1 billion

recently, the housing authority of the city of Los Angeles (HACLA) embarked on an ambitious endeavor: remaking the internal relationships and the external structures of the Watts neighborhood’s largest public-housing project, Jordan Downs. The $1 billion, multiyear project calls for creating programs that meet individual families’ needs, as well as providing the greater community easy access to public transportation, parks, and open-play areas, excellent educational programs, workforce training, and retail, commercial, and light-industrial jobs. Revitalizing the Jordan Downs housing project will require replacing 700 public-housing units, built during World War II as temporary housing, and adding another 900–1,100 units of affordable and market-rate housing. The plan calls for new sustainable-housing construction; the extension of Century Boulevard into a neighbor-

Aerial rendering of Jordan Downs, which, upon completion, will feature easy access to public transportation, parks and recreation areas, educational programs, and much more.

50 american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010

hood main street; and the creation of 8 acres of public parks and open space; more than 14 acres for new retail, commercial, and light-industrial companies; and a family-resource center that will provide early-childhood programs, child care, a fitness center, health and wellness programs, and education and lifelong-learning programs. The first phase is to develop a service plan for each of the 695 families now living at Jordan Downs, which is known as the Human Capital Plan. That process will start this year, with the first stages set to begin in early 2011, said John King II, director of planning and policy with HACLA. Case workers who develop the service plans will include incentives to help families reach their goals, and the housing authority will have partners ready to help with needs such as family counseling and gang intervention, King says.


public housing

At Jordan Downs, our goal is to improve the quality of life for every resident. We are revitalizing an entire community and building a sustainable neighborhood by encompassing transit-oriented development, job training and career opportunities, and measures to ensure the safety of our residents. —Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Mayor of the City of Los Angeles

At the same time, HACLA is developing a “best practices” manual, with help from the Coro Center for Civic Leadership, to ensure that the service plans include proven strategies. “We want to make sure we have clear best practices and goals so that the plan is outcomedriven and not a feel-good situation,” King says. The Human Capital Plan and a portion of the brick-and-mortar work are expected to be financed by multiple sources, including a not-for-profit organization called Kids Progress Inc., whose fundraising efforts will be matched by HACLA, as well as funds that would be available through the “Moving to Work” designation that HACLA is pursuing through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Typical funding sources for affordable-housing developments include, but are not limited to, low-income housing tax credits, bonds, private lenders, and HUD’s HOPE IV and/or Choice Neighborhood’s Initiative.

Rendering of sidewalk view at Jordan Downs.

Rendering of Jordan Downs’ Central Park.

However, given the widely publicized failures to revitalize public housing nationwide, why should this plan work? Rudolf Montiel, PE, president and CEO of HACLA, says Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa and US Congresswoman Maxine Waters support the project, and the transformational efforts go beyond conventional efforts to improve public housing. “We’re not displacing people,” Montiel says. “The acquisition of adjacent land will allow us to build in phases. Children don’t have to move to new schools, people stay close to where they work, and the residents have the opportunity to be contributors to a new society within their own neighborhood.” Says Villaraigosa, “At Jordan Downs, our goal is to improve the quality of life for every resident. We are revitalizing an entire com- in its entirety,” Montiel says. “We have 14 sites like Jordan Downs munity and building a sustainable neighborhood by encompassing that will have to be redeveloped over the next 20 years.” transit-oriented development, job training and career opportunities, and measures to ensure the safety of our residents.” “We don’t plan to have one big developer controlling this, so there are opportunities for local builders and developers, as well as others None of the construction or road-building work has gone out for who will partner with them,” says Larry D. Goins, director of proposal, since the construction phase won’t start for another two development services for HACLA. “We will be looking for missionyears. Yet HACLA officials say they encourage builders, engineers, driven, give-back developers. This is an opportunity to provide architects, developers, and others to start paying attention and affordable housing in an area that needs it, and to build parks, roads, learning more about the project now. “The grander vision is that, retail space, new housing—all of the aspects of a major developby doing the Jordan Downs redevelopment project right, we’ll set ment. And we want to be the greenest redevelopment of public in motion the opportunity to rebuild public housing in Los Angeles housing in America.” abq

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


public housing

SLHA’s new central office building features energysaving fixtures and low-VOC paints. Photo: PeterWilson.

st. louis housing authority Bringing strength, sustainability, and diversity to the city’s public-housing programs by zach baliva

large cities face unique challenges when it comes to public housing. The difficulties often stem from misconceptions about subsidized developments or stigmas associated with the poorly managed projects of the past. At the St. Louis Housing Authority (SLHA), executive director Cheryl Lovell is working to surmount these challenges and build healthy and diverse communities that enhance surrounding neighborhoods.

at a glance location: saint louis, mo founded: 1939 employees: 90 area of specialty: public housing

The St. Louis Housing Authority has 2,941 publichousing developments in 46 locations. Through its Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, the organization serves more than 21,000 area residents in order to provide family-friendly housing. Public-housing and voucher-program residents are required to pay 30 percent of their income toward rent, and qualify for further public assistance, by falling below 80 percent of median area incomes, a figure determined by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The SLHA is federally funded, with 90 employees and an annual operating budget of $60 million. “The money helps the SLHA build public-housing units that have the

52 american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010

same high standards as private buildings,” Lovell says. SLHA developments are all public-private partnerships through which the group leverages federal resources with the private sector to create mixed-finance, mixedincome properties that include both public housing and market-rate units. “By mixing income levels, we create whole communities instead of a development that houses only low-income families,” Lovell explains. “This provides avenues for an entire community to become more healthy and interactive.” Complexes are flanked by services for lower-income residents, such as job training, day care, computer centers, and afterschool youth services. The approach, Lovell says, attracts development around each SLHA property and helps neighboring communities thrive. “Our goal is to improve the quality of life for not only residents but for employees and the community, by providing opportunities for employment, education, training, and housing,” she says. In recent years, these developments have replaced more-traditional publichousing projects, and reaction has been largely positive— St. Louis residents are supportive, because SLHA build-

st. louis housing authority public housing

Our goal is to improve the quality of life for not only residents but for employees and the community, by providing opportunities for employment, education, training, and housing. —Cheryl Lovell, Executive Director

ings address a significant social-service need but at the same time add to the city’s aesthetic image, much as a private development would. Started in 1939, SLHA now works on its own land to demolish existing high-rise buildings in favor of two- to three-story townhomes that include garden space. “Our new model creates healthier living and is healthier for the city from an economic-development point of view,” Lovell says. SLHA is expanding to other sites, but the goal remains the same: to allow each development to blend in with its neighborhood, street grid, and surrounding community. Formerly, public-housing units consisted of superblocks with streets inwardly focused. Now units face the street, and green spaces create a nurturing environment. As the SLHA continues to focus on creating healthy and lasting communities, sustainable construction is becoming an important issue. The organization is in development on the Arlington Grove project, which includes the historic rehab of an old school with new construction. The development incorporates several environmentally friendly elements, including solar panels, recycled materials, and EnergyStar

Courtyard of SLHA’s new office building. Photo: PeterWilsons.

   

Lobby of SLHA’s office, which features multiple sustainable fixtures. Photo: PeterWilsons.

Rendering of the Arlington Grove project, which will renovate a historic school and the surrounding area. Photo: KAI Design & Build

Arlington Grove Redevelopment 


 

  

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


public housing

st. louis housing authority

appliances. The project consists of 112 units total, of which 79 are public housing. The diverse development will be able to utilize state and federal historic tax credits, low-income-housing tax credits, solar tax credits, community-block grant funding, and publichousing development money. The $35 million project is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2011. In addition, SLHA recently completed its own central office space with several green products and principles. The 37,000-square-foot site is home to a café and bank. Energy-saving appliances, a reflective roof, low-VOC paints, and waterless fixtures help keep costs down. SLHA’s green efforts are all encompassing—the group is even returning to several existing developments to add solar panels and rainwater harvesting. “Sustainability creates longer-lasting communities that are better for our residents, while helping us save money by lowering operational costs,” Lovell says. Sustainability fits perfectly with St. Louis Housing Authority’s goal of “creating neighborhoods where people can rebuild, restart, or resume their lives.” With 16,000 Section 8 residents and 5,600 in public housing, SLHA is proving that low-income developments can still be high in quality and performance. abq

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building amenities The NCG-designed Currahee Club in Toccoa, GA, is a 48,000-square-foot golf clubhouse that includes a dining room, cocktail lounge, billiards room, locker rooms, and more.

NCG architects, inc. Award-winning resort and clubhouse designs lead firm to its fifth decade of success by julie edwards

atlanta-based ncg architects, inc. believes “great designs are built from great relationships,” and this business philosophy has guided the firm’s success through almost 40 years of design excellence.

one of the firm’s earliest projects. Choosing to nestle the conference, dining, and residential buildings of the plantation among the live oaks on the property helped establish one of the firm’s design hallmarks—a sensitive relationship with the natural environment. Originally founded in 1972 as Nichols, Bray, Carter & Currently, the firm specializes in clubhouses, resorts, Seay, by a group of friends who were passionate about and residential projects, and has won numerous awards architecture, NCG Architects evolved in its first several for its work, including the 2008 American Resort Develyears into Nichols, Carter & Grant, lead by Bill Nichols, opment Association’s Gold Award for Resort ArchitecAlex Carter, and Chick Grant. The firm’s ownership ture. One of the traits that sets NCG apart in a highly transition began in 1998, and with Carter’s retirement competitive field is its culture of direct communication in 2005, NCG Architects entered its second generation with their clients. “At NCG, a principal heads the design of owners, which includes principal Anne Sciarrone, team selected for each individual project and commuAIA, LEED AP. nicates directly with the client throughout all phases of design and construction,” Sciarrone says. “We compete Sciarrone joined NCG Architects in 1993, became a shareholder in 1999, and was named a principal in 2001. with much larger firms that are not able to offer this oneon-one attention to their clients.” “I was introduced to NCG through my uncle, a former client of the firm,” Sciarrone says. “My early years at She adds that the firm’s timeless, classic architectural NCG provided me boundless exposure to projects of style also attracts many clients. “Architectural trends different scale, style, and building type, and during my come and go, but classic styles transcend design fads tenure I have worked on schools, churches, community and create a feeling of comfort while aging much more clubs, golf clubs, tennis clubs, lodges, and single-family gracefully than trendy buildings,” she says. “Instead, we residences.” She notes that NCG’s roots are deeply embedded in Florida’s Amelia Island Plantation beach resort, are attentive to well-detailed designs, and draw on the

at a glance location: atlanta, ga founded: 1972 employees: 6 area of specialty: residential, resort, and clubhouse design average annual sales: $2 million+ average annual projects: 20–30

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


building amenities

ncg architects, inc.

We are attentive to well-detailed designs, and draw on the historic traditions of regional or period architectural styles to create properties with a unique sense of place. —Anne Sciarrone, Principal

This Golf Club project in the Florida Panhandle was designed in a New England Shingle style, and was laid out with multiple small structures to resemble a New England village. Photo: Eric M. Marcus, e.m. marcus photography.

vernacular traditions of regional or period architectural styles to create properties with a unique sense of place.” One of NCG’s latest projects was to provide masterplanning services for the Savannah Golf Club in Savannah, Georgia. “The results of the master plan were member-driven, addressing the results of a recent survey,” Sciarrone explains. “The club’s membership had become more family-focused, yet there was no familydining option during special events. The members also wanted to boost curb appeal and better integrate the tennis function of the club.” After exploring multiple options for renovating the existing clubhouse, NCG determined there was more value in constructing a new building. “It was important to the membership that the clubhouse’s new design speak to its 200-plus-year history,” Sciarrone says. Thus, the resulting building was inspired by a federal-style, lowcountry architecture that captures the essence of Coastal Georgia. Members and guests experience a dramatic new arrival sequence as they approach the club along a picturesque drive. The impressive new dining facility includes a mixed grill and a casual lounge—areas that did not previously exist—while the new location allows for maximized views of both golf and tennis play and provides more outdoor space. At a black-tie event celebrating the grand reopening of the Savannah Golf Club in April, the board and members enthusiastically praised the new facility.

The new Savannah Golf Club maximizes views of both golf and tennis play and provides more outdoor spaces.

56 american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010

While NCG’s work has traditionally been focused on the nation’s Southeast region, within the last 10 years the firm has completed work in Bermuda, Ireland, Italy, Israel, and India. And even though the depressed residential market remains challenging, Sciarrone says NCG has overcome similar challenges in the past—and plans to move toward the future—by “opening up to more diversity in our work,” she says, “and positioning ourselves in creative ways while remaining true to our core philosophies.” abq

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ZFS&A’s work for the Eric Mower & Associates headquarters in Syracuse, NY, features an open and collaborative floor plan.

zausmer, frisch, scruton & aggarwal, inc. Creativity and attention to detail are the foundation for 39 years of design excellence by catherine conway

“our specialty is the imaginative, the creative, and the unique,” says Garson “Gary” Zausmer, president and founding partner of Zausmer, Frisch, Scruton & Aggarwal, Inc. (ZFS&A), a full-service, design-build firm in Syracuse, New York. Over the past 39 years, ZFS&A has met and exceeded the challenges of prestigious architectural and design projects throughout the central New York region. at a glance location: syracuse, ny founded: 1972 employees: 18 area of specialty: medical, commercial, and hospitality projects

One example of the firm’s creative endeavors is the recently completed corporate offices of Eric Mower & Associates, a national advertising firm headquartered in Syracuse. Eric Mower & Associates joined forces with another Syracuse-based advertising firm, Mark Russell & Associates, in May 2008, and soon after, the newly created firm went in search of a larger office. That ZFS&A would assist Mower with the move seemed only natural. Over the past 15 years, ZFS&A has designed four office spaces for the two advertising firms—three for Mark Russell & Associates and one for Eric Mower & Associates. Work began on the new, 30,600-square-foot

58 american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010

offices in August 2009, and finished in December 2009. The project involved the build-out of roughly 25,800 square feet of existing space and the construction of a 4,800-square-foot addition. The design mandate for the project, Zausmer says, was the same as it had been for the previous four: to push the bounds of creativity. “Not expensive,” he notes, “but with innovation and creativity, because that is the image they want to impress upon their clients.” The mostly open office space includes low glass walls and sliding glass doors on the outer offices, allowing natural light to penetrate deep into the interior, while retaining a marginal level of professional privacy. Glass garage doors divide the interconnected theater, training room, and café, and are lifted to create a much larger meeting space, capable of hosting the office’s entire 115-person staff. The industrial ceiling of the office—steel girders and the array of mechanicals—remains exposed throughout the office, with the ceiling plane broken up

The Eric Mower & Associates offices feature a theater, training room, and café, which opens into a space that accommodates the staff of 125.

by large “cloud” panels of varying sizes and geometric shapes. These panels help reduce noise transference, while providing a certain sense of motion to the ceiling with the long, sharp-angled triangles that appear to be floating overhead. Zausmer and his long-time partner, Robert Frisch, founded the firm in 1972. In 1993, Raymond Scruton and Sheila Aggarwal became partners after they had been with the firm for more than 12 years. According to Zausmer, one of the keys to the firm’s success lies in its business structure. “This office is a true designbuild office,” he notes. “We have always had in-house architecture, interior design, and construction management.” Today, the firm employs 18 people: 3 architects, 2 interior designers, 3 support staff, 2 estimators, and 8 crew members in the field, including carpenters and construction managers. Zausmer concedes, though, that one of the real secrets to the firm’s creativity lies in the talent of his partners. Scruton is an architect with more than 30 years experience, and both Bob Frisch, who passed away early this year, and Garson Zausmer had trained in industrial design. Frisch held a master’s degree in interior design, and Aggarwal is an experienced, creative interior designer. Both Scruton and Aggarwal are LEED APs. With this diverse team of in-house staff, partners, and employees alike, the firm has long practiced its own internal version of an integrated design process, with the field experience of the construction crews helping to inform the architects and vice versa. “We have open

ZFS&A designed the Shenendoah Clubhouse at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino, a world-class facility in Oneida, NY, that hosts the Senior PGA tournament.

Our specialty is the imaginative, the creative, and the unique. —Mike Cremonese, Co-Chairman

office meetings, with everyone involved,” Zausmer says, “architects, designers, staff, construction managers, and crew. We discuss construction and design details as a team for the best result.” abq

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


building amenities

naiztat + ham architects

The firm’s services include restoration and renovation, which it provided in this townhouse in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Naiztat + ham architects Helping developers make their building the best on the block by zach baliva

amenity spaces are increasingly important to developers because they entice tenants and buyers. As building managers look to improve their holdings, the area is a viable market for architects. Diane Naiztat and Alexander Ham, the husband-and-wife team behind Naiztat + Ham Architects, specialize in creating unmatched amenity spaces in high-end residential buildings.

at a glance location: new york, ny founded: 1988 employees: 5 area of specialty: amenity spaces

“When we were younger, we didn’t know what an architect’s job really was, so we were willing to do anything on a project, even if it was outside of traditional responsibilities,” Naiztat recalls. The experiences helped both partners grow as business people and still benefit them today. “Now, we’re an integral part of each step in the process and become part of the think tank for every project,” Naiztat explains. She and her husband often help negotiate leases, navigate real-estate issues, and Naiztat + Ham started more than 20 years ago, when deal with other problems that arise. Naiztat jokes that Naiztat and Ham (both Cornell University graduates) started working from their kitchen. Initially, Naiztat ran she often becomes a client’s marriage counselor, friend, and life coach. the business while Ham worked with other companies before joining the firm full-time in 1994. Six years ago, Early life at Naiztat + Ham was busy followed by a slow Naiztat + Ham Architects moved to New York’s meatpacking district, where it has blossomed into a fixture of period in the 1990s, during which the team helped companies relocate and take advantage of low leases. Unlike the community. many architects who graduated in the 1980s, Naiztat and Ham are still in business and can serve clients based on Although the company has found success and formed their experience during the last recession. A year before a niche in the amenity world, it was a willingness to the recent downturn, Naiztat suggested building owners diversify that helped get Naiztat + Ham off the ground.

60 american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


naiztat + ham architects

make their property the best on the block to compete in the slowing market. Most owners first ignored her but later called to request her help. “Projects generated out of these conversations before the crash have been keeping us busy the last two years,” she says. Now Naiztat + Ham Architects is working with those clients to improve buildings and thereby increase rental and purchase prices. Creating a successful amenity space requires insightful observation and research into a building’s demographics. For buildings with young and professional residents, the firm often specifies hip and trendy features like lounge spaces, WiFi, wine bars, gyms, common outdoor spaces, and video-game accessories. Other popular elements include green and sustainable installations, such as bike rooms and juice bars. Making the pool as glamorous as possible is almost always necessary. “When updating a building, we identify what tenets will benefit from and what items will grab their attention. We look at all spaces and never let any space go to waste,” Naiztat says. Buildings with older tenants receive childcare rooms and other appropriate amenities. Larger buildings with many floors are good candidates for Naiztat + Ham Architect’s amenity services. Big investment companies, insurance brokers, and law firms fill a significant portion of the client list. Still, Naiztat + Ham Architects remains a boutique firm. “People come to us for our personal attention because we provide more than

the cookie-cutter designs from a big company,” Naiztat says. “Our clients get Alex’s intense technical expertise, my design skills, and the attention from a specialized team.” The company simultaneously completes various small jobs and more than a dozen major projects shared among its five employees. Naiztat and Ham both work in retail and residential areas outside of the amenity market. Other projects include high-end residences, modern lofts, prewar homes, showrooms, and office spaces. The firm is currently designing a house in Garden City, a neighborhood on Long Island. The project is for repeat clients who are in their mid-70s and want an interesting property built in what is a suburban setting filled with older homes. The firm is also working with Green Logic to make the home energy efficient. Solar panels are placed atop flat roofs, which have allowed the architects to effectively add a level without changing the overall height by reducing attic space. The unique project is a fun one for Naiztat and Ham, who appreciate the chance to do something different. Their clients are happy, too. “Our clients like us, and that is a big part of our success,” Naiztat says. Happy clients are essential for any company. At Naiztat + Ham Architects, client satisfaction has led to repeat business and frequent referrals. Whether residential or corporate, clients know that Naiztat + Ham Architects will deliver on its established reputation for quality and professionalism. abq

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The firm’s industry know-how was used for the Grande Lake Lodge and Spa in Southbridge, just outside of Savannah, GA.

ce hall enterprises Firm credits business basics for 30 years of satisfied clients by julie edwards

whether constructing a clubhouse or a custom home, business basics and deep-rooted family values have kept the firm of CE Hall Enterprises going strong for almost 30 years. at a glance

is no substitute for craftsmanship and quality,” Hall says. “Whether the project is a new home, commercial building, or a historical restoration, we believe in providing an exceptional experience and having a positive influence on everything we do.”

“I have to attribute the company’s success to yielding my life to God almost 20 years ago, and the divine wisdom location: that came along with the experience,” says Gene Hall, savannah, ga owner of CE Hall Enterprises. “This divine perspective, founded: along with simple business basics such as honesty, integ1989 rity, and a spirit of excellence, have helped us be able to employees: navigate downturns and stay ahead of our competition.” 8 area of specialty: Hall started in the contracting business during the commercial and 1980s; toward the end of the decade, he decided to start residential construction, histori- his own company and founded CE Hall Construction, which incorporated in 1989. The company continued cal renovations, to expand and, as a result, changed its name to CE and real estate Hall Enterprises, which encompasses commercial and average annual residential construction and renovation, as well as realsales: estate services. $35 million average annual As the company’s business grew, so did its reputation for projects: building a product that exceeded expectations. “There 1–15

62 american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010

The breadth of the company’s services—especially for its size—is remarkable. Commercial projects encompass resorts, banks, churches, office building, and educational structures, both new build and renovations. Its residential portfolio includes condominium complexes, custom homes, and historic renovations. CE Hall Enterprises’ newest venture is its real-estate division, which currently works on new-construction projects, usually as an approved builder within a newly developed community. In the future, Hall hopes to add a development arm to the real-estate division. In addition, the company also is known for its historicrenovation work in the Greater Savannah area and has received several awards for its renovations from the Savannah Historical Society, including one for its work on the home of Juliette Low, founder of the Girl Scouts.

ce hall enterprises

building amenities

There is no substitute for craftsmanship and quality. Whether the project is a new home, commercial building or a historical restoration, we believe in providing an exceptional experience and having a positive influence on everything we do. —Gene Hall, Owner

“One of our most challenging renovation projects, however, was a six-story historic building that housed all attorneys’ offices,” Hall says. “We had to undertake a great deal of logistics and planning to move everyone during the project as needed with the least amount of impact to their work.” Currently, CE Hall Enterprises is working on several large community projects—Yellow Bluff Retreat & Marina, located in Liberty County, Georgia; Westbrook at Savannah Quarters, a gated community located in the west end of Savannah; and Water Ways Township, located in the fast-growing area of Richmond Hills, Georgia.

a message from xpressions and designs Working with CE Hall has given Xpressions and Designs the ability to showcase their designs in the specialized areas of construction. Providing services for local homebuilders, in addition to CE Hall, has allowed them to customize their designs and bridge style with quality construction. Designing spaces for CE Hall has and will certainly provide Xpressions and Designs the opportunity to maximize their potential in custom-home building.

This Savannah Beach home in Tybee Island, GA, is just one of many CE Hall-constructed homes.

The company became involved with Yellow Bluff after the project endured some financial issues, and Hall was invited to bid on completing the community clubhouse. “We came in on time and on budget, and built a great relationship with the developer,” Hall says. CE Hall Enterprises is now working on new homes and boat barns as an approved builder with Yellow Bluff, and is also the preferred builder for Westbrook and WaterWays, a homesite development featuring a Tom Fazio golf course and marina. The company’s strong finances combined with its even stronger principles have ensured its success. Throughout its history, CE Hall Enterprises has survived and thrived on word-of-mouth referrals and repeat business; however, the challenges of the last two years made Hall realize he needed another way to reach prospective clients, so he recently invested in a newly developed website, which has brought additional attention to the company. Hall believes, most of all, that what sets his company apart is how his team leaves a project. “Leaving a project is your last impression on a client, and the most important,” he says. “And we strive to leave every project in complete peace with a satisfied client.” abq

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


The 60 Sutton Place project required the firm to cantilevere a canopy and remove a vestibule in order to free up the building’s entry. Photo: PeterVitale.

ethelind coblin architect, pc New York architect gives a new face to iconic Manhattan lobbies by karen gentry

projects completed by new york city-based Ethelind Coblin Architect, PC are unique and tailored to the particular client, the building, and its style. “Our responsibility is to synthesize project goals, creating a timeless, elegant design,” says Ethelind Coblin, principal of the firm. “The style and scope of building renovation depends upon the client and their dreams and vision of what they want to create.”

at a glance location: new york, ny founded: 1989 average annual revenue: $2 million

Before starting her own firm, Coblin worked for Robert A.M. Stern Architects, Philip Johnson Architect, and Fox & Fowle Architects PC, to gain experience in commercial and residential architecture. In 1989, she started her own firm with partner Jennifer Judge. Their first project was a deteriorating carriage house in Quogue, New York, on the south shore of Long Island. That long-term project transformed the barn into a beautiful high-end residence that now includes a pergola and swimming pool. Since its founding, Ethelind Coblin Architect has grown to $2 million in annual sales. Because of this growth, the firm doubled the size of its space at its Eight Avenue office. Coblin says her company focuses on three main types of residential projects: design of lobbies, fitness

64 american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010

centers, and hallways for cooperatives and condominiums; consultation for apartment-alteration reviews; and design of apartments and second-home renovations. Ethelind Coblin Architect also offers building energy audits for coops and condos, to comply with recent city requirements. More than one-third of Ethelind Coblin’s work centers on lobby projects. A couple of standouts include lobby renovations for 301 East 78th Street and 60 Sutton Place in New York City. For the 78th Street project, the architects transformed a 1960s space that included dated carpeting and a lack of natural light. Coblin said the mailboxes and storage were moved from the front of the entrance to free up the main portion of the lobby, allow for more daylighting, and to create a centralized domed space. Before the renovation of the lobby of the Sutton Place building in 2008, 350 shareholders had to navigate through a very small vestibule that included both the concierge and doorman stations. “We cantilevered a canopy, removed the vestibule, and moved the concierge and storage area to free up that whole entry,” Coblin says. For yet another lobby project, a mailbox area that was slightly removed from the lobby did not meet Americans



our renovation projects depends upon the client and their dreams and vision of what they want to create.

—Ethelind Coblin, Principal






with Disabilities Act requirements. “We built a new mail room that kind of sweeps through the space in a postwar building,” says Coblin, noting the lobby is now more modern and aesthetically pleasing for the building’s residents. The firm’s first lobby project, in 1992, was in a beauti-

Beaux-Art building constructed in the 1920s that JAMES fulR. WALSH had fallen into disrepair. The firm removed a 1970s

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and glass brick, and installed a steel vestibule that featured wrought-iron corner rosettes and cast egg and dart roundels, keeping in step with the building’s style. Coblin also says that many layers of paint over marble detailing were cleaned out. The ceiling was lowered in the vestibule, allowing for the relocation of ceiling THREE GORHAM AVENUE escutcheons where the ceiling had been damaged. “The WESTPORT, CONNECTICUT 06880 space was returned to its former grandeur,” she says.

Coblin explains that the ever-increasing number of available materials and services have allowed for big changes and different design opportunities. “It’s just infinite the amount of different materials that are available to us,” Coblin says. “In 1977, there were maybe 10 lighting companies—so few to select from.” Stones, glass, new polymer products—some made to look like wood—are now options, Coblin says, as well as reconstituted sugar cane and paper that can be used for countertops (inAMIE@JRWALSHASSOCIATES.COM corporated into the company’s newly expanded office). 646.721.0799 Caesarstone, Silestone, and many choices of granite and marble add to the wealth of options. “You can’t imagine how beautiful these materials are, especially the sugar cane,” Coblin says. “These are all green products.” She adds that improved lighting choices in fluorescents and LED will also continue to improve with better color renditions and efficiency.

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camino nuevo charter academy /// watsonville water operations center //////////////////////

Designed by Daly Genik Architects, the Camino Nuevo Elementary School is just one of four projects completed for the the Camino Nuevo Charter Academy. For this particular project, DGA retrofit an L-shaped mini-mall into a unique school using vibrant colors and materials like these recycled Nexwood panels to create a learning environment unlike any other.

Photo: Tom Bonner



daly genik architects

Reimagining the little red schoolhouse Daly Genik Architects has forever changed the face of public education in Los Angeles with its series of out-of-thebox designs for the Camino Nuevo Charter Academy >> By Jennifer Kirkland 68 american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010

What is that thing? The yellow and gray building resembles a giant, corrugated Lego block curving along the busy streetscape of Silver Lake Boulevard in Los Angeles. From the outside, its function is not obvious, but that is one of the many appealing aspects of the enigmatic structure. Is it a factory of some kind? A museum? Artsy condominiums? It feels perfectly at home here, and despite the building’s large size, it fits neatly into the context of its neighborhood. One could say that the building is a factory of sorts—one in which the foremen hope not for better products, but for a better future. It is the Camino Nuevo High School, designed by the award-winning Santa Monica-based Daly Genik Architects (DGA) for the Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (CNCA). Pueblo Nuevo Development (PND), the nonprofit organization that founded the CNCA, invested $17.6 million in this charter public high school designed for 500 students. It is one of four schools designed by DGA for PND since 2000, most of which have been extensive renovations and redesigns

daly genik architects


A graphic skin // Camino Nuevo High School sits at a busy five-way intersection, but DGA designed the school to fit perfectly into the difficult site. They pulled the building back just enough to allow for landscaping at the periphery. The building’s signature look comes from an eye-catching (but nonstructural) perforated rain-screen system, or “skin,” that is both beautiful and functional. In addition to giving the school a bold, modern face, the skin also modulates the harsh sun, cutting down on energy costs.

Photo: Tim Griffth

of existing urban structures. This unique partnership has helped spark a new beginning for one of the most impoverished and densely populated neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

small changes, big impacts DGA principal Kevin Daly feels a key factor in the reclamation of the neighborhood was to demonstrate to the community that the street could be successfully and safely reinhabited. He also concedes that because of the limited resources available in these school-building projects, completely restoring the urban neighborhood would be too much to ask. “We opted for a strategy of creating voids and transparencies in the existing building fabric in a manner that would allow views from the street to extend to the middle of the block, without compromising the secure perimeter of the buildings,” Daly explains. Daly sees the CNCA projects as an alternative to the way schools are normally built. “Like Pueblo Nuevo, we believe in the trans-

formative power of small changes,” he says. “An important part of the work we have done with the Camino Nuevo schools has been to reimagine the context of the buildings, and I think this is similar to what they do in reimagining the way the education system should work.” Traditionally, a school district has the political authority and the resources to take over property and assemble enough land to build schools to district standards, which results in compound-like campuses, especially in California’s warm climate. Traditional school properties are protected by fences on the inside, walling themselves off from the city on the outside. The Camino Nuevo projects did not have the political or financial resources to assemble properties for their schools in this way, so they had to negotiate with property owners to buy parcels as they were available and as PND could afford them. “I think the result is more of a precinct than a compound,” Daly says, “with the school property more integrated with the city that surrounds it.”

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010



daly genik architects Photo: Tom Bonner

CNCA elementary school // Centering on a courtyard, the design for the CNCA Elementary School involved creating a new entrance (below) to what was previously an L-shped mini-mall, as well as erecting curved lattices of Nexwood, a recycled-wood product, used to help shade the building (right).

Photo: Tom Bonner

Ordinary buildings/extraordinary dress All of DGA’s CNCA schools are innovative learning spaces, whimsical buildings that spark the imagination, inspire children to learn, and hopefully make school a place to be enjoyed rather than avoid. “We want schools to be memorable for kids,” Daly says. “Too many schools are stucco and forgettable.” For the first school of the series—CNCA Elementary School, located in the MacArthur Park neighborhood, which was completed in 2001—DGA renovated a mundane L-shaped mini-mall and transformed it into a dynamic learning environment, with 12 classrooms centered in classical fashion around a courtyard.

Photo: Nic Lehoux

classroom area of the school, as well as a community health center. What was once a group of blighted buildings is now a bustling campus. DGA also designed a preschool, the CNCA Early Learning Center, out of an abandoned warehouse between the elementary school and the middle school on Burlington Avenue in MacArthur Park. Like the elementary school, the preschool is designed around a courtyard, which serves as the facility’s playground. This courtyard was created by demolishing part of an adjacent warehouse to create a midblock garden.

The enigmatic high school is the final project to date. It sits on a complicated island site, with a five-way intersection at one end and a very busy street on one long side. The city-planning requirements for that district specified that the building was to be built on the property Located on the same block as the elementary school, the CNCA line, which would have made a huge wall right against the sidewalk. Middle School project also renovated older urban spaces for new uses. “We were able to convince [the city] to allow a curve in the plan of the Its campus consists of two parts: a 9,000-square-foot warehouse that building to make space for landscaping,” Daly says, “then reinforced is now a multiuse classroom-cafeteria-administration space, and an abandoned 18,000-square-foot office building that now forms the main this curve with the graphic pattern of metal panels on the skin.”

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daly genik architects


We believe in the transformative power of small changes. >> Kevin Daly, design Principal

CNCA middle school // Comprised of a renovated warehouse and office building, the CNCA Middle School features a dramatically modified façade of perforated panels that both allows light in during the day and turns the school into a latern at night (below). The school also features an open-air “street” (bottom right), which allows fresh air to flow through the two-building structure.

Photo: Nic Lehoux

Photo: Nic Lehoux

Sustainable diversity DGA’s whimsical designs are intended to create inviting learning environments. Gone are the days of dark classrooms choked with chalk dust. If we really think about it, it makes sense that schools are where green design meets its reason to be. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t spare a cent for our children’s future. But schools are always pressed for operating funds, and money saved in utility bills can be used instead for educational resources. In this case, PNG couldn’t afford to go for LEED certification, but DGA’s designs are still energy efficient, economical, and easy to maintain—three hallmarks of sustainability. “With regard to sustainability, we try to emphasize physics over features,” Daly says. “We aim for a standard of 100 percent daylight in classrooms; each classroom must have enough daylight to operate without artificial light for the normal school day, all school year.” This allows the lights to stay off, reducing the demand for air-conditioning. To accomplish this, windows are usually needed on two

Photo: Nic Lehoux

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010



daly genik architects

We want schools to be memorable for kids. Too many schools are stucco and forgettable. >> Kevin Daly, design Principal

Second Floor 6

2 7 8



3 3





First Floor 1 5 2







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CNCA high school // As the most recent development for the Cameno Nuevo Charter Academy, the CNCA High School featured a highly unique design due to its location. The result was creating a two-story, elongated building of classrooms, as well as a smaller building that serves as the main entryway and includes administrative offices and media rooms. This two-building design allowed for an accessible courtyard in the center, and gives the classrooms plenty of daylight. 1. Administration 2. Science Lab 3. Classroom 4. Art Classroom 5. Courtyard 6. Media Center 7. Outdoor Amphitheater 8. Auditorium 9. Storage

daly genik architects


the firm ////////////////////////////////// Santa Monica-based Daly Genik Architects (DGA) is a 20-person firm with unique ties to both academia and the professional design community. DGA was launched in 1990 as a partnership between architects Kevin Daly and Chris Genik, who is the current director of the undergraduate program at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc). The firm initially focused on residential work but has expanded its scope since the CNCA relationship began in 1998. Recent DGA designs include two affordable-housing complexes, a new art center for the Harvard University Art Museums, three custom residences, offices for BMW/ DesignworksUSA, a master plan for the UCLA Music Department, and the Edison Language Academy in Santa Monica, CA.

at a glance ////////////////////////////// Location: Santa Monica, CA Employees: 20 On the Web :


Photo: Tim Griffth

Photo: Tim Griffth

the developers //////////////////////////////// Pueblo Nuevo is a nonprofit community-development corporation founded in 1993 by Philip Lance, to help revitalize and redevelop the poor neighborhoods of Central Los Angeles by providing a ladder out of poverty for the youth of the city. Their community-development strategies include vital parent-support programs and community health services. Early developments included a thrift store and a janitorial company owned by employees. In 1999, Pueblo Nuevo founded the Camino Nuevo Charter Academy to build a network of public charter schools that now serves more than 1,600 students.


Photo: Tim Griffth

sides of every classroom, which provides the opportunity for natural ventilation most of the year. “In some projects, like the high school, we took advantage of the mass of reinforced masonry construction,” Daly says, “to provide passive cooling to the classrooms.”

design with an eye on academia

Natural light is one of the predominant features in all four CNCA projects. At the high school, natural light floods the classrooms because of the way the two wings of the structure interact. In addition to making a bold graphic statement, the perforated, corrugated metal façade dampens the street noise outside and shades the building from the hot California sun.

For Daly, DGA, and PND, the CNCA projects have been a resounding success. The bustling, functional, and beautiful schools truly represent a new paradigm for charter-school construction. “It is unusual in that it is a small-scale series of projects that has allowed the school to respond to the demands of the community and adjust their tactics to the finances they have available,” Daly says. “Most school districts are required to operate in a top-down manner: they commit to a building program, and it could be 5–10 years before a student is sitting at a desk. The CNCA project is more agile; they are rethinking their master plan constantly.”

At the middle school, the façade of the former office building was modified to allow natural daylight control through a scrim of perforated panels. In the former warehouse, the interior street created between the two buildings remains open to the sky and provides natural light to each classroom. At the elementary school, curved, sculptural lattices of Nexwood, a recycled-wood product, shade the building and help regulate sunlight in the 12 classrooms.

The projects also fit well into DGA’s mission and project portfolio. “We are a design practice,” Daly says, “so we do not specialize in specific building types; we work on houses, housing, and public commissions like parks. We like the challenge of unique projects that can’t be characterized as a building type because it is an opportunity to really understand a program and configure a building specifically for that purpose.” abq

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010



watsonville water operations center

WATER WORKS watsonville’s LEED Platinum-certified Water operations Center serves as a functional and educational resource for water recycling in Northern California + bY ANNIE FISCHER

The Water Operations Center is long (290 feet) but thin, and is oriented on an east/west axis to leverage natural breezes as the primary source of ventilation. The facility uses daylighting as the lighting strategy for 90 percent of the building.

watsonville water operations center


griculture is the economic centerpiece of California’s Pajaro Valley, according to the City of Watsonville’s Public Works and Utilities Department. The annual production of Northern California’s coastal region, which includes parts of Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, has an estimated value of $530 million, and all those crops need water.

However, the burgeoning need for irrigation was leading to the overpumping of groundwater, and the subsequent intrusion of seawater into the water table began threatening the local agricultural industry. To help solve the problem, the City of Watsonville and the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency teamed up to study the feasibility of using recycled water as an alternative irrigation supply. The idea was to identify, design, and construct a water-recycling project that met the irrigation-supply needs and specific water-quality objectives for the protection of the growers, consumers, and saltsensitive crops. By treating wastewater and making it available to the local agricultural industry, the Water Recycling Project aimed to protect groundwater that was being consumed more quickly than it could be replenished. In addition, the plant would significantly reduce wastewater discharges into the nearby Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, thereby protecting the native wildlife from harm.


With the Watsonville Water Operations Center, which opened in November 2009, the mission was accomplished. First constructed during the 1920s, the Watsonville Wastewater Treatment Facility has seen its workload grow from servicing a small agricultural community to treating wastewater for as many as 50,000 residents; more than 170 miles of pipeline are now used to transport an average daily flow of seven million gallons of wastewater from residential, commercial, and industrial sources. The new $11 million Water Operations Center—conceived to serve as a functional, educational, and visual extension of the water-recycling plant it supports—also houses administrative offices for three different city and county water departments, as well as a water-quality lab. According to lead architect Pauline Souza, associate partner and green-services director at San Francisco’s WRNS Studio, the clients’ objectives were clear from the beginning and never changed: to achieve maximum efficiency from an energy and a resource standpoint, to attain the highest LEED certification, to advance the Water Recycling Project’s educational mission, and to stay within budget. Any preconceived understandings of “business as usual” were checked at the door, Souza says, and each decision required creative solutions that ideally incorporated the elements of conservation, restraint, and localism. “The client was a very informed, very educated team member who was continually interested in understanding all possibilities,” Souza

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says. “So the project was never a matter of being sustainable above all else, or cost effective above all else, or architectural above all else. It was a matter of how to find balance.” Evidence of that balance can be found in nearly every design component of the structure and its surrounding environs—so much so that the American Institute of Architects’ Committee on the Environment (AIA/COTE) named the Watsonville Water Operations Center as a 2010 Top Ten Green Project, a prestigious award that recognizes the benefits of sustainable design and acknowledges architects as leaders in the creation of environmentally responsible design solutions. According to the AIA/COTE project profile of the Water Operations Center, the 16,000-square-foot building, which is almost 290 feet in length, is oriented on an east-west axis, allowing for the majority of the building’s program to be placed along the north and south facades. As such, the eaves control solar heat gain, along with trees placed along the southern edge, and a polished concrete radiant floor uses reclaimed water to provide heating and cooling for occupied spaces. An open plan and an elevated section of the building give the building airy, spacious feel, and skylights along the central corridor allow ample sunlight to penetrate the whole structure. The finite resource at the heart of the project is highlighted throughout the design. Rainwater flows from the roof’s eaves down rain chains and into swales, where it is then carried to



OPPOSITE PAGE: Saltwater spray is typical of the coastal area, making wood better suited for cladding than alternatives like plaster or steel. By using redwood, which develops a gray patina with age, the building connects with the regional agricultural context and to the rich vernacular architecture of the area’s weathered wooden barns. LEFT: The Water Operations Center serves as an extension of the larger City of Watsonville Water Resources complex, which it supports. The new building houses administrative offices for three different city and county water departments, as well as a water-quality lab. BELOW LEFT: The building’s offices feature a number o glass sidelights and operable clerestory windows, allowing for abundant natural light and air movement throughout the building’s private and public spaces. BELOW RIGHT: Lead architect Pauline Souza, from WRNS Studio, headed the design team for the Watsonville Water Operations Center.

“ T he pr o jec t wa s ne v er a m at t er of being sus tain a bl e a b ov e a l l el se , or co s t ef f ec tiv e a bov e a l l el se , or a r chit ec t ur a l a b ov e a l l el se . It wa s a m at t er of ho w t o find ba l a nce.” Pauline Souza , As so ciate Par tner & Green Ser vices Direc tor at WRNS Studio

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010



watsonville water operations center

“ T hroughou t t he pr o jec t, we eng aged in a rich in v e s tig ation of p o s sibilitie s , f r om t he beginning de sign s tage s t hr ough t he end of cons t ruc tion.” Pauline Souza , As so ciate Par tner & Green Ser vices Direc tor at WRNS Studio

retention basins and treated prior to returning to the groundwater system. The plumbing scheme reduces water use with low-flow plumbing fixtures, dual-flush toilets that use reclaimed water for flushing, and solar-powered faucets. There’s even a fountain installed in the property’s courtyard—one that runs only when recycled water is available to the site.

creates more sound than carpet, but carpet would lessen the floor’s efficiency. Outside, the drought-tolerant native plantings require less than 70 percent of the water standard landscaping would, but because they too only receive the available recycled water, the landscape is sometimes more brown than green. California redwood, owned by the City and slated for fire-hazard clearance, was custom milled eight miles from the project site, to be used for the building siding, and the wood—better suited than alternatives such as plaster or steel to withstand the coastal area’s salty air— will eventually develop a brown-gray patina, merging the facility with its topography. It also has knots.

“From a landscaping perspective, you want that fountain to always be running,” Souza admits. “But it would be disingenuous to use potable water there.” In other words, one can’t help but notice when the fountain is inactive, which echoes the Water Operations Center’s educational mission to represent water as a seasonal resource connected to the local agricultural growing season. The “We’re architects; we think wood shouldn’t have knots,” Souza same goes for the large metal roof: anyone standing beneath it is jokes. “But it’s good wood. And in the end, I think those visual aware both visually and aurally when it’s raining, and when it’s not. aspects all add to the story.”

In addition to its focus on water and resource conservation, There were also challenges to the project that had little to do with the facility is designed to also conserve energy while improvreconciling conservation and design. The usual problems one ing building performance and comfort. The use of naturalwould expect, says Souza—getting new team members up to speed ventilation systems eliminated the energy costs of installing and and on board with the mission, for example, or making careful operating a chiller, as well as the cost and material use of sheetbudget choices to circumnavigate the ideology that money rules metal ducting—far offsetting the price of operable windows the day. The leap from planning to construction was perhaps even and fans necessary for thermal comfort. Heating is provided greater than usual, since many of the techniques are so new. only when required, avoiding the energy penalty of a conventional forced-air system. Building chimneys, roof-mounted solar “What seems reasonable on paper is always informed by personal panels, carbon-dioxide sensors, and high-efficiency mechanical experience,” Souza explains. “For instance, we wanted to do the radiant slab and the structural slab together. But when the guy equipment further contribute to energy conservation, reducing fossil-fuel use and greenhouse-gas emissions. Additionally, who’s actually doing the pour tells you it would be better to use a the City of Watsonville created a partnership with an energy topping slab instead, you have to trust that. And I have to believe company, which allowed the project to engage easily in a power- the results were even better.” purchase agreement for photovoltaics. The AIA/COTE profile on the Watsonville Waters Operations According to Souza, designing and constructing the Water Opera- Center cites lessons learned by both the WRNS team and the tions Center required the firm to educate each team member client. According to that report, working together permitted not on the prevailing ethical goals of the project—a challenge that only good design and collaboration but also an understanding of continues to present itself to the building’s current occupants. In the building as adaptive and living versus static. Additionally, an addition to dozens of employees and visitors, a handful of people early commissioning process revealed ways in which user behavior actually live on-site. To that end, the design was adapted in affected system efficiencies, providing educational opportunities response to the site’s coastal Pacific winds, to maximize comfort to optimize energy-saving features. But Souza argues that the in the outdoor public spaces. Rooftop vent stakes along the greatest lessons learned will be in the months to come—what the building’s ridgeline allow these breezes to be harnessed passively, team will come to know after the building’s occupants have lived drawing warm air out of the interior naturally. Private offices are with it a while longer. equipped with glass sidelights and operable clerestory windows to allow natural light and air to move through the building’s private “Throughout the project, we engaged in a rich investigation of and public spaces. possibilities, from the beginning design stages through the end of construction,” Souza says. “The greatest challenge, though, was— However, there are also elements that require a bit more costand still is—to keep asking the questions that were there from benefit analysis. The hard surface of the concrete radiant flooring the beginning.” abq

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watsonville water operations center


ABOVE: Catering to employees, visitors, and some people who live onsite, the Water Operations Center implements a design that adapts in response to the winds coming off of the Pacific, maximizing comfort for all outdoor public spaces. LEFT: The building’s interior benefits from an open, light-filled, and healthy indoor environment. Walls of windows, like these in the dining area, can be fully opened in nice weather to allow for cross ventilation and easy access to the abundant outdoor space. BELOW: The Watsonville Water Operations Center is a functional, educational and visual extension of the water-recycling plant it supports, bringing together three different city and county water departments under one roof for streamlined management and collaboration. This water-quality lab is one component of the new building.


community builders

Redering of the two-section, 69,500-square-foot K–5 facility that BBN designed to replace the former Chapman Elementary School, in rural Kansas, which was destroyed by a tornado in June 2008.The school’s construction is scheduled for completion in December.

bowman bowman novick inc. Husband-and-wife team creates timeless, sustainable designs for their community by julie edwards

with trademark attention to detail and a sustained commitment to environmental responsibility, Bowman Bowman Novick Inc. (BBN) offers a wide variety of architectural, landscape-architectural, interiordesign, and urban-planning services that have earned the firm notable attention. at a glance locations: kansas city, mo manhattan, ks founded: 1997 employees: 14 area of specialty: architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning annual sales: $2 million+ annual projects: 60

Novick, retaining both offices and promoting Patrick Schaub to principal. Today, the firm is a multidiscipline architecture firm that has been recognized for design excellence 46 times in the last 22 years by local and regional chapters of the American Institute of Architects, the Prairie Gateway Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, state and national public-works associations, and the Kansas Preservation Alliance. Most recently, the company was the recipient of the 25 Under 25 award sponsored by Thinking Bigger Media, Inc., of Kansas City, recognizing the top small businesses in the city.

The firm was born out of the marriage of Brent Bowman, AIA, LEED-AP, and Lorie Doolittle-Bowman, AIA, in 1997. Brent’s company, Brent Bowman Associates of Manhattan, Kansas, began as Eidson and Bowman in 1977, and became Brent Bowman and Associates after partner Patty Eidson left the firm to teach. Lorie’s firm, Theis Doolittle Associates, of Kansas City, Missouri, “Our firm has structured itself to undertake projects began as Theis Sickbert Associates in 1988, and became of great diversity of scale and usage,” Lorie says. “Our Theis Doolittle Associates in 1990, when Michael experience includes libraries, academic buildings, visitor Sickbert left the firm to relocate to Colorado, and Lorie centers, religious buildings, residences, office buildings, became a principal. Paul Novick, ASLA, joined the firm downtown redevelopment planning, municipal, recrein August 1992 as principal of landscape architecture, as ational and athletic facilities, public gardens, regional Frank Theis began a gradual departure from the firm. and community parks, streetscapes, and plazas.” Following their marriage, the Bowmans began But even though BBN works on an extremely diverse and naturally collaborating on projects, and in 2004, they wide-ranging group of projects, it still approaches each joined together to form the firm of Bowman Bowman

80 american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010

bowman bowman novick inc. community builders

new project with a fresh eye and individualized perspective. “Our design work is always in response to the specifics of each project,” Brent says. “We do not have standard approaches to project typology, but instead develop concepts that are informed by the unique nature of each challenge. “Our maxim of integrating nature and architecture is a guiding principle in our design practice,” he continues. “For us, this means creating architecture that is appropriate to its place, whether that setting be natural or urban, and appropriate to the human needs of individuals as well as social groups.” Another unique aspect of the firm is the incorporation of landscape architecture into the practice, which “affords us a more holistic approach to design and has definitely enhanced our sensitivities to the environment,” Lorie says. “Our landscape architects are involved at the onset with site planning and typically prepare preliminary grading plans to test design alternatives. Equally important is their role in our urban-planning and masterplanning projects.” One area where the firm’s multidiscipline approach pays off particularly well is in the area of sustainability. “With the ever-increasing emphasis on environmental sensitivity, we are finding ourselves better able to respond to these challenges because of our approach,” Lorie notes. “As we begin each project, we endeavor to understand its environmental and cultural context and to create design concepts that have a special appropriateness to the physical environment and harmony with the user and the function.” Of BBN’s many notable projects, one of the most recent is the rebuilding of the educational facilities in Chapman, Kansas, following a devastating tornado in June 2008 that destroyed the town’s elementary, middle, and high schools. The firm worked with representatives of FEMA and Kansas Emergency Management Services to begin immediate repair and stabilization of the salvageable buildings that remained. Design work for all of the new replacement buildings began in September 2008, and was coordinated with FEMA and Kansas Emergency Management Services in order to obtain pre-approval for the scope of each project. Construction of site work for all three schools began in June 2009, and building construction of the new elementary school, middle school, and high school

Our firm has structured itself to undertake projects of great diversity of scale and usage. —Brent Bowman, Partner

began in late July 2009. These three buildings are on schedule to be completed in December 2010. Looking forward, the firm’s focus will remain on “creating places of lasting quality and significance,” Brent says. “Our clients have responded favorably to our work, in that we provide places and buildings that are comfortable, enjoyable, timeless, and sustainable.” abq


integrating nature and architecture Kansas City, Missouri


Manhattan, Kansas


w w w. bb n a r c h i t e c t s . c o m

community builders

bowman bowman novick inc.

St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, TX, includes a 1200-seat parish church of Gothic proportions, a 600-seat parish hall, full banquet kitchen, and connections to the existing buildings, creating a new formal 82the american cloister in the heart of campus. builders quarterly nov/dec 2010

community builders

jACKSON & RYAN ARCHITECTS Design firm creates one-of-a-kind institutional and sacred spaces by sandra guy

a professional eye for detail, a commitment to listening to clients, and a successful 24-year record of state-of-the-art schools, children’s museums, animal shelters, and baseball parks are among the hallmarks of Jackson & Ryan Architects’ unique style. “We see architecture as a problem-solving process,” says Jeffrey Ryan, AIA, who along with Guy Jackson serves as cofounder and principal of the Houston-based firm. “We’re not afraid of having our architectural expression vary quite a bit.” The firm works as a team with the client, starting projects by “listening to clients’ desires with no predetermined style in mind,” Ryan says. “We like to joke that we specialize in things we’ve never done before.” Principals follow each project from start to finish, rather than handing off a project during different phases. Indeed, Jackson & Ryan Architects’ stellar work stems from its attention to detail and its willingness to investigate how it can avoid design and coordination problems associated with certain types of construction. For example, when the firm started designing the Houston SPCA animal shelter, it researched animal shelters nationwide and discovered that all of them had problems disposing of animal waste, ensuring proper ventilation, and reducing stress for the animals. Jackson & Ryan Architects sought out suppliers who offered state-ofthe-art solutions to those problems, and specified materials that do not deteriorate in a shelter’s typically humid environment.

Jackson & Ryan Architects strives to ensure that its designs meet the needs of a wide variety of money-strapped nonprofit organizations that need to carefully allot each donated penny. Two recent projects demonstrate the firm’s solutionsbased philosophy. The first is St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, where former President George H. W. Bush and his former White House Chief of Staff James Baker III are among the congregants. The church’s rector, Rev. Laurence A. Gipson, an architectural historian, was the visionary for a four-year, $37.4 million project comprising a high Gothic-style church, new parking lots, a playground, a parish hall with a commercial kitchen, and other buildings. Gipson chose the aesthetics of a German church as his model for the main parish church, and Jackson & Ryan Architects designed the Gothic structure with clean lines and a multitude of carefully concealed modern conveniences.

The church’s speaker system is hidden among two streamlined columns in the nave, and the air-conditioning system is tucked inside decorative elements of the side walls of the 1,200-capacity church, says John Clements, AIA, a principal with Jackson & Ryan. The nave was designed so that it appears that the height is twice its width while giving congregants unobstructed views of the service, Clements says. Other elements included central-air systems with humidification controls, 180 self-supporting brick arches with complex patterns, corbelling, basket-weave patterns in two colors of brick, and design elements evoking faith tenants such as Eucharistic lights, a stone altar, and a rose window “It can be an educational process to explain to the clients why we recommend using certain materials, for example, in the form of a radiant sun. that may not be the cheapest but have the best lifecycle value,” Ryan says. “The best marketing is to do the “No one had designed or built a church like this in Houston in more than 50 years,” Clements says, creditbest job for the clients we have and to guard our record ing an all-day Saturday team-building session at the of delivering projects successfully within budget.” start of the project that involved the owner, contractor, architect, and others, keeping everyone focused on the The firm’s intent is to lift the spirits of people who visit task of building the church, which was completed in the animal shelters with whimsical designs, such as May 2004. The firm is now working on a new project the appearance of entering a giant doghouse or walking for St. Martin’s that calls for building a new youth hall, through a dog’s body, while adhering to stringent requirements to keep the animals safe and healthy. “They a healing building for outreach purposes, a multipurpose theater for contemporary services, and a pastoral are cheerful buildings that people embrace and come services building that comprises pastors’ offices, music to speak of with pride,” says Martha T. Seng, FAIA, a rooms, and classrooms. principal responsible for shelter design.

at a glance Location: houston, tx Founded: 1986 Employees: 30 Annual revenue: $4.5–5.5 million

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


community builders

jackson & ryan architects

St. Martin’s Episcopal Church is the first in Houston to showcase a Gothic style in more than 50 years.

The second example is Monarch School, also in Houston. This school, housing grades pre-K through 12, is designed specifically for children with neurological differences such as autism and Tourette’s syndrome. Each classroom has a separate entrance to the outside; there are no fluorescent lights; there is custom sound separation between the rooms; and daylight is provided with clerestory windows to prevent glare and avoid distractions that trigger negative responses. The building fulfills the needs of an institutional building yet appears more residential, in order to alleviate stress for children who are not yet used to leaving their homes. The Monarch School, comprised of three buildings totaling 58,000 square feet, has received LEED Gold certification, features the latest in environmentally friendly attributes, and ranks in the top 14 percent of schools in energy efficiency nationwide.

AMERICA'S FINEST CUSTOM MADE WINDOWS For Churches, Chapels, Synagogues, Memorial Buildings, Restaurants, Malls Post Offices, Hotels, Office Buildings, Schools, Libraries, Power Plants, Fire Stations, Court Houses, Theaters, etc.

Jackson & Ryan Architects started in business during the depths of the housing recession in the 1980s, so the principals traveled nationwide designing office buildings and hotels. They have since worked on projects in Key West, Florida, as well as Antigua, Mexico, and Japan. Today, the firm does most of its work in its hometown base of Houston, priding itself on the diversity of its staff (which speaks 12 languages among its members) and its belief in rewarding employees for outstanding work while keeping base salaries in line. Ryan says the firm has no plans for appreciable growth, since it wants its architects to continue providing handson work on each project. “We should be able to grow in a modest way,” Ryan says. “We’ve been financially successful and we’ve never had debt. We work hard each day to keep getting better at our craft.” abq

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community builders

Doorways, a Freddie Mac Foundation home in Arlington,VA, will allow women and families to focus on the steps needed to rebuild their lives and avoid homelessness.

homeaid Charity develops homeless shelters with the help of builders across the nation by zach baliva

as the sun sets and darkness falls tonight, almost 800,000 Americans will remain homeless. Out of that total, 300,000 will be children. The numbers are staggering: more than three million people experience homelessness each year. They suffer from many conditions, including abuse, addiction, and disability, and are affected by issues like teen pregnancy, job loss, and divorce. In 1989, members of Orange County’s chapter of the Building Industry Association of Southern California, an NAHB affiliate, gathered to form a charitable organization. The group quickly identified homelessness as an area with significant needs. “We were formed as a way for the building industry to give back to their local communities,” says Jeff Slavin, CEO of HomeAid, a nonprofit provider of housing born from that initial meeting.

HomeAid partners with a service provider for whom it builds homeless shelters. Instead of focusing on the episodically homeless and chronically homeless that account for 20 percent of the homeless population, the organization caters to the transitionally homeless. These individuals, also called the suddenly homeless, often deal with life events such as foreclosures and unemployment. “We help people who never expected to lose their at a glance homes and need a place to stay for 6–24 months while they rebuild their lives,” Slavin says. HomeAid’s service headquarters: providers operate facilities and usually offer job training, newport beach, ca social-skills development, and substance-abuse programs. founded: Fifteen years ago, HomeAid’s board of directors realized their model could work in other communities outside of Southern California and formed HomeAid America to take the concept nationwide. Twenty active chapters

1989 area of specialty: homeless shelters chapters: 20

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


community builders


We’re bringing together partners across the industry in creative ways for a common purpose. —Jeff Slavin, CEO

now exist in 15 states, most of which are in major population centers like Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, and Washington, DC—areas where population exceeds 350,000.

program was quickly identified as a best practice to be shared with other chapters. HomeAid Orange County later adopted the Essentials program, and this year it generated 270,000 items for its shelter residents.

A typical HomeAid facility spans 4,000 square feet, with 25 beds, common rooms, and training rooms. The group has finished more than 200 shelters, using more than $163 million in funds—half of which was donated by builders, suppliers, and contractors. HomeAid started with grants from Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, First American Title Insurance Company, and the National Housing Endowment. Now support comes from small and large companies across the nation, including Bank of America and General Electric. recently donated 500 mattresses to become HomeAid’s exclusive mattress provider. “We’re bringing together partners across the industry in creative ways for a common purpose,” Slavin remarks.

With physical expansion proving difficult in a slowed industry facing a troubled economy, HomeAid will turn its focus inward. HomeAid is helping its shelters go green—retrofitting structures with efficient fixtures and systems to reduce energy bills. “The money saved in energy costs will be moved to operating budgets so our shelter providers can focus on creating and maintaining programs instead of paying high energy bills,” Slavin explains.

Grants and donations are paired with in-kind contributions that help HomeAid’s service providers thrive by reducing their capital outlay for facilities. “Builder captains, trade contractors, and suppliers often donate labor, as well as materials,” Slavin says, “Their generosity reduces the cost of our facilities dramatically. These buildings would likely never be built without them and without HomeAid.” As CEO, Slavin is helping local chapters share information and communicate best practices to become more effective in their communities. Each group operates as a separate 501(c)3 corporation with its own leadership. While every chapter has found how to serve its unique community, each can benefit from learning what works in other markets. In 2001, Atlanta’s HomeAid chapter started a program called “Essentials for Young Lives.” Through it, staff and volunteers collected diapers, formula, baby wipes, and other supplies for infants living in their shelters. The

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By building multiunit shelters and donating the facilities to partner groups like Mercy House, Salvation Army, and others, HomeAid America is helping thousands of the transitionally homeless each year. In fact, HomeAid’s Shelter Development Program is the biggest in the nation serving that troubled and important demographic. The building industry is giving back through HomeAid by building shelters that now provide a total of more than 1.8 million bed-nights each year to America’s homeless. abq a message from bank of america merrill lynch Build your success with Bank of America Merrill Lynch. We have consistently been one of the leading lenders to the homebuilding industry, in both the private and public domains. We are also one of the dominant lenders in the new home mortgage takeout market. Since 2004, Bank of America has helped HomeAid strengthen communities by providing more than $1 million in donations to support HomeAid’s operations. This funding helped HomeAid bring hope to many homeless families and children in need and expand into new communities across the country. We are pleased to provide ongoing leadership and support to HomeAid in the years to come.

r more than s provided housing fo HomeAid America ha eir lives. ing them to rebuild th 100,000 people, help

One job. One paycheck. One day. Many good, hardworking families are only one step away from becoming another statistic. Homeless. Pardee Homes is honored to support Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey A. Slavin and HomeAid America, as well as HomeAid chapters in Los Angeles/Ventura, Inland Empire, San Diego and Las Vegas. Together, we’re helping people who are temporarily homeless – one shelter, one family, one day at a time.

Congratulations, HomeAid America, on 200 shelters in 20 years.

community builders

DOCC oversaw the construction of this 15,000-square foot Kwik KarWash Detail & Lube facility featuring a 350-foot engineered retaining wall, located in Lake of the Ozarks, MO.

dick otke construction company Commercial builder embraces community service through Habitat for Humanity by zach baliva

at a glance location: jefferson city, mo founded: 1974 employees: 19 area of specialty: commercial development

Special Olympics and Relay for Life both benefit from dick otke started developing land and DOCC contributions, but the River City Habitat for building houses in central Missouri in 1974. As rules Humanity has become the company’s primary focus. and restrictions started to change the industry in the “Through groups like Habitat for Humanity, we get to late 1980s, he transitioned to commercial developknow people in the community that we wouldn’t otherment. Since then, Dick Otke Construction Company wise interact with, and we give a little back,” Otke says. (DOCC) has established itself as the region’s top commercial builder and developer. The company often builds to lease and specializes in warehouse-type units. River City Habitat has built more than 60 homes since coming to the Jefferson City area in 1993. Otke discovTypical developments include shopping centers, office buildings, medical clinics, and state buildings. Over the ered Habitat when the group approached the Jefferson last 20 years, DOCC has been responsible for the area’s City Builders’ Association, of which DOCC is a member. He volunteered routinely on job sites but has recently largest and most well-known commercial projects. made a more significant contribution: the company doFifteen years ago, Otke started a partnership with nated a $175,000, two-acre lot to Habitat. The space is Kwik Industries, through which his company develops home to a Habitat Re-Store—a retail location that sells carwashes, dry cleaners, and lube centers throughout donated and surplus building materials at low prices. Missouri and Colorado. As one of the region’s top commercial builders, Otke knows he has a responsibility to give back to the community—the company has been heavily involved with several charitable organizations for many years. The

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DOCC coordinated the entire $500,000 project, erecting three buildings totaling 21,000-plus square feet. His company and several subcontractors received tax credits through a grant program, and the store was built entirely

dick otke construction company

community builders

Through groups like Habitat for Humanity, we get to know people in the community that we wouldn’t otherwise interact with and we give a little back. —Dick Otke, President

base,” he says. “Most clients who start a second project come back to us.” Some even recommend his company to their landlords in a project’s early phases.

through donations. Otke’s leverage as an established company and community leader helped the process. “Being in business for so long provides us with a long list of loyal subs that we’ve employed over the years,” he says. “We used our good relationships to solicit skillful volunteers.” Jefferson City is a small community, and several companies have good records of donating time, money, and resources. Now, sales from the Re-Store finance several habitat homes per year. Throughout its history, Otke’s company has developed expertise in many industry sectors, including healthcare. St. Mary’s Hospital approached the group to build and lease medical clinics starting in the 1990s. The work helped DOCC understand the needs of medical groups, which continue to be repeat clients. Now, Otke builds three to five medical clinics each year. “We do strong work in health clinics because we work with our clients to find solutions that work for them,” Otke explains. Most recently, DOCC completed the Central Ozark Health Clinic in Osage Beach, Missouri. The project required 10,000 square feet of additional space added to an original building also built by Dick Otke Construction Company. The Central Ozark Health Clinic demonstrates something that Otke says has been one of the biggest factors in his success: repeat clients. In fact, the company is now bidding a second project for the Central Ozark Health Clinic. “We have a great inventory and a loyal customer

Although he’s found a formula that works, Otke is still trying new things. This year, he will continue developing a 33-acre parcel acquired from Modine, Inc. The land, zoned industrial, will be divided into smaller industrial tracts, providing high-quality, affordable opportunities for smaller businesses. “There are so many entities that recruit large industrial companies to come into a city and add jobs by the hundreds, but not many places attract small business,” Otke explains. Smaller companies, he argues, add more immediately to the job pool and can help communities thrive. Otke believes the strategy fits a need that many communities have but never address. The 33 acres will become 24 lots, which will be available in several increments. Through the development, small businesses and new business can find land at a reasonable price. As they do, jobs will be created, the local economy will improve, and the community will benefit. No one seems surprised by the idea. Dick Otke Construction Company has, after all, always helped contribute to the well-being of its surrounding community. abq a message from architecture & engineering consultants Building on 20-plus years of experience in planning, architectural, and engineering design, Architecture & Engineering Consultants was founded in March 2007. We are accomplished in the design of virtually all building types. In collaborating with our engineering, interior design, and landscape design, we are able to provide our clientele total project management.

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


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Evergreen Construction is proud to have partnered with Hathaway Development & Construction for many years. We congratulate you on your recognition and wish you many years of continued success.

Evergreen Construction, Inc. was founded in May, 1994 by Hank Chapman, a multifamily framing construction veteran since 1971. Hank is a leader who strives to always bring a project in under budget and ahead of schedule with expertise, safety and quality workmanship. Evergreen’s growth is attributable to the experience, honesty, integrity and the prompt efficient performance of the management team and site supervisors. Evergreen is based in Villa Rica, GA., and is primarily focused on the southeastern U.S. with emphasis on framing of multifamily housing, student and senior housing projects.

multifamily dev.

The pool area of Hathaway’s impressive Princeton Lakes mutifamily housing development in Atlanta, GA.

hathaway construction Quality and consistency lead to unprecedented growth in multifamily-housing sector by zach baliva

at a glance location: atlanta, ga founded: 1998 employees: 27 area of specialty: multifamily construction annual revenue: $80 million

projects in eight states. Family connections pushed the few companies have experienced growth as company off to a fast start, with revenues climbing from impressive as Hathaway Construction’s. From 2005 20 to 30 to 45 to 75 and eventually 80 million in 2008. to 2008, the Atlanta company grew by almost 250 “We found success by doing work for other companies, percent, with revenues expanding from $45 million to as well as our development company,” explains Daniel $180 million. While managing multifamily projects in Hathaway, president of construction. numerous cities, Hathaway Construction finds success through quality and consistency. Through its history, the While work varies, Hathaway’s fortes are apartments company has contracted for and built more than 11,000 and senior-housing units, from Louisiana to the Caroliunits of multifamily housing for a number of developers nas and everywhere in between. Managing such a large throughout the Southeast. operation presents many challenges, which Hathaway addresses by treating employees, clients, vendors, and In the late 1980s, David Hathaway started Hathaway Development and eventually built more than 600 homes tradesmen well. “It sounds cliché, but we’re good in central Georgia. However, the company’s first mixed- because our people are good,” he says. When working with the trades, Hathaway toils to accommodate their use project proved so successful that he transitioned lifestyles. His company provides a safe, clean, and fast from homebuilding to multifamily construction. The site where they can make money and move on. “Budget, business grew, and Hathaway Development expanded schedule, safety, and quality—those are the keys,” he into neighboring states. Eventually, management says. Furthermore, Hathaway Construction offers trainrealized it was time to form a stand-alone construction company to handle internal and third-party work. Thus, ing opportunities and requires each worker to carry an OSHA ten-hour card. Hathaway Construction was born in 1998. While Hathaway Development still acquires property and raises capital for multifamily units, Hathaway Construction has a separate ownership team that manages

92 american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010

Another big factor in Hathaway’s success is consistency. The company sees little employee turnover and retains Atlanta-based project managers supported by superin-

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multifamily dev.

The clubhouse and java lounge at the Princeton Lakes development features computers for residents.

We want to make a building as attractive as we can, as quickly as we can, without sacrificing quality or safety. —Daniel Hathaway, President of Construction

tendents scattered across the Southeast. Each project receives support and oversight from one superintendent, from start to finish. As a multifaceted company, Hathaway Construction approaches jobs from many angles. Experience in development allows Hathaway and his project managers to work more closely with the ownership groups of multifamily projects. “We know what owners are looking for because we’ve participated in developments for years and are informed in unique ways as to how the market works,” says Hathaway. The experience, he explains, allows the company to give owners better pricing, better quality, and a better schedule. These are important details on multifamily units because owners make their money off of residents who are attracted to quality. “A brand doesn’t attract an apartment resident, but quality does,” Hathaway says. The company views construction as a means to an end and knows that owners want to open a building quickly

to make their rent. “We want to make a building as attractive as we can, as quickly as we can, without sacrificing quality or safety,” Hathaway says. In 2008, his team worked to rebuild part of the Gulf Coast after hurricanes and tropical storms ravaged the area. The company constructed four projects that benefited from a tax credit that expired at the end of the year. It successfully completed a total of 1,200 units in 11 months despite limited access and services. Now, Hathaway Construction is gaining expertise in LEED and EarthCraft programs, and remains prepared to handle HUD 221 and other tax-credit projects. “Our goal is to make sure we’re as qualified or more qualified than anyone else we might have a bid against,” Hathaway says. Although the days of unprecedented growth are over, that might not be a bad thing. This year, revenues are back down to a more manageable $80 million range. In times of both rapid and slow growth, quality and consistency have paid off for Hathaway Construction. abq

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


multifamily dev.

SLCE architects American company eyes international expansion after 70 years of high-rising success by zach baliva

a french proverb states, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” The line rings true for New York-based SLCE Architects. The firm is a well-established one, with origins dating back to 1941. Companies must change with the times; while SLCE has not been an exception to that rule, many constants have remained intact. What started as a small and local endeavor has grown into a national firm poised to do work abroad. James Davidson, partner, joined the company in 1984. Since then, SLCE has targeted high-rise residential and commercial office projects, where its traditional internal strengths lie. Peter Claman, a founding partner at SLCE, along with Davidson and his colleagues, was able to bring to it the sophisticated design and technical skills for which the company is known. “We entered the high-rise market based on our long-standing ability to integrate different program uses and structural and mechanical requirements while producing sophisticated construction documents within the industry,” Davidson explains. SLCE, Davidson says, offers broad architectural-design services and solutions catered to each clients’ needs. The company is known for its ability to present attractive buildings that function well and fit budgets. “We never take a client to a place where he doesn’t want or can’t afford to go,” Davidson says. The approach starts with careful planning from a project’s onset. Before solidifying a plan, Davison and his partners rely on focus sessions with marketing consultants and the building’s owner and developers who will ultimately rent or sell a completed building. at a glance location: new york, ny founded: 1941 employees: 85 area of specialty: high-rise condos

The firm has completed hotels, schools, healthcare facilities, multiplex movie theaters, and other structures, but 80 percent of SLCE’s work lies in mid- and high-rise buildings, from low-income and assisted-living housing to luxury condos. Projects range in size from 100,000 to more than one million square feet, and although jobs vary widely in scope and size, SLCE maintains its tradition of showcasing a depth of technical expertise. “We not only provide all architectural services but are executive architects for other major projects, because of the experience we bring,” Davidson remarks.

94 american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010

A hands-on approach from the partnership level down helps SLCE manage large projects with ease. “Our partners don’t disappear on jobs but are very involved with each client, and that brings a level of satisfaction often lacking in the industry,” Davidson says. He and his peers are always available to respond to client needs. SLCE’s dedicated technical team works to solve problems before they arise, and the company toils to choose the right personnel to match every job’s specific requirements. The philosophy has helped spur SLCE’s growth for the past 70 years, and referrals have helped increase a solid client base. “In the industry, people have recognized that our designs, like our company, stand the test of time,” Davidson says. “They come within budget anticipation and are built with minimal errors and omissions.” SLCE’s full talents are on display at three luxury condominium projects in New York: 15 Central Park West, 10 West End Avenue, and The Laureate. SLCE 10 West End Avenue, in NewYork, is one of SLCE’s luxury condominium projects.

The 10 West End Avenue project required SLCE to incorporate a mixed-use function into a highrise building in Manhattan. acted as executive architects at 15 Central Park West. At 10 West End Avenue, it created a luxury building with a mixed-use function. Residents flocking to New York’s Lincoln Square neighborhood live in 173 units that sit above a health club and retail stores. The building fits well in its context yet remains unique. “We endeavor to provide each project with its own personality and fit comfortably into its neighborhood, whether historic and well established or new,” Davidson says. 10 West End also shows what the company can do to provide exceptional mixed-used high-rise space in a superlative part of Manhattan’s core. The high-rise residential market has become more sophisticated and diverse as competitors search for something new, Davidson says. “The urge to reinvent and improve is essential and even healthy for the construction industry as a whole, providing diversity and

In the industry, people have recognized that our designs, like our company, stand the test of time. —James Davidson, Partner

regeneration for the urban environments in which we live,” he explains. With The Laureate, another signature project in New York, SLCE proves its continued ability to evolve. The building, enclosed with decorative cast stone and Jura Limestone, evokes a pre-war feel and is being received as a welcomed addition to the city’s Upper West Side. It boasts condos generously proportioned with high-end amenities. Many things have changed at SLCE throughout its history. The company that once stayed in the New York metropolitan area now competes on projects in New England, Florida, London, and Abu Dhabi, while hoping to expand to other urban international markets. As the firm’s geography and projects change, its reputation for superior design and careful execution remains the same. abq

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multifamily dev.

A rendering depicts one of EM’s projects currently under construction, a multiphase medical facility and retail building in the Bronx.

em design group Full-service design firm finds success in researching New York’s building needs by brigitte yuille

when architect michael even started em Design Group in 1990, he found it very easy because he already had a several projects and consulting work from various local and overseas clients. “Those were good times,” says Even, founder and principal. He decided to open the full-service design firm because he wanted to do his “own thing.”

It has a seven-member staff of varied architectural backgrounds and specialties that value professionalism. “We spend a lot of time in research, and we try to evaluate our clients’ needs through research, through energy consciousness, and through energy conservation,” Even says, adding that the firm has been commissioned to do two medical buildings—one in Harlem, one in the Bronx.

The New York-based firm—whose services include architectural and interior design, city planning, time and cost management, digital design and visualization, sustainable studies, and zoning analysis—specializes in healthcare and housing projects, including multifamily, private, and high-end single-family residences. Other areas of expertise include mixed-use developments, restaurants, religious institutions, and hotels.

These new developments add to a long list of notable projects, some of which include: the Fordham mixeduse building, a currently under-construction medical facility that features 18,000 square feet of medical offices and 9,000 square feet of ground-floor retail; the 117th St. project, a 48-unit building in Harlem that involves the conversion and gut renovation of two existing buildings into new condominiums; the Sochi, a 25-story, 95-unit,

at a glance location: new york, ny founded: 1990 employees: 7 area of specialty: healthcare and housing projects

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


multifamily dev. em design group

We spend a lot of time in research, and we try to evaluate our clients’ needs through research, through energy consciousness, and through energy conservation. —Michael Even, Founder & Principal

This new 28-unit residential building in Manhattan, part of EM’s impressive portfolio, is comprised of home and work lofts.

167,000-square-foot residential high-rise in Brooklyn; and the Fourth Street project, a 14-story residential building in Manhattan with an automated parking garage. With so many notable projects under his company’s belt, Even believes the company’s main attributes are its “feasibility analysis and guidance” of clients through the process, from the beginning to completion. The activities are done in “a highly professional manner,” he adds, “with a focus on cost savings and efficiency and, of course, good design.” Today, as with others in the industry, the firm is slowly recovering from the turmoil of the recession. “It’s been terrible,” Even shares. “We cut our staff by more than half. We’ve had financial issues. We’ve had two major projects where the banks stopped financing and construction stopped. So, it’s pretty much what you hear across the board from our colleagues.” However, the firm took some steps to wade through the turbulent period, such as cutting its work week down from five days to four. “We’ve been better at helping each other and finishing projects, and doing what has to be done,” Even says. “I think the recession brought our team together a little more.” With these approaches, the company has started to see business pick up with multiple inquiries from clients. This resiliency and ability to adapt to its environment is what has allowed EM Design Group to celebrate 20 years in business, and Even believes he has gathered some invaluable lessons. “I have learned that you have to persevere in this profession,” he says. “You have to understand your clients’ needs—otherwise you’d be spinning wheels. You can try and educate your clients sometimes to a certain extent…but you also have to understand how each of them operates and each one of them is their own individual.” Even’s goal for the firm’s future is to continue doing good work. “I’m proud to do what we do,” he says. “This is a very fulfilling business.” abq

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The foyer of an elegant Jaycox-Reinel-designed home viewed from the living room and looking through the home’s gallery. Photo: Lapeyra Photography.

100 american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010

custom residential

JAYCOX-REINEL ARCHITECTS Offering expert designs to the residential marketplace and beyond by annie fischer

to keep up with the rapidly advancing technology it houses, healthcare architecture requires cutting-edge building, interior design, mechanical, plumbing, and electrical-engineering services. Consider the recent renovation of a 2,500-square-foot radiology suite at the Shands Jacksonville Medical Center, for example. The Shands biplane lab offers multiple simultaneous views, in real time, of a patient’s cardiovascular system—and is one of only five angiography units of its kind in the whole country. “With diagnostic imaging, you’re always trying to get a better view of what’s happening internally,” says JaycoxReinel Architects principal Stephen Reinel, who spearheaded the project. “But we also wanted a streamlined, attractive design for the room. These patients are awake during a portion of the procedures.” Healthcare projects like this one account for about half the work at the Jacksonville, Florida-based architecture firm, and Reinel’s projects have come with price tags of more than $60 million. But the six-person firm also does

commercial work, too, and is well known for its upscale residential properties—and has been since William Jaycox founded it in 1989. Knowing one or two types of buildings inside and out is how you best serve your client, Reinel says. Each project is approached with this focus on specialization. A core team—made up of an architect, interior designer, contractor, and client—takes part in decision-making in each step of the process, which typically includes five phases: programming, where the team develops a written list of wants and needs and a preliminary cost analysis; schematic design, where ideas for architectural plans and character are sketched out, and the budget is revisited; design development, the selection of materials, beginning computer drawings and design sketches, another review of the budget, and detailing of the entire project; construction documents, which incorporates completion of the project specifications, including all aspects of design and engineering; and construction administration, where the contractor prepares final cost of construction, a contract is agreed

at a glance location: jacksonville, fl founded: 1989 employees: 6 area of specialty: residential, commercial, and healthcare architecture

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


Above: Jaycox-Reinel incorporated a courtyard and French garden into the design of this unique home. Photo: Lapeyra Photography.

upon with the owner, and the architect reviews the contractor’s payment requests, performs site observations, and participates in construction meetings and project closeout. Professional expertise isn’t the only benefit derived from specialization. Relying on projects from the healthcare industry—which Reinel describes as relatively economyresistant—also allowed the firm to survive when the number of residential building projects took a hit with

the economic crisis. Smaller renovation projects and cosmetic fixes for property purchased at a discounted rate also helped in the months following September 2008; eventually, in the first half of 2010, the architects saw things pick up again. “Diversity is a must,” Reinel says. “You can easily paint yourself into a corner otherwise.” He also touts the firm’s commitment to true-to-style detail and proportions as one of its greatest strengths, even when that commitment requires significant study of a style’s history to understand the reasons for its origins. That’s the difference in luxury homes, he says: knowing how to customize a project to the client’s tastes while still being mindful of how the house should be built. For one recent project—a 4,600-square-foot, one-story residence designed and built for a retired couple— Reinel studied up on the French Chateau. An uncommon style in Jacksonville, it was the first example of its kind that the firm had ever built. The architect developed the home’s U-shaped plan to create a courtyard visible from most rooms within the house. Additionally, a private efficiency-type apartment was built on the property for a housekeeper or caretaker, should one eventually be required.


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Similarly, for a 5,660-square-foot Cape Cod project inspired by the houses in the owner’s hometown, Reinel flew to Maine to check out the originals. Hundreds of pictures later, he had the evidence he needed; careful details like paneled porch ceilings, authentic English brick patterns, and carefully proportioned dormers, columns, and roof lines now ensure the authenticity of the home. Attempts to accurately build with a specific style so often fail because it takes more time than what often seems required, he explains. Not so for this firm. Says Reinel: “Our philosophy is to get the details right.” abq

The company’s Brunswick model offers a “Nanny Flat” with this additional living space above the detached garage.

k. hovnanian homes Nationwide community developer moves toward high-end sustainable homes by zach baliva

with more than 280,000 homes built over a 50-year history, K. Hovnanian Homes is one of the largest and most experienced construction companies in America. The $1.5 billion organization works in 18 different states and is managed by employees who oversee building divisions. The structure allows each office to cater to the needs unique to its geographic area. George Schulmeyer, division president of Florida’s west coast, supervises K. Hovnanian Homes from Tampa to Naples, where the full-service company is building in 10 communities. Schulmeyer’s office provides several floor plans with flexible options. Internal mortgage and design assistance are also available.

That was in 2007. Since then, Schulmeyer has helped K. Hovnanian Homes’ Tampa division rebound through comprehensive rebranding. Hovnanian entered Tampa by acquiring a smaller company, and Schulmeyer started advertising to capitalize on the larger Hovnanian brand name. Other changes included analyzing all internal processes and redesigning the entire product line. “K. Hovnanian has always been about continuous improvement,” Schulmeyer says, adding that his office and employees adapted quickly to make all necessary changes.

Customer service became more important than ever, and the company started offering six in-home walkthroughs—three before closing and three after. “We wanted to make our presence known and show homeowners that they can trust our brand,” Schulmeyer says. Each Hovnanian office is driven by its local market. In Additionally, waste and overages were eliminated as Florida, Schulmeyer says owners are increasingly interK. Hovnanian approached vendors and employees to ested in single-story homes between 1,500 and 2,000 encourage them to find ways to cut spending in order to square feet, with prices that range from $130,000 to maintain quality and provide customers a better price. more than $300,000. “There are many ways to eliminate costs,” Schulmeyer When dealing with a temperamental and cyclical market, adds. “We were able to limit multiple site trips and callbacks while improving all office procedures.” Schulmeyer has found it crucial to learn from history and avoid repeating mistakes. Five years ago, when The biggest change came as the Tampa office increased mortgages were more accessible, the Tampa division attempted aggressive growth and then found itself trying its focus on energy efficiency to attract customers and provide a unique service. In 2009, all floor plans were to unload certain holdings as the recession neared. “You redesigned to meet or exceed ratings set forth by Energy survive tough times by thinking quickly and evaluating land as fast as possible, holding on to the good and releas- Star and the Florida Green Homes Coalition. Now, each home comes with a certificate proving efficiencies and ing the bad,” Schulmeyer explains.

at a glance location: tampa, fl founded: 1959 employees: 36 area of specialty: general construction

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


custom residential k. hovnanian homes

Exterior of the Brunswick model in the coastal-themed community of MiraBay in Apollo Beach, FL.

You survive tough times by thinking quickly and evaluating land as fast as possible, holding on to the good and releasing the bad. —George Schulmeyer, Division President, Tampa

estimated savings. Low-E glass, tightly sealed buildings, and other factors have led to third-party HERS scores of 70 and less—Schulmeyer expects his HERS scores to reach the 50s by 2011, when monthly utility savings will fall between $80 and $100.

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Efficient homes, Schulmeyer believes, will lead to healthier and vibrant communities. His greatest success with the new-and-improved K. Hovnanian Tampa has been in the community of Harbor Isles, a formerly distressed community where the builder acquired 48 lots. An increased width of 90 feet made the lots attractive, and Hovnanian filled each with 50-foot-wide homes at a base price starting at $160,000. The homes are selling quickly, and the success has attracted other builders to the development. Now, the once troubled community is thriving again (although new builders are paying a premium price for the onceaffordable land acquired by Hovnanian). “We identified a good land opportunity, and our success at Harbor Isles really validates all our behind-the-scenes work and is a result of our staff’s tireless dedication during hard times,” Schulmeyer explains. He had a hunch the community could succeed, in part because he lives close and knows the area well. The hunch, supported by statistical data, is paying off, as Hovnanian continues to draw customers away from neighboring competitor developments. Schulmeyer insists his company’s success is due only to his employees who were willing to endure tough economic times. “Our employees are why we’re successful,” he says. Fewer people accomplished more with less by remaining dedicated. Now, Schulmeyer, his employees, and K. Hovnanian Homes are finally reaping the rewards as Tampa’s market continues to rebound. abq

Kitchen and bath remodels are among the most popular of LANCO’s residential work.

lanco general contractor, INC. Offering second-to-none tenant improvements and residential remodels by annie fischer

fresno, california-based lanco general Contractor, Inc. was founded in 1985 by Vincent LaNovara. As the company’s reputation grew, so did demand for its services, and eventually LaNovara brought Michael Occhino on board, in 2004, as partner and COO. These days, LaNovara’s practical experience in execution and design (he knows each phase of the industry well and understands the importance of time management, project flow, and budget constraints) is matched by Occhino’s operational strengths in management and organizational development, establishing the firm as a respected provider in terms of work ethic and customer service—so much so that LANCO’s workload now comes entirely through referrals and repeat clients. “I’m trying to think of a single project where that isn’t the case,” Occhino says. “But I can’t.”

cating a business to a larger space, or preparing a space for a tenant that’s moving in), residential remodels, and building maintenance. A larger portion of the company’s revenue comes from the industrial and commercial projects, simply by virtue of the fact that those projects are more extensive. And while the demand for residential remodels has remained steady even throughout the recent economic downturn, maintenance tasks mainly provide the bulk of project volume for the company.

In addition, a full-time fleet of technicians handles the ongoing building-maintenance service the company provides to its residential and commercial clients, which includes electrical work (circuit additions, plugs, switches, and lighting), plumbing (unclogging sewers and drains, repairing leaks at drains and water-supply sites), semi-skilled labor (roof leaks, ceiling-tile replacement, door and window adjustments, asphalt patching), and unskilled labor (pressure-washing walkways and parking The business is divided into four principal market seglots, cleaning gutters and drains, window maintenance, ments: industrial modification (complex, involved commercial projects), commercial tenant improvement (relo- and graffiti repair).

at a glance location: fresno, ca founded: 1985 area of specialty: tenant-improvement and residential remodels

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


custom residential lanco general contractor, inc.

If we do a job well and price it fairly, we know we’ll get repeat business. It may be two weeks later or it may be two years later, but somewhere down the line we’ll hear from those clients again. —Vincent LaNovara, President & Founder

“Our philosophy has always been that no job is too big, and no job is too small,” LaNovara says. “If we do a job well and price it fairly, we know we’ll get repeat business. It may be two weeks later or it may be two years later, but somewhere down the line we’ll hear from those clients again.” Take, for instance, the Milan Institute of Cosmetology. In 2006, LANCO provided the complete commercial

32 Years of Experience | 18 Years in Business Commercial | Restaurants | Tenet Improvements | Industrial | Remodels

“As a commercial plumbing contractor I’ve seen the ups and downs in the building industry through the years. For us it’s been a matter of diversifying in our own industry.” -Todd Gonzales, President

tenant improvement for the building where the school was to open. The operation has since grown and, this year, acquired an adjoining space; LANCO is working on that tenant improvement as well. Same goes with a large, national packaging manufacturer with whom the company previously worked. As the manufacturer continues to expand its reach into environmentally friendly production methods, the manufacturing space must grow, too—and because LANCO satisfied the customers’ needs the last time, it has been contracted again. LANCO attributes its success and longevity to its team of dedicated employees and customer-oriented subcontractors, and much of the company’s referral projects are residential remodels. Kitchen and bath remodels are most popular—along with an occasional room addition—and quality and detail are the primary focus, consistently executed by the company’s team of highly experienced employees and subcontractors. Insurance restoration falls within this segment as well, and LANCO promises construction experts’ availability 24 hours a day. They can handle small kitchen fires and minimal water damage, or complete structure burns and flood repair; the latter projects include debris removal, water extraction, clean-up, and full restoration of property damage. The company is also available for general contracting on specialty projects. It recently refurbished a dilapidated historical landmark in Clovis, Fresno’s sister city, which now houses the city’s Tarpey Visitors Center. And when the Fresno community wanted a new building for its Chamber of Commerce, LANCO’s reputation secured the bid. “Like most of our commercial projects, we keep up the maintenance there, too,” Occhino says. “As a matter of fact, one of my technicians is there right now—changing the lightbulbs.” abq

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burda construction corp. Builder leverages its expertise in historic-building restoration to win acclaim for high-end home renovations by sandra guy

the recession has taken a toll on big-ticket historic restoration projects, for which Burda Construction Corp., of Brooklyn, is renowned. So Burda is making its name in the latest restoration-growth area by restoring single-family brownstones from the late 1800s to early 1900s. The firm is reaffirming its reputation for expert craftsmanship through recreation of the historic intent of the brownstone buildings. “We try to stay flexible,” says Larry Burda Sr., founder and owner of Burda Construction Corp. “One of the current trends is to forego grand-scale renovations for simpler, more cost-effective remodeling while keeping the environment in mind, and to restore brownstones with the original stoops and entryways,” Burda knows a thing or two about flexibility. A native of the former Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), Burda was educated at the College of Design and Construction of Bratislava, Slovak Republic. He rebelled against the former communist country’s regime, so while a train he happened to be on had an unscheduled stop in West Germany, he jumped off and immediately applied for political asylum. It took two years before he was able to come to the United States as a legal immigrant. When he arrived in America in 1968, work was scarce, so he took a job as a busboy for six months before landing a job as a draftsman and designer at a New York architectural firm. Then, in 1982, Burda started his own construction firm out of his Brooklyn apartment. Since then, the company has grown into a $5.5 million yearly business, with 15 long-time employees considered part of the family. Burda Construction moved its office and shop to a site near the Brooklyn Bridge in 1998, and, more recently, it set up its own woodworking and metal-bending shops. This new location for the multifunctional workspace has allowed the firm easy access to its projects and helps it maintain control over the craftsmanship of design elements. Burda started working with historic-restoration projects after a friend—architect Edgart Tafel, a protégé of the

Burda worked on the restoration of the popular East Side Tenement Museum, designed to simulate the tenement living that was common in historic NewYork City. Photo: by Keiko Niwa.

renowned Prairie School architect Frank Lloyd Wright— introduced him to restoration work at Church of the Ascension at 5th Avenue and 11th Street in New York City. Since then, Burda Construction has won five Landmark Awards, which recognize historic and architectural significance, as well as proper maintenance and preservation of landmark buildings. The company’s noteworthy restorations include those of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, which won a Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy; the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, which required historic restoration of interior galleries; and the Flatbush

at a glance location: brooklyn, ny founded: 1982 employees: 15 area of specialty: historic restoration annual revenue: $5.5 million

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


custom residential burda construction corp.

Congregational Church in Brooklyn, which required the reinforcement and restoration of the church tower and renovation of the sanctuary’s plaster. Burda Construction has remained busy during the last two years of the economic downturn by using their reputation to land smaller jobs for various institutional, residential, and religious clients, many of whom have been coming to Burda for many years. At the centuryand-a-half-old townhouse (built in 1863) of one Upper East Side client, Burda used a combination of modern technology and old-school craftsmanship to re-create the building entry with its decorative surrounds and a historic gas-fired lantern. The company also counts on repeat customers, such as New York University, Columbia University, and others that will need services in historic buildings and landmark windows, cornices, and other elements of landmark buildings, as well as complete gut-rehabs and upkeep of historic homes.

As a family-run business, we are proud to have personal relationships with our clients— big and small. This approach has built our reputation, earning the trust of clients and architects alike. —Larry Burda Sr., Founder & Owner

“As a family-run business, we are proud to have personal relationships with our clients—big and small,” Burda says. “This approach has built our reputation, earning the trust of clients and architects alike. That creates word-of-mouth recommendations.” And Burda Construction is counting on those referrals to propel it further into a successful, profitable future. abq


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custom residential preston t. phillips architect

preston t. phillips architect Drawing from the masters of design to create modern luxury residences by zach baliva

at a glance location: bridgehampton, ny founded: 1977 employees: 3

it should come as no surprise that preston Phillips describes himself as a modernist. The New York-based architect, after all, worked for the famous architect Paul Rudolph before starting his own firm in 1977. Rudolph was once the dean of Yale’s architecture school and designer of international landmarks. He influenced the young Phillips, who was also drawn to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Eero Saarinen, as well as the writings of Louis Sullivan.

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“I’m a modernist because it’s what I do best,” Phillips says. “Modernism gets a bad rap sometimes, but it requires finesse and is remarkable when handled correctly.” Phillips started off in architecture landing three clients who each wanted a unique residence. In the business’ early years, he had the opportunity to work on several large lofts and apartments in New York. “Loft living came to Manhattan, and people were buying entire floors of raw space that had so much potential,” he recalls. Phillips’

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work was published, and he found himself creating distinctive spaces throughout the country.

lines and are very important because you can manipulate both to make people more relaxed,” Phillips explains.

Rudolph believed no two projects should be the same, and Phillips tends to agree. “I start each project as if there has never been a preconceived notion about it,” he says. For every job, whether residential, corporate, or retail, context is key. An architect, Phillips says, must consider both client and landscape to determine how materials, light, and other elements should be handled.

Images and comparisons often help Phillips communicate with clients. He completed the corporate headquarters and a separate retail store prototype for The J. Jill Group, whose CEO wanted the latter to look like a building exterior and not a mall storefront. Phillips designed a recessed vestibule entrance and merged the interior and exterior with a pebble floor. Use of materials, lighting, and fabrics also helped integrate inside and outside spaces. Phillips’ broad design for the 72,000-square-foot Boston headquarters helped his clients get the most out of a large and varied space. Phillips also needed to match the J. Jill brand by creating an original, sophisticated, and stylish work environment. A central atrium with a large skylight and illuminated glass floor leads to panoramic widows situated behind the

Despite his striking designs, Phillips’ spaces remain livable. “We bring a lot of experience in kitchens, baths, closets, and other things that really make a difference in people’s daily lives,” he says. The architect is also known for work that feels serene and calming. He has spent years studying the effects of light and the work of his heroes, like Wright. “The use of light and horizontal

Left: Exterior view of a Preston Phillips-designed home in Naples, FL. Top:The living room of the Naples home, which features stunning views of the surrounding area. Bottom: Phillips designed the Naples home to be “clean and pure and simple.”

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custom residential preston t. phillips architect

The Naples home was designed to incorporate as many views of Naples Bay as possible.

The zigzag layout of the Naples home features expansive american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010 mahogany windows112 throughout the house.

Subscribe to I’m a modernist because it’s what I do best. Modernism gets a bad rap sometimes, but it requires finesse and is remarkable when handled correctly. —Preston Phillips, Architect


and stay up to date with an industryspecific look at companies, strategies, and comparisons of regional markets and trends throughout the American construction landscape.

reception desk. Other features include lofty work rooms, comfortable executive offices, bright design labs, and an elegant board room. september



In New York, Phillips designed a sleek and modern 3,800-square-foot residence in an entire floor of a Richard Meyer building. The loft on Perry Street boasts floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the Hudson River. The large, open space surrounded by glass became a challenge. As the client was a prolific art collector, Phillips created an entrance art gallery of 8’ x 30’ just off the elevator. A white glass floor draws the eye down gallery style walls. To light the artwork, Phillips found a fixture from Pure Lighting that is plastered over, creating an illusion of light painted on the ceiling.

0 october 201

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Hope for Puare reimagining Milwaukee ent Boston and xed-income developm mi


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Am ygarden and St. Louis’ Cit Media Lab the MIT

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Another unique Phillips project is found in Naples, Florida, where a repeat client had specific design requirements. The long and narrow property abuts Naples Bay, and its owners asked for views from as many rooms as possible. Thus, Phillips designed a zigzag layout to create two courtyards—one of which faces that water that all the rooms circle. Stucco over concrete resists moisture, a metal roof reflects the sun, and expansive mahogany windows frame the stunning views. “The house is clean and pure and simple,” Phillips says. On out-of-state projects, Preston T. Phillips Architect associates itself with a local firm that helps with codes, permits, bids, and construction management. As most projects include unique elements, the architect says he is always on the lookout for builders that embrace a challenge. “We often find that the chance to do something unusual and fun helps people rise to the challenge so well,” Phillips says. “A great energy comes when you give someone a chance to work on something they haven’t just done thirty times in a row.” For him, every project is different. The approach has helped the company stay fresh and relevant—and successful—over the last 33 years. abq

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Ameridian workers perform a solar-panel installation in Montgomery County, OH.

Ameridian specialty services, inc. Creating a niche in renewable energy, federal contracting work, and building services by sandra guy

rooftops and performing roof repairs. “My thinking was, betty m. owens’ determination to own and ‘I’m going to learn everything I can about this business,’” operate her own business began with her career as a Owens says. hairstylist working to own her own salon. Several years later, her entrepreneurial spirit and focus once again to Owens went out on her own 11 years ago, starting with own her own business led her to become the owner of a general-contracting firm specializing in commercial roof- money she had saved, initially taking a modest salary. Her philosophy remains unchanged from the day she ing, building services, and solar and renewable energy. founded the company: she focuses on quality, service, and professionalism. And in 2002, Owens began the “In naming the company, my intention was to create a at a glance certification process with several agencies that support name inclusive of our capabilities while honoring my both women-owned and minority-owned companies. Native American heritage,” Owens explains. “Thus, Ameridian Specialty Services; ‘Ameridian’ is a combinalocation: “Unfortunately, sometimes companies are discounted tion of ‘American’ and ‘Indian.’” cincinnati, oh when presented as a woman-owned or minority-owned founded: company,” she says. “I wanted to make sure the company After Owens developed severe allergies to the products 1999 had adequate capacity to handle contracts before I repreused in hairstyling, she put her dream of owning employees: sented myself and my company in that way.” Fortunately, her own business on hold while she raised her three 50–80 through the support and certification of these agencies, children, Ashley, Cassie, and Eric. (Cassie joined the area of specialty: Owens was able to build capacity and a strong reputation company in 2009 as an accounting coordinator.) With commercial roofin the industry. ing, construction, support from her mother when Eric started preschool, Owens returned to the workforce as an administrative renovation, and Ameridian started with a solid foundation by winning assistant for a roofing company. Ambition prevailed; renewable energy an exterior renovation project phased over a five-year she quickly learned every aspect of the business, from 2009 revenue: period. The project consisted of the removal of defective estimating and project management to climbing onto $8.4 million

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ameridian specialty services, inc. niche services

We respond immediately in an emergency, and provide 24/7 emergency service in both roofing and construction. This often leads to additional opportunities in roof replacements and building renovations. —Betty M. Owens, President, CEO & Owner

wood siding and the installation of insulation, vinyl siding, and trim on 12 stack-condominium buildings. In 2003, the company received the US Small Business Administration’s 8(a) certification, opening doors to federal contracting work. Under the 8(a) program, Ameridian entered into a mentor/protégé agreement with Miller-Valentine Commercial Construction in November 2009. Through this relationship with MillerValentine, Ameridian is able to bid on larger design-build projects yet maintain its Small Business Administration designation as a small business.

Qwest Communications’ building located in downtown Cincinnati. The project consisted of the tear-off of 60,000 square feet of ballasted roof and the installation of a tapered EPDM fully adhered roof system. Then, in 2009, Ameridian repeated its growth-nichefinding philosophy by adding a Solar & Renewable Energy division. The company, along with mentor/ partner Miller-Valentine Commercial Construction of Dayton, Ohio, was awarded a $5 million project— Ameridian’s single largest project to date—to install more than 9,000 solar panels on an eight-acre solar array, powering approximately 150 homes.

The company has also completed building additions at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Hamilton County Park District, and Castrucci Ford, as well as comprehen- “We designed the overall system in conjunction with sive interior-renovation projects for the Veterans Admin- our partners at Inovateus Solar and Schneider Electric,” istration in multiple hospital facilities. “Our entire team Owens says. “From there, we installed the mechanical structures and mounted the solar modules utilizing is professional, our prices are competitive, we maintain our employees, as well as teams from Miller-Valentine. a clean work environment, and we meet or exceed the project schedule,” Owens says. “We stay on time and on The electrical field wiring and final tie-in to the utility budget. Through perseverance and relationship building, system were completed by our electrical subcontractor. This [company] is my baby. We’re serious about our Ameridian maintains a loyal client base. Our clients are work and taking care of our clients. I want every impressed, and this leads to repeat and new business.” employee to look forward to coming to work and to enjoy what they do.” Ameridian opened its Commercial Roofing Installation & Repair division in 2003, and found a growing niche Owens notes that a large part of the Ameridian in commercial roof repair. Owens quickly realized that philosophy is to encourage employees to coach their many larger roofing companies in the area preferred children’s sports teams, attend their children’s school larger roof contracts, overlooking the opportunity to functions, and overall maintain a balanced quality grow their service business. “We respond immediately family life. in an emergency, and provide 24/7 emergency service in both roofing and construction,” she says. “This often “Our objective is to exceed our clients’ expectations,” leads to additional opportunities in roof replacements Owens says. “Yes, we are in business to make money, and building renovations.” but at the end of the day I want to walk away feeling confident about the products, services, and solutions One of the company’s specialties is commercial roof we offer our customers.” abq installation, as exemplified by a roof replacement for

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


AMERIDIAN SPECIALTY SERVICES, INC. is an established full-service General Contracting firm specializing in commercial roof installation and maintenance, committed to delivering high-quality, effective and on-schedule expert roofing applications and construction services. Our Solar & Renewable Energy division provides complete renewable energy solutions for our customers, delivering turnkey solutions adding value to businesses. From 24/7 emergency roofing & construction repair service to general construction, Ameridian Specialty Services, Inc. consistently delivers products and services that exceed expectations.

Commercial Solar PV System Design & Installation • Project Management from Conception through Installation & Startup In-House Engineering • Assistance with Grant & Incentive Paperwork • Matt Owens, NABCEP Certified ™

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BBS assisted Sabre Galvanizer in building one of the largest, greenest galvanizing plants in the country.

benneTt building systems, inc. Probing questions lead to perfect buildings in manufacturing and maintenance by zach baliva

at a glance location: west burleson, tx founded: 1988 employees: 14 area of specialty: pre-engineered metal buildings

most general contractors know the drift theory of building, but “do it right the first time” has become an especially important credo for Ken Olsen, president of Bennett Building Systems, Inc. (BBS). Olsen specializes in metal buildings and manufacturing plants. As the facilities often represent a large investment, he immerses himself in each project’s process plan to ensure every client will get a building that perfectly matches their needs. Olsen started his company in 1988, after working in stainless-steel fabrication. “When we designed commercial kitchens and I’d have to show contractors how to use our products, I realized I could do it myself,” he explains. Twenty-two years later, BBS has finished more than 400 buildings across the United States. When a client comes to Bennett Building Systems, Olsen starts asking questions in a process that almost

118 american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010

never stops. “I tell people to buy a bottle of aspirin before working with me,” he jokes. The questions are crucial because they ultimately lead to an efficient building. Manufacturing plants must be designed to fit a company’s operation and allow their product to be made with the least amount of steps. “I don’t know [clients’] business, but I do know manufacturing,” Olsen says. In his two decades of business, Olsen has identified roof height as the single most important factor of a successful building. “I do roof raisings all the time, to modify work that could have been built right the first time by going higher,” he says, adding that height is fairly cheap to add during initial construction. In manufacturing, height is determined by the hook-height of the tallest crane, but BBS also tries to predict the future. “We have to ask clients how their business might change and what they might have to deal with down the road,” Olsen says. That important question often helps prevent costly updates.

bennett building systems, inc. niche services

We like the challenge of producing a building that a manufacturer will love. —Ken Olsen, President

BBS provides full design-build and general-contracting services for pre-engineered metal and concrete buildings in commercial and industrial settings. An on-site CAD office and internal designers help set the business apart from its competition. In 2006, Olsen and his crew won the Midwest Award of Excellence for a roof-raising in Phoenix, Arizona. The project, for Laurel Creek Homes, modified two adjacent buildings of more than 40,000 total square feet. Olsen first returned a nonbid after observing the property and plans—offset ridges and valley gutters made the job unnecessarily difficult. After talking to the client and performing some in-house redesign of the construction project, Olsen was convinced of the site’s potential. BBS completed the roof-raising in just six weeks, to make room for the client’s cranes. Currently, BBS has nine jobs underway, including a $1.8 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) project in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The connector is the biggest ARRA project to date and is scheduled for completion in 2014. The Texas Department of Transportation and NorthGate Constructors are working to improve an eight-mile stretch of highways 114 and 121. BBS is responsible for building an on-site pre-engineered metal maintenance facility that will be moved to another location once the connector is finished. Furthermore, in Alvarado, Texas, BBS helped Sabre Galvanizing, Inc. build one of America’s greenest galvanizing facilities. The metal building covers 44,000 square feet and was designed to supply Sabre’s main kettle. The company also built a storage yard and office space. Olsen enjoys frequent business from repeat customers and attributes the returns to his careful planning. “We like the challenge of producing a building that a manufacturer will love, and people respond to how technical and methodical we are,” he remarks. By asking questions and brainstorming solutions, BBS can provide the right building the first time, saving clients money in operational efficiency and future upgrades. abq

The Sabre office building in Alvarado,TX.

niche services

Wilkstone installed this 9,000-square-foot wall of Jerusalem gray limestone in the lobby of NewYork’s One Bryant Park, which houses Bank of America’s headquarters.

wilkstone llc High-end marble and stonework for prestigious clients throughout New York City by sandra guy

at a glance

wilkstone llc traces its roots back 82 years to founder George Wilkinson, a US-born marble setter whose ancestors worked as stone cutters and stone masons in England. He started the business working on high-end residential installations in Central New Jersey. When Wilkinson’s son, David, joined the business in 1952, the company started doing more commercial projects, and now it is known for its high-end stone and marble work for New York City’s most prestigious highrise lobbies, plazas, and indoor showpieces.

location: paterson, nj employees: 60–100 One attribute has never changed in all of those years, area of specialty: however: quality work. “This company has been built on commercial and residential marble- quality,” says David, who serves as owner and president. “This is a business that involves a great deal of detail. It’s and stonework not the big, broad management strokes that make the difaverage annual ference. It’s dealing with the correct selection of materirevenue: als, the coordination of the work, and quality control.” $20 million

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Today, the company has many well-known projects in its portfolio, including the Goldman Sachs World Headquarters, a 45-story high-rise designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, located in the Battery Park City neighborhood of New York City. The $1 billion project, which received a LEED Gold certification, required exacting stonework in the main lobby, the sky lobby on the 10 th floor, and many of the interior areas. Wilkstone furnished, supplied, and set the stonework, and also performed interior fit-outs. The Moca Cream stone was dry-laid out and inspected in Portugal, then crated and shipped to the United States. The project was completed in December 2009. Another notable project is One Bryant Park, the New York headquarters of Bank of America, a 55-story building encompassing 2.2 million square feet in Manhattan. The architect, Cook + Fox Architects, LLP, of New

wilkstone llc niche services

This is a business that involves a great deal of detail. It’s not the big, broad management strokes that make the difference. It’s dealing with the correct selection of materials, the coordination of the work, and quality control. —David Wilkinson, Owner & President

York, fashioned the tower to be “the most environmentally responsible high-rise office building in the United States,” according to published reports. Wilkstone played a major role in the building’s distinctiveness, whose main lobby centers on 9,000 square feet of Jerusalem gray limestone, which was delivered from Israel and cut in Wilkstone’s fabrication shop. The limestone was set on the lobby wall in varying thicknesses, and each stone, which ranges from one and a fourth inches to two inches thick, is individually supported with steel clips. Wilkstone won the Marble Institute’s Award of Merit for this project. The building also features Kashmir White granite with a flamed finish. The granite was quarried in the state of Tamil Nadu in Southern India and fabricated at a processing plant run by Hindustan Granites Inc., of Hauppauge, New York. Wilkstone installed more than 30,000 square feet of the Kashmir White granite in the main- and second-floor lobbies and throughout the interior and exterior. A traditional mortar bed was used to lay these pavers. The bed’s thickness varied from three to five inches. Wilkstone dry-laid all of the interior granite floor pavers at its headquarters in Paterson, New Jersey, so that the building owner could view and approve them. Another notable project of Wilkstone’s is known as 7 World Trade Center, the first of the replacement skyscrapers for the buildings destroyed on 9/11. This 52-story, 741-foot high-rise, which opened in May 2006, has been called the safest skyscraper in the world, partly due to the fireproof elevators and two feet of reinforced concrete covering its fireproofed steel columns. The building has been certified as one of New York’s first green office towers, with about 30 percent of its structural steel comprised of recycled material, and a rainwater-collection system that irrigates the park and cools the building. The lobby walls feature Wilkstone-

installed Venetino marble from Carrara, Italy, while the lobby flooring was a combination of Cherokee White marble from Georgia and Jet Mist granite from Virginia. Wilkstone has also performed the marble and stonework for such noteworthy buildings as the Morgan Library, which features three new pavilions designed by famed architect Renzo Piano, and the Carnegie Mansion that houses the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, both in Manhattan. The Morgan Library’s pavilions, made of faceted steel panels and glass, join the old and new portions of the library at 37th Street and Madison Avenue in New York. Wilkstone also did much of the replacement and restoration work at the Cooper-Hewitt Library, a branch of the Smithsonian Institution housed in a mansion that industrialist Andrew Carnegie built at 5th Avenue and 91st Street, with Indiana limestone. During the previous New York City construction downturn, Wilkstone worked on a number of large-scale projects throughout the country, including the main terminal of the Denver International Airport, the Denver Public Library, and the World Bank Headquarters in Washington, DC. However, with the latest recession’s toll on the real-estate industry, no new office towers are being built in Manhattan with the exception of the World Trade Center site. Therefore, the majority of Wilkstone’s current work is interior renovations and replacements on existing buildings, in addition to some public work. “In a competitive market like New York City, building owners want to restore existing spaces with contemporary designs and materials,” David says. “When new owners take over a building, they start working on redoing the public spaces—the lobbies inside and the plazas outside. I’ve done one lobby three times in my career.” With the company’s extensive industry know-how, even more jobs are certainly on the way. abq

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


niche services

ProTecs’ renovation of this existing warehouse and office space involved all new mixing tanks that control and contain corrosive and acidic materials.

protecs Evolution of design-build approach leads to a hybrid firm that greatly benefits clients by laura williams-tracy

at a glance

long before the term “hybrid” meant progressive and efficient, Chris DiPaulo conceived an idea to create a crossover construction-management project-delivery formula to help high-tech customers build needed facilities while paring back financial, performance, and conformance risks. The result is ProTecs, a single-source project- and construction-management company, or what DiPaulo refers to as a “hybrid designbuild firm.”

headquarters: conshohocken, pa founded: 2005 employees: 20 area of specialty: project, construction, and facilities management

Today, headquartered in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia, ProTecs provides turnkey facility-related capital projects to high-tech companies while allowing them to remain focused on their core business. “Early on, we saw this lean paradigm emerging—that owners were paring back and eliminating in-house engineering and project management and not owning the real estate they occupied,” says Chris DiPaulo, founder and president of ProTecs. “That drove a perfect storm of inexperience as neither the landlord

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nor the owner has the knowledge and experience in project delivery.” This knowledge gap created an opportunity for ProTecs, which DiPaulo started in 2005. An architectural- and civil-engineering graduate of Drexel University, DiPaulo had successfully managed large construction projects for an integrated design-builder for 15 years. But he saw an inherent defect in this model. “I really believe engineering firms with in-house construction-management capabilities have their own bias on how to deliver integrated design-build projects,” DiPaulo says. But, he adds, those approaches sometimes conceal too much cost information from the owner. “Oftentimes in this arrangement the design professionals working on the job aren’t necessarily the most skilled in the project type—just the ones who are not busy,” he says. Without examination of costs early in the design process, the result is often an over-engineered solution that is


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Because of our engineering backgrounds, we are able to focus the A/E firms to offer a more efficient design that allows for a more reliable project outcome. —Chris DiPaulo, Founder & President

unaffordable. “The old models of design-bid-build and integrated design-build are outdated and inefficient,� says Bill Hunter, ProTecs vice president of life sciences real estate. “These delivery methods frequently result in too much finger pointing, conflicts of interest, and ultimately a dissatisfied customer.�

Currently, ProTecs is building a biological-vaccine manufacturing facility and a vivarium. Clients include Charles River Labs, medical implants company Orthovita Inc., biotech company Fraunhofer USA and semiconductor company Anadigics Inc.

“Because of our engineering backgrounds,� DiPaulo says, ProTecs offers a hybrid of those approaches, with ProTecs “we are able to focus the A/E firms to offer a moreefficient design that allows for a more reliable project assuming all of the risk for cost and performance while outcome.� abq maximizing competitive bidding throughout all facets of the project. ProTecs acts as the point of continuity and aligns the strategic project objectives, hires the best design firms under its umbrella, and delivers the project. The company is able to assume these risks because of its real-time, expert costing analysis during the early stages of conceptual design. ProTecs pioneered a process it calls Target Cost Construction, which works with owners and outside design professionals to define the scope of the project and maintain a realistic budget. Through Target Costing, the design basis is driven backwards from both the process requirements and the cost parameters. This allows ProTecs to identify cost drivers immediately and manage the project scope to avoid financial and schedule overruns. ProTecs is able to provide conceptual development and programming of a project and arrive at a guaranteed maximum price for approximately one percent of the project cost. “Most companies don’t have the experience to take the risk for the guaranteed price this early in the design development,� says Jay McKenna, PE, LEED AP, vice president of operations. Under this model, DiPaulo has grown the company to 20 people, including project managers and engineers, field superintendents, and administrative staff. The company has doubled revenue each year on projects ranging from $30,000 to $30 million. It specializes in leasehold improvements, renovations, new buildings, and additions for pharmaceutical, biotechnology, semiconductors, specialty chemical, photovoltaic, and mission-critical industries.


&-&$53*$"- $0/53"$5034

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mcnolty mechanical Maximizing quality and technical standards for the mechanical-piping industry by christopher cussat

McNolty offers its employees safety training, since many of its carbonsteel structures are built in a vertical environment.

work on the structures of Parliament Hill, the Supreme Court of Canada, and the Justice Building. The bulk of McNolty Mechanical’s work—and the company’s real strength—lies in the high-pressure welding side of the industry, including mechanical piping, high-pressure steam, natural gas, and ammonia installations. “Anything with severe cyclical conditions or high pressure that needs to be put together, we specialize in mechanical/steam systems and all of the welding and installation that goes into them,” McNolty says. Included in the company’s scope is the servicing and installation of low-pressure/chilled piping lines and associated componentry. “Regardless of the operating parameters or pipe size,” McNolty says, “we have the confidence to tackle welding work of this nature.” McNolty attributes his company’s competitiveness to the fact that it’s able to accept and complete very challenging jobs. “We take on jobs that are higher pressure, more technical, and more complicated,” he says, “and I’ve assembled a team that I think is second to none in our district or region.” For example, the company recently worked on a jet-fuel project for the Canadian Air Force Base in Trenton.

at a glance location: rockland, on employees: 14 area of specialty: high-pressure mechanical-piping services sales growth in past year: 100%

The company also offers specialized health and safety training for its workers. “Often there are a lot of confined spaces in our project and service plans,” McNolty says, “places [like oxygen deficient areas] where you need people with special training who can perform their jobs and roles in a safe manner.” To this end, McNolty Mechanical even has a designated health and safety officer who is also a firefighter. “He is integral to our safety-policy drafting, as well as for setting up rescue situations in confined spaces,” McNolty says. “As a result, we’re able to work in some really delicate areas that most other firms just won’t tackle.”

with his strong family tradition of skilledtrades experience, Landon McNolty, president of McNolty Mechanical, is helping to change the social definition of skilled tradesmen while raising the standards of safety, quality, and technical advancement for the After doubling in both annual revenue and employee mechanical-piping industry. numbers this past year, McNolty Mechanical plans to continue growing into the future. This includes McNolty Mechanical started off as a one-man shop, purchasing a new fabrication shop that will expand the with McNolty and his toolbox and truck. Today, this company’s abilities to support not only its own projects Rockland-based mechanical-piping corporation primarily provides services for federal government buildings, as but its competitors’ projects as well. “Much of the work we do on the high-pressure side [like stainless steel, alwell as commercial, national defense, and public-works clients. Since its inception, the company has done related loys, and specialty or exotic metals welding] is not done

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mcnolty mechanical niche services

We take on jobs that are higher pressure, more technical, and more complicated—and I’ve assembled a team that I think is second to none in our district or region.

McNolty’s installation of a new chiller at the Cliff CHCP plant in Ottawa, ON.

—Landon McNolty, President

by local guys,” McNolty explains, “so we want to be able to support both ourselves and other contractors in the Ottawa area with that service.” Ultimately, McNolty believes that the key to his company’s success is service. “It’s the technical approach and the skill set that we have,” he says. “At the end of the day, you’ve got to back everything up with quality service, and really that’s our selling feature. The one thing that really sets us apart is the level of quality and workmanship that this company is able to bring to real technical issues.” McNolty also emphasizes the great intrinsic importance of the personnel who comprise the company. As its leader, his approach to manpower has always been that there is no hierarchy. “It’s not a tiered system in that sense—everybody has an important role across the board, right down to our apprentices,” he says, adding that the company has successful continuity because everyone there “buys into” the company and its concept. “It’s because you’ve got people adopting the philosophy of the company or its growth patterns, and getting involved right from the ground up.” McNolty hopes that the company’s continued success will help boost the number of skilled tradesmen. “The trades were so neglected through the 1990s and 2000s that we now have a significant deficit and worldwide shortage of these workers,” he says. McNolty also has seen a huge difference in the way skilled trades are viewed, and the level of professionalism in the construction industry across the board has really increased. “It’s nice to see something that was formerly regarded as sort of lower-end socially now being regarded at the higher end,” he says. “We’re able to consistently put a professional product on the table and be proud—it feels good, actually.” abq


Mueller Flow Control is your #1 source for Pipe, Valves and Fittings and is a proud partner of McNolty Mechanical Inc. Mueller Flow Control 2320 Stevenage Drive , Unit B Ottawa, Ontario, K1G 3W3 PH: (613) 736-7282 FAX: (613) 736-9708

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Econo Air is described by owner Ken Moll as ,“a large, regional ‘boutique’ business that specializes in... ultra-high-efficiency HVAC products.”

econo air Offering high-end, high-efficiency HVAC, solar-electricity, and plumbing products for residential and commercial use by christopher cussat

at a glance location: anaheim, ca founded: 1982 area of specialty: high-end, highefficiency hvac, solar-electricity, and plumbing products

mike richards has always dreamed big. when he started Econo Air (EA) back in 1982, he knew two things for certain: he wanted more business, and he wanted to grow the company rather than stay small. Along with his wife, Rhonda, Mike literally hit the streets and began making his dream for EA come true. In fact, his first advertising campaign consisted of him going door to door and distributing advertising flyers for his services. General manager Ken Moll describes EA as, “a large, regional ‘boutique’ business that specializes in residential, high-end, and ultra-high-efficiency HVAC products, as well as solar electricity.” In addition to its residential clients, EA also completes commercial work for building owners. “With the reality of rising energy costs for most homeowners, EA is uniquely positioned to offer full-scale

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solutions to homeowners and businesses interested in improving comfort and reducing energy costs,” he adds. EA has been blessed with a very large residential customer base. In fact, many of its clients become automatic repeat customers and call EA multiple times a year to tune up their systems. The company’s commitment to service and consistent quality maintenance also helps EA customers stay efficient and save money. “We are helping our customers stay on top of their utility costs by keeping their systems in peak operating condition,” Moll says. This constant customer interaction allows EA to provide up-to-date product options and state-of-the-art industry advances. “Because we maintain strong client relationships, we are always available to consult with them about when it makes sense to invest in the ‘next best thing,’”

econo air

niche services

With the reality of rising energy costs for most homeowners, [Econo Air] is uniquely positioned to offer full-scale solutions to homeowners and businesses interested in improving comfort and reducing energy costs. —Ken Moll, General Manager

Moll notes. Due to rapid improvements in system efficiency, 5- to 10-year-old functional systems may actually be underperforming compared to the next generation of technology that is available today.

let managers manage,” he says. “They are the best owners one could work for.”

At heart, EA knows, but for God, this company would not have survived these past 25 plus years. The fact that EA is also considered an expert in zoning applications— EA has not only survived, but has thrived through a decade that has gotten the best of many similar companies, which further enhance efficiency and performance by dividing homes into multiple zones. For example, home- is a living testament of EA’s devotion to and faith in the Lord, its many talented employees, and a simple, yet owners can elect to heat or cool a select area of their home rather than having to heat or cool the entire house. substantial, owner-driven philosophy. Moll concludes, “We have been truly blessed.” abq “Additionally, because of our expertise, we have honed the installation process to where we can safely, expertly, and meticulously install high-quality systems [for most homes] in one day,” Moll says. Similar jobs can generally take traditional service providers several days, often disrupting the homes and lives of homeowners. Another unique aspect to EA is its various licensures and diverse experience, which allow it to holistically address all of its customers’ problems and offer complete solutions to all of their comfort and energy needs. “Other companies may just be licensed for HVAC and offer unit change-outs, but we specialize in complete system redesigns that integrate today’s available technology to create an ideal solution for each and every homeowner,” Moll says. EA recently launched its new hybrid system, which integrates ultra-high-efficiency HVAC with solar electricity, allowing the company to address the customer’s needs from both the demand and supply side of the equation. In other words, EA customers can reduce their energyconsumption demand by using high-efficiency equipment. Then, by simultaneously integrating renewable or cogeneration technology, they can lower the cost of energy being used at the same time. Moll acknowledges the non-micro-managerial style and dedication of EA’s founders and owners as directly contributing to the company’s great success. “Mike and Rhonda Richards are passionate about the business, our customers, and getting things done—the key is that they

EA recently launched a new hybrid energy system, which integrates ultra-high-efficiency HVAC with solar electricity.

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


rosso paving & drainage, inc.

The company performed this paving project in Riviera Beach for the Port of Palm Beach. Photo: Kathy Robinson.

Rosso Paving & Drainage, Inc. Strong business ties lead to quality work in the road-construction industry by christopher cussat

at a glance location: west palm beach, fl employees: 16 area of specialty: municipal road construction annual sales: $5 million

rosso paving & drainage, inc. (rpd) is a family-run business that has sustained its success over the years through a balance of values, quality, and productive, respectful partnerships. In 1976, RPD president Nancy G. Rosso’s father, Joseph A. Rosso, Sr., began the company with a partner. The following year, Rosso’s father took over solely, formally founding RPD. In 1983, the company was incorporated, thus becoming its current entity. RPD was started with Rosso’s father doing smaller projects such as driveways and parking lots. According to Rosso, his knowledge and expertise quickly advanced him into larger projects. “My father was and is still very well received and respected in the community,” Rosso says. “In 1994, Dad semi-retired and he fully retired by the year 2000.” But for this close-knit family business, no one ever really leaves the company. “My father is always available for advice, which he loves to give—and

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he is also currently working with my son, teaching him to estimate,” she adds. Today, RPD specializes in road construction and it is considered to be a prime contractor. “What this includes is constructing a new road or intersection with many components,” Rosso says. “Some of these components are clearing and grubbing, earthwork, underground utilities, subgrade, base rock, asphalt, electrical, concrete sidewalks/curbing, landscaping, irrigation, paver brick, guardrail, striping, etc.” In addition, the company bids on park projects that may include park equipment, pedestrian bridges, and other related amenities. Currently, 90 percent of RPD’s bids are comprised of county, city, and town projects—while private project bids account for the remaining 10 percent. The company’s success is a result of the Rosso Family’s working tradition, which is reflected in Rosso’s back-

rosso paving & drainage, inc. niche services

ground. In 1981, after graduating from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s of science in business administration, Rosso began to work for her father. She quickly took over the operations of the office duties. “I took over the phones, billing, general ledger, payroll, preparing bids, banking, etc.,” she says. “After that, I continued to learn all aspects of the company, which included going out into the field.” She soon was also helping with the project layouts and shot grades. Even through marriage, divorce, and having and raising three children during the ensuing years, Rosso never missed work. In 1994, she and her brother, Joe, bought the business from their father. Throughout the years, Joe has run all of the field operations, and he also determines what equipment to buy. Today, both Rosso and her brother are involved in estimating. “All quotes are approved by us and all projects that we bid are by us,” she adds.

By keeping up with the knowledge of what the industry holds, keeping ourselves informed, and always looking toward the future…we know very well how to build a project structurally sound while, at the same time, achieving the maximum profit. —Nancy G. Rosso, President

Rosso attributes RPD’s lasting success to a strategic bidding practice and keeping up with the pulse of the business. “All our projects are competitively bid, and we are constantly aware of what the industry will bare.” The company achieves this by always getting updated prices from its suppliers and subcontractors. RPD is also meticulous about carefully going over blueprints, and it strives for perfection in field observation. “We maintain a low overhead and will adjust profits as needed,” Russo says. “By keeping up with the knowledge of what the industry holds, keeping ourselves informed, and always looking toward the future, to see how prices are being bid and adapting to that, we know very well how to build a project structurally sound while, at the same time, achieving the maximum profit.” Looking ahead, Rosso plans to continue the company’s family tradition by utilizing the unique talents and training of RPD’s next generation. “My niece [who has a legal degree] and nephew [who is an engineer] have joined the company, with the expectations of growth and exploring new possibilities of incorporating some engineering into the company.” Rosso believes the keys to RPD’s success have simply been knowledge and being able to understand what is needed to be flexible. She also emphasizes the value of respectful partnering. “You’ve got to work in partnership with the people around you,” she says. “Take, for example, my brother and me—we stick to our own knowledge, and we respect each other’s opinions and expertise. In other words, you have to work together, but at the same time, you have to let each partner make decisions on their own.” abq The Rosso Family dedicates this article to the loving memory of Irja M. Rosso and Wendy A. Rosso.


State Lic. EC0001144 and EC0001097


C.R. Dunn, Inc. specializes in the following areas: Industrial Electrical Construction, High Voltage, Underground, Street Lighting, Hi-Mast Lighting, Sport Lighting, Duct Bank Installation, Pump Stations and Lift Stations and Flood Control.

Congratulations Rosso Paving & Drainage! Best of luck on all your future projects!

american builders quarterly nov/dec 2010


niche services

tile for every room


Tile for every room Many designers have begun viewing tile in an entirely new way. Using a varitey of materials and finishes, these featured designers have taken out-of-the-box designs and used them in traditional applications. Whether used for walls or floors, these innovative and modern surfaces have achieved a highend modernity that enhances all other aspects of a room. From fabric to ceramic to metal, these product lines have changed how we think about tile design, as they showcase a number of unique patterns, applications, and finishes, all designed and manufactured to stunning effect.

Kink Titanium / Karim Rashid for Alloy / / Designed by Karim Rashid and manufactured by Alloy, this sleek metal tile comes in a variety of finishes, offering a modern surface that is resilient and easy to maintain. IVI Tufted Fabric-Look / Hastings Tile & Bath / / Designed for interior-wall applications, this tile incorporates subtle patterns into its design. Additional color choices include white, sand, and brown.

VLI Mosaic / Hastings Tile & Bath / / This unique meshmounted mosaic tile, which comes in a variety of color combinations, is ideal for interior applications, such as bathrooms, whenever a bold statement is needed.

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Jardin / Artistic Tile / / The Jardin collection, available in a variety of colors, features intricate designs for interior walls in three patterns: Papillion, Bloom, and Palm (pictured).

Xpressions and Designs is a commercial interior design downtown Sandfly. We remodeling, window lighting, wallpaper “When our clients they feel at home. Our but a way to connect to the

full service residential and business located in Historic specialize in space planning, treatments, furniture, and custom bedding. walk into our shop place is not only a business, community and serve others”

7400 A Skidaway Road Savannah, GA 31406 912-335-8287

Great DesiGns are built from Great r elationships

Tucker’s Point Club Tucker’s Town, Bermuda