A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Reshaping the Construction Industry

Construction Citizen blogger Jim Kollaer recently met up with Cristina Tzintzún, the executive director of Austin’s Workers Defense Project (WDP).  For the past 8 years she...
May 19, 2011
Satterfield & Pontikes Construction, Inc. (S&P) announced last week that they took third-place honors in the website category at the Society for Marketing Professional...
May 19, 2011
In a recent article in the Reno Gazette-Journal’s online newspaper (RGJ.com), Siobhan McAndrew writes about the design shift in recent years of retail shopping centers.  The current trend is to build “lifestyle centers” which arrange retail stores, restaurants, movie cinemas and even hotels and apartments in outdoor park-like settings with fountains, landscaping, walkways and sculptures.  Some host weekend farmers’ markets or outdoor concerts.  McAndrew writes:“Alamo Quarry Marketplace in San Antonio, Texas: Opened in 1997 the 585,000-square-foot center has eight restaurants and a 16-screen cinema. Located on the site of closed cement plant, the original smokestacks are still at the center. Developed by Trammell Crow, a commercial real estate firm.”This is one of 10 examples of these centers the article lists.  It includes details such as
May 17, 2011
A draft executive order was released from the White House that will require contractors bidding for federal work to disclose every political contribution that the directors, owners and officers have made before they would be considered for the projects.Let’s see, does that smell a little fishy to you?  Well, it does to me.We already know that the White House can issue executive orders that can turn our industry upside down.  We saw it in the executive order on PLAs that favored the labor unions on Federal projects.  This one is even more political and holds the possibility that if you didn’t contribute to a certain party or candidate, you would not be considered
May 13, 2011
Houston based Linbeck Group, LLC won an Associated General Contractors (AGC) Aon Build America Award for the 2010 best building under $10 million for the Mary Wright Admission Center on the campus of Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth.  The AGC awarded Aon awards to 20 firms from around the country.  According to a recent press release:“The Mary Wright Admission Center, which won for best new building project under $10 million, is a 13,000 square foot facility that serves as an undergraduate recruiting center.  The project was completed 23 days early, despite record-breaking heat and rain and mid-project changes to the design.  
May 11, 2011
Build a Better Texas is a collaborative effort of honest construction businesses, faith leaders, and advocates of fairness and safety who want to improve the construction industry in Texas through research and through the development of ideas which will “reward good business practices, invest in workforce development, and level the playing field in the industry” for honest contractors and subs.  Their website posts reports and videos highlighting the issues faced by the industry which employs around 600,000 workers, making construction one of the top ten industries in Texas.One of the handicaps which honest contractors face is having to bid for jobs against dishonest employers who misclassify their employees
May 10, 2011
Editor’s note:  In our final post relating to the workforce development meeting held at Marek Brothers Systems in Houston this year, Jim Kollaer writes about the process he used as facilitator of the meeting.My approach to this session was based on these premises:Do no harm – I know that it is corny, but it is important to the work that I do to make the sessions as productive as possible.Positive actionable results – The session is not an end into itself.  It was designed to leverage their current state and help them develop a direction towards the future state.It’s their company – The key reason to bring in an outside facilitator to lead these sessions is that we can ask the hard questions, drill down on the uncomfortable areas, put the owners or leaders on the spot without worrying about our jobs, poke the box and generally get it done. 
May 10, 2011
The use of the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) process is growing a slow rate around the country, possibly because of the requirement for shared risks and rewards and the form of contracting and insuring those teams.  However, owners are beginning to push for new forms of delivery and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) recently surveyed their members to see what the current status of IPD is within the profession.  As the use of IPD within the industry expands, architectural firms will be a likely signpost of that expansion.Here is that survey as reported in GreenSource magazine, a collaboration of Architectural Record, McGraw-Hill Construction, and BuildingGreen, LLC.  
May 04, 2011
Texas based commercial contractor SpawGlass is not only changing CEOs at the end of this year, but according to Mobile Enterprise, the firm has deployed Motion Computing’s Motion F5v Tablet PCs into the field as part of their Building Information Modeling (BIM) efforts.  One of the first projects where the tablets are being used is at the construction site of the new University of Texas Student Activities /Liberal Arts Building at the UT campus in Austin.According to Chris Tisdel, BIM technologist at SpawGlass, “Our goal is to create a tight connection between design intent and field activities, and then provide the owners with the same level of coordination and visibility throughout the lifecycle of a structure.”Motion Computing is an Austin, Texas designer of tablet computers for industry including healthcare, government and field personnel.  Their website offers a 13-minute webinar which explains how Tablet PCs in Construction can improve job site productivity, as well as some information about specific tablet PCs used in construction (free registration required).  
May 03, 2011
The pomp and circumstance surrounding the royal wedding last week were magnified by the scale and construction of Westminster Abbey, a building that has stood for over 700 years at a location which has been a Christian worship site for over 1000 years.My first visit, over 25 years ago, seared into my mind the import of the building, the flying buttresses and the lightness of the structure created by the three Master Masons who designed and built it.Even though I had studied Westminster as a student in architecture school, I was hardly prepared for my first visit.  The height of the nave was a number to me until I craned my neck to look up at how high it really was – 102 feet, the height of a 10 story modern building.  I was awestruck, probably more so by the fact that I had flown overnight on my first overseas trip from Houston.  I was on my way to Saudi Arabia to work on the master plan for the University of Petroleum and Minerals (Now the King Abdul Aziz University in Dhahran), and had stopped for the day to see the Abbey and several other sites in London.  Today, after numerous visits, I still stand in awe of the Kings, Queens and Abbots who brought the Master Masons to the site to build
May 02, 2011