A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Reshaping the Construction Industry

James S. Russell wrote an article last week for Bloomberg.com about what a mistake it is to criticize those who mix art with function and advance innovative design in buildings.  The story was triggered by a lawsuit filed by MIT against the architect and against the builder of the Stata Center research lab on MIT’s campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.The Ray and Maria Stata Center was designed by architect Frank O. Gehry and constructed by builder Beacon Skanska of Skanska USA Building Inc.  It’s distinctive appearance with astonishing shapes and angles is typical of Gehry’s work, which often causes observers to ponder how his buildings can stand, let alone function.  But that is precisely what the Stata Center does.  Its interior space houses collaborating-friendly spaces which encourage the creativity of the minds who work in them.After the center opened in 2004, it developed some structural problems including, leaking, cracking, drainage problems and growing mold particularly around the outdoor rooftop amphitheater.  MIT filed the lawsuit in 2007, which was settled in April 2010 for an undisclosed amount of money in addition to the repairs which have been completed.  
August 24, 2010
Wondering this morning what it will be this time.  We have heard phrases like, “It ain’t goin’ to be the same this time around.”  “I sure hope that it picks up soon.”  “Change is a comin!”  “It’s a new world this time around.”Twenty years later and we are still hearing the same phrases thrown around.  I am still waiting to hear “Look to Heaven in '11!”Jim Parsons, who blogs for ENR.com, wrote in an entry entitled Rebar Madness: Preparing for the New Normal, that those who are expecting the construction business to return to the levels of 2007 any time soon will likely be in for a rude awakening.Parsons quotes Laura D’Ardenne, Manager of Sustainable Construction for PCL Constructors, who says that some changes are already in place.  According to D’Ardenne, “Owners are looking for knowledgeable contractors who can be part of process, and help them evaluate strategies.  Firms are also being called on to demonstrate their knowledge.  You can’t just say you know BIM or sustainability.  You need to show just how well you understand it, including how you’ve used it to improve your own operations.”  
August 23, 2010
The tallest building on the planet today is the Burj Khalifa rising 2,717 feet into the desert sky over Dubai.  It is a building full of hyperbole built to illustrate some of the limits of today’s construction.  At 160 floors, it is higher than two Empire State Buildings and the tower that sits on its top is over 700 feet tall.  The designers said that the tower was that tall so that the overall tower would not look too stubby.  The designers were members of the Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) offices.  The firm has had a number of tall buildings, but this is the tallest.We could ask and answer lots of esoteric questions about its cost and design, but that is not the purpose of my inquiry.  You can read a great review of the building, its lighting and some of the intricacies in this latest issue of Architecture Record.My question is two-fold.  First, Who is the contractor?  I will leave that one to the reader to tell me. 
August 19, 2010
For the past few years my company has focused on recruitment and entry level training for our field force.  We have some amazing success stories.  I’ll share some of our...
August 19, 2010
The Associated Press announced last week that “The Laborers' International Union is rejoining the AFL-CIO five years after leaving in a bitter dispute that split the U.S. labor...
August 18, 2010
According to an alert from Engineering News Record (subscription required for the full story), the strike of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, AFL-CIO and the Chicago-area Laborer’s District Council reported in last month’s BLS (US Bureau of Labor Statistics) workforce numbers was settled after 9 hours of negotiations.  The negotiations were precipitated by the Illinois Department of Transportation threatening to shut down some major expansion projects, even the Illinois Tollway project which, according to some sources, is against their own rules.  The strike began on May 31 when the union contracts ran out. The pickets impacted over 300 projects around the region.Both sides claimed victory.  The negotiations created a revised contract that is good for 3 years.  As I said earlier, I find it amazing that in this economy, they were striking when the unemployment rate is at 9.5% and even higher in parts of the Mid West.  
August 17, 2010
“It is no secret that the design and construction industry is one of the most inefficient on the planet. … In a $1 trillion industry, that amounts to $300 billion or more of...
August 16, 2010
According to Employment Law Watch, “The Illinois Wage Theft Enforcement Act, S.B. 3568 (the "Act"), signed into law July 30, 2010, increases both civil and criminal penalties for...
August 14, 2010
Green design, also know as sustainable design, is an advancing practice in the industry, thanks in part to the developers of the Condé Nast Building at Four Times Square in...
August 12, 2010
Okay, here we go.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the latest unemployment figures for July for our industry last week.  The US unemployment rate stands at...
August 12, 2010