Hot Projects to Keep an Eye On

Construction projects across the country are tapping into technology—in the office, on the jobsite, and in the lifecycle of the construction facility. From universities, to corporate buildings, to homes, these examples underpin how projects are built today, while also giving a peek inside to see how they foreshadow the technologies yet to come. These are some of the top, hot projects—and technologies—to keep an eye on today and for the future. They point to how the technology is changing the way business is done in construction today—and what is still to come.

University Cuts Energy in Alabama

Originally founded in 1830, the University of North Alabama, www.una.edu, Florence, Ala., maintains its history by combining beautiful campus surroundings with historical features and high tech. Today, it is modernizing its facilities by implementing energy-efficient technologies and programs. The contract invests $17 million in sustainable infrastructure upgrades that will create savings in excess of $27 million in the next 20 years. The project is funded by an ESPC (energy savings performance contract), which generates a significant amount of savings that can be used to reinvest in improvements for the school as well as its students. The university says it is cutting its energy costs by 20% by the end of 2020. Energy-efficient technologies will be used on more than 70 facilities at the university. This includes smart automation and IT technologies, installation of LED lighting, improvements to heating and cooling systems, updates to the building envelope and roofing, and water reduction technologies.

Smart Lab Comes to Los Angeles

Suffolk, www.suffolk.com, Boston, Mass., unveiled its Smart Lab in Los Angeles, which will identify, test, and scale new technologies that will help the organization transform the construction experience. Smart Labs are currently located in San Francisco, New York City, Miami, Tampa, Dallas, and Boston. The objective is to allow teams to leverage the technologies, processes, and tools that enhance collaboration. The lab is equipped with a Data Wall, Huddlewall, Virtual Reality CAVE, jobsite feeds, and more. The company’s vision is to transform construction by building smart. Its culture centers on VDC, virtual-reality technologies, and lean construction principles. Suffolk is managing high-profile building construction projects in Southern California, including Park 5th, the Tommie and Thompson Hotels and Sunset La Cienega in Los Angeles; FLIGHT at Tustin Legacy in Orange County; and Atmosphere in San Diego, among others. The Los Angeles market is strong and the Smart Lab in Los Angeles is on the front of Suffolk’s revolution.

Affordable Housing Comes to Detroit

Modern places are coming to cities all across the country. Consider an affordable housing option for residents who are 55 years and older in Detroit’s historic Brush Park neighborhood. A part of Bedrock’s 8.4-acre City Modern development, “The Flats at 124 Alfred” is the first of six total apartment buildings to be completed. The complex contains 54 apartments for lease. One-bedroom units range from 600-735 sq. ft. and include floor-to-ceiling windows, walk-in closets, and energy efficient, stainless steel appliances. The complex is equipped with a fitness center, lounge with a outdoor terrace, outdoor garden spaces, bike share, gated underground parking, and high-speed internet. Back in 2017, Bedrock, www.bedrockdetroit.com, Detroit, Mich., the full-service real estate firm, made a commitment to the City of Detroit that 20% of its residential portfolio would be dedicated to affordable housing units. Throughout the next several years, Bedrock plans to develop or rehabilitate a total of up to 3,500 residential rental units.

Rail Headquarters in Atlanta

Norfolk Southern is a railway in the Eastern United States, and it is in the process of relocating its headquarters from Norfolk, Va., to an office tower at West Peachtree Street in Atlanta’s Technology Square district. Pickard Chilton, www.pickardchilton.com, New Haven, Conn., will design the headquarters and Norfolk Southern will combine employees from its Norfolk and Midtown Atlanta locations, as well as several hundred dispatcher, administrative, and supervisory personnel. Through Southern Railway and other predecessor railroads, the company can trace its Atlanta roots to the mid-1840s. The new headquarters will feature two office towers connected by a five-story campus-style hub that serves as a destination for employees to work and collaborate. On-site amenities include a vibrant dining facility, an adjacent rooftop garden and private greenspace, fitness center, and collaborative workspace. The move is expected to bring 850 jobs to the region, and carries an anticipated completion date of the third quarter of 2021.

Support for Solar in Mississippi

In order to build three solar projects in Meridian, Miss., McCarthy Building Companies, www.mccarthy.com, St. Louis, Mo., will hire more than 300 craft workers and is implementing principles of TWI (Training Within Industry), a program originally developed by the U.S. Dept. of War in the 1940s to help retrain workers quickly and reliably on moderately complex tasks. Here’s a closer look at the three solar projects: Meridian I and II encompass a 6 MWdc solar project located on 38 acres of the Naval Air Station (NAS) Meridian in Lauderdale County. Meridian III is a 75MWdc solar project on approximately 650 acres in Lauderdale County, outside of the Navy base. McCarthy is responsible for the design, procurement, construction, and commissioning of the facilities. The projects will provide economic benefits to the surrounding region, as well as economic and environmental benefits. In order to construct the projects, McCarthy has developed a strategy for reducing negative environmental impacts during the installation of the facilities.

The university says it is cutting its energy costs by 20% by the end of 2020. Energy-efficient technologies will be used on more than 70 facilities at the university.