October 10, 2018
October 5, 2018
It was a fall morning on the calendar last month, but outside it felt like the dead of summer. Sundt employee-owners walked from their field office and joined the crowd beneath a white-canopied event tent, dwarfed by neighboring high-rises and tower cranes. Guests started taking off their suit jackets, picking up the SWAG pocket fans, and hydrating as if a coach somewhere had called a timeout. Even with the heat, however, there was a feeling of anticipation that couldn’t be sapped. It was time to celebrate.
Attendees from Sundt Construction, Allen + Philp Architects, the Opus Group, Driftwood Acquisitions & Development (DAD), Hilton, and the City of Tempe all came together to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Canopy by Hilton in downtown Tempe.
Carlos J. Rodriguez Sr., CEO of Driftwood Acquisitions & Development (DAD), kicked off the festivities with a dad joke; he praised his son and COO Carlos Jr. for treating this project as his baby, so in business terms “[Carlos Sr. is] a grandfather now.” Family humor aside, it was clear that this project means a great deal to many stakeholders, especially the city of Tempe, and it will take a village to complete something this size on such a tight lot and timeline.
The 14-story, 198-room boutique hotel is scheduled to open January 2020. It will feature various amenities, including a café, gym, over 3,000 square feet of meeting space, and a rooftop pool with a terrace bar, cabanas and a fire pit. As part of the Canopy by Hilton lifestyle brand, the new hotel will focus on local design, food and drink, and culture. “Everything about this is going to scream Tempe,” said Gary Steffen, Global Head of Canopy by Hilton. Steffen also noted the “breakneck speed” of Sundt’s progress, among other speakers who pointed out the irony of holding a groundbreaking ceremony with the first floor of concrete columns already in place.
Tempe Vice Mayor Lauren Kuby commented on downtown’s need for quality hotel and conference space, for business and leisure travelers as well as visitors to ASU. Also, she said, “This project will create over 620 jobs in Tempe for the short term, and then hundreds more in the long term to staff and run the hotel.”
Sundt Senior Project Manager Jim Drago, among the “vested” crowd in the back wearing their PPE, said, “The most challenging part is it’s an extremely small site—less than a half-acre, including our entire laydown area—to build a 14-story building. And it’s less than 100 feet from the high-rise apartments we just finished. It’s all about logistics.” Sundt’s Building Group, Southwest District recently finished the Union Tempe mixed-use project in June, just in time for move-in of its current 500 residents who include ASU students and faculty, young professionals and families.
According to Jim Drago, collaboration has been a key ingredient in the project’s development: “It’s not very common for two different developers to work together hand-in-hand, but that’s what Opus and Driftwood had to do to make the Canopy happen, and they continue to work together.”
Several things stand out about this project, from both a development and a construction standpoint. “It’s unique to have finished Union Tempe for one client and then transform right into the next project, a similar one but for a different client on the same piece of land,” Jim said. Both he and Project Superintendent Justin Gillies pointed out that having the same team on Canopy is a unique advantage. “It’s great to be able to leverage our shared learning experience,” Justin said. “And we’re going to need that to meet our goal of completing a floor a week.”
“The team all know each other, and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and styles. The chemistry is already built, and it shows in the teamwork that goes on every day,” said Jim Drago.
While the Building Group, Southwest District looks to put Sundt’s signature on yet another piece of Tempe’s rising skyline, fellow employee-owners in Texas are doing the same on the Canopy by Hilton San Antonio. As we expand our presence in the hospitality and entertainment market, Sundt continues to deliver for our clients and for the communities where we work and live.
September 28, 2018
Like many innovators who came before them, Eric Cylwik and Ryan Haines were never seeking recognition. They just wanted to do their jobs better—and save people’s time and money in the process. The two saw a problem in the construction industry, and they set out to fix it. Eric and Ryan’s selection as finalists for the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) Autodesk Innovation Award was a nice bonus, but the real success is what the industry at large stands to gain from their new technology. Its name? The civil Construction Toolkit, or “CTK.”
Virtual Construction App Developer Ryan Haines (center) and Sr. Virtual Construction Engineer Eric Cylwik (right) accept the AGC Innovation 3rd-place Award
CTK technology began as a response to larger issues in the civil sector causing huge inefficiencies. A nationwide trend toward 3D modeling in the preconstruction process has generated loads of data. But by itself, this data isn’t actionable information. Also, most of it is siloed off between designers, contractors, and engineers, instead of flowing into a single stream of information for a project. Estimators in particular spend hours counting the “what” of a project (volumes, areas, lengths, counts, and weights)—6.4 million hours in the past year to be exact, the equivalent of 70 full-length careers. Instead of counting the “what,” Eric and Ryan thought, these professionals could spend more time on the “how” and, in the process, become more of an asset to their companies.
CTK user quickly quantifies the entire project model, by phase, in Autodesk Civil 3D
Enter: the CTK, a technology that supports parametric modeling. In the absence of a 3D design model, a CTK user can take lots of numbers from construction documents and convert them into 3D models, with a few mouse clicks. These models can then be quantified to cover all construction estimating needs, including sequencing and phasing of a project, and provide visualization for design all in a matter of hours instead of weeks. The same models can even be used for automated machine guidance (AMG) by heavy equipment operators in the field. “This technology shifts the focus from construction being a reactionary industry to an industry that proactively adds value,” Eric said. “Proper planning ensures efficient construction, and by removing mundane tasks from a construction service provider it enables them to focus on predictable services.”
Sundt uses the CTK on a daily basis and has seen immense added value across projects for both our employee-owners and our clients
In presenting the CTK to various industry groups, including the AGC, Eric and Ryan were often asked: How did you convince your company to invest in this? “The funny thing is,” Ryan said, “this was already part of our jobs and company culture. The return on investment had been established, just in the huge amounts of time we were saving in our own jobs, across multiple projects.” Eric pointed out that he and Ryan were also recognized for the CTK by Sundt a year ago, with the Going Beyond the Expected Award. “It’s just part of what we do at Sundt. We’re builders. And by virtue of that fact, we’re innovators.” Overall, CTK is a means of delivering better infrastructure. “When we design, estimate, and build from the same information,” Ryan said, “everyone wins with better quality and efficiency.” For a company whose mission is to be the most skilled builder in America, having innovative people on our team is a win indeed.
September 21, 2018
Public parks play a huge role in shaping the social fabric of a community. The new Eastside Regional Park in El Paso, Texas is a case in point, and Sundt is proud to partner with the city to create public space that will enhance El Pasoans’ quality of life. Last month, Sundt broke ground on Phase 1 of the park amid much fanfare from the city and local community, who eagerly await the project’s completion in early 2020.
Phase 1′s natatorium will house a 50-Meter competition-ready pool with all the required amenities to host regional meets at this facility, including seating for up to 800 spectators and pool deck space for 400 competitors.
Much of the buzz surrounding this project comes from its sheer scope and the number of amenities offered to the public. The three-part complex will include an indoor natatorium with an Olympic-size, competition-ready pool and diving well; a multi-generational community center with a gymnasium and multipurpose classrooms; and an outdoor neighborhood waterpark with waterslides, cabana-style shade areas, a lazy river, a water play lot, a climbing wall pool, and El Paso’s first wave simulator. All of these facilities will be surrounded by a landscaped walking path and public art.
Main entry lobby and mezzanine level with access to natatorium spectator seating and the fitness center/running track on the gym side. Both the natatorium and community center have goals of LEED Silver certification.
Describing how much this project means to the community, Senior Estimator Rudy Barba explained how El Paso is divided into three distinct areas: the Franklin Mountains separate West El Paso and Downtown, and Fort Bliss divides Downtown from East El Paso. “There’s just nothing like this on the east side of town,” Rudy said. The city’s center has undergone several improvements, but historically the east side has been an under-served area and hasn’t received as much attention. “But things are changing. This new park is going to attract people from all over town,” Rudy said. “It’s not just a new space for the swimming community, it’s going to be a gathering place for families and people of all ages.”
An aerial view rendering showing the main entry and waterpark.
From the start of the bid process to the first phase of construction, Sundt has maintained a high degree of collaboration and attention to detail. “We take pride in our thoroughness, especially when it comes to delivering that ‘wow factor’ the owner wants while also staying within budget,” said Project Director Joe Riccillo. “As a trusted partner and advisor, we’re working hard to cultivate our relationship with the City of El Paso and other key clients in the region.”
September 10, 2018
Engineering News Record (ENR), the industry’s leading trade publication, recently announced Sundt as a winner of its 2018 Best Project Awards for both the Texas/Louisiana and Southwest regions.
Out of a total of 121 entries submitted to the ENR Texas and Louisiana competition, judges selected 42 projects across 18 categories as the region’s best. Sundt and joint-venture partner Davila Construction won Best Landscape for the San Pedro Creek Culture Park in San Antonio, which involved reconstructing 1.3 miles of existing creek into a world-class urban linear park. The project included several new bridges, an amphitheater, flood control structures, fountains and water features, extensive utility relocations, retaining walls, hardscaping, landscaping, artwork and pedestrian improvements. On May 5th, 2018, the park served as the host venue for the City of San Antonio’s 300th anniversary celebration.
San Pedro Creek Culture Park – San Antonio, TX
The ENR Southwest competition involved projects completed in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico, with a panel of judges representing various demographic- and job-related imprints in the industry. Sundt won Best Water/Environment project for the Ocotillo Water Reclamation Facility in Chandler, Arizona, along with its joint-venture partner McCarthy Building Companies and design firm Carollo Engineers. The $120-million project included $20 million in upgrades to the existing wastewater treatment plant and construction of a new $100-million expansion facility, which utilizes membrane bioreactor technology (MBR) to reduce the facility’s pollution output and sludge production. The Ocotillo facility has significantly increased the amount of water the City of Chandler can recycle, helping it conserve valuable water resources.
Ocotillo Water Reclamation Facility – Chandler, AZ
Repeat business is the best praise a client can give, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has given Sundt Construction the ultimate compliment by bringing us back for another project. Sundt just completed its second job with the university, the Embry-Riddle Student Housing Phase 2 project, right on time for the fall semester. The new three-story, 73,000-square-foot residence building will house up to 282 students. And these are no coach-class accommodations; students will enjoy roomy, four-person semi-suites enhanced by comfortable lounging, gathering and social areas.
Embry-Riddle is the largest, fully accredited university system specializing in aviation and aerospace, and just last year Sundt finished the Prescott campus’s 52,500-square-foot STEM Education Center and Planetarium. According to Senior Project Manager Josh Anderson, Sundt was selected again for the residential building because “we keep meeting budget and schedule.” Now, this is easier said than done, as a student housing job of this magnitude in the current market is usually a 14- or 16-month job. “We got it done in 10 months, though,” said Josh, “and in the process, we performed over $1 million worth of value engineering.”
The timeline was narrow, labor was tight in a busy local market, and Prescott’s mile-high elevation meant dealing with rain and snow. But Sundt’s trademark teamwork, including some solid showings from our subcontractors, made for a successful finish. “We’re glad to help the university get closer to their goal of being able to house all students on campus,” Josh said. “Embry-Riddle has treated us really well, and we hope to continue working with them in the future.”