February 6, 2018
January 30, 2018
Attendees at the first Sundt Devils session listen to a panel of experts talk about women in construction.
We have a longstanding, valued partnership with Arizona State University. Along with our current work modernizing Sun Devil Stadium, we have performed numerous projects that are improving the campus experience.
Our “Sundt Devils” discussion series, which kicked off last week, is taking the commitment directly to ASU construction management and engineering students.
The first event on the Tempe campus focused on women in construction. Our employee-owners on the panel were experts, including Senior Vice President and Building Group Manager Teri Jones, Senior Vice President and Southwest Building Group Manager Ryan Abbott, Project Executive Chandra Reilly, Project Manager Janene Thomas and Project Engineer Ashleigh Eubank.
Arizona State University students chat with Sundt employee-owners.
“This event really engaged the students in our Construction Management program,” said Kristen Parrish, Assistant Professor at ASU’s School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. “Multiple students approached me following the event to say they had learned something and were even more excited to pursue their own construction careers.”
Attendee questions included what advice the panelists would offer a woman entering the industry and how job seekers could stand out from the crowd. While the audience was mostly female, several male students came to learn more about the topic. After the panel discussion, attendees stayed around to network with their peers and our team.
“It’s exciting that our first Sundt Devils event was well received by the attendees and great conversation was sparked,” said Sundt Talent Acquisition Specialist Sarah Clapper. “I attribute the majority of our success to our five panelists. They took time out of their busy schedules to chat and network with the crowd. At the end of the event, I received positive feedback and excitement toward the next Sundt Devils event.”
Future Sundt Devils events will focus on other industry topics and trends. ASU students and faculty should follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for information as subjects and dates are announced. Students from any college or university can visit our website to learn more about internship and career opportunities.
January 24, 2018
The University of Arizona Biomedical Sciences Partnership won in ENR’s Higher Education/Research Project category.
Our work on the Biomedical Sciences Partnership Building in Downtown Phoenix is among the Best of the Best from 2017, according to judging by Engineering News-Record.
The 10-story building for the University of Arizona won in the Higher Education/Research Project category. The facility is home to collaborative research in neurosciences, healthcare outcomes, cancer and medicine. Research performed in the building is expected to lead to groundbreaking discoveries with a direct impact on public health.
“It’s an urban medical research facility built on the principle of interdisciplinary work,” Ryan Abbott, who leads the Southwest District of our Building Group. “It’s in exactly the right location. We’re a knowledge economy based on life science.”
This announcement comes as the culmination of a nearly year-long effort by dozens of industry judges and the ENR editorial team to identify the pinnacle of design and construction achievement in the U.S. among projects completed between May 2016 and May 2017.
The competition began last March with a call for entries, which resulted in approximately 700 industry project teams submitting their work to the regional Best Projects competitions. In each of the 10 regions, editors assembled panels of judges to select the regional winners in 20 categories.
Once regional winners were chosen, they moved to the national competition. A new set of judges from across the country and all walks of the industry examined each project in an effort to distinguish the best from the best in teamwork, safety, overcoming challenges, innovation and quality.
The projects and judges will be featured in more depth in the March 5 issue of ENR. Also in that issue, the editors of ENR, in collaboration with the judges, will select one project from the Best of the Best group as the Project of the Year, which will be revealed in the issue.
May 11, 2017
We’re turning a former parking lot into 407 residences with numerous amenities in Tempe, Arizona.
It’s a unique project that had us transition from landowner to builder. Few things about Union Tempe Apartments, being built on the site of a former parking lot, will be commonplace for Arizona when the project is finished in July.
We owned the land, located not far from our headquarters in Tempe, for several years before selling it to the developer, The Opus Group. Opus is a family of commercial real estate development, construction and design companies headquartered in Minneapolis with offices and projects across the country.
The 407 residences will “expand the downtown Tempe community to be more walkable, bike-friendly and economically diverse,” said Ryan Abbott, our Southwest District Building Group Manager.
Residents will have top-of-the-line amenities including a shared fifth-floor deck with a resort-style swimming pool, grilling area and outdoor lounges with cabanas and fire pits. There will also be a fitness center, dog walk and storage for more than 450 bikes.
The project will cover a city block and feature two towers, one 20 stories and the other 12. The first will have primarily studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. The second will have 22 walk-up city homes and flats wrapping the first four stories. The building includes more than 31,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.
We self-performed the concrete work, which helped in numerous ways. It gave us better control over quality and schedule and further honed our capabilities of constructing quality high-rise buildings. The teams building both towers often held a friendly competition to see which side could complete its work faster.
“Any project of this size brings complexity and I have appreciated Sundt’s willingness to plan, execute and problem-solve along the way,” said Opus Group Senior Vice President Lawrence Pobuda. “Most importantly, we have developed a real rapport – based on open communication and shared vision. We look forward to delivering this project on time, and on budget, and we feel confident we will do that with Sundt by our side.”
May 24, 2016
By Ryan Abbott, Senior Vice President, Sundt Construction
I come from a family of pilots: grandfather, father, brothers and even sister-in-law. I’ve heard many versions of this story since I was small.
Sundt Senior Vice President Ryan Abbott.
They call it being “in the barrel.” It’s that moment when a pilot is having a hard time getting his aircraft onto the carrier deck. Perhaps he has spent hours flying to-and-from a battle, had to refuel multiple times (being much closer to another airborne craft than sanely reasonable), perhaps in defending a dotted line on a map he had to drop a bomb that day. Whatever has happened, he’s now in the barrel. He missed grabbing a cable on the carrier deck, running on fumes, mentally, physically and literally. He’s running out of time to make it happen, to make it home.
So what happens? A call goes out on the aircraft carrier: “Lt. Commander Smith is in the barrel.” At that moment, the squadron drops what it was doing and heads to the Ready Room (picture a really large classroom). The team members turn on the red lights, some acid rock and “will” that pilot home.
Pilots have stories of being in the barrel. They say, “I was once in the barrel over the Persian Gulf…” or “…in the middle of the Pacific Ocean…” Then they’ll tell you (with a shaky voice) they got through it because they knew their colleagues, their peers, their family away from home, their friends were sitting in a room cheering them on, willing them home and that was enough to make it happen.
Having a network means we can deploy, innovate, adapt and execute knowing our greatest advocates are sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with us. That there isn’t a problem in our industry we are not capable of solving. An answer, a helping hand, a partner, an idea is only a single phone call, email or text message away.
Some ideas for creating a robust network:
- Manufacture a barrel – the most robust relationships I have in my network were formed while we completed a goal together.
- Think CANstruction. As a team, build a structure and stock the shelves of a food bank.
- Ragnar – Last year we formed an architect/contractor team to complete the long-distance relay course. Want to get to know someone? Spend a night cheering them on while running a relay.
- Complete a Tough Mudder race together. Tough Mudders are 10- to 12-mile races filled with 20 or more challenging obstacles.
- Put yourself out there. Ask for advice and follow up with members of your network after you use it.
- Walk a day in their shoes (create a shadow day).
- Make sure you give more than you take: time, effort and support.
Ryan Abbott is a Sundt Senior Vice President who’s in charge of our Southwest District Building Group. This blog is part of our series of posts about career-related subjects.
Sundt Senior Vice President and Southwest District Manager Ryan Abbott.
Sundt Senior Vice President and Southwest District Manager Ryan Abbott recently sat down to talk with GlobeSt.com, an industry-leading website dedicated to providing original and timely commercial real estate news. During the interview, Ryan discussed the economy, construction best practices, major university construction projects and other exciting Sundt work going on throughout the Southwest.
GlobeSt.com: Where do you see the most potential growth in Phoenix’s construction economy?
Ryan Abbott: We’re following the demographics toward a greater healthcare infrastructure, biosciences research, diagnostic laboratories, technical education centers, digital record storing and retention. Phoenix has a diverse manufacturing base with emphasis on aerospace and electronics, supported by a growing higher education sector.
GlobeSt.com: You are a firm believer in a multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach in solving society’s biggest challenges. In your experience, have you seen more organizations/cities/schools in Phoenix adopt this approach in construction?
Abbott: Having just stepped beyond the threshold of what has been dubbed The Great Recession, I can tell you that I am truly amazed at the fragmentation that has occurred in the construction marketplace. Just like economic markets tend to travel with inertia – in a self-reinforcing trajectory until something overheats or overcools, then rapidly changes direction – we’re finding the same occurs with our client base, building owners. Given too much predictability, contract terms seem to revert from those that support collaboration to what I’ll call bunker-building or risk-coercing.
The inverse applies, as well. We’ve got some fantastic customers who have said, ‘You know I want long-lasting value, I want a predictable outcome, I want an experience that mimics the culture of my company,’ and throughout the last several years we have created unbelievable value with these customers.
GlobeSt.com: When does collaboration work best?
Abbott: It works best when all parties can put the endeavor first. It takes a customer who has the courage to tell their design and construction professionals what they want and where they’re headed. Collaboration works best when the stakes are high, the challenge grand and the objective transformational.
GlobeSt.com: Sundt has completed and is working on several major university construction projects in Arizona. Is there a trend you’re seeing in university construction?
Abbott: Threaded urban context where each building is supported by and reinforces the next. University construction requires teams to engage in, understand and dynamically respond to the ecology of the project. They have to be durable and long-lasting, and they have to take significant abuse yet remain completely flexible. They have to be easily maintained and industrial, yet be inspirational and inviting. They have to be inviting, yet safe and secure. They have to be adaptive, quickly reacting to large changes in occupants, yet elegantly simple.
A university is often a collection of independent fiefdoms tied together with a chilled water system. They are a decentralized model that requires a centralized vision. Getting to the best project requires diplomacy, understanding, transparency and communication, through every single medium possible. When we work with schools and universities, we work with some of the world’s greatest scientific minds that might be ill-equipped to translate two-dimensional discussions into three-dimensional spaces. We are working with pedagogical advancement that might likely change more quickly than we can build the space to house it. In fact, in some cases the curriculum to be taught in some of our projects hasn’t even been determined when we put the first shovel in the ground.
A modern campus bookstore doesn’t just contain books … it contains tablets and 3D printers and a coffee bar. Some modern classrooms don’t have a front or a back. They are designed to have team modules, where learning occurs side-by-side. It’s not rare to have a classroom technologically linked to another one somewhere else and the students of each collaborating on a project.
We are currently working on several public-private partnership projects where the university provides the land, a private developer provides the funding and then the university pays the developer over time for the use and ultimate ownership of the result. In some cases our team is even operating and maintaining the educational facility, leaving the school to do what it does best: teach. On the construction side of the equation, the buildings we are providing today are more cost-effective to own and operate than ever. We focus on the total cost of ownership in decision-making across the board.
Today it’s about proximity, about attracting creative people and creating the universities that keep them there. It’s no longer good enough to simply have spaces that support pedagogical advancement; modern universities need a world-class fitness center to play in, exceptional multi-family buildings to live in and state-of-the-art facilities to work in. Modern universities are landlords to fantastic restaurants, creators of walkways that connect and amenities that inspire.
GlobeSt.com: What other projects is Sundt working on throughout Arizona and the rest of the Southwest region?
Abbott: We’re building a laboratory and classroom building for what has been coined the ‘Harvard of the Sky,’ a hospital for an organization that is transforming sick-care into health-care, a 10-story biomedical science research building poised to turn first-generation doctors into disease curers, a 57,000-seat football stadium, an international airport, a 911-call center, a skilled nursing center, a cleanroom and an office tower.