New Leadership and a New Century
BY THE EARLY 1990s, SUNDT WAS WELL KNOWN as a leader in the construction industry. It had diversified into many types of construction beyond general building, expanded into new geographic markets, built landmark projects, and was consistently ranked by ENR Magazine (the “bible” of the construction industry) as one of the 100 largest construction companies in the nation.
Doug Pruitt Named Sundt President
In 1992, Robert Sundt retired and Doug Pruitt was named to replace him as president. Pruitt joined the company in 1966 at the age of 21 and had steadily risen through the ranks, from project engineer and estimator to head of the Phoenix office and finally Building Division Manager. An Oklahoma native, Pruitt earned an associate’s degree in civil technology and later graduated from the University of Phoenix with a Bachelor of Science degree.
Pruitt’s time at the helm brought increased attention to issues such as cost control, succession planning, and training. He and other members of senior management created plans that focused on these areas and put the company on a track for dramatic growth.
A critical part of this effort was creation of Sundt’s first strategic plan. Along with this came the first BHAG. (The term ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal’ [BHAG] was proposed by James Collins and Jerry Porras in their 1994 book titled “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.”) It was set at 1-100-10, meaning $1 billion in revenue, and $100 million in net worth, within 10 years. Many in the company thought this goal was unachievable, but as the profit centers began to follow the strategic plan, the company’s financial performance improved dramatically, and the first BHAG was achieved in just eight years. Since then the BHAG has been reset to give the company a new strategic vision to pursue.
As part of this plan, Sundt started to invest a lot more in its people, providing the broadbased developmental foundation they needed to do their jobs well. By investing in employees and making sure they had the right skill-sets, Sundt was sowing the seeds for the company to prosper in future years as well.
Another key step was formal succession planning. Today the top leaders of the company identify up to three successor candidates, provide an assessment of when they will be ready, and list the specific developmental activities each successor should focus on.
Investment in Technology
Sundt also began to improve its use of technology. Senior management realized that it was critical to invest in the future by purchasing technology that would help drive productivity and improve quality. Today Sundt is known as a leader in the construction industry in the productive use of technology.
The company also conducted an evaluation of its assets, which resulted in some underutilized land and equipment being sold.
While these changes were taking place, another longtime leader retired. H. Wilson Sundt, who had spent his entire career at the firm founded by his grandfather, retired in 1998. Doug Pruitt was named to replace him as chairman of the board and chief executive officer.
Pruitt believed that Sundt’s future would be bright if it continued to focus on disciplined business practices, diversification of its markets and services, and using innovation to drive success. Innovation, both in construction techniques and the way construction services are delivered, played a pivotal role in Sundt’s continued growth.
Alternate Project Delivery Methods
One of the most important drivers of the company’s success during this period was its focus on APDM, or Alternate Project Delivery Methods.
In the early days of construction, when the work was generally quite simple, most contracts were awarded based on the lowest price submitted on bid day. That began to change in the middle of the 20th century, as projects became larger, more complex, and often had construction schedules that were compressed to meet the owner’s need for quick occupancy. Private owners were the first to embrace APDM, which ensure project success by including the contractor’s qualifi cations and experience among the criteria for selection. Gradually the public sector began to see the value of APDM, and today many government entities also allow the use of these methods. The two most popular ones are Construction Manager at Risk, which puts the contractor on the project team early in the design phase, and design-build, which gives the owner a single point of responsibility for the entire design and construction process.
During the first decade of the 21st century, Sundt used both of these delivery methods extensively on a variety of key projects for both public and private owners.
Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
This 223,000-square-foot building in downtown Phoenix received a national award for the use of the design-build delivery method. When it accepted the $71 million contract, Sundt had to guarantee that the project would be designed and built on a schedule that was just under two years.
The scope and timeline were enormous challenges right from the start. A building that complex, located in a dense urban environment with all of the usual site access and noise restriction issues, would normally take three to four years to design and construct.
The Cronkite building is an ultra-modern, six-story structure of glass, steel and concrete. Its features include a multi-tiered public forum; a 144-seat venue equipped with ready-forbroadcast high-definition TV cameras; and a glass-enclosed space to display artifacts about the news media, the school and the career of the school’s namesake, legendary CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite.
Other building features include seven state-of-the-art professional newsrooms and media incubators, seven other digital computer labs, the Sony TV Studio, the Cronkite News-Watch Studio, two studios for KAET-TV Channel 8, one of the country’s largest PBS stations, 17 fully mediated classrooms, nearly 1,000 classroom seats and 280 digital workstations for students.
Phoenix Loop 202 Widening
Sundt and a joint venture partner completed a large design-build contract for the Arizona Department of Transportation in 2010: the widening of more than 10 miles of the Loop 202 freeway that runs through Phoenix and a number of surrounding cities. The project helps manage increasing traffic volumes by adding general purpose lanes along ten miles of the freeway’s eastbound side and approximately two miles along the westbound side.
Twenty-two bridges were widened as part of the $188 million project, including a milelong bridge which Sundt built in the 1990s that spans the Salt River. The contract included the installation of about 500,000 square feet of various kinds of retaining and noise walls, as well as landscaping and other aesthetic treatments.
Tucson International Airport Terminal Expansion
At the Tucson International Airport, Sundt constructed a major expansion in 2002 that doubled its capacity to eight million passengers per year.
During the 30-month, $46 million Construction Manager at Risk project, Sundt enlarged the 750-foot-long terminal by adding 70 feet to its entire north side, put in new baggage handling facilities, and renovated most of the interior spaces.
The biggest challenge facing the project team was performing the work in such a way that it did not interfere with the airport’s normal operations. The first step was to break the project into two phases. During the first phase, the center of the terminal was closed, and passengers entered and exited the terminal from the east and west sides of both the ticketing and baggage levels.
Once work in the center of the terminal was finished it was reopened to passenger traffic, and Sundt went to work on the east and west sections. The Tucson International Airport Expansion Project was essentially two projects, back to back. That extended the project schedule, but allowed the terminal to stay open throughout the construction work.
Tucson’s Fourth Avenue Underpass
A major milestone in the City of Tucson’s plans for downtown revitalization was reached in 2009 when Sundt used the Construction Manager at Risk delivery method to reconstruct the Fourth Avenue Underpass. The structure serves as a symbolic gateway to downtown Tucson that connects the city center with the busy Fourth Avenue business district and nearby University of Arizona campus.
The original Fourth Avenue Underpass, built in 1916, did not meet current safety or Americans with Disabilities Act standards, was subject to frequent flooding, and could not handle increasing traffic volumes. In its place is a modern underpass that features two vehicle travel lanes, raised sidewalks, dedicated bicycle lanes, landscaping, improved lighting, and room for the city’s streetcar.
UC Davis Graduate School of Management
Sundt completed the $34 million University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management, Offices and Conference Center in 2009. It was the first project ever built on the campus using the design-build method and also its first LEED-certified building.
One of the two buildings included in Sundt’s contract was Gallagher Hall, a three-story, 40,000-square-foot facility that houses the university’s Graduate School of Management and forms part of an attractive new main entrance to the campus. The building contains classrooms, a state-of-the-art Student Affairs and Career Services center, an outdoor garden, and a courtyard. The second building is a 43,000-square-foot conference center that houses the University Relations department on the second floor, with a ballroom, conference rooms and space for a future restaurant on the ground floor.
The buildings are cooled by a radiant system in which coiled water pipes are located 16 feet below the building pad, where the temperature is relatively constant year-round. The water is naturally chilled, then circulated in the radiant slab and floor systems to cool the building.
Pursuing Larger Projects
To achieve its growth goals, Sundt began to focus on acquiring larger projects, where the company’s expertise could be used most effectively. This put it in direct competition with some of the country’s largest general contractors, but a heightened focus on business development and excellent project performance allowed Sundt to be successful against some of its strongest competitors.
Apollo Riverpoint Center
The Apollo Riverpoint Center is a Phoenix landmark. Completed in 2007, the $107 million, 600,000-square-foot facility is located at Interstate 10 and 32nd Street and is home to Apollo’s University of Phoenix Online Campus.
The 38-acre campus includes a 10-story office building and two six-story buildings. Two parking structures, plus surface parking, can accommodate up to 4,500 vehicles. The office buildings are cast-in-place concrete structures clad in copper, glass and precast panels. Sundt performed the concrete and infrastructure work with its own crews.
Fountainhead Office Plaza
Just a few years after Riverpoint Center was finished, Sundt was again tapped for a major Apollo-related project in Phoenix, this time right next door to the company’s Tempe headquarters.
The $65 million Fountainhead Office Plaza is owned by USAA Real Estate Company. It occupies a 12-acre parcel of land near the corner of 55th Street and Fountainhead Parkway. The 17-month project began in 2009 and included demolition of three existing buildings and associated parking areas, reconfiguration of a lake, and the construction of one ten-story building, one six-story building, and an above-grade parking structure that accommodates 1,800 vehicles.
The University of Phoenix became Fountainhead Office Plaza’s sole tenant when the project was completed in 2011.
Dial Corporate Headquarters
Sundt added another household name to its client list in 2008, when it completed a four-story building in Scottsdale, Ariz., that serves as the new corporate headquarters for the Dial Corporation. Dial manufactures and sells consumer products and employs more than 2,300 people worldwide.
Some of the 130-year-old company’s well-known brands are Dial® soap, Purex®, Right Guard®, and Soft Scrub®. The 335,000-square-foot building’s first two floors are devoted to product research and development, which includes several pilot plants where Dial test-manufactures products being considered for full-scale production. The top two floors are the company’s corporate headquarters, while a three-level subterranean parking garage provides parking for approximately 1,000 vehicles. Dial’s corporate headquarters also joined the ranks of the many “green” facilities built by Sundt. Some of its environmentally friendly features include a low heatisland effect due to lack of asphalt paving, low light pollution because of the kind of outdoor lighting that was chosen, a roof garden, water-efficient landscaping, and the incorporation of recycled doors, flooring and other “used” materials into the construction of the building.
I-10 Widening Through Tucson
When Sundt and a joint venture partner set out to widen six miles of Interstate 10 through Tucson, they knew they had their work cut out for them. As the largest highway project ever undertaken in the State of Arizona, the $200 million contract involved expanding the highway from six to eight lanes and adding sixteen new bridges and underpasses at seven cross streets.
As with most highway projects, the major challenge on I-10 was maintaining traffic flow while providing space for the new section of the freeway to be built. The project was complicated further by the fact that the entire roadway had to be realigned, not just expanded. In addition, all of the bridges were demolished and rebuilt to accommodate higher volumes, which meant access and exit ramps throughout the project area had to be closed for long periods of time. While through traffic was allowed on the highway, locally bound traffic was diverted to frontage roads and surface streets.
The I-10 widening project was completed in 2009, approximately ten months ahead of schedule.
Phoenix Area US 60 Widening
Many people who live in Tempe, Mesa, and other “East Valley” Phoenix suburbs depend on US 60 for their daily commute. But by the dawn of the 21st century, rapid growth in the area had made this major traffic artery heavily congested.
Sundt, in joint venture with another contractor, was awarded a $196 million design-build contract in 2001 to make major improvements to the aging freeway, beginning where it intersects Interstate 10 and stretching 13 miles to the east.
The main purpose of the project was to add additional general purpose lanes and a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane. In doing that, many other things had to be constructed as well, including a new “flyover” bridge for the HOV lane where it connects with I-10. Four bridges were also widened to handle the higher traffic flows.
The project involved construction of nearly a million square feet of sound barrier walls using masonry block, producing and placing 200,000 cubic yards of Portland cement concrete paving, and casting in place approximately 245,000 square feet of concrete fascia walls.
Phoenix Light Rail
The Phoenix area’s first ever light rail system began operations in 2008. METRO Light Rail’s 20-mile system connects Phoenix to several neighboring municipalities and will extend even further when future phases are completed.
Sundt and a joint venture partner built a large part of the new system under six individual contracts, which together totaled more than $233 million. The work included construction of 14 miles of track, the system’s Operations and Maintenance Center, and two park-and-ride facilities. Sundt also worked as a subcontractor to install the project’s 15 traction electrification substations and six Signals and Communications buildings.
Sony Electronics North American Headquarters
One of the company’s landmark projects was completed in San Diego in 2009. The 11-story Sony Electronics North American headquarters building was a $170 million project constructed by Sundt and a joint venture partner.
Sony’s headquarters includes 450,000 square feet of office space, plus a fitness center, dining facility, and one level of underground parking. For the foundation, Sundt’s crews placed more than 4,500 cubic yards of concrete in one continuous operation, one of the largest and most logistically complex concrete placements in Sundt’s history.
The building is now an attractive and efficient workplace for 1,400 Sony employees.
Mater Dei Catholic High School
Mater Dei Catholic High School, which Sundt completed in 2007, serves approximately 2,000 students and features the latest educational facilities and technology. The 283,000-square-foot, $68 million complex includes an administration building, library, fine-arts theater, gymnasium, student-support center, four classroom buildings, chapel, football stadium, athletic fields and the Guadalupe Center, which provides a college preparatory curriculum for English learners.
Fort Bliss Army Post Facilities
In 2010, Sundt completed projects totaling $360 million at Fort Bliss Army Post in El Paso, Texas, ranging from over a million square feet of residential barracks space to 12 Tactical Equipment Maintenance Facilities.
One of the most notable projects was a $30 million barracks building for the new Warriors in Transition Complex. The three-story, 140,000-square-foot building is situated around a central courtyard with landscaped areas and covered seating to create a calm, relaxing environment. The building is equipped with a number of specialized features to provide additional assistance to the recovering soldiers.
Sundt also built two Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) projects, which essentially are large complexes that provide facilities to help the Army meet its mission of ensuring the soldiers are trained and at a high state of readiness.
Two of Sundt’s design-build contracts were for the Unaccompanied Enlisted Personnel Housing (UEPH), commonly known as barracks. Combined, these contracts were valued at $172 million. The scope of the UEPH facilities amounted to slightly more than one million square feet of barracks space spread over 24 buildings. The two-story barracks buildings are 43,000-square-foot, wood frame structures that include central activity rooms and 60 apartment-style living units to be shared by 120 soldiers.
While the barracks project was underway, Sundt was also designing and building 12 Tactical Equipment Maintenance Facilities (TEMFs) under a separate $123 million contract. The TEMFs are used to store vehicles and other equipment. The completed TEMF structures total approximately 320,000 square feet to service 3,268 vehicles. Sundt also provided 48 ancillary storage buildings on the TEMF sites that are used for gear and equipment storage, drone airplanes, fuel and other hazardous materials. Sundt self-performed all of the site work and concrete work for the project, which included roughly four million square feet of 10-inch reinforced concrete paving, which is the equivalent of 31 miles of two-lane highway.
Another $23 million contract involved site work for a new Community Center, which included infrastructure development of approximately 80 acres that became the core community area for the soldiers and families stationed at Fort Bliss. The infrastructure development included site grading and establishing building pads for the new facilities as well as utility installation, street grading, paving, and street lighting.
Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base Military Family Housing
At the combined Army/Air Force military installation of Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, Sundt built the largest privatized housing project ever awarded by the Air Force.
In three phases, a total of 1,635 units were built, over five years, to house military personnel and their families. The last units were completed in 2011.
The homes were all outfitted with air conditioning, plentiful storage, ENERGY STAR® appliances, carpeted flooring, and garages. The single-family units also included upgraded tile floors, fireplaces, fenced yards, solid surface or granite countertops, and laundry rooms.
Because Fort Dix/McGuire Air Force Base was a privatization project, base access was limited and construction zones were isolated from the base.
Another challenging aspect of the project was the fact that the housing units are spread out – sometimes as far as 30 minutes by car – across the mega-base that serves other military facilities in the area.
A growing sensitivity to our environment has affected almost every aspect of modern life, even how highways, factories and bridges are designed and constructed. As the 21st century unfolded, Sundt took its place as an industry leader in the green building movement. It was an early member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), which created Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the first standard for sustainable design and construction to be widely adopted. Sundt built some of the fi rst LEED Platinum-certified buildings in the West, and over 100 of its employees completed the USGBC’s rigorous exam to become LEED accredited professionals.
The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University
Sundt and a joint venture partner built the first two buildings of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University in Tempe. Building A is a $69 million, 172,000-square-foot research facility that provides lab and office space for cutting-edge research, which focuses on the life sciences, bioengineering and biotechnology.
As Building A was being completed, the joint venture was also awarded Building B. The 175,000-square-foot, $72 million structure is located adjacent to Building A.
It was completed in 2005 and serves as the Institute’s main entrance. It is used to conduct research in the areas of rehabilitation neurosciences, rehabilitative engineering, brain-machine interface, and device implant development and testing. Building B was the first project in Arizona to receive LEED Platinum certifi cation from the USGBC.
University of Arizona Student Recreation Center Expansion
Sundt has built over 50 projects for the University of Arizona in Tucson, but its first LEED Platinum project for the UA was a 55,000-square-foot addition to the Student Recreation Center. The $22 million project included three new buildings: an expanded fitness area, a multi-purpose gymnasium, and a building dedicated to the university’s outdoor travel program.
Recycled construction materials, rainwater harvesting, and an efficient heating and cooling system are just a few of the project’s LEED features.
The two-story, 30,000-square-foot fitness room accommodates stationary bicycles, treadmills and other state-of-the-art exercise equipment, while the new gymnasium provides space for a range of sports and athletic activities. Outdoor Adventures, which used to be housed in a small space in the main recreation center, now has its own building for planning and deploying outdoor student trips, with ample space for storing gear and equipment.
Chandler City Hall
Sundt completed Chandler, Arizona’s $47 million City Hall Complex in 2010, and the project’s sensitivity to the environment won it LEED Gold certification from the USGBC.
It is the first time the municipality has had its own dedicated city hall facility since it was founded in the late 1800s. Previously, the city had operated its city hall from rented office space. The 140,000-square-foot complex includes a six-story office tower that houses administrative offi ces, as well as adjacent buildings to serve as the city council chambers, a production and recording studio for the city-run television station, gallery space for the arts, the Department of Neighborhood Resources, and a three-story parking structure. Thanks in part to use of the Construction Manager at Risk delivery method, the project team was able to shave $3.9 million from the original budget while maintaining an aggressive 16-month schedule. Chandler City Hall was recognized by ENR Magazine in 2011 as the best Government/Public Building project in the country.
A severe budget crisis hit government agencies early in the 21st century, leaving many unable to fund critical projects. This accelerated the use of Public-Private Partnerships (P3), a government service funded and operated through a partnership of government and one or more private sector companies. Sundt built several P3 projects of note during this time frame.
Arizona Game and Fish Department Headquarters
In 2008, Sundt was selected by Arizona Wildlife Finance Corporation, a private development organization, to build the $18 million Arizona Game and Fish Department Headquarters. An independent property developer helped secure private market financing for the project and manages the property.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department Headquarters includes an 82,000-square-foot, single-story office building and a 27,000-square-foot pre-engineered metal warehouse/laboratory, as well as a vehicle maintenance building and 14-person bunkhouse for visiting employees. Sundt also constructed a radio dispatch room and transmission tower that operates around the clock to facilitate communication with rangers in the field.
The new department headquarters is a model for sustainability, and received LEED Platinum certification from the USGBC. Its “green” features include a high efficiency air-cooled chiller, a recycling program, several locally produced materials, LEED-certified carpet, and wood that was certified by the Forest Steward Council.
On a 37-acre site that once was a regional shopping mall in Scottsdale, Ariz., Sundt built a P3 project called SkySong, a massive mixed-use project touted as “a place where business and innovation are one in the same.”
Phases One and Two consisted of 320,000 square feet of office and retail space, while Phase Three involved the construction of 325 multi-family residential units wrapping around a four story parking garage, creating a true mixed-use, urban-style community.
The campus takes its name from the iconic function art shade structure called SkySong — a series of swooping truss frames supporting a specially designed transparent tensile fabric soaring 100 feet above the plaza. The structure provides shade to pedestrians, connectivity between buildings on the central plaza, and a landmark that draws people to the project from the surrounding neighborhood. It is also visible to aircraft overhead.
A critical part of Sundt’s growth plan was expansion into markets where it saw significant future opportunities. Many of these projects were in education (K-12 schools, college and university buildings), health care, criminal justice, and industrial facilities.
Vista Grande High School
Hundreds of high school students in central Arizona began the 2009 school year in a new, 260,000-square-foot facility, thanks to a major project that was completed by Sundt. Vista Grande High School, which is located in the fast-growing city of Casa Grande, southeast of Phoenix, can accommodate nearly 2,000 students on a modern, 60-acre campus that features an impressive array of academic, athletics and arts facilities.
The campus is divided into four main buildings that include a two-story science laboratory and classroom facility, which also houses administrative offices and a library; an auditorium with a full performance stage and individual practice rooms for band and choir; a gymnasium with separate game and practice courts, weight room, dance studio, and wrestling room; and a Life Sciences and Culinary Arts building, which also houses the school’s central plant and maintenance facility. Two smaller outbuildings provide space for concessions during sporting events.
University of California, Berkeley – Clark Kerr Campus
Sundt completed a $70 million modernization project for University of California, Berkeley in 2010.
The university’s aging Clark Kerr Campus is a 50-acre complex located approximately one quarter mile southeast of Berkeley’s central campus. The site was developed in the 1920s-1950s and is listed in its entirety on the National Register of Historic Places. The campus provides housing for more than 800 undergraduate students, as well as dining and conference facilities.
The project was challenging, since crews had to work in a very tight physical space while preserving historical features, such as the roof tiles, which had to be removed and cleaned by hand before being replaced. The same was true with the windows and door frames. Even some of the concrete was historic and had to be covered with plywood to protect it during construction.
The project included renovation of seven, three-story buildings that provide student housing, along with selective upgrades to address code compliance, aging materials and utility systems, and fire and life safety requirements. Other improvements included new disabled access and safety features, improved connections to the campus computer network, new electrical wiring, and removal of hazardous materials.
California State University, Chico Student Housing
Sundt completed an important project for California State University, Chico in 2010. The $52 million Sutter Hall started out as a relatively straight-forward project to build a 114,000-square-foot, mixed-use dormitory, but suddenly became more challenging than anticipated when, at the onset of construction, the owner changed the pile system (foundation support) in response to neighbors’ concerns about noise and vibrations. The new method solved the problem, but required significant revisions to the structural foundation design, resulting in $1.5 million in changes and several months of delays. The changes spurred a number of additional revisions to the project, most of which had schedule and cost impacts.
Sutter Hall is a mixed-use, multi-story, multi-structure project that contains a 228-bed student dormitory; 25,000-square-foot, high-tech cafeteria; smart classrooms; meeting rooms; offices; a below-grade basement and storage spaces. The building is constructed of concrete and block to the podium level with prefabricated metal stud wall panels and framing above. The exterior is a mixture of brick, stucco and glass.
University of California, San Diego One Miramar
Sundt was the design-build contractor for the University of California, San Diego’s 800-bed graduate student housing project, known as One Miramar. The $66 million project was built in phases, with the last structure completed in May 2007.
The project consisted of four, four-story buildings and a parking structure. The design and exterior colors give it the appearance of an Italian hillside town. In addition to student living facilities, the project included a small retail area, study lounges, meeting rooms, and administrative offices.
Sundt performed all of the concrete work for the parking structure with its own crews.
Univerisity of California, Davis Health Systems Education Building
In 2006, Sundt completed the UC Davis Health Systems Education Building project in Sacramento. The $34 million facility houses the school’s teaching programs and enhances state-of-the-art training in the basic and clinical sciences for students throughout all four years of medical school.
The four-story, 120,000-square-foot building is located on the southeast corner of 45th and X streets on the UC Davis Medical Center campus. The building’s first three floors house classrooms, multi-purpose teaching rooms, a technology center, space for virtual training and other skill assessments, as well as a library, café, and commons area for student activities. The building’s fourth floor provides space for research and development.
Carondelet St. Joseph’s Women’s Center
In 2008, a state-of-the-art women’s center and neuroscience facility in Tucson, Ariz., were completed by Sundt and a joint venture partner. The Carondelet St. Joseph’s Women’s Pavilion, located on the St. Joseph’s Hospital campus, totals 140,000 square feet and includes 126 patient rooms, operating rooms, a birthing center and neonatal care unit.
The project was originally limited to the four-floor women’s center. However, it soon grew to include a fifth floor that houses a 42-room, 24,000-square-foot neuroscience intensive care unit, plus a separate, 4,500-square-foot neurosurgery center. A 450-space parking structure was also added near the main entrance. The neurosurgery center was the fi rst of its kind in the United States, with special equipment from Germany. All together, the additions brought the total contract amount to just over $51 million.
Adding a fifth floor after the project was already designed and underway created some coordination and schedule issues. Plus, much of the work occurred near the main and east entrances, which are in close proximity to patients, staff and visitors. The Sundt team went out of its way to impact them as little as possible by performing temporary shut-downs after hours, when there were fewer patients, and installing temporary walkways and facilities whenever they could.
Edgemoor Skilled Nursing Facility
The Edgemoor Skilled Nursing Facility project in Santee, California began in 2005 as a two-year, $66 million design-bid-build contract for the County of San Diego, but ended up stretching to four years and $102 million, due largely to a major redesign that occurred partway through the project.
Edgemoor is an 180,000-square-foot public psychiatric hospital that serves elderly and indigent patients in the San Diego area. The two-story, 192-bed facility was designed so that individual patient rooms are clustered in “neighborhoods” and organized around private activity courtyards. The principal circulation spine of the complex, “Main Street,” connects “neighborhoods” to the public and private service areas, which frame the Village Green, the primary outdoor space for patients, staff , and visitors.
Richard E. Arnason Justice Center
The Richard E. Arnason Justice Center was a testament to the many benefits of alternative project delivery. The $42 million courthouse facility included a number of challenges that Sundt was able to navigate successfully, thanks to the flexibility and innovation inherent in the Construction Manager at Risk delivery method. The three-story, 73,500-square-foot facility includes seven courtrooms, judges’ chambers, administrative space, a library, conference rooms, and in-custody detention areas. The project is located in the city of Pittsburg, Calif., which is approximately 45 miles northeast of San Francisco.
Courthouse projects are challenging to build because they usually include many high-end interior finishes, state-of-the art security systems, access control technology and video surveillance systems – all of which have to be coordinated with each other and with the mechanical and electrical systems. By using a digital records system – which is a way to keep track of project documents electronically – Sundt was able to manage the project’s complexities and avoid delays. The project was completed in 2010.
Coronado Generating Station Environmental Upgrades
In 2009, Sundt was selected to perform a number of upgrades at the Salt River Project’s (SRP) Coronado Generating Station near St. John’s, Ariz. The work was needed to enable the 773-megawatt, coal-fired power plant to reduce emissions of Sulfur Dioxide, allowing the facility to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s new emissions standards. SRP is a major supplier of electricity to Arizona homes and businesses.
Sundt’s contract was for mechanical upgrade work on both of the plant’s generating units, which have been in operation since the early 1980s. This included two, 130-foot-high, 85,000-square-foot absorber buildings, plus fabrication and installation of over 1,600 tons of flue gas duct. Sundt also installed four induced draft fans, 2,000 lineal feet of pipe rack structure, 51,000 lineal feet of piping, and performed associated demolition work. Sundt’s own crews performed the project’s concrete work, piping, structural steel, flue gas duct fabrication/installation and equipment setting.
Glendale West Area Water Reclamation Facility
In 2005, Sundt completed a $31 million Construction Manager at Risk contract to increase the capacity of the Glendale West Area Water Reclamation Facility from 7 million gallons per day to 10 million gallons per day. The plant is owned by the city of Glendale, Ariz.
The construction work included two new aeration basins (200 feet square and 22 feet deep, with 14-inch-thick walls), where a biological process removes organic matter, solids and nutrients; three new secondary sedimentation basins (170′ x 70′ and 22 feet deep) where biological solids from the aeration process settle out and are removed; and four new filtration basins (40’ x 100′), which remove suspended particles by filtering the water through layers of sand and coal. As part of its contract, Sundt also expanded the facility’s ultraviolet disinfection system and made major improvements to two pump stations located off site.
Sundt was responsible for all of the concrete construction. Its crews placed over 12,000 cubic yards for the project, most of which went into the huge aeration and secondary sedimentation basins.
Santan Vista Water Treatment Plant
In 2009, Sundt completed a state-of-the-art water treatment facility in Gilbert, Ariz., that supplies residents of two municipalities with up to 24 million gallons of drinking water each day. The $89 million Santan Vista Water Treatment Plant includes an array of sophisticated systems for treating water from the nearby Central Arizona Project canal and turning it into potable water for millions of current and future residents of Gilbert and the adjacent city of Chandler.
As raw water enters the plant it is treated with an ozone injection system as well as a carbon dioxide system. The water then proceeds through several mixers before entering the Actiflo Ballasted flocculation system, where most of the fines and solids coagulate and fall out of the process. Any remaining fines are removed by a separate anthracite filtration system before the water moves on to be treated with chlorine. The finished water then flows to a five-million-gallon concrete reservoir. Vertical diffusion pumps send the water through three large-diameter pipelines to Chandler and Gilbert.
Sundt self-performed a large portion of the work, including concrete, earthwork, underground piping, and equipment setting.
Sundt also completed several projects early in the 21st century that were a bit out of the ordinary.
Airmore Hangar One
Airmore Hangar One is a surreal world of mind-boggling forms, fixtures and finishes that took 15 months to construct and was completed in 2006. The $29 million project is a privately-owned hangar complex and flight club located just south of the main runway at the Scottsdale Airpark in Scottsdale, Ariz. The exclusive facility accommodates up to 15 aircraft in its two 30,000-square-foot hangars.
A 108-foot-long aluminum “paper” airplane adorns the roof of the 124,000-square-foot complex, which is furnished with custom fixtures, upholstered ceilings, exotic stone and terrazzo floorings, and a top-of-the-line automation and audio-visual system. There were 54 subcontractors working on the project, which is twice the number normally employed on a project of this size. Many came to install the unique features and finishes that were imported from all over the world.
The twin airplane hangars have a clear height of 28.5 feet. Attached to them are large shade canopies that cantilever 80 feet over the runway to provide shade for planes. A multipurpose facility adjoins the hangars and includes below-grade parking, premium office space, and 8,000 square feet of entertainment space. It also features an exclusive and unique auto show room, which showcases the owner’s private collection of exotic automobiles and vintage racecars.
Sundt performed all of the concrete work with its own crews. The most unusual concrete element is the “bullet wall,” which is 22 feet tall and has 28 penetrations cast into it that resemble bullet holes. The holes are tapered and each has a different angle.
SeaWorld San Diego Journey to Atlantis
Sundt was the contractor for an attraction that was added to SeaWorld San Diego in 2004. The Journey to Atlantis is a relatively new concept called a water coaster, which incorporates the high-speed thrills of a roller coaster with the splashes of a flume ride. It also features a vertical lift (the first ever in the United States) that raises boats 70 feet inside an enclosed tower before sending them plunging back to a lake below. The ride includes many other special effects, including sound, lighting, jumping water jets, water bursts, mist, shaking columns, two artificial lakes, and a 130,000-gallon Commerson’s Dolphin pool, all designed to create the illusion that the Lost City of Atlantis has risen.
The Future: Leadership, Innovation and Expansion
Sundt’s future was bright as it completed 120 years in business. For the first time the company’s revenue topped $1 billion. Doug Pruitt, who many credit with leading the company to this remarkable achievement, retired in 2011, and a new management team was named to lead the company toward a goal of $3 billion in revenue by 2020.
Dave Crawford, a longtime employee with many years of experience both in the field and in various levels of senior management, moved up from Chief Operating Officer to President and CEO. Guiding the company’s operations was placed in the hands of two other Sundt veterans. Eric Hedlund and Mike Hoover were promoted to co-Chief Operating Officers. Hedlund oversees building work while Hoover is responsible for heavy civil, industrial, and the self-perform operations.
Company leadership saw that innovation would play a key role in the company’s growth plans, so a formal process was put in place to manage and promote change. The Kaizen Committee was formed to review improvement suggestions and move forward those that had merit and could show real value to the organization.
Sundt’s plans to expand geographically resulted in the opening of an office in San Antonio, Texas. This market had been under study for several years, and appeared to be the best place for Sundt to take its expertise.
From humble beginnings as a small firm founded in New Mexico, Sundt Construction had grown to take its place as one of the country’s largest and most respected contractors. The core values of honesty, integrity and fair-dealing will be the guideposts for Sundt’s future in the 21st century.