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DPR’s Innovative Self-Perform Team Takes on Tallest Building in Texas Using Tekla, Trimble Connect, and WinEst

Customer Profile: DPR Construction is a global self-performing commercial contractor based in Austin, TX. Ranked among the top 50 general contractors in the country since 1997, DPR’s rapid growth is driven by a culture of innovation, cutting-edge collaboration, and using technology to enhance project delivery. DPR employs 3,500 full-time employees and 3,300 craft employees in the field worldwide. 

Business Challenge: Waterline will be the tallest building in Austin, taking the city’s skyline to new heights. As the general contractor, DPR must self-perform the concrete for the 74-story mixed-use ‘supertall’ with higher predictability, less rework, and reduced risk. 

Solutions:

Trimble Construction One Suite, including: .

  • Tekla Structures and Tekla Structural Designer
  • Trimble Connect Business Premium
  • WinEst

Benefits: 

  • Model-based quantity takeoff for accurate quantities to bid with confidence
  • Real-time collaboration across numerous trades
  • Highly detailed, fabrication-ready models 
  • Efficient QA across multiple models and drawings

“We’re investing up front to eliminate a lot of the unknowns and have a clear plan, long before we win the work.” – Rafael Valles, VDC Engineer 

It’s been said that everything is bigger in Texas, and Waterline is no exception. Topping out at 1,022 feet tall, Waterline is the most challenging self-perform concrete project in DPR’s history. Bringing the supertall to life is a complex orchestration of workflows, people, and technology that must come together with precision. 

The Waterline site is congested, surrounded by busy streets and another construction project to the south, making planning and coordination an important aspect of keeping the project on target. 

From bid to build, data-rich, constructible models and collaboration in a common data environment are foundational to DPR’s approach.

A Clear Plan and Early Alignment with Virtual Design and Construction

 

In a workflow the company describes as “left of the line,” DPR’s bidding process for Waterline began with modeling the structural design in Tekla Structures. Going beyond traditional cost projections and value engineering to create a constructible model engages project teams early and establishes a clear plan from the very beginning.

“This part of our workflow is focused on getting as much accurate data into the model as possible,” said Rafael Valles, VDC Engineer at DPR. “In Tekla, we can model to a high level of detail so we aren’t just modeling the concrete, for example. We’re modeling the rebar elements within the concrete and the pour breaks to ensure the square footage is accurate. We’re bringing in our scheduling team to ensure the production rate, schedule, and crew sizes are feasible. It’s this level of effort and engagement upfront that makes us different.” 

“We used virtual mock up’s in Tekla & Trimble Connect to reduce risk of project delays and make sure all of the #18 bars were going to fit together with all of the beam rebar and post tensioned cables.” - Matt Leguisis, Concrete VDC Lead, Central Region

DPR’s virtual design and construction (VDC) and project teams use the Tekla model to visualize what they’ve been asked to build. Trimble Connect is the common data environment used to collaborate in the model and identify and solve issues and discrepancies – before the work is won. DPR considers this early alignment essential for establishing trust and bidding with confidence. 

“Bringing key project teams into the Trimble ecosystem to review the model early on breaks down silos and builds trust from the very beginning,” Matt Lagusis, Central SPW VDC Manager at DPR.

Modeling the project to a high level of detail in the bidding process is more than just creating a source for accurate quantities, it sets the tone for everything we do after the job is won. It allows us to adjust and align early so that when it’s time to build, we can rock and roll. Field teams don't have to stop and think about how it's supposed to be done because those stones have already been turned over.” 

When DPR has cross-team alignment on the Tekla model, its estimating team brings the data into WinEst where accurate quantities are combined with the company’s project and cost history to generate the bid.

Setting the Right Project Tone with the Right Common Data Environment 

“Trimble Connect has an incredibly low barrier to entry. It’s easy to access and use, so it opens the door to better collaboration across stakeholders, from the office to the field. With Trimble Connect, anyone can pull up the model and visualize any or all of the disciplines in one place. This cross-discipline visibility allows us to have actual conversations about how to best tackle conflicts and pull the project together.”

– Adam Cieslak, project manager at DPR

For DPR, every bit of data incorporated into the model is another step closer to optimizing speed, efficiency, and accuracy. A driving force behind the company’s emphasis on constructible models is the vision to work within a common data environment that everyone involved in the project can access. 

“We truly believe that constructible data and the ability for it to flow up and downstream sets the tone for a successful project,” said Rayya Karaa, VDC project manager at DPR. “As we transition from modeling in Tekla to consuming in Trimble Connect, every trade involved in Waterline can access coordinated information and share, review, and comment on data-rich models. We’re pulling everyone out of silos and into Trimble Connect to collaborate across trades and avoid problems in the field. Having a common data environment to push data back and forth across different file types has been transformative, especially as we’re coordinating across numerous trades and partners on Waterline.”

DPR uses the concrete model for BIM coordination and QA checks against other models. Using Trimble Connect, DPR brings models across trades together to visualize and resolve conflicts between them before construction begins. 

“We’re able to bring file types from different applications into Trimble Connect and use them for reference and coordination,” said Adam Cieslak, project manager at DPR. “It allows us to see the project come together from various disciplines and opens the door to constructibility conversations. With Trimble Connect we can easily see when things don’t match up across disciplines and address them a lot sooner.”

The teams working on Waterline also use the ToDo feature in Trimble Connect to assign, track, and resolve issues across trades. For Reuben Flores, a steel detailer with Patriot Erectors, ToDos have been instrumental in keeping the project on track. 

“We’re working on tight timelines and staying on track to get material to the site has been a challenge,” he said. “Trimble Connect has streamlined communication and coordination among our detailing team and with DPR. Trimble Connect allows us to overlay trades in the model and zoom in on potential issues. From there we create and assign ToDos to get problems resolved. The person assigned to the task can visualize the issue at hand, which makes the conversation much more efficient. We don't have to explain, for example, that on level 5, area B, we have an issue. It eliminates hours of sending emails back and forth trying to describe the location of the problem. With Trimble Connect we’re able to work much faster.” 

Accurately Modeling Formwork and Planning Pours

“Planning the slickline in order to pump concrete was very important. We will be wrapping up level one while pouring concrete up top. Everything has to run smoothly because we are going to get to a point where we will be pumping concrete over 1000 ft high into the building. We need to visualize what’s going on.” – Doug Nettles, Concrete VDC Lead, Austin

Concrete pours are planned in Tekla Structures. Using the model, DPR’s self-perform concrete team runs animations for various scenarios to verify that schedules and quantities are aligned. Concrete pours for Waterline will span two years and construction on lower levels of the building will still be underway when the concrete pumped across a bridge, over 70 yards through a high-pressure pipe, up through the core wall which will eventually be 1,022 feet! The pipe carries the concrete through the core wall to the top level where it is pumped through a placing boom and goes into the active pour. When one truck finishes, another one is waiting behind it. 

Although the pipe is temporary, its placement is critical. “Everything we needed to ensure the pipe wouldn’t interfere with other trades was already in the model,” said Doug Nettles, Concrete VDC Manager at DPR. “We sat down with the concrete pumping subcontractor, pulled up the model in Trimble Connect, and turned on every trade. This allowed us to ensure, for example, that drilling a hole to accommodate the pipe wouldn’t cross an electrical line or interfere with other trades. This alignment across trades is incredibly important and informs where the pipe is placed and how we plan and sequence the pours. When we’re planning concrete pours, we have to look at the big picture and Trimble Connect allows us to do that.” 


DPR all of the complex locations of Waterline’s formwork, including custom formwork to accommodate the building’s sculptural columns and sloped columns, and cantilevered decking & shoring in Tekla Structures. Working in 3D, DPR can visualize and organize formwork quantifications according to location, pour type, and sequence. The models are shared with the formwork supplier who uses the data to inform the CNC machine and produce the formwork components. Downstream, field teams access the formwork models on tablets in the field using Trimble Connect to streamline installation, keep formwork moving, and eliminate guesswork. 

Continuous Innovation and Endless Options with Trimble Construction One 

Most recently, DPR simplified its technology stack with a subscription to Trimble Construction One, a connected stack of Trimble solutions that bring people, data, and workflows across the company together in a shared environment. 

“With Trimble Construction One, we don’t have to worry about purchasing licenses when we want to bring a new team member into a workflow,” said Jacob Skrobarczyk, VDC technology leader at DPR. “It’s been easy to scale and bring in other team members.”

From the office to the field, a wide range of Trimble solutions are helping DPR deliver Waterline on time and within budget. “We’re using a combination of WinEst, Tekla Structures, Tekla Structural Designer, and Trimble Connect,  all of which are connected through Trimble Construction One,” said Skrobarczyk. “Trimble solutions are an essential part of our workflow across every project phase, from the initial pursuit, when we’re conveying the benefits of our self-performing concrete team to the owner, all the way to the craft and foremen working in the field.”

With access to a full stack of Trimble solutions through its Trimble Construction One subscription, DPR can easily explore bringing other technologies into its workflow. “We are always pushing forward and trying new things,” said Skrobarczyk. “We're testing Trimble Connect AR and FieldLink on a project now, and it's amazing. The collaboration on multi-trade models and being able to coordinate steel, rebar, and concrete on three separate models at the same time is going to be a game changer for us. We’re barely scratching the surface of what it can do and looking forward to applying it to new workflows. Being able to bring a wide range of Trimble technology into our workflows allows us to push the envelope, try new things, and optimize project delivery.”

To get more insight on the successes of the DPR self-perform concrete team, watch The Secret to Concrete's Most Innovative Team below.





 

About the Author

Matt is a Content Specialist for Trimble Construction. He's never met a building rendering he doesn't love — and in another life is most definitely an Architect. He's spent 10 years crafting storytelling in sports & entertainment, wearables, non-profit, and construction.

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