Posted by Tyson at 25 January 2015

Category: Building News

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When it comes to maximizing a career in real estate, Auburn University has gotten it right. Since 2010, the  College of Architecture, Design and Construction and the  College of Business have partnered to offer a post-graduate track for students to earn a Master of Real Estate Development (MRED) degree. Professor Michael Robinson leads the program.

The program is aimed at practicing professionals from the non-profit and for-profit sectors alike, usually folks involved in the fields of real estate, finance, construction and design. The philosophy is “learn it today, use it tomorrow,” focusing on practical application and the real life experiences of those in the industry. This past year, they have taken field trips to major cities in the US and abroad.

This week, I was fortunate enough to share thoughts with the class of 2016 . What impressed me the most was the “heart” of the class. These were students of different ages from different backgrounds willing to spend four weeks a year back in college, plus time for field trips and self-study. All this is to better their lives and those around them.

While many colleges have these types of programs, Auburn University happens to be one of the best. I hope to get invited back next year.

As we all travel this trail, I explained to the class, nothing is easy. Success is a point in time not a destination, and most of us probably fail more than we succeed. It’s a matter of swinging at the ball to improve our batting averages.

Image credit: Huffington Post

Planting Acorns

Posted by Tyson at 25 January 2015

Category: Building

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Contractor was demolishing bridge on I-75.
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Posted by Tyson at 23 January 2015

Category: Building

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Criticized for poor hospital-construction management, VA now willing to consider transferring program to the Corps.
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Posted by Tyson at 23 January 2015

Category: Building

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Roughly $ 100-million redo will boost flexibility for future assembly of varying rocket designs
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Posted by Tyson at 22 January 2015

Category: Building

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Contractors and engineers that are using drones soon may be able to buy standardized insurance coverage from a greater number of insurers.
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Posted by Tyson at 22 January 2015

Category: Architects

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Amazon Local Services

Amazon has started a service that connects shoppers to local handymen. The service is called Amazon Local Services. The e-commerce giant has introduced the service in three cities aimed at connecting customers to local service providers such as plumbers and electricians.

Where the Service is Available

Amazon users in New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle will see the offers after purchasing items such as car stereos, air conditioners, or any items that may require installation. Customers can add the services to their shopping cart before they check out.


Amazon is trying to better compete with brick-and-mortar stores, which account for 90% of retail sales. Other similar efforts to compete with retail have included initiatives to speed deliveries and a recently released credit-card reader.

Hurdles and Competitors

Listing services take years to build a roster of service providers and Amazon is entering a crowded marketplace that is filled with established competitors. Some major competitors include: Yelp, Angie’s List, and Craigslist. There are many start-ups who are gaining momentum such as Thumbtack. Groupon also recently rolled out a listing service.

Amazon Local Services Value Proposition

Amazon will set itself apart by offering a money back guarantee on services rendered by its contractor partners. Amazon plans on conducting background checks on the businesses and will determine if they have liability insurance. On their website, Amazon will display reviews of the professionals from its customers and in turn, the service providers will be able to create profile pages. On their profiles, service providers can provide additional information about their businesses and they will have a scheduling feature to help customers book appointments.

Future and Expansion

Amazon hopes to expand the test service to include fitness instructors, music teachers, and other service providers. If the test is determined a success, the service will be expanded into other cities. This service will take time and many resources to grow. Amazon hopes that this service will help them gain ground against retailers.

We would like to thank The Wall Street Journal for their informative article on Amazon Local Services.

Construction Marketing Blog

Posted by Tyson at 20 January 2015

Category: Construction

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It just could be that we are paying way too much attention to surveys of construction. Since they are easier to do than ever before, we are treading on the verge of either making them very irrelevant, or of blindly accepting their results as valuable information. That’s largely because we aren’t really very careful about … Continue reading Finding the Value in Surveys of Construction

The post Finding the Value in Surveys of Construction appeared first on Construction Informer Blog – Blog with Construction News and Commentary.

Construction Informer Blog

Posted by Tyson at 20 January 2015

Category: Uncategorized

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[All Diagrams by BUILD LLC]

For the last couple of months, we’ve been working away on the pre-design for a notable project in Seattle. The neighborhood is particularly interesting, the site spans more than a city block (much of which is vacant), and the design team includes three separate architectural firms: B9 Architects, Weinstein A+U, and BUILD LLC. The project programming will be mixed-use in nature and aims to activate the community with park space, housing, restaurants, and retail spaces – all while providing nearly 400 new apartment homes. In a nutshell, it’s exactly the type of situation we love wrapping our minds around. It allows us the opportunity to explore the details of an urban neighborhood, put our diagramming skills to good use, and propose some purposeful design possibilities. It’s also gives us the chance to work with some exceptional architects and community groups.

The First Central Station project sits between East Fir and East Spruce Streets and between 12th and 14th Avenues, just south of Seattle University. Considered part of Squire Park, the site sits on the southern border of Capitol Hill and just a stone’s throw from the International District. Because the project will play an important role in the urban fabric of Seattle, an in-depth study of the area is critical. While the information gathering phase of the project is ongoing, the team has produced a set of visual mappings that inform the design process. We think of these mappings as filters – by viewing the neighborhood through a particular filter, certain characteristics and features become pronounced. While there are an infinite number of filters to apply to a city, our focus was on the six described below. Along with each diagram, we’ve listed some of the surprises and paradigm shifts as a result of the study. These factors help clarify the significance of the neighborhood and inform the eventual design of the upcoming First Central Station development.

Before we dive into the diagrams, there are a few parameters worth mentioning with regard to the study. The left side of each diagram typically encompasses a regional mapping or a variation. For instance, it’s important to show a larger, regional view for a diagram like the transit mapping. The diagram on the right is a local mapping which includes a 3 block radius around the site. We noticed after about 3 blocks in any given direction there is an urban boundary where the conditions change dramatically. These diagrams are also a work in progress; as we speak with community groups and gain additional insights into the neighborhood, the depth of information increases.

The historical public transportation lines in Seattle are fascinating and this particular neighborhood was an intersection of several lines. In a city that is currently struggling to establish light rail lines, it’s always a shock to re-discover that they were already here at one point, then demolished. Also of particular note – the Yesler Cable Car which carried passengers east, along a massive wood trestle to then meet the boats that would ferry them across Lake Washington.


The neighborhood was also home to a handful of well recognized jazz clubs in the 1920’s through the 1960’s. The Rocking Chair Club, for instance, played in important role in the career of Ray Charles. Washington Hall also hosted decades of important jazz performances and continues to act as the cultural centerpiece of the neighborhood.

The urban village study (on the left) illustrates that the neighborhood is flanked by urban villages on 3 sides – these are neighborhoods that have their own distinct characters and, in some cases, special zoning codes. This signals to us that the community has the potential to have a great amount of vitality and diversity.


The figure ground study (on the right) applies a simple filter to the neighborhood clarifying buildings (in black), vacant space (in white), and transitional space either under construction or proposed work (shaded). This diagram suggests that the block at 12th and East Spruce is underutilized and, from an urban planning standpoint, too vacant.

Comparing the existing zoning (on the left) with anticipated zoning changes to the neighborhood (on the right) shows how this neighborhood will be changing in the decades to come. With Vulcan Real Estate acquiring a 3-block area at the adjacent Yesler Terrace, it’s safe to assume that the area will soon be home to high-tech industry. An existing juvenile detention center will also be moved and rebuilt to include different uses along East Spruce Street.


The regional mapping (on the left) illustrates Seattle’s transit network and the proximity of major transportation lines to the First Central Station site. The neighborhood mapping (on the right) shows a more detailed view of these transit lines with an added pedestrian component. The yellow spheres document the distance of a 2-minute and 5-minute walking radius, which shows surprisingly good access to public transportation and adjacent neighborhoods.


Other surprises include the difficulty of access to I-5 north or south (while the interstate is physically close, getting to the onramps is a circuitous path) and the lack of public transportation along 12th Avenue (a major thoroughfare) which creates a more bicycle-friendly corridor.

Perhaps our favorite mapping, this diagram aims to document the hidden gems, the less glossy restaurants, and the places that make this neighborhood special. We took an immediate liking to the population of Ethiopian restaurants, the boxing gym, and the diversity of churches. These places maintain an authenticity to the community and foster diversity. The bigger players also register in this diagram and it’s evident that the neighborhood is surrounded by hospitals, clinics, schools, and other good sources of employment for the community.


Surprisingly, there isn’t much in the way of a cafe in nearly an 8-block radius (in Seattle nonetheless!). While there are clusters of grocery stores to the north and south, there are a lack of grocery options within walking distance of First Central Station as well as the Seattle University campus. For a neighborhood that used to create exceptional entertainment (see the history mapping), there is little in the way of music or theater now.

The diagram breaks down the methods of transit by demographic and studies who is going where. The study identifies certain paths, like Yesler and Boren, as the major travel routes while the residential neighborhoods to the northeast stay relatively quiet. Of particular note is the lack of movement along 13th Avenue as its length is interrupted between East Fir Street and Remington Court (this will be important below).


This mapping study allows the design team to have a well-informed conversation with community groups and the building department. It’s also nurturing a healthy design dialogue amongst the architect and developer team. As we start to formulate ideas and design concepts, the conversation is all the more fruitful and the diagrams below begin to carve away at the massing for the site.

The first diagram illustrates the possible built area of the First Central Station site with the setbacks and height limits registered. We often like to think of these diagrams as a block of clay that’s being carved away – it’s not architecture (not even close), but it’s starts to define what’s possible and what’s not.


The second diagram in the image above then carves space away for building access, circulation, corridors for natural light, and realistic corridor dimensions. These parameters begin to add definition to the massing.

The third diagram (below) breaks the mass into three separate structures (each of the project architects will thereby design one of three buildings) and begins to further define useful urban exterior spaces. These outdoor functions could be places for public enjoyment, gathering, or even spots to host music events. The massing also re-establishes the connection to 13th Avenue by creating a pedestrian corridor through the site. This corridor could allow the public access to the open court areas as well as retail and restaurant opportunities.


The fourth and final diagram of this study begins to activate the site with cultural significance. It’s still not architecture, but it’s providing some importance as to the massing of the site.

Introducing “eyes on the street” (a praised value of Urbanist hero Jane Jacobs) plays an important role with the safety and care of the neighborhood. Additionally, thoughtful programming of the site will foster activation of these exterior spaces at certain times of the day and night. This diagram also brings realistic circulation patterns into the fold with designations for parking access, lobbies, and movement.

While the First Central Station design process is intricate and involved, this diagram study provides a comprehensible feel for the project. It also demonstrates the importance of urban mapping with a project of this complexity. Stay tuned for more diagramming, designing, and reporting on the First Central Station project.

Cheers from Team BUILD

Build Blog

Posted by Tyson at 19 January 2015

Category: Architects

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Chris Grundy at Construction AmericasWe are excited to announce that Construction Americas 2015 Exposition, this March, will have a great line up of panelists and celebrity speaker Chris Grundy. Details below:

(From Construction Americas Press Release) Miami, Fla.—January 12, 2015—A full line up of panelists is scheduled for the CONSTRUCTION AMERICAS 2015 Exposition, scheduled for March 26-27, 2015 at the U.S. Century Bank Arena at the FIU OHL School of Construction in Miami.

The Welcome Reception on March 26 will feature DIY Network celebrity Chris Grundy, host of Cool Tools, and Blog Cabin, who will share his humorous insights with attendees.

The Exposition on March 27 will feature three panel discussions focused on the future of commercial construction. The CEO Panel will include top executives from Skanska USA, Odebrecht USA, Facchina Construction, OHL Construction, and Manhattan Construction Group.

A Technology Panel will cover such topics as construction software, the latest in BIM, and more. Finally, the editor panel will feature seasoned experts from ENR (Engineering News-Record), PCI Journal, Associated Construction Publications (publisher of Construction News and Construction Digest), Metal Construction News, and Metal Architecture.

Beside the reception and panel discussions, CONSTRUCTION AMERICAS 2015 Exposition will feature exhibitors from such construction brands as Robert Bosch Power Tools, Jonas Software, Crane Inspection & Certification Bureau, and many more.

“We are very excited to have so many expert speakers and panelists at Construction Americas 2015 Exposition,” states Construction Marketing Association Chairman and show manager Neil M. Brown. “Construction industry attendees will surely benefit from the insight and information shared during the event.”

Register now to participate in a show and conference focused on the very best in commercial construction.
Check out some of our registrants, exhibitors, sponsors and panelists. For more information, visit


Construction Marketing Blog

Posted by Tyson at 19 January 2015

Category: Building News

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EvergreeneIn the CBD of Birmingham, we’ve been providing Construction Management services for a grand theatre that’s more than 100 years old. With structural analysis of The Lyric Theatre complete, we’ve moved ahead with the restoration of the theatre envelope, including tuck-pointing the exterior masonry and re-roofing the building structure to provide a weather-tight environment for the interior finishes.

Many of these larger scale are items under control, and we’re moving on to the finer details inside the Lyric. EverGreene Architectural Arts of New York is performing our plaster restoration. They have performed restoration work for more than 250 historic theaters including Radio City Music Hall, and are doing great work for us in downtown Birmingham.

Their scope of work for us:

  • Rebuilding the plaster in spots where it has been damaged by water over the years
  • Refreshing and refinishing areas of plaster that are still sound, making it ready for paint
  • Period-correct painting of plaster, as determined by a historical finish investigation which identifies designs and color palettes from the original decorative scheme
  • Stenciling in the barrel vaults to recreate the original design, as discovered in period pictures
  • Restoring and rebuilding ornate medallions, located over air vents and at the tops of chandeliers
  • Site casting the original moldings of the ornate plaster details to replicate and fill in damaged areas

Much of the work in progress now includes sculpting and casting of these decorative plaster elements. Molds are made, and then used to form the necessary pieces to replace deteriorated elements. An artisan with both a skilled hand and a scientific knowledge of finishes completes the work.

Planting Acorns

Top tips for working in construction

The building contractor business is one of the most pulsating and challenging business ventures. It demands lot of investments in terms of your energy, capital and time that is the main reason why it is very essential that you are passionately interested in this business venture.

With each passing day this arena is facing lot many changes in the techniques, equipments and style of working. You can do yourself a huge favour by seeking the right qualifications in order to have in-depth knowledge about the different dimensions of the construction business. No doubt, the reality picture tends to be different but it is always worthwhile to be well versed with the theoretical aspects in order to focus on the challenges of the actual world of work.

It will also help you in becoming more receptive of the changes and better options. You will be able to embrace the novelty easily if you remain open to its challenging nature. For that you always need to be on your toes and make sure you are well aware of the changing trend. With this attitude you will never lag in the race of being a proverbial in the construction business and lead your company towards excellence and proficiency.

Make sure you have the right tools. It's a poor craftsman who blames his tools, but it's understandable if you can't get the job done because you haven't got the equipment you need. As an example, portable hyundai generators can provide you with power when out in the field

Hence, you should seek this business option only when you think and firmly believe that it is your area of expertise. This will help you in creating better perspective and clear the expectation zone! It is important to be interested and really like the construction work in order to reap better rewards!

Once, you have set your mind in your business endeavours you need to take the first step of launching the construction business. You can also affirm your intensions and visions by joining the trade union. This step can facilitate your functioning as a proficient business venture. Moreover, the formalities, legal procedures, financial liabilities can be sorted by seeking the right guidance and information.

Most importantly, the construction arena is sure to make you more aware and concerned about the safety needs of your workers and employees. Hence, you will be giving lot of importance to safety meetings. These meeting can be taken as the right opportunity to seek awareness about the location and enforcing required rules and regulations. This is why you should never avoid or delay the safety meetings and its significance in your business. The insightful observation when blended with experience can help you get prepared for emergencies also. This also pave the way for better adjustments when require.

It is clear that this business can be crude and demanding in many respects, yet it also creates a very profitable and satisfying venture. In order to get the maximum of your business set up you need to have proper vision and clear expectations. Your attitude and working style is going to determine your success and the heights of your profits. Therefore, it is time that you open yourself to the creative and profitable ideas to ensure that your construction business is a roaring success from now on!