By Sarah Trefethen
Investments in health care facilities, higher education and public infrastructure projects are generating demand for construction work in the New York area, according to presenters at the Professional Women in Construction’s “Meet the Construction Chiefs” event last Wednesday.
Upcoming projects by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York include a total of approximately $110 million available to bid on a redevelopment project at the Office of Mental Health facility in the Bronx, according to John G. Pasicznyk, managing director of construction and Metro NY operations for the authority.
DASNY also issues tax-exempt bonds for private institutions that oversee their own construction projects, and Pasicznyk encouraged the audience to look to the private non-profits taking out those bonds for additional opportunities.
“All of those hospitals and universities are out there building a lot,” he said.
William J. Gilbane 3rd, vice president of Gilbane Building Company, also noted the trend, saying that the company’s institutional markets are strong.
“We see health remaining strong and higher education picking up,” he said.
Among Gilbane’s projects is a $280 million program to relocate patients from Roosevelt Island to the former North General Hospital campus in Harlem and construct a new skilled nursing facility, he said.
“This will dramatically improve the residents’ life and it will also make room on Roosevelt Island for Cornell to break ground on it’s great new applied sciences facility,” Gilbane said.
Andrea Giorgi Bocker, engineer of construction at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, also encouraged contractors to consider bidding on projects from Newark Airport to the George Washington Bridge.
“We’re building at every one of our facilities and we’d like you to be part of it,” she said.
Lorraine D’Angelo, ethics and corporate compliance officer for Dragados USA Inc., spoke of the company’s proud record for using small, disadvantaged, minority and woman-owned firms.
Dragados recently was commended for its commitment to diversity on a pair of projects that each exceed $1B: it received an A+ in DBE utilization from the Secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation for the I-595 Corridor Expansion project and the Champion of Diversity award from the Washington Department of Transportation for SR-99, Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project . Dragados USA is a part of the teams that have been short-listed for the Goethals and Tappan Zee Bridges projects.
Speakers also took the opportunity to comment on the state of the industry.
“The parameters of our business have changed. Those of us that run companies understand that clients need to do more with less,” said Ira A. Levy, executive vice-president, U.S. northeast region for AECOM.
Less tolerance for risk and tighter budgets have changed the way clients approach projects, he said, anticipating that a design-to-cost model of competing and doing business are on the horizon, along with greater vertical integration of construction firms.
Joe Perini, senior vice president of the Tutor Perini Corporation, also observed that his company is moving towards a more vertically integrated business model.
But, he said, the fundamentals of the construction industry are the same as they were when his grandfather ran the family business.
“As much as we change, a lot of things don’t change,” he said. “It’s still people and equipment and getting things done.”