Connect with us:

 

 

Building Blocks

Students at today’s universities are getting used to waking up to the sound of drills, digging, and general construction as the race is on for the newest, highest-tech facilities. Higher education institutions are building blocks — both figuratively and literally — of the future, equipping students to take on the challenges of the "real world."

Keeping Pace

The constant evolution of technology and the need for improved student resources have driven colleges and universities to continue spending on new projects as well as renovations. MMC Contractors New Jersey President Dan Paulson has seen this trend in the higher education market. "Every university is constantly doing something," he said. "In addition to ensuring the technology is ahead of the curve, universities need to have everything that is the latest – dorms, facilities, labs, etc. Having state-of-the-art facilities is vital not only to quality of education, but also to recruiting prospective students – if parents are going to spend the money to send their kids to college, the facilities better be good."

Teaching Opportunities

While the need for improved or new facilities is driving the higher education market, teaching hospitals are opening up opportunities in the industry as well. "We have seen an increase in construction and renovation of hospitals and healthcare office buildings at teaching universities, which keeps the higher education market even more robust," said Paulson.

Rise of Community Colleges

Traditional four-year colleges and teaching hospitals are not the only sector seeing an uptick in construction, however. Craig Davis, senior project manager at DPR Construction, mentions that community colleges — and the higher ed construction market — are benefiting from a shift in students’ approach to education. "I’ve seen a lot of movement in community college construction lately," said Davis. "Many students are now starting out at community colleges before attending larger universities, so the schools are playing catch up to get their facilities on par with four-year institutions."

Varied Approach

Though many schools are in construction mode, their approaches are both different and measured. Awarded the Agricultural Engineering building at Penn State University, DPR and MMC Contractors are executing the university’s first Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) project. "Penn State has been building like crazy, but administrators deliberately chose this project as their first IPD venture," said Davis. "They wanted to maximize the bang for their buck as well as set it up for success, and they recognized that using the IPD model and working together with the contractor would result in a better building for the university."

With the Northeast proving to be a hotbed for university construction, the MMC Contractors New Jersey office is targeting more higher education projects. "The university market will always be strong, and with the amount of schools in this region’s proximity, MMC Contractors has become an expert in the field," said Paulson.

MMC Contractors’ partners see that as well. "We selected MMC Contractors for the Penn State project because of the incredible team and the energy they brought," said Davis of DPR. "In addition to their knowledge of traditional delivery methods, IPD, and the higher education market itself, the team had the intangibles — experience, passion, and the ability to streamline the process to build yet another successful project."