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96 January 08 Turner Construction’s Arlington, Virginia office brings even the most complex building projects to completion on time and on budget. Executive vice president Bill Brennan tells Keith Regan how it has earned its accolades Turner Construction is a national powerhouse builder with more than $10 billion in annual sales and like many of its regional offices, the Arlington, Virginia branch has developed its own expertise and carved out its own niche. The office serves educational, hotel and hospitality, office and apartment residential clients in the Washington, DC, southern Maryland and central Virginia region. A subsidiary acquired in 2003, Tompkins Builders, focuses on specialty government work—it recently completed the World War II memorial, for instance. The market is a busy one with a strong and growing private sector economy augmented by government investment and projects that can help pick up the slack in slower times. “It’s one of the best markets in the country with a lot of opportunity,” says Turner executive vice president Bill Brennan. That opportunity brings plenty of competitors and Brennan says the Arlington office differentiates itself by focusing on delivering the lowest final cost to project owners. “The owner doesn’t have to go out and hire a lot of program managers, consultants and experts to manage us,” he says. “We give a reasonable and honest first budget and work hard to bring the project in very close to that budget. We don’t market ourselves as cheap, but we like to think we deliver the lowest final cost when all the costs of a project are considered.” Turner can make that claim thanks to the investment it has made in developing its pre-construction group, the estimating and purchasing arm of the office that is made up largely of field professionals with fifteen years or more of experience. “These are professionals who can look at a drawing and figure out what’s missing and price that into the estimate,” says Brennan. “We are able to avoid or eliminate a lot of problems in the field.” Turner was tapped to be the builder of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Facility (HHMI) even before an architect was selected. The 900,000 square foot laboratory research and support facility is designed to help accelerate the pace of major medical breakthroughs by giving the best scientists around the world a place to collaborate with a team of Nobel laureates and other researchers. The building is the first lab the Seekingchallenges

January 08 97 with the designers,” Brennan says, because the project would only work for the developer if a certain per-foot construction price could be achieved. “Once we won the contract, we made sure we were all on the same page,” with everything down to window details worked out on the drawing board ahead of time with Turner’s input. As a result, the project “went like clockwork” once work began. Those types of challenging projects are where Turner seems to have found its niche. “That’s where we like to be,” Brennan says. “If there’s a 200,000 square foot offi ce building that’s basically being built to spec, you can probably get somebody else to do it cheaper. But if you’ve got a project that’s got some technical challenge diffi culty, we think we can come in and bring our brains and knowledge and help get that project done for the lowest fi nal cost.” TurnerConstruction,Arlington $14 billion Institute has ever built for itself and presented plenty of construction challenges. The project has won a slew of architectural and building awards and is unique in the way Turner went about directly choosing subcontractors through a design complete competition. Subcontractors presented guaranteed maximum fi nal prices and were involved in the design process, which helped cut down on later claims for additional costs. “The owners were very happy with the fi nal result,” Brennan says. A similar approach was used when Turner built the Patent and Trademark Offi ce in Alexandria, Virginia. In that case, Turner was pre-selected to be the builder part of a team that competed for the right to develop the facility, a massive project with 2.4 million square feet of offi ce space in six buildings and two 4,500-car parking garages. “We needed to have a really strong alignment