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Architecture Billings Index Ends Year on Positive Note

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There were a few occasions where demand for design services decreased from a month-to-month basis in 2015, but the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) concluded the year in positive terrain and was so in eight of the twelve months of the year.  As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the December ABI score was 50.9, up from the mark of 49.3 in the previous month. This score reflects a slight increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 60.2, up from a reading of 58.6 the previous month.

“As has been the case for the past several years, there continues to be a mix of business conditions that architecture firms are experiencing,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD.  “Overall, however, ABI scores for 2015 averaged just below the strong showing in 2014, which points to another healthy year for construction this year.”

The outlook was not so rosy in the Midwest, however, where the ABI was down again, this time at 46.1. The Midwest had the lowest index of any of the four regions surveyed. The best outlooks were in the West, where the index stood at 53.7, and the South, where the index came in at 53.3.

The regional indices are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national index is a monthly number.

10 Construction Trends to Watch in 2016

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Information provided herein provided by Sultana Mangal of Gorilla 76 in collaboration with The Korte Company

From cutting-edge building technologies to innovative construction methods and better decision-making systems, projects are getting smarter. Given the rapid development of emerging construction opportunities, owners should demand faster projects, lower costs and better buildings. In this guide, we’ve compiled 10 trends that will shape and improve construction projects in 2016 and beyond.

  1. Detailed 3D BIM Modeling

Architectural models have changed. Instead of 2D drawings, 3D computer designs using Building Information Modeling (BIM) are becoming the standard, providing owners better visualizations. And today, these are no longer limited to architectural models, but also models of specific building systems. Subcontractors’ design consultants use BIM to model structural engineering, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, ductwork, steel work and more. Combined with clash detection programs, designers can ensure no systems interfere with each other, preventing field coordination problems before they arise on the job site.

  1. Cost and schedule modeling with 5D Macro-BIM

More and more design firms are adopting 5D Macro BIM at the earliest stages of design. These models show owners how early design concepts affect cost, schedule and constructability, allowing them to evaluate large-scale options and make informed decisions. These pre-construction designs used to be little more than napkin sketches, now they’ll be far more scientific and complete as the industry adopts 5D Macro BIM technology.

  1. Pre-fabrication

Owners are increasingly realizing value as construction firms pre-fabricate building elements off-site. Instead of sequentially constructing facilities, contractors are starting to deliver multiple project elements at the same time to streamline schedules. While subcontractors pre-fabricate walls off-site, a contractor pours the foundation. With some of the most technical work performed off-site, in a more controlled environment, safety is improved too. Combining pre-fabrication with 3D BIM, project teams avoid potential conflicts regarding the use of building space. And owners see a safer, faster, less expensive project.

  1. Energy-saving building systems

Design and construction firms are increasingly bringing energy-efficiency analysis into the early design and construction process. Builders, owners and architects have increasing opportunities to model how different energy-efficient solutions affect a build. With the use of Life Cycle Cost Analyses and Sustainable Return on Investment (SROI) reports, owners can make informed decisions to achieve a higher ROI and overall building value with green construction.

  1. Smart buildings

Buildings are becoming increasingly connected, with systems that provide data monitoring and remote access. Technologies are emerging to allow owners to not only track their facility’s systems but also automate them. For example, distribution center lighting can be set to automatically turn on in specific zones and turn off when not in use, delivering significant energy savings to owners. One day, smart buildings will likely become the norm.

  1. Integrated mobile technology and information on job sites

Construction teams are increasingly using mobile devices to file reports and share information on job sites, streamlining the construction process. The use of this technology reduces costs while improving the reliability of reports and job-site documentation. Using custom applications on mobile devices, the project team has instant answers to questions that would have previously slowed down a project with trips to job-site trailers for plan evaluations or calls to the architect. Pictures of job-site progress can be taken, and Quality Assurance can be improved.

  1. Robotic automation

Some jobs in a construction project involve repetitive manual labor and can be automated. Robots and automated technology are emerging to handle certain tasks, such as robotic masonry and brick laying, and will be integrated into projects over the next few years. Skilled workers who can oversee and work in conjunction with robots will become increasingly important as well.

  1. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are small devices with rotors and an on-board camera that takes stills or sends video to a live feed. Some can be piloted from an iPad, iPhone or Android device. Project teams are exploring their use in surveying to digitize geographical terrain and create 3D models of a site prior to construction. UAVs can aid in remote job-site monitoring, inspections and safer evaluations of hard-to-reach areas, such as 80 feet up a building or underneath a bridge. They can sit atop buildings, monitoring energy usage with thermal readings. And upon project completion, UAVs provide aerial building views and can be a marketing tool for those who want to highlight projects or properties. Legality questions remain, but in 2016 the FAA is expected to define licensure requirements for the commercial use of UAVs.

  1. 3-D Printing in construction

A 3D printer is a machine that connects with a computer interface to process 3D designs. Then, using an extruder filled with a hot, liquid material (almost like a glue gun), prints the 3D design layer by layer. In the future, this technology may impact construction. As projects increasingly use detailed 3D models, 3D printing is a logical future progression. Already, firms have printed houses using giant 3D printers with cement and glass materials. In the last decade, the technology has rapidly progressed. Its benefits include reduction of health and safety risks, the use of recyclable materials, waste reduction and the capability to build otherwise infeasible design concepts. In the near future, some commercial project teams may 3D print building components, providing savings and schedule reduction.

  1. Enhanced job-site safety

As technology moves workers further and further away from the most dangerous tasks, construction projects should get safer. Each year, workers die and sustain injuries from preventable job-site accidents. It’s one of the biggest problems in construction. The industry already has well-established safety practices, and combined with technology, jobs should be less dangerous.

Original Blog Posting: https://www.korteco.com/construction-industry-articles/10-construction-trends-watch-2016 ?

Home Builders Association Donates $15,000 to Marygrove

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On behalf of the Home Builders Charitable Foundation (HBCF), 2016 HBA President Kim Hibbs of Hibbs Homes (left) presented a $15,000 donation to Kathryn Feldt, chief development officer of Marygrove.

The donation will be used to replace tiles in each of the showers of the six cottages that make up Marygrove’s Residential Treatment Program. Marygrove is dedicated to providing a safe living environment to children and youth while addressing their mental health needs. Marygrove serves approximately 190 children and young adults each day (approximately 1,300 each year) who are struggling with behavioral, emotional or other mental health issues. These issues are often the result of abuse, neglect or other early childhood traumas. The desired outcome for each child is to learn how to manage their mental health condition and develop life skills so they can move to a less restrictive environment.

The HBA is a local trade association of more than 500 member firms representing the residential construction industry.

McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc. Announces New President

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St. Louis-based development company is well positioned for future growth

McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc., one of the nation’s leading for-profit developers of economically-integrated urban neighborhoods, is pleased to announce the installation of a new President of the development arm of the firm and other organizational changes that successfully position the development company for future decades.

Vince Bennett will become President of McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc.  Mr. Bennett will be responsible for the overall performance of the development company, overseeing all aspects of operations and managing a talented multi-disciplinary team of design, construction, legal, finance, and management staff.  Mr. Bennett previously served as Chief Operating Officer of McCormack Baron Salazar. Kevin McCormack, formerly President of McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc., will assume the role of Chief Executive Officer of the corporate holding company, MBA Properties, Inc.

“McCormack Baron Salazar is deeply committed to the work of bettering communities for families, children, seniors and veterans,” states Richard Baron, founder and Chairman of MBA Properties, Inc.  “There is an ongoing need across the country for providing quality, affordable housing as the cornerstone of rebuilding cities – and now is the time for a capable leader like Vince to assume a larger role within the firm to continue our mission and continue to grow the company.”

Mr. Bennett joined McCormack Baron Salazar in 1993, when he was hired to serve as a project manager for a mixed-income development in Pittsburgh, PA.  In addition to his role as Chief Operating Officer, his experience includes structuring and negotiating development transactions that include Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) equity, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME, HOPE VI/Choice Neighborhoods, New Markets Tax Credit equity, PHA capital, foundation funds, corporate donations, grants, and conventional debt. Mr. Bennett has particular strengths in facilitating communication and building consensus among local community organizations, elected officials, neighborhood residents, lenders, foundations, and state, local and federal agencies.

Prior to joining McCormack Baron Salazar, Mr. Bennett managed commercial and economic development activities for a community development corporation in the City of Pittsburgh. He has served on the Boards of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri and Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis. A graduate of the University of California in Santa Cruz with degrees in Economics and Psychology, he received his master’s degree in Management and Public Policy with concentrations in Financial Management and Urban Development and Planning at Carnegie Mellon University.

“I am excited to take on the challenge and opportunity to further grow McCormack Baron Salazar,” states Bennett. “I know the key to our success is based upon a strong, stellar team with talent and experience, as well as a shared commitment to our mission of rebuilding urban America.”

Richard Baron will remain Chairman of MBA Properties, Inc. and Tony Salazar will remain President of West Coast Operations for McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc.  Tim Zaleski will remain President of McCormack Baron Management, Inc., the property management company, and Hillary Zimmerman will remain President of McCormack Baron Asset Management.  Laurel Tinsley will remain the Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of MBS Urban Initiatives CDE, the firm’s New Markets Tax Credits division.

McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc. is a nationally-acclaimed leader of affordable urban housing development.

Building Contractors Report Lowered Expectations For Missouri’s 2016 Building Climate

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Highway/Infrastructure Contractors Report More Confidence in Six- and 12-month Outlook 

Missouri’s building contractors report lowered expectations for the construction industry’s 2016 economic outlook in a recent AGC of Missouri Contractor Confidence (CCI) Index, looking six, 12 and 18-24 months ahead.  The AGC of Missouri’s CCI Index was conducted online in mid-December with member contractors and compares data collected six months ago.

Contractors in the Building Division report lowered expectations for 2016 – dropping their predictions to 63.39 points (down by 5.66) for six months, 61.61 points (down by 6.25) for 12 months, and 58.93 points (down by 4.76) for 18-24 months. Results of the CCI Index survey, based on 100 points, in the same category and conducted from July 15-July 30, were:  69.06 pts. (six months); 67.86 pts. (12 months); and 63.69 pts. (18-24 months). Any rating above 50 indicates a positive overall outlook for business growth.

Contractors in the AGC of Missouri’s Heavy Highway/Infrastructure Division report a drop in their short-term confidence (42.5 points; down 9.58 from 52.08 points six months ago.)  However, the same contractors show improved optimism when looking six months and 18-24 months ahead. The six-month outlook rose to 52.5 points (up 15 from 37.5 points) while the 18-24 month outlook moved up to 45 points (up 13.58 from 31.42 points) reported six months ago.

“Our most recent survey confirms what we have been hearing from our members across the state,” said Leonard Toenjes, CAE, president of the AGC of Missouri. “While other parts of the country have seen a full recovery in the building industry, Missouri has been lagging in its recovery, but it is a recovery none the less. Our state is still behind others in jobs and growth. Many of our members are still working on out-of-state projects to fill their pipelines, but are somewhat positive about our local construction market.

“Although the Highway/Infrastructure Division’s longer-term confidence levels are up from six months ago, they still hover around (and below) a score of 50 and reflect tepid economic conditions,” added Toenjes. “Many of our member contractors do not see a bright light at the end of the tunnel quite yet.  Passage of the FAST Act in Washington, D.C. to fund transportation and some preliminary state funding bill filings are most likely responsible for the uptick in the 12-month and 18-24 month confidence levels. There is no question that Missouri’s continuing lack of adequate funding for MoDOT continues to weigh on our state’s economic conditions.”

The survey was developed by the AGC of Missouri and was distributed online as well as in-person at recent meetings to member contractors. The CCI index is released quarterly* and is designed to be an additional tool to help business, government and institutional leaders plan for the future.

*Due to scheduling difficulties, no 3rd Q 2015 survey was conducted.

The Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Missouri is the largest organization representing the united voice of the construction industry throughout the state of Missouri. 

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