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KAI Build Constructs COVID-19 Emergency Screening Triage Trailer for Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis

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Trailer complete with ADA-compliant ramps finished within a week 

Having adequate testing facilities for COVID-19 in the U.S. has become a priority in the battle against the pandemic. When BJC HealthCare asked KAI Build, one of its preferred general contractors, to construct an emergency testing trailer at its main campus in St. Louis, KAI put the project on a fast track.

KAI arranged for the trailer and directed its setup outside the Charles F. Knight Emergency and Trauma Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. KAI equipped the trailer with electric, telecommunications, nurse call, fire alarm, upgraded electric for emergency outlets, upgraded lighting and ADA-compliant wood ramps. KAI also arranged for a portable ADA-compliant restroom trailer to be set up beside the testing trailer.

KAI installed safety barriers around the trailer for automobile and pedestrian foot traffic and installed a two-hour-rated, fire-resistant partition over the waiting room glass. KAI completed the project within a week.

“We understood the importance and need of this emergency triage trailer to the community in the fight against the coronavirus, and we were happy to contribute in any way that we could to potentially save lives,” said KAI CEO Michael Kennedy, Jr. “We would like to thank BJC HealthCare for putting its trust in KAI to complete this important project for its staff and the St. Louis community.”

KAI Enterprises is a national design and build firm providing delivery-oriented building solutions with a diverse portfolio of experience, in-house multi-discipline professionals, and expertise in both design and construction delivery. Founded in 1980, KAI has grown into one of the largest minority-owned firms in the AEC industry. To learn more about KAI, visit

Coronavirus Impacts Loom But Have Yet to Affect Construction Inputs or Projects

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Submitted by the Associated General Contractors Association

The coronavirus outbreak continues to spread globally each day but the impact on U.S. construction remains speculative. So far, there do not appear to be any reports of cancelled, deferred or interrupted construction projects, nor of delays or shortages of construction equipment, parts or materials. However, the disruption to Chinese production and shipping is increasing, adding to the likelihood that some construction products and projects will be affected. Bisnow reported on February 20, “‘For the first time this week I heard from two general contractors that they had materials caught up in ports because of the coronavirus—we’re starting to see some of that,” Hoffman & Associates Executive Vice President Maria Thompson said at a Bisnow event in Washington, D.C.” on February 18. There have also been potentially beneficial impacts on construction. Crude oil prices have dropped by nearly 25% since January 1, which is likely to lead to further price declines for gasoline, diesel and liquid asphalt. Copper and steel prices are also likely to fall as Chinese demand slips. Interest-rate decreases may encourage home buyers, developers, and state and local bond issuers. Readers are invited to email to report any coronavirus impacts relevant to construction.

Construction costs rose for the 40th month in a row in February, IHS Markit and the Procurement Executives Group reported on Wednesday. “Both the materials and equipment, and subcontractor labor indexes indicated continued price increases…Survey respondents reported increasing prices for 11 out of the 12 components within the materials and equipment sub-index, with carbon steel pipe pricing turning flat this month after dropping for five consecutive months….‘The coronavirus outbreak…has altered the outlook for raw commodities,’ said John Mothersole, director of research at IHS Markit. ‘Copper’s outlook for the first half of 2020 has swung from one of deficit and rising prices to a potential surplus and weak pricing. However, price declines at the commodity level may take up to six months to filter through to semi-finished goods like wire and cable.’”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on February 18 posted producer price indexes (PPIs) for January, calculated from prices gathered in early January (before any impacts from coronavirus). AGC posted tables showing PPIs relevant to construction. The year-over-year (y/y) rate of price increase slowed compared to a year earlier for both inputs to construction (up 2.2% y/y from January 2019 to January 2020, vs. 2.7% a year earlier) and new nonresidential building construction (up 3.7%, vs. 5.3% a year earlier)—a measure of the price that contractors say they would charge to build a fixed set of buildings. Increases in the latter index ranged from 2.9% y/y for new healthcare buildings to 3.2% for office buildings, 4.1% for industrial buildings, 4.6% for warehouses and 4.7% for schools. Increases in PPIs for subcontractors’ new, repair and maintenance work on nonresidential buildings ranged from 2.7% y/y for roofing contractors to 3.5% for electrical contractors, 3.9% for plumbing contractors and 4.3% for concrete contractors. The PPI for inputs to construction covers both goods (55%) and services (45%). The PPI for energy inputs to construction jumped by 12% y/y. The PPI for nonenergy goods inputs edged up 0.5%; the index for services inputs increased 2.6%. Items important to construction with large 1- or 12-month changes include: steel mill products, up 0.3% from December but down 15% y/y 2019; asphalt paving mixtures and blocks, up 7.1% for the month and 1.1% y/y; and diesel fuel, down 8.1% from December but up 7.2% y/y. BLS posted annual updates of tables showing the relative importance of inputs to construction and of construction to overall PPIs. Email for BLS tables of relative weights for detailed inputs to various types of construction.

The National Highway Construction Cost Index (NHCCI) in September 2019 increased 0.5% from June and 6.4% y/y from September 2018, based on new and revised values posted by the Federal Highway Administration. The June-September change was a steep deceleration from the 5.5% increase between March and June, but the 6.4% y/y rise matched that of the previous 12 months. The index “is a quarterly price index intended to measure the average changes in the prices of highway construction costs over time and to convert current-dollar highway construction expenditures to real-dollar expenditures….The NHCCI covers the universe of the nation’s highway projects and arrive at an average cost index for all highway construction.”

“Total construction starts slipped 6% from December to January” at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, Dodge Data & Analytics reported on February 18. “All three major categories moved lower in January—residential building starts fell 8%, nonresidential building lost 6%, and nonbuilding starts moved 2% lower. With only one, limited month of data available for 2020, it is difficult to ascribe a 2020 trend. Some perspective can be gleaned, however, by examining a 12-month moving total. For the 12 months ending January 2020, total construction starts were 1% higher than during the previous 12-month period,” with residential building starts 1% lower, nonresidential building starts nearly flat and nonbuilding construction 8% higher.

The Architecture Billings Index inched up to 52.2 in January from a revised December reading of 52.1, AIA reported on February 19. The ABI measures the percentage of surveyed architecture firms that reported higher billings than a month earlier, less the percentage reporting lower billings. Any score below 50 (on a 0-100 scale) indicates a decrease in billings. Scores (based on three-month moving averages) topped the breakeven 50 mark for all practice specialties: mixed practice, 51.6, unchanged from December; commercial/industrial, 51.5, down from 52.0; residential (mainly multifamily), 51.2, down from 51.6; and institutional, 51.1, up from 50.3. All 2019 scores reflect an annual revision of seasonal factors.

Tarlton Completes Renovation to OMNIMAX Theater at Saint Louis Science Center

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Tarlton Corp. general contractors and construction managers completed renovations to the Saint Louis Science Center’s OMNIMAX® Theater just in time for holiday guests. The theater reopened to the public Nov. 29.

The St. Louis-based firm’s scope of work in the five-story, 80-foot-diameter domed theater and adjacent spaces included the installation of a raised access floor that allows presenters to be better seen by the audience; installation of new carpeting, handrails and guardrails; lighting upgrades; the hoisting of the new projector system; electrical work associated with the new projector system; installation of a projector access platform; and technical upgrades that allow the Science Center to livestream and simulcast educational programming. The team also updated finishes in the theater lobby.

Tarlton Concrete Restoration, a division of Tarlton Corp., cleaned the theater’s rows of tiered concrete seating and applied a polyurethane-based coating to the floor. Similar to protective coatings Tarlton applies in parking structures, the concrete sealant will improve surface wear and provide long-term protection in the high-traffic theater.

Working directly for the Science Center, Spitz Inc. installed 433 new video screen panels in the dome’s existing framework to create a new, seamless screen. Sparrow Audio Visual updated the projection system to IMAX® with Laser, a next-generation laser technology designed for 180-degree domed theater environments. The system creates a 40 percent greater color range to produce a more immersive experience for theater-goers. This scope of work makes the theater one of just four IMAX Dome with Laser theaters in the world.

Tarlton worked closely with the Saint Louis Science Center to create a wider array of accessibility options for visitors using wheelchairs and companion seating. Upgraded technology for individuals with visual and hearing impairments includes assistive listening technology comprising an audio induction loop that transmits a magnetic wireless signal for use by people with hearing aids. The technology, relatively new to the St. Louis region, was provided and programmed by Senseart Solutions.

Renovations to the theater began in late July. Because the team was working in a fully operational facility open to the public, construction activities were phased to minimize disruptions to Science Center guests and staff. Materials were moved between the first-floor loading dock and second-floor theater before and after regular business hours. Because storage space was limited, deliveries of large orders (theater seats, for example) were scheduled just before installation. The Tarlton team included Sondra Rotty, project director; Nick Eshelman, project manager; Peter Boldt, project superintendent; and Michael Dahl, general foreman.

The project is the largest renovation to the theater since it opened in 1991. From that time until this year’s renovation, the OMNIMAX® Theater had screened 117 films to more than 8.7 million visitors.

The mission of the Saint Louis Science Center is to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning. Named a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate in 2016, the Saint Louis Science Center features more than 700 interactive exhibits, as well as a five-story OMNIMAX® Theater, Boeing Hall and the James S. McDonnell Planetarium. For more information about the Saint Louis Science Center, please visit 

Tarlton Corp. is a WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise that provides outstanding preconstruction and construction solutions to clients in the life science, higher education, health care, commercial, power and industrial markets. In business since 1946, the Midwest general contractor/construction manager also has special expertise in concrete construction, restoration and maintenance. Tarlton has completed many landmark St. Louis projects and is committed to improving lives through inclusive construction, civic engagement and service to others.

Washington University in St. Louis Unveils Transformative Project Constructed by McCarthy Building Companies

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Sustainability, flexibility and sophisticated technology guided construction of the 18-acre, multi-building assignment.

A sweeping campus planning, design and construction project has transformed the Danforth Campus of Washington University in St. Louis following a two-year construction process managed by McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.

The $360 million, 18-acre East End Transformation project adds five new buildings, expands the university’s world-class Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, relocates hundreds of surface parking spaces into a state-of-the-art underground parking garage, and creates an expansive new park.

As construction manager, McCarthy used sophisticated technology and 4D planning tools to manage the project’s eight separate project components. This involved synthesizing the work of multiple architects and coordinating an onsite team of construction specialists and trade professionals.

“We were honored to help Washington University reshape the East End of its Danforth Campus into a vibrant green space and a hub for research, teaching and student life,” said McCarthy Project Director Ryan Moss.

During the project’s site excavation phase, a drone captured high-resolution aerial images on daily 12-minute flights over the 18-acre site. These photographs—and accompanying data—guided the construction team in assessing progress and adapting the schedule accordingly. Drones continued to equip the team with valuable data throughout construction to ensure the fast-track project remained on schedule.

Nearly six acres of surface parking lots have been converted to green space, furthering the university’s commitment to sustainability. All of the new buildings have been designed to achieve LEED Gold certification; several are currently on track to exceed those standards. Resource conservation measures include solar arrays to generate electricity, and heat recovery chillers to harvest waste heat to minimize heat island effect. Other sustainable features include a bioretention rain garden and native plantings; an expansive indoor green wall in Weil Hall; and the Active Commuter Hub, which includes shower facilities for those opting to bike or walk to work.

Flexibility informed the design and construction of the underground parking garage, which can be converted into classrooms and labs to accommodate the university’s future needs and plan for a potential future less dependent on automobiles. To support this flexibility, the construction team laser scanned all post-tensioning cable, rebar and embedded MEP systems to capture precise data before concrete was poured on the garage deck. The facility, which has 790 spaces and a projected lifespan of 100-plus years, is on track to receive certification from Parksmart, the world’s only rating system designed to advance sustainable mobility through smarter parking design.

Connectedness with the city and community is achieved with a reimagined entrance to campus across the street from Forest Park, long considered one of the best urban public parks in the nation. The Tisch Park creates new outdoor programming opportunities for Washington University, and welcomes the St. Louis community from the northwestern edge of Forest Park. The Kemper Art Museum expansion also creates new opportunities for community engagement, with space for events and a more visible, welcoming presence.

“The project was truly a unique opportunity to honor our physical heritage and lay the foundation for our future,” said Henry S. Webber, the university’s executive vice chancellor and chief administrative officer. “These world-class facilities will support world-class teaching and research and the everyday activities of our faculty, students, staff and guests for many years.”

Major components of the east end transformation include:

  • The Ann and Andrew Tisch Parkserves as a welcoming entrance to campus and is a gathering place for the university community and visitors alike. 
  • The Gary M. Sumers Welcome Center(25,500 GSF) provides a clearly designated starting point for campus visitors and houses the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Student Financial Services. 
  • The Craig and Nancy Schnuck Pavilion(18,000 SF) houses the Parkside Café, the Environmental Studies program and the Office of Sustainability. It also supports pedestrian and bicycle commuters with shower facilities, lockers and bicycle parking. 
  • The underground garage serves the Danforth Campus and opens to the outdoors, offering views of both the sky and landscaped gardens. 
  • Henry A. and Elvira H. Jubel Hall (84,000 GSF) houses the Department of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science in the McKelvey School of Engineering. 
  • James M. McKelvey, Sr. Hall (86,500 GSF),which will be completed in 2020 and open in 2021, will house the McKelvey School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science & Engineering. 
  • Anabeth and John Weil Hall (80,700 GSF)is the new main entry to the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. It houses graduate art and architecture studios, classrooms and a digital fabrication studio. 
  • TheMildred Lane Kemper Art Museum expansion (5,600 SF) includes a new 34-foot-tall polished stainless-steel facade, a new entrance foyer and additional exhibition space. The relocated Florence Steinberg Weil Sculpture Garden integrates the museum’s prominent collection of outdoor sculpture, including works by Auguste Rodin and Alexander Calder, into the expanded green space of the east end.

Watch a construction time lapse video.

View and download photos.

Project partners include:

Landscape Architect and Planner:
– Michael Vergason Landscape Architects

Planning and Design Firms:

– KieranTimberlake (Weil Hall, Sumers Welcome Center, Schnuck Pavilion, Kemper Art Museum

– Mackey Mitchell (Jubel Hall)

– Moore Ruble Yudell (Jubel Hall)

– Perkins Eastman (McKelvey Hall)

– BNIM (East End parking garage)


Washington University in St. Louis East End Transformation Facts and Stats

  • On-site construction workers, including over 3,100 trades professionals, have completed more than 1.1 million manhours of work so far.
  • Excavation of the East End construction site took less than 100 days. At the peak of excavation, more than 1,000 truckloads of dirt left campus each day.
  • 250 tons of steel are included in the Sumers Welcome Center and Schnuck Pavilion’s structures, while 510 tons of steel are included in Weil Hall’s structure.
  • The project added 48,718 square feet of new and future research space and 6,000 square feet of new makerspace.
  • 10 species of plants make up the 30-foot living green wall in Weil Hall’s Kuehner Court.
  • The new underground parking garage ceiling reaches up to 20 feet high, which will enable the facility to be converted to academic space in the future.
  • All new buildings are designed to achieve a minimum of LEED Gold 
  • The landscape replaces nearly six acres of parking lots with green spaces. When completed in 2020, the East End landscape will feature 390 trees of 38 different species. Ninety-four percent of the trees were grown regionally.
  • The Florence Steinberg Weil Sculpture Garden at the Kemper Art Museum includes seven outdoor sculptures. 

McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. is the oldest privately held national construction company in the country – with more than 150 years spent collaborating with partners to solve complex building challenges on behalf of its clients. More information about the company is available online at or by following the company on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Instagram

KAI Designs Unique Shade Solar Canopy for Saint Louis Zoo

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KAI Design has created a unique solar canopy for the Saint Louis Zoo that provides much-needed shade for visitors, absorbs light and generates power.

The solar panel shade canopy, officially called Williams Family Solar Pavilion, provides shelter for a 2,200-square-foot dining area at a prominent location in the zoo. During the planning process for a retail renewal program in the heart of the zoological park, the project team recognized an opportunity to greatly expand the amount of sheltered outdoor dining area.

“The prominence of the location presented a unique opportunity and demanded ambitious aesthetic goals,” said Carl Karlen, Design Principal at KAI and Senior Designer on the project. “The canopy overlooking the central lagoon is highly visible to the millions of annual visitors, many of whom will sit in its shade enjoying their meals. It will also host important after-hours events as a source of additional revenue. The generosity of a sponsor elevated the possibilities for a distinctive architectural solution adding to the fabric of the historic and varied campus.”

Discussions on sustainability and LEED certification goals yielded the decision to include electrical power generated on-site from a solar power array. Design challenges included integration of technical requirements and aesthetics of the solar array itself (a steep 20-degree panel slope, exposed wiring and connections and an industrial appearance).

“The strategic location of the structure was selected to avoid disruption to seating and other uses,” said Karlen. “LEED requirements for power generation and lighting spillover, and harmonization of the new structure with the existing naturalistic context were also considered.”

The final architectural design allowed for inclusion of extensive custom artwork engraved into the Corten steel structure, which features aquatic life located throughout the park.

Power UP installed the panels and KAI Build was the general contractor on the project.

KAI Enterprises is a national design and build firm providing delivery-oriented building solutions with a diverse portfolio of experience, in-house multi-discipline professionals, and expertise in both design and construction delivery. Founded in 1980, KAI has grown into one of the largest minority-owned firms in the AEC industry. To learn more about KAI, visit

As Illinois General Assembly Session’s End Looms, Fate of Capital Bill Unknown

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Less than two hours before the official end of the Illinois General Assembly’s regular legislative session in Springfield, the answer as to whether both sides of the aisle would unite to fund a statewide capital improvements bill remained unclear.

“For years we’ve been close to getting horizontal or vertical construction (funding) passed, but it just didn’t happen,” said Dave Bender, president and CEO of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois, an affiliate whose members include more than 240 engineering firms across Illinois members and nearly 14,000 engineering professionals. “Two years ago, it was down to the very last day (of session) and they had a deal on the table, but there was a blow-up on the floor, they gaveled, and the session was over. It has been 10 years since Illinois’ last mini-capital bill. The shelves at our (Illinois) DOT (Dept. of Transportation) are empty. We’ve got to pass a capital bill of some sort or risk losing our federal (funding) match,” he added.

As it stands, IDOT’s funding streams are comprised of 90 percent from the federal government and just 10 percent from the state. Bender says to bring Illinois’ highway infrastructure up to acceptable standards, it will take an additional $3 billion annually – $3 billion in addition to the $2 billion annually that is already being generated through a combination of gasoline tax revenues and increased vehicle registration fees. “Every penny generates about $65 million,” Bender said, “but Illinois is slipping because it didn’t index the gas tax (fee of 19 cents) over time (for inflation). If we had indexed it since 1990 – the last time it was increased – it would be 38 cents (per gallon of gasoline) by now. We need a minimum of 38 cents, double what it is and what it has remained for 29 years.”

Two potential outcomes were in the mix at press time, according to Bender: 1) A failsafe version of a capital improvement plan that would be limited to horizontal construction capital projects, meaning roads, bridges and mass transit infrastructure, but no vertical construction capital efforts such as improving and expanding state-owned facilities; and 2) A much more comprehensive capital plan that would include both horizontal and vertical construction projects.

“Vertical is the real problem in terms of creating a funding mechanism in contrast with horizontal-specific funding such as user fees that go directly toward transportation infrastructure needs,” Bender said Thursday. “When you walk inside a state of Illinois building and use the elevator, there’s no fee. For vertical, legislators are looking at options like sports gaming, the possibility of recreational marijuana, a parking garage fee, a minimal increase in the cigarette sales tax or a small increase in the liquor (sales) tax, a video streaming tax and more. Alternative ways to fund vertical construction will be challenging,” he added. “But to do nothing year after year is like watching your 100-year-old Victorian home’s mounting issues that you’ve learned are due to a crumbling foundation and opting to ignore the expensive underlying structural issues and choosing only to put new shingles on the roof.”

AGC Urges Industry to Garner Support From Users for Federal Highway Funding

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The Associated General Contractors of America says Tuesday’s agreement between President Donald Trump and House and Senate Democrats to work together on a $2 trillion highways, roads, bridges and rail investment program builds the beginning of momentum that will need to accelerate to make a big, bold federal transportation initiative a reality.

“We’ve got a long road – pun intended – ahead of us before we reach agreement on an infrastructure spending bill,” said AGC Spokesman Brian Turmail, “but the fact that this bipartisan agreement has been forged amidst other pressing (non-transportation-related) issues on Capitol Hill is encouraging. Now we need to keep the momentum going toward creation and passage of a broad-based infrastructure package long before the current program expires in September 2020, because by then we’ll be in the middle of an election year.”

The AGC of America and its affiliates across the U.S. – including the AGC of Missouri – are advocating for a bill that does more than fund road, rail and bridge projects. The organization wants to see a solid workforce development component as well, according to Turmail.

“Yes, we’ve got to fix the Highway Trust Fund, which is based upon a user-pay system that is fundamentally American,” Turmail said, noting that the revenue that funds the fund – 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline purchased – hasn’t been updated since 1993. “But we think the infrastructure package also needs to include workforce development since creating jobs through these construction projects is paramount. What better opportunity to marry these investments in infrastructure than with the ability to create well-paying jobs?”

Construction industry members can help further development and passage of a new, multi-year federal transportation infrastructure funding bill, he said, by engaging support from individuals and organizations beyond the construction sphere.

“One of the things our AGC members and lobbyists hear all the time (from Congress) is, “’We hear from construction industry people all the time, but we also need to hear from others outside your industry such as those who use our highway system,’” Turmail said. “We’re asking AGC members to ask shippers, manufacturers, drivers and consumers – neighbors, church friends and others – to contact their federal elected officials and communicate the importance of maintaining our transportation system for all.”

The nation’s current multi-year transportation funding program, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST) was signed into law by former President Barack Obama in December 2015, authorizing $305 billion over fiscal years 2016-2020.

Roeslein Celebrates National Welding Month

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With 17% of its workforce made up of professional welders, Roeslein & Associates acknowledges the high level of skill, education, and training that modern-day welders need to keep up with industry advancements in materials, processes, and equipment.

Roeslein has three levels of welders with a Level III welder carrying the highest welding and fabrication skillsets and experience. Basic welding skills are required at entry level but advancement comes through in-house training and experience to produce basic to advanced components. Welding positions require prepping and cutting knowledge, as well as, the GMAW, GTAW, FCAW, SMAW application techniques to produce Roeslein’s products. When it comes to pipe welding, Roeslein does everything from manual pipe welding to automatic pipe welding. They provide multiple weld procedures ranging from many processes and material types with carbon steel and stainless steel being the majority.

Between its structural and piping departments, Roeslein has 94 fabrication welders that work in its three fabrication facilities in Red Bud, IL (60); Hollister, CA (14); and Shanghai, China (20). Roeslein has over 27 welding processes and procedures and frequently tests its welders on these practices, including x-ray and ultrasonic tests, to make sure each welder can complete the task with less than a one percent failure.

Dan Hemmer, Roeslein’s Senior Quality Manager, said “Our welders take a lot of pride in the work they do, and the quality of the finished welds are a testament to their dedication to the craft. Our team is the best in the business.”

Roeslein is a firm believer in continued education and training for all employees. Catered to its welders, Roeslein offers a tuition reimbursement program that is inclusive of welding schools, has a Welder-in-Training position that offers entry-level training, and currently, has one employee attending welding school on a Roeslein scholarship to Ranken in Perryville, MO.

Roeslein & Associates was founded in 1990, specializing in engineering, modular fabrication and construction services. The company has product offerings in both the container manufacturing industry and the process and energy sectors with annual revenues over $250 million. Its 680+ employees are spread throughout offices in St. Louis, MO (HQ); Red Bud, IL; Denver, CO; Hollister, California; Northampton, UK; Dębno, Poland; and Shanghai, China. To find out more, please visit

St. Louis Joins Worldwide Spotlight on Autism Awareness

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Lighting consultants and engineers were busy changing color filters to create a blue hue for St. Louis for World Autism Awareness Day on Tuesday April 2, 2019.  The effort lighting businesses and landmarks kicks off a number of initiatives by St. Louis Chapter of Autism Speaks for World Autism Awareness Month in April.

“We continue to advance understanding and acceptance,” noted Greg Yawitz, chairman of St. Louis Chapter of Autism Speaks’ board.  “With autism now diagnosed in one out of 59 children, the breadth of the spectrum means just about everyone knows someone living with autism. Those on the spectrum can be significantly impaired while others are found in the workplace, in college and raising families of their own.  Understanding the puzzle of autism and the breadth of the spectrum is at the heart of Autism Speaks fundraising and awareness efforts.” Autism Speaks is asking people worldwide to take the pledge to increase understanding and acceptance at

Autism impacts more than 70 million people worldwide.  Among the awareness Autism Speaks will advance throughout the year are:

  • Research indicates that stigma and denial can delay a diagnosis of autism, particularly in lower socioeconomic populations where the average age of diagnosis is significantly higher than in the general population.
  • People with autism learn, think and problem-solve in different ways – from highly skilled to severely challenged, and may require supports that can range from minimal to intensive.
  • Many people with autism have sensory sensitivities that impact their daily lives. Medical issues such as gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures or sleep disorders as well as mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression and attention issues, often accompany autism.

HOK will be among several businesses participating in the April 2, 2019 Light it up Blue for Autism Speaks.  Others include West County Shopping Center, Scott Air Force Base, the Lumiere Place Casino and Four Seasons Hotel, James S. McDonnell Planetarium, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital and more.  The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 and its Electrical Connection partnership with the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) will participate through its long-time sponsorship of the Planetarium lighting.

Autism Speaks also has a number of events in the coming months to advance awareness and fundraising including:

  • The April 17, 2019 Autism Speaks’ 8th Annual Chefs Gala at the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton, Mo.
  • The May 5, 2019 Autism Speaks Go Blue Run in Clayton, Mo.
  • The August 31, 2019 Louis Cardinal game that will feature autism awareness.
  • The October 12, 2019 Autism Walk in Forest Park.

For more information, visit Autism Speaks St. Louis’ Facebook page. Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. For more information, visit


Trades Ready to Work as St. Louis NGA HQ Project Goes to McCarthy-HITT

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The joint venture team of Rockhill, MO-based McCarthy Building Companies and Falls Church, VA-based HITT Contracting has been tabbed as the builder of the largest federal investment project – $711.7 million – in St. Louis history.

Trades union leaders attest that their people are ready to report to work and begin building it.

That massive project, ready to dominate north St. Louis City over the next four to five years, is the nearly $1 billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s future western headquarters.

Additional Next NGA West joint venture partners include Overland Park, KS-based Black & Veatch, San Francisco-based Gensler and Akima LLC.

St. Louis – Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Al Bond reacted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Kansas City District project award announcement, made on March 19, saying St. Louis is ready get to work on the mega-project.

“What’s good for St. Louis is good for Missouri,” said Bond, whose organization includes more than 20,000 members with 34 local unions in Missouri, Kansas and Southern Illinois. “All three joint venture teams invested millions of dollars and years of work competing for the opportunity to build this project. All three general contractor teams that have been immersed in the bidding process are friends with the Carpenters. All three are deeply invested in building in Missouri. From a St. Louis point of view, we’re excited that a St. Louis-based contractor was selected. But from a regional perspective, the other teams (the joint venture team of St. Louis-based Alberici Constructors and Mortenson Construction and the joint venture of Kansas City, MO-based JE Dunn Construction, St. Louis-based HOK and Clark Construction) would have been welcome as well.”

Part of the enormous construction project includes a permanent building that will be erected early on at the site to accommodate the joint venture team members and other project delivery professionals, Bond said. The project site spans 97.2 acres in North St. Louis at the north corner of Jefferson and Cass Avenues.

In addition to the main construction scope, the Corps is preparing to announce five small business set-aside construction contracts including the on-site program office, a remote inspection facility, the surface parking lot, access control points and landscaping.  Five additional set-aside projects related to NGA

According to projections from the Corps, at its peak in 2022 the effort could require up to 1,300 workers per day at the site and create an anticipated 5,000 construction jobs to complete. According to the Corps, Next NGA West Dept. of Labor affirmative action goals for the project are 6.9 percent female participation by trade and 14.7 percent minority participation by trade.

Bond said the Carpenters is confident it can meet the workforce needs that this gigantic construction project demands.

“This project is bigger than the magnitude of the job itself,” Bond said. “It’s going to create some great construction industry opportunities and man-hours for all the trades, the local subcontractors and for the St. Louis economy overall. Speaking for the Carpenters, we’re ready. We’ve got a ready workforce with the capacity to build this job. That’s not a concern of ours. But our doors are wide open to welcome additional minorities and women looking to get into the trades to join us. It’s entirely possible for individuals seeking a career in the construction trades to apply for our (four-year) apprenticeship program now and gain the experience of working on the NGA project in St. Louis. Although we’re confident we can fulfill the workforce requirements for this job, we’re keenly interested in continuing to bring young people, minorities and women into (all of) the union trades.”

Associated General Contractors of Missouri President Len Toenjes said McCarthy Building Companies’ St. Louis roots and its innovative safety programming translates into a win for the NGA, for St. Louis and for the region.

“We just awarded McCarthy our top honor, a Safety Excellence Award, for its new safety mentoring initiative that pairs experienced professionals with those who are new to the construction field,” Toenjes said. “This is but one example of how McCarthy works to build safely. The beauty of the Next NGA West project stretches beyond the project itself,” Toenjes added. “It signifies a measurable, positive impact on the economy of the entire St. Louis region.”

Individuals interested in learning more about applying for the Carpenters’ apprenticeship program can gain more information at

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