What You’ll Build: Buildings

What You’ll Build: Buildings

All construction projects have a beginning, middle and end. This graphic shows the cycle of a project:

Construction Lifecycle


Shopping malls, a state-of-the-art medical research center, skyscrapers, a movie theater, your house. Look around. Every single structure standing required a building team with lots of players—sometimes hundreds of people using sophisticated technology and heavy equipment, sometimes a small local crew using local supplies. You might want to go for residential construction, or focus on commercial building, each of which has enormous variety.

A Building Is Only as Sound as Its Foundation

A building’s foundation holds the structure upright. If not properly constructed, inhabitants and the surrounding neighborhood are at risk. A properly constructed foundation will support both the dead load, or the weight of the building itself, plus the live load, or the weight of occupants and furnishings within it. It should also keep the building standing upright in the event of storms, and keep moisture from entering.
Residential construction—We all need a place to live, whether it’s in the suburbs, a brand new planned community, or in a city high-rise tower with hundreds of apartments

City Digs

Today’s city dwellers like their homes intelligent, artfully designed, and high in the sky. Urban residential construction keeps the entire building team on its toes—sites are tight, schedules are breakneck, and quality is critical, from the distinctive façade to the smart wiring systems. And innovative architectural forms mean challenges for builders.

Single Family Homes—Building Towns & Suburbs

The single family home has long been the American dream, and most of us live—or want to live—in one. That goes for detached homes in the suburbs, out in the country, or even in remote locations, as well as townhouses in the city. Single family homes are usually built by general contractors who can assemble a team of carpenters, electricians, plumbers, etc. Teams may also include architects and engineers. These days, prefab housing is a growing trend. Although the parts are manufactured in a factory, the building team still has to assemble them on site.

Many builders construct entire subdivisions, and they look for professionals who are skilled in land acquisition, land planning, site development, permits and codes, in addition to all the building trades necessary to build communities in the suburbs.

Resilient Construction

Whatever type of construction you find yourself involved with, today’s watchwords are building smart, green, and RESILIENT. Resilient buildings roll with the punches, responding rather than succumbing to natural and manmade disasters and disturbances, and to the ever-increasing effects of climate change, including rising sea levels, flooding and more extreme heat. Resilient buildings are taking hold around the world.

For resilient skyscrapers, look to Tokyo. Why? Because buildings in this earthquake-prone city were constructed to “dance” as the ground heaves below them. To withstand an earthquake, buildings must absorb maximum seismic energy—that way they won’t collapse.

With climate change causing more extreme weather events, flooding can be a continuing threat. In New York City, Superstorm Sandy caused devastating flooding in many large commercial buildings, mainly in the basements which housed critical mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) equipment. More resilient buildings now house these complex systems on higher floors.

Another strategy that is being used around the world is the amphibious building, in which a normal structure floats on the surface as flood waters rise, thanks to a flotation system underneath and a vertical guidance system that the keeps the building in check as it rises.
East Coast Resiliency

East Coast Resiliency Project

New York, NY

After the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Federal and New York City governments, designers and builders got to work on a project to protect 10 continuous miles of New York City waterfront, from floods, storms, and other effects of climate change. The $1.45-billion climate resiliency project will boost flood protection and open spaces for more than 100,000 New Yorkers. Park upgrades, more waterfront access, and better sewer systems are all part of an ambitious project to protect and improve the quality of life for Big Apple residents.

Commercial Construction/Retail

Commercial construction—there’s a large and ongoing market for office buildings, hotels, stores, and shopping malls. Working at a super-fast pace, often on tight urban sites and with literally tons of materials, builders of office buildings, hotels, stores, and shopping malls need to be ultra- responsible and shine at problem solving.

An Investment in Investing

The building team incorporated many features that upped the functionality and looks of this World Trade Center investment company headquarters. Among the upgrades: a full LED AV wall with surround sound framed with blackened steel; a glass-encased feature server room with a floating ceiling; programmable feature lighting behind custom metal portals at the elevator lobby; and a glass-encased command center with a telescoping glass partition featuring fully integrated AV positions. The spiffed-up headquarters also features custom millwork office furniture, a custom millwork workroom with lit signage, and a custom millwork reception desk and entry LED video wall.

The Shed—A Silently Movable Building

New York’s first movable building is at the heart of the city’s Hudson Yards and is a near miracle in a new approach to sustainable structures. The building has no fat, only muscle. The Shed’s movable shell is made of an exposed steel diagrid frame and clad in translucent cushions of a strong and lightweight Teflon-based polymer (ETFE), a material with the thermal properties of insulating glass at a fraction of the weight. It only takes five minutes to deploy, at the click of a button. The shell weighs 8 million pounds and sits on 8 wheels; the total surface contact for each wheel carrying 1 million pounds each is only the size of the palm of your hand. It uses the horsepower of one Prius engine, and the movement is absolutely silent.
Watch The Shed move into place!
Sometimes buildings and their components have to move. Successfully integrating kinetic features into a building means structural and mechanization systems must be in sync. 

Building for Ferrari

New York, NY

Talk about collaboration. The construction management team worked shoulder to shoulder with architects and engineers on the interior fit out and MEP work for this specialty showroom for Ferrari. They also coordinated with overseas vendors and suppliers throughout the shop drawing and fabrication process to enable local trades to provide a seamless installation consistent with Ferrari’s world-class standards. Think Italian millwork from three different overseas manufacturers, custom Italian ceramic showroom tile and wood floorings, plus imported custom artwork, and automatic exhibits. V-rooom!

Foodie Fave Gets an Upgrade

Costa Mesa, CA

Construction managers worked closely with architects to remodel foodie fave French restaurant Knife Pleat. Besides upgrading the California restaurant’s base building, the team engineered a full new kitchen and prep area, all-new state-of-the-art appliances and equipment, decorative chandeliers and light fixtures, custom wood flooring and finishes, and a back-lit custom onyx storefront system with custom details. Also in the mix: a brand-new outdoor patio area with exterior pavers, a trellis, and stucco façade.

Apple Built

New York, NY

Just like those iPods and iPads, Apple stores are designed and built with style. Glass is a signature material at Apple stores, and architects, structural engineers, laminated glass specialists, and glazing contractors worked closely to create Apple’s
dramatic structures.


It takes innovative, even thrilling design, and sometimes unprecedented large-scale construction to shape the structures that entertain us—from stadiums and sports arenas to concert halls and roller coasters.

If you watched the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing, this will surely be a familiar sight. The National Speed Skating Oval, or the “Ice Ribbon” as it’s called, was the only new facility built for the Winter Games—and what a feat it was. Designed by stadium specialist architecture studio Populous, the building itself is enough to delight fans with its rotating ice top and façade with 22 rotating light strands.

Thrill Building

Thousands of plans and drawings are often prepared for just one roller coaster, and scale models are built of wood or Styrofoam.® Mechanical and structural engineers, ironworkers, carpenters, electrical contractors, and safety specialists are all needed to make a coaster deliver a ride that’s safe, but still thrilling.

Fast Facts about Builders

Augmented reality is affecting construction—in winning more projects, improving safety and facilitating team interaction.

Women are increasingly joining the construction workforce, in skilled trades all the way to the executive suite.

From AI and advanced intelligent materials to drones and robotics, the construction industry is building better and more sustainably.

Skilled trades let you follow your passion in a specialized way.

Infrastructure builds big to move people and products.

There are many paths to construction and many ways to get there.

Construction is going green every which way, every day.

You can use your skills, make good money, and do something meaningful.

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