Published August 17, 2010
Volume 18, Number 8

Whiting-Turner Relocates Bay Area Office to Hacienda         
Pleasanton Office Serves as Hub for National Contractor's Northern California Operations

Whiting-Turner played a key role in construction of Stanford’s
new Li Ka Shing Center. (Photograph courtesy of Whiting-

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

They still had a few boxes to unpack, but a week after moving into their new space at 4690 Chabot Drive, the employees at Whiting-Turner were delighted with their new, airy, and light-filled surroundings. For a company whose tag line is “100 Years of Customer Delight,” it was an appropriate response.

Whiting-Turner, headquartered in Baltimore, where it was founded by two MIT graduates in 1909, is a full-service general contractor that has some of the nation's most prominent and sophisticated buildings to its credit. From the historic renovation of Dumbarton Oaks, in Washington, D.C., to the Aquatic Center for the Atlanta Olympics, to Stanford School of Medicine's brand-new Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge, the employee-owned firm has demonstrated time and again why it consistently ranks in the top 10 of the country's leading builders.

“We offer general contracting, construction management, design-assist, and design-build services to clients in every market sector of commercial construction, nationwide,” says project manager Dale Smith, who, like most of his colleagues, joined the firm right after college, in his case more than 20 years ago. “Our business model is typically to hire at the entry level, and then people grow in the company culture,” he adds.

The Pleasanton office, the hub for the firm's northern California operations, opened in 1994 and now includes a staff of 60, most of whom spend their time out in the field working on projects such as UCSF's Nanotechnology Clean Room, the Army Depot in Tracy, or site preparation for the Neiman Marcus store in Walnut Creek.

“The core of our business is our focus on delighting our customers,” Smith continues. “We do that by conducting business with integrity, a value that has sustained us for over 100 years.” Yet while Whiting-Turner values tradition, it has also fully embraced innovations like the environmentally friendly LEED certification, BIM (building information modeling), and LEAN operational techniques. It has also been a practitioner of integrated project delivery (IPD), an approach that links the entire project team in a unified, cooperative relationship, well before it became a construction buzzword.

“Our philosophy has always been to treat everyone involved in the project from an IPD perspective,” Smith comments. “It's interesting to see the whole industry now turning in this direction.”

In preparing its new 4,200-square-foot suite for occupancy, Whiting-Turner stepped out of its usual role as a core and shell builder to do the tenant improvements itself. “We had the opportunity to design the space with an open layout, bringing daylight into every area of the office,” notes Smith. “It's very open and well lit, and we have more usable space, so from an office perspective it is just wonderful. We are also working on becoming LEED-certified, which makes for a much healthier and happier working environment.”

While acknowledging that the construction market has been challenging in this economy, with much current work coming from the government, Smith notes that he has seen some loosening up in the private sector lately. Prices have also come down over the past two years, so “it’s a great time if you’re going to build,” he reports.

To learn more about the firm and its projects, visit www.whiting-turner.com.

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