Member News: March 2023
Harkins projects wins national 55+ housing award
Brightview Fair Oaks – a 170-unit development built by Harkins Builders – has won Silver in the National Association of Home Builders Best of 55+ Housing Awards.
The award announcement described the Northern Virginia facility, which includes independent living, assisted living and memory care units, as “a prime example of how an ambitious client and imaginative design can create something special out of basic ingredients.”
The craftsman-style facility features resort-style amenities, including five dining venues, a theatre, large art studio, hobby lab/maker space, salon, library, fitness center and extensive outdoor amenities. Yet the project team contained costs by making strategic materials choices, said Casey Hughes, Vice President of Senior Living at Harkins Builders. The team restricted high-end finishes to high-visibility, high-use areas. For example, the building’s exterior features large, timber beams but the design concentrated the use of expensive materials to areas near the ground floor and the entrances.
The design also made optimal use of space.
Brightview Fair Oaks “includes all of these different rooms – a dining room, a pub, a café, a games room and a serving kitchen where they hold cooking classes – that they wanted to function as separate spaces. But when they hold big events, they wanted all of those rooms to function as one big meeting space,” Hughes said. “Because of that, everything had to be really open. We had to mix in a bunch of structural steel to get really wide spans so the rooms could open up to one big space. The mechanical systems also had to be designed to handle a huge capacity.”
Harkins Builders, which has completed nearly 20 developments for Brightview, served as Construction Manager at Risk on the project. It got involved in planning for Fair Oaks four years before construction began and provided guidance on design, material choices and constructability.
Johnson Controls launches academy to ease labor shortage
Faced with persistent workforce shortages, Johnson Controls has partnered with Lincoln Tech to create the Johnson Controls Academy – a six-week, intensive training in Columbia, Md. that equips graduates to begin working as security installers and fire service technicians.
“Lincoln Tech is a great school,” said John Prusak, General Manager at Johnson Controls in Maryland. “Their [12-month] electrical curriculum gives students really solid basics. We have been hiring Lincoln Tech grads into our security, fire and HVAC businesses previously so we know their core strengths.”
Johnson Controls has hired about 300 Lincoln Tech graduates since the two companies forged a partnership in 2018. At that time, Johnson Controls began placing some of its equipment in 13 Lincoln Tech campuses, including one in Columbia, to provide students with experience on its products.
The newly launched Johnson Controls Academy builds on that partnership. The six-week program provides specialized – and free – training to select Lincoln Tech graduates or other adult learners with basic aptitude for and knowledge of electrical systems. Lincoln Tech recruits, pre-screens and interviews candidates, then proposes a slate of potential students for each class. Johnson Controls hires selected students before class begins, puts them on payroll, covers their training and housing expenses during the Academy, then assists with relocation expenses as they are assigned to a Johnson Controls office somewhere around the country.
The initiative provides “a way for us to strategically build a pipeline of skilled trade technicians ready to enter the workforce,” said Alison Neuman, Program Manager of Workforce Development for Johnson Controls North America.
Johnson Controls expects to hire at least 130 Academy graduates annually. During their first year of employment, the company provides each new hire with a “retention coach” who meets the employee monthly to address any questions and help them start a career inside Johnson Controls.
“Johnson Controls leaders are so busy and new technicians need a little more attention,” Neuman said. “Having a retention specialist regularly talking with new employees provides that one-on-one contact that is critical.”