McGuire and Hester

McGuireHester pic 2McGuire and Hester tackles groundbreaking projects in northern California. 

Some people dream about building castles in the sky. McGuire and Hester is building a roof-top park. The Alameda, Calif.-based heavy civil engineering and construction company is part of a groundbreaking $2.3 billion project that will be the first of its kind. “We are building a world-class 5.4-acre park about 70 feet in the air,” President Mike Hester says. “It will be a signature project the Bay area.”

McGuire and Hester has been commissioned by Webcor Builders to build a $32 million garden-like park on the roof of San Francisco's future public transportation hub, the Transbay Transit Center. With its ability to self-perform many of the trades on the project, the Transbay Rooftop Park is a perfect fit for McGuire and Hester. Upon completion in 2018, the new Transbay Center, dubbed by many as the “Grand Central Station of the West”, will connect eight Bay Area counties through 11 transportation systems. The project calls for up to 100,000 square feet of retail space and a rooftop park that will include restaurants, café, playground and an amphitheater for concerts and live performances.McGuire and Hester info box

McGuire and Hester, which celebrated its 90th anniversary last year, offers a range of heavy civil engineering and construction services to both public- and private-sector clients. Its capabilities include complete site work services, specializing in pipeline, grading, paving, concrete, landscape and mechanical work. These services include pre-construction planning, added value at coordination/design meetings, constructability reviews, site logistics and planning.

Signature Projects

Operating mainly in northern California, McGuire and Hester has acquired a solid reputation across multiple market sectors, including healthcare in the San Francisco Bay area. In recent years, the company did $20 million worth of site work on an eight-year project for the John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. It involved excavation and high-end architectural, concrete and landscape work for new buildings, parking structures and parking lots.

“There’s been a big push in the past 15 years to either upgrade or rebuild existing hospitals in the [San Francisco] Bay area,” Hester says. One such project is the Highland Hospital Acute Care Tower in Oakland. The project calls for rebuilding the hospital’s acute care tower, which will be operated by Alameda Health System and provide healthcare services to the people of Alameda County.

Working jointly with Bethesda, Md.-based Clark Construction, McGuire & Hester's $10 million portion of the work includes excavation, grading, utilities, structural and architectural concrete. The project, which has been ongoing for about 7 years, is targeted for completion next year. “It’s a very complicated multiple-phase project,” Hester says. “It’s difficult because the hospital stays operational while we work, but our crews handle the challenge well. It’s really nice when I receive compliments about how considerate our employees are when they interact with the hospital staff, patients and visitors.”

New Headquarters

McGuire and Hester is 100 percent employee-owned and has offices throughout California including in Alameda, Oakland and Sacramento. In 2017, the company opened its new 22,000-square foot corporate headquarters in Alameda.

The new building has a variety of amenities that include a large break room with bay doors that open up to a deck equipped with a barbecue area, fire pit and bocce ball court. In August, McGuire and Hester hosted an open house to thank its business partners and clients for helping to make its new headquarters possible. “The great relationships we have built in this industry have led to the success our company enjoys today,” Hester says.

For the past six consecutive years, McGuire and Hester was named Top Workplace in the Bay area by the Bay Area News Group.

Oakland Pride

Although the company moved its headquarters, it has kept its Oakland location as the operational base for the Bay area. “We’ve done some pretty significant projects for the City of Oakland,” Hester says. “It’s been a good relationship.”

McGuire and Hester’s history with the City of Oakland dates back to World War II when it installed underground utilities for its Oakland Army Base. More recently, the company worked on a major revitalization along the shoreline of Lake Merritt, called the 12th Street Reconstruction project.McGuire and Hester 2

Over a life span of 150 years, Lake Merritt moved further away from its natural habitat. The lake is a natural tidal slough connected to the bay by a channel. Over time, it has been filled in as new roadways and interstates were being built. In some sections, the channel was flooded with water passing between the lake and estuary through an underground box culvert – and it has remained that way for the past 100 years.

The 12th Street project was part of Measure DD – the Oakland Trust for Clean Water and Safe Parks. The measure designed $198 million to fund a variety of projects related to clean water and parks. The 12th Street project accounted for $32 million.

McGuire and Hester reconfigured the existing 12-lane expressway into a six-lane, tree-lined boulevard with signalized intersections and crosswalks as well as a landscaped median. The new roadway was constructed further away from the shoreline to allow for the creation of a new four-acre park with a waterfront at the south end of Lake Merritt.

In addition, new pedestrian and bike paths were built and open water bridges were constructed. Unsafe and unsightly pedestrian tunnels were removed. The project also included re-establishing a section of open channel and removing a buried culvert at the interface with the lake.

This open canal is the first phase of what will eventually allow travel by kayak from the lake to the Oakland Estuary. The open channel will also increase tidal flushing of the lake. Tidal flushing renews the salinity and nutrients of the estuary. This means a cleaner water quality in Lake Merritt and improved habitat for fish and wildlife.

“Overall the 12th Street Reconstruction Project is a very significant improvement for the environment as well as for the City of Oakland,” Hester says. “It was very difficult project, but we have a great team. It highlighted all of our trade capabilities such as grading, paving, major structural concrete, landscape and architectural concrete.”

Designing and Building

McGuire and Hester further showcased its trade capabilities in a two-year project for the Alameda County Water District. The $18 million job’s objective focused on improving the county’s water system by replacing aging infrastructure and improving seismic reliability. Select large-diameter pipelines that cross a fault were upgraded with new pipe designed to better withstand a large fault offset.

In addition, McGuire & Hester added bypass manifolds to the pipes on each side of the fault. If a pipe were to break, temporary bypass hoses can be deployed to sidestep the break and transmit water across the fault. “The biggest challenges were trench conditions, existing utilities and working in urban areas where there is a lot of traffic and pedestrians,” Hester says. 

McGuire and Hester’s motto is “Together We Build Things Right.” The company prides itself on teamwork and communication, which it considers to be at the heart of what makes it a success.

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