HESS Construction and Engineering Services

As the largest educational facility con­struction manager in the mid-Atlantic and the ninth-largest construction manager in the region currently managing more than $600 million in project value, HESS Construction + Engi­neer­ing Services has established itself as a leader in a niche market, which includes primary and secondary schools, community colleges, training facilities, museums, libraries and federal institutions. This focus has been “extremely successful,” for the Gaithersburg, Md.-based company, Executive Vice President and COO Kathleen Langan says. 

“HESS’ strategy is to accomplish projects efficiently,” she states. “Driven by a reputation for excellence, HESS leads the development of stan­dards and supporting processes that result in low maintenance, sustainable, healthy, safe and environmentally conscious facilities. We are a lean organization that distinguishes itself as a specialist in phased, occupied construction, developed and contained urban sites, as well as in staging and sequencing procedures. We have satisfied our clients’ needs, met pricing they desired and served the communities supporting these institutions.”

HD Woodson

HESS’ expertise has been linked to numerous successful projects in the area such as Northern Virginia Community College Academic Build­ing in Manassas, Va.; the Francis Gregory Lib­rary in southeast Washington, D.C.; Oxon Hill High School in Oxon Hill, Md.; Gaithersburg High School in Gaithersburg, Md.; and now the $98 million HD Woodson Senior High School, which the company is managing for the government of District of Columbia Public Schools’ Office of Public Educational Facilities.

Cons­t­ruction be­gan in April 2010 and will be completed in Aug­ust 2011. The three-story, 231,000-square-foot project – designed by Cox Graae + Spack and SHW Group – follows the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) design and will be supported by advanced technology infrastructure, with laboratories and break-out areas surrounding a gathering space or forum. The building consists of three sections of one- and two-story structures. The two upper floors consist of four educational pods configured for integrated learning. Each classroom can act as a collaborative workspace or may be divided into traditional-sized learning units. 

HD Woodson Senior High School will seek LEED Gold certification. The building showcases several green features including high-performance glazing and building envelope insulation, abundant use of natural light, a vegetative green roof, water-conservation fixtures, and a rainwater collection and reuse system. It also will include a 1,000-seat, state-of-the-art auditorium, a football stadium and a natatorium, which is being built below groundwater elevation. 

“With all projects, planning can never be over-emphasized,” Langan notes. “This project required some very special challenges including the pool installation below groundwater, the management of a short schedule, coordination of mechanical systems and installation of the extensive audio/visual systems required for the STEM program.”

BIM and careful coordination of the trades will ensure the project will run smoothly and safely, Langan assures. “HESS provides constant monitoring of the project schedule to allow subcontractors to be able to perform their work in a properly sequenced manner,” she says. “This allows efficiency for trades for allowing work to be completed on time. The use of BIM for coordination is allowing for an efficient and coordinated in­s­tallation. Safety is being maintained by constantly teaching subcontractors to work safely. HESS’ strict safety program includes daily safety meet­ings, along with aggressive site inspections by trained safety officers.”

HD Woodson replaces a high school with a strong alumni following, Langan says. “When it opens, the pride of the school will return,” she remarks. “The client and the community will welcome the new structure, not only as a state-of-the-art facility for the children, but as a community enhancement for use outside of school hours. The auditorium is designed to provide full access after hours for plays, meetings of the general public, etc., without opening or interfering with the school.”

Growth Goals

HESS restructured in 2008 by expanding its services to all clients on the basis of discovery, knowledge and educational growth. This has enabled it to excel in an increasingly competitive market, Langan says. “We have seen the educational market tighten due to increased penetration from companies in other faltering markets,” she notes. “In many cases, government-funded projects have had funding deferred, not canceled, due to budgetary constraints. However, there are projects being advertised in our market. Each is carefully evaluated to ensure the highest win rate.”

HESS recently announced that it is performing at its highest level since its 1978 inception, and is pursuing a growth goal of 200 percent by 2013. “HESS is consistently meeting and exceeding growth goals, leaving us filled with optimism that 2011 will continue to bring success to HESS and the subcontractors with whom we work,” Langan says. “Recently, HESS surveyed our subcontractors requesting feedback in a number of business areas. The resulting suggestions yielded enhancements to our business practices with implementation scheduled to begin in Decem­ber.”

Langan is the board president for the Virginia Chapter of the Council of Educational Facility Planners International, and sits on the board of the Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education and the Greater Washington Board of Trade. She is a Washington Business Journal “Women Who Mean Business” honoree and recently was accepted to Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program, which requires eight weeks of study from participants with 20 to 25 years of experience. “I am told my peers serve widely diverse industries and come from more than 30 countries,” she adds. “I see this as an exceptional opportunity for both HESS and me.”  

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