David E. Harvey Builders Inc. – Market Square Tower

Harvey Builders picHarvey Builders’ Market Square Tower project will feature an abundance of amenities.
By Alan Dorich

Many contractors have estimating, contracts and closeout departments, but David E. Harvey Builders Inc. operates with a strategy where project managers do it all for the client. “What that does is provide clients with a single point of contact,” Project Manager Russell Niemann says.

That person stays with the client from the conceptual stage of their project to the final closeout. “We have a lot of repeat clients who claim that’s important to them,” he says.

The company has brought that approach to Market Square Tower, a 42-story luxury apartment tower in downtown Houston. “It’s a great project,” Niemann says, noting that the building will feature 463 living units and many amenities for tenants.

The tower’s 40th floor, he notes, will have a high-end lounge area, a state-of-the-art workout facility and an outdoor pool that cantilevers out eight feet with a transparent bottom and face. “You can see the sidewalk underneath you as you’re swimming,” Niemann describes.

Its second floor features even more amenities, including a spa area with a steam room, sauna, massage room and a spray tan booth, along with a grand ballroom and a catering kitchen. “Around the corner, they have a stadium seating cinema,” he adds.

The floor also will have a state-of-the-art children’s room with a half basketball court as well as an arcade game room, a billiards room and a poker room for adults. Tenants also will be able to utilize a large golf simulator room, wine storage and a wine-tasting room, as well as a conference room for business.

Right on Schedule

Harvey Builders is building the tower for Woodbranch Management Inc., a repeat client. The contractor started work on it in July 2014 and expects to finish it on schedule this July. “The ownership and design team on this project was as strong as any I have been associated with,” Niemann says. “The teamwork approach by all parties resulted in timely problem solving and decision making.  With this team, no problem was ever big enough to stall the project.

“We’ve stayed within the budget while turning over every unit on schedule,” Niemann reports, adding that Harvey Builders also has kept a positive relationship with Woodbranch, construction manager Oakmont Group, designer Jackson & Ryan Architects, and its subcontractors. “We’ve been able to maintain great partnerships with all parties during the construction with open lines of communication and a collaborative approach to problem solving.” Harvey Builders box

The company has managed this while coping with challenges on the project, including working on a tight project site with a 11-story parking garage next door. “We are within about a foot of it,” he says. The excavation for the new tower’s mat foundation and basement, he notes, required an engineered shoring solution at the garage side that kept the excavation safe while also providing support of the existing building’s piers.

The cantilever pool construction required problem solving as well. “We basically poured large concrete beams over thin air,” he recalls, noting that this was accomplished using an elaborate step shoring system extending several levels below the bottom of the pool beams. Each level extended about two feet past the level below.

Precious Resources

Based in Houston, Harvey Builders started operations in 1957 and has become a renowned firm in the construction industry. “Over the years, we have employed, trained and retained some of the best construction managers and construction superintendents in the nation,” the company says.

“At Harvey, we believe our most precious resource is our people,” it continues, noting that it only hires the best. “In order to successfully achieve goals for numerous clients year-in and year-out, the people at Harvey must be well trained and dedicated to the mission.”

Those people include Niemann, who joined Harvey Builders five years ago. He adds that the company also values its relationships with subtrades, which allow “us to have a successful project together. We understand we can only be as strong as our subcontractor base, so their success is important to us.

“We see it as our responsibility to plan a project so all contractors associated can work safe and efficiently,” he continues. “I know our subs appreciate the value we place on their ability to be successful.”

Harvey Builders is known for its safety focus. After having success with its safety culture in commercial construction, “We brought that into residential,” he says. “We’ve had a lot of success in doing that.

“The safety culture in construction is making great strides in the positive direction and we consider ourselves leaders in that push for excellence, no matter what type of jobsite we are associated with,” he states. “It is no longer acceptable to simply ask workers to show up with hardhats and safety glasses and let them do whatever they feel it takes to get their job done. 

“Harvey does not allow any worker start a task without knowing they have the proper training and tools, and there is a plan in place to complete that task in the absolute safest manner possible,” he continues. “We understand in many cases this adds time and cost to a given activity and we are still happy to encourage high levels of safety consciousness. We know the many benefits to this approach far outweigh the short-term costs.”

Niemann sees a strong future for the company, although the Houston market has seen some shifts. “[Despite the] oil and gas slowdown, that market is not completely dried up, but drastically slowed,” he says.

The company expects to stay busy with medical, industrial, residential and office work. “The outlook for Harvey is very strong,” he says. “Here in the next year, we’re expecting some big projects, [including] large office and medical build outs for some very high end clients.”


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