EXTERNAL AFFAIRS DIRECTOR CHRISTY FOUSHEE
Hi, everybody. I’m Christy Foushee, and I’m director of external affairs here at OBO. And I’m very excited to welcome you all to virtual 2020 annual IAG meeting. We are very excited to continue our engagement and conversation with our industry group members and our industry partners, who, together, we shape and support the face of America around the world.
We are on a Webex event. So just a few reminders about operationally how this works. There are 35 industry advisory group members who are panel members. Along with our OBO leadership, we are joined by about over 600 participants from the public and from the industry partners.
If you are not a panelist, or if you are not in OBO leadership you don’t have audio; you don’t have video and mic capabilities. And that’s just only to allow for us to have the ability to make sure that the bandwidth operates appropriately, and that everyone can hear the conversation. So we want to be sure that we hear from the public. So the Q&A option to the right is enabled. So please feel free, if you’re having any issues with audio, or if you have questions at any point of the conversation, we invite you to use the Q&A option to let us know what you guys have going on.
We are, as I mentioned, joined by 650 participants from the public. We have 33 of our 35 group members online here with us, along with OBO leadership. And today we have a really exciting agenda talking about how we are together modernizing, impacting, and innovating the global U.S. Diplomatic portfolio.
I would like to go ahead and introduce OBO leadership for you guys, then. Obviously, you’re all familiar with Director Davis, who was able to chair our last in-house meeting that we had in May of 19. And getting a little bit little of static. OK. There we go.
And we are also– he is joined by Henry Jardine, our principal deputy director, who is about 30 plus years of Foreign Service who partners with Director Davis on all of the initiatives critical to our success. We also have Jeff Rebar, who is the money man on with us. He is our CFO and ensures we have all of the appropriations from Congress that we need to do our work, and that we’re using it appropriately and effectively.
We also have Angel Dizon on the call. Angel is our Managing Director for Programs, Development, Coordination, and Support. PDCF is the– they are the architects and engineers of the building who work with our A&Es to develop the projects they are the permitting entity for all of our work around the world and our critical partners with our design managers and project managers, and as is putting these projects out and getting them completed.
Victoria Hartke is our Planning and Real Estate Managing Director. They handle our real estate portfolio, all of the site acquisitions, any new construction. They’re part of the early planning efforts with the site development. And we’re glad to have her with us today.
And also Kent Stiegler, who is a Foreign Service Officer who handles the operations part of our house. And on that end, we have all of our cultural heritage efforts, our embassy’s representational housing refurbishments, as well as our Fire and our Safety Health Management Officials. And also we have– in addition to that, we have Marcus Herbert, who is our Office Director for Program Development and Coordination, and Rick Sullivan, who is the Office Director for Design and Engineering with us.
And then I’m very glad to introduce, which we have 33 panel members. So I struggled with how to do this introduction appropriately and effectively. But and Andrew wants to show the slide, we have our 35 group members that come from a broad spectrum of industry from real estate to design to engineering to construction and to facility maintenance and operations. We– and the slide isn’t up there for me. [LAUGHS] I don’t if it is for you, but we’ll get there just a second. But– there it is.
OK. So instead of going through all the names, please join me in welcoming them to the conversation. They play a critical role throughout the year, which you’ll hear more about from us as we move to the agenda, but they’re involved in our program development and our project designs. And we– without them, we really rely on that industry input to improve and bolster our program. So with that, I am going to turn it over to Director Davis who is going to get us kicked off.
And I should say, as we’re in transition, we are– as you are all working from desk stations in various locations around the city. So this was our first time ever has been this many folks in a session on a variety of places for three hours. So we are– we’re going to– we’re going to do a very good job, but it is our first time, so. Tad, are you on yet?
DIRECTOR TAD DAVIS
OK. Thank you very much Christy for, you know, getting us kicked off here today. And welcome ladies, and gentlemen, to our annual Industry Advisory Group public meeting. It’s really a tremendous opportunity to share with you some of our accomplishments over the past year, but also, you know, talk about some of the challenges, you know, yet to come.
I would also like to thank in particular a couple of folks– our Industry Advisory Group membership, you know, first and foremost. This is a group, as Christy mentioned, that I personally appoint to two-year terms. And our current group has just performed in a spectacular fashion in terms of the input and the insights and, you know, the commentary that they’ve provided us throughout this past year with respect to our planning, our design, and our construction efforts, and then also looking even beyond that into the operations and maintenance of these facilities.
And so it’s just really been a fantastic opportunity for me personally to get to know many of them. I did want to highlight Sharah Whiting, who’s here with us today, as one of our members who serves as the dean at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Sarah, we’re just, you know, so delighted to have you here with us today. It’s fantastic.
I also– I’ll come back later and recognize one of our departing members who’s a ex officio; Lloyd Caldwell from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But I would also like to extend a warm welcome to Stacey Hirata– been a colleague of mine for many years in DOD. But he’s going to be joining us as the Chief of Engineers ex officio representative to our advisory group.
I would also– I think she’s just joining us– is Tracy Thomas, who is our Managing Director for Construction Facilities and Security Management. And she’s got a critical role within our organization in terms of overseeing a billion dollar plus construction portfolio, but also, you know, tying in the important security aspects that are, you know, such a prominent part of each and every one of our projects, and then also, you know, tying in the facility maintenance fees.
And I think most of you know the new embassies, you know, that we’re building are out there and stand the test of time. But in many cases, the expectation [INAUDIBLE] 40, 50, 60 years down the road. And so that’s why I renew an emphasis on facilities maintenance on places such as [INAUDIBLE] in the work that we do each and every day moving forward.
It’s been a busy year for us in spite of COVID– and I’ll come back to that in a minute. But what we thought we would do here to kind of kick things off here and to kind of jolt you into the here and now as far as this afternoon’s activities is a short video that Christy and her team put together. And it just kind of give you a little bit of a bit of an overview of a lot of the work that’s been accomplished by the OBO team this past year in terms of some of our construction projects that we’ve completed, and some of the ones that we have awarded, and ones that are kind of in the middle, if you will.
But again, thought it would be a good way to kind of kick things off today. And so, Christy, back over to you for just a short video that kind of– year in review from OBO’s perspective. Thank you.
That’s right. Thanks, Tad. Yeah. This is just for all of us. You know, we’re not building anybody’s backyard here. So just trying to give you guys a sense of the importance of the work that you do and what some of this looks like on the ground. Andrew, you want to go ahead and play?
Hope you enjoyed the short video. And again, the real purpose is just to kind of, you know, get us into the groove of today’s discussion, and for our meeting and the dialogue that will follow. The leading edge of that video really captured some of the projects we were able to do ribbon cuttings on and actually move diplomats and folks into this year. And then some of those that were in the middle to the latter part were ones other in various stages of award and design.
But I think it gives you good spectrum of the activities that we’ve had under way, basically touching each of the five geographical regions within the department. And ones that we opened, and ones that we conducted groundbreaking ceremonies that were big events in those countries. And I can tell you from experience, ladies and gentlemen, that you can be very proud of the work that the State Department does on behalf of you, on behalf of the citizens of the United States of America because in every one of those ceremonies, it’s not just senior leadership from our embassy. In many cases, it’s folks from D.C. out there as well.
But it’s the President of that country. It’s the prime minister. It’s the governor of that state. It’s the mayor of that local community. And so these events mean a tremendous amount to the people of these countries that we are representing the United States of America.
And it’s something. It’s really a big thing. And I just wish that each and every one of you could have been out there, you know, just kind of, you know, watching over the groundbreaking, over the different kinds of ceremonies and things that take place in those events.
We’re talking a bit about embassy Effects later today. And this is something that we’re trying to highlight as we go out and seek to identify and develop, you know, new sites for new projects out there. I don’t want to steal any of their thunder, but, again, embassy Effects will be coming back later today.
So, at last year’s session, I kind of laid out, for many of you that were there, the mission and division of the bureau, as we support the department’s overall objectives. And the thing that I highlighted for everybody on the mission was the fact that we added– we did a mission analysis, and we added to it the notion of resiliency.
The fact that we want to be able to operate our facilities under whatever conditions our diplomats may be faced with, whether it’s natural or man-made disasters over the course of the last year, we’ve weathered our share of hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis, as well as, you know, power outages of entire metropolitan grids to the shut down off of water and wastewater systems. And so that’s really what we’re renewing our focus on is the ability for these diplomatic platforms to continue to operate under whatever conditions they might be faced so that we ensure that there’s power, water, and wastewater that enables those platforms to continue to operate in the middle of whatever mayhem they might be faced with.
The vision, I think, remains intact, and the strategic priorities, again, remain unchanged. But again, for those of you that might be joining us for the first time, or as a as a refresher for those that were here last year. And there will be a test at the end of today’s presentation. So note taking is highly recommended– just kidding.
But in all honesty, these five strategic priorities have really helped us focus the organization, our energy, our effort, and our funding during this past year. Embassy after next is notionally our building program, but it really involves the planning efforts, the design, and the construction, and then our transition from construction operations into the day-to-day operations of whatever that facility might be. The facility maintenance and upkeep is an important point that I mentioned earlier.
When we move into these buildings, we want to be on them for the next 50 years. And we have to start, even before day one of occupancy, with a detailed plan so that we can manage the building automation systems and all the other tools and technologies that are out there to do the very best we can to manage these facilities from day one and keep them in shipshape condition, moving forward.
I’ve shared with of our challenges in the past, such as a significant backlog in deferred maintenance and repair and also a shortage of facility managers. We’ve made great strides in both those areas this past year. And last year, for that matter, you know, OBO was one of the very few bureaus in the entire department that asked for and received additional funding to support our programs. And so I think that should highlight to each and every one of you the importance that the department places on these programs, but more importantly the importance that we collectively place on the safety and security of our diplomats and their families that posts abroad, which leads me into the diplomatic residential initiative.
And again, this is an important component of who we are and what we do as an organization in terms of our responsibilities for the residential accommodations, you know, of our diplomats and their families abroad. You know, when you look at the fact that we manage in excess of 16,000 residential properties– and that’s not counting our chief of mission and deputy chief of mission residences for our ambassadors and our deputy chief of mission and those four concert generals that are out there, which number in the hundreds. But again, what we’re trying to do through our efforts is provide the very best audio life and working conditions we can for our diplomats in our embassies and in our consulates and other diplomatic posts abroad.
We want to provide that same high-quality of life, you know, for our diplomats and their families, from a residential standpoint in the home, if you will. And to take that one step further, we’ve also been working with the Overseas Schools Program here at the State Department to do more to provide safer and more secure environments for our young people that accompany their parents overseas, as they work their way through various international schools and other educational systems that are out there.
But this is an extremely important program that Victoria’s going to talk about with you today in terms of the efforts we’ve undertaken to conduct the survey, department-wide, to get feedback from those users on the ground that are out there in terms of how they view the properties in which they live. We cross-walked that with a lot of empirical data that we’ve collected as well to really determine, you know, where are those areas we need to concentrate our efforts, you know, to the greatest extent possible, but also use creative funding mechanisms, whether it’s joint ventures or public-private partnerships, or build-to-lease opportunities to really stretch the taxpayer dollar, and at the same time, do it in a way that makes sense at the places where we have the greatest need in terms of lack of available properties that meet our requirements so that we can ensure that we’re doing everything we can to place our diplomats and their families in the safest most secure and functional residences that we possibly can.
And then the other two strategic priorities really are foundational for us and really support the needs of the entire bureau, and, in many respects, tie into the mothership of the Department of State when you look at the IT– and the HR-specific responsibilities. But when we really talk about IT, it’s much, much more than that. It’s data management and analytics.
And that’s what we really want to be doing is making better use of all of the information that we collect about all of our posts across the world, and to do it in a way that enables us to make data-driven decisions. And that we are making good use of this data in terms of how we determine, you know, where to construct new projects, how we prioritize the projects themselves, and then also, you know, look at the analytic angle as well to really make sure that we’re maximizing the uses of taxpayer dollar on each of these projects regardless of the location or the scope and magnitude of the project itself.
Talent management continues to be an extremely important effort for us and somewhat of a challenge because, you know, we’re, what I would call, a non-homogeneous entity. When you look at some of the bureaus and the overseas post where you might have either a high density of Foreign Service Officers or, back here in Washington, a high number of civil servants, ours is a mixture of Foreign Service Officers, civil servants, PSC and third-party contractors. And so what we try to do is obviously make sure that we fill the vacancies that we’ve got, but to do it in a deliberate way so that we get, you know, the best and the brightest, if you will, that want to come on board and serve their country, and, at the same time, really get into their specialty field and whatever it might be.
So again, embassy after next, [INAUDIBLE] and upkeep, the diplomatic residential initiative, data management and analytics, and then talent management really comprise those five strategic priorities that we’ve set. And we’ve tried to use that to focus our efforts moving forward. Our strategic goals are kind of the thematic drivers that we have across the board really get to– and they’re on the right of the screen– the security that I’ve highlighted before, the resiliency that I’ve talked about at length, and then the stewardship piece, which is important.
And I think that over this COVID period, a tremendous amount of taxpayer dollars have been spent for all the right reasons on a whole host of health- and medical-related requirements, economic requirements, and others. And so we want to do our part within OBO to maximize the use of the individual taxpayer dollar, as we plan, design, construct, and operate these facilities. And so really, you know, cost accounting is a renewed effort on our part to give after that in every aspect of the work that we do across the board.
So again, just a quick review of who we are as an organization, and what we really try to focus on this past year. Go on next slide, please. Thanks. So getting into our challenges over the last six months in particular with regard to COVID, we could very easily have just kind of, you know, said, hey, we’re just going to wait this one out until conditions get better for us to travel, you know, to these remote places around the world and, you know, rest on our laurels and things like that, but that’s exactly the opposite of what the organization did.
We leaned into each and every challenge that we were faced with, you know, very deliberately. When you go back and look at, you know, where we were at the end of February, beginning of March of this past year, and the fact that on the 25th of January, we actually suspended operations and shut down the consulate in Wuhan due to COVID. And then fast forward where we’ve been over that six-month period is pretty amazing, you know, where we’ve come as an organization when you consider the fact that we had anywhere between 68 and 70 capital construction projects underway during that period.
At one point in time, we had suspended operations due to COVID at 55 of those projects. And those projects, in total, represent probably in excess of $10 billion worth of construction under way. But we continue to work with the folks at post, with our construction partners, with the host nation, and others back here in Washington. And so to-date, we’ve been able to reduce that number of suspended projects down to 15. And in early October, probably half a dozen of those will be coming back online as well.
But throughout this whole effort, you know, we’ve put health and safety first. We established a separate health and safety committee to really get into the details of the precautions that needed to be put in place of all of our sites, working hand-in-hand with our construction partners to maximize the health and safety of the construction management teams and the individual workers. And as most of you know, on any given site, we’ve got a mixture of third-country nationals, local employees, cleared Americans that make up, you know, each of these construction teams.
On any given day, we have probably in excess of 15,000 to 16,000 workers at our sites around the world. And so it’s been a challenge to work through procedurally, and from an education perspective, putting in place those measures that we’ve needed to put in place to provide that health and safety, first and foremost, even at the expense of project delays and cost to the project. And so my hat goes off to the managing directors, you know, Tracy and her team in particular– the work that they’ve done to really keep these projects on track to the best of their ability and then get things back up and running.
And so what we did early on was we developed a plan to drive how we were going to address operations under COVID. And it was known as OBO 2.0 Return to Roslyn. And it was really two components. The Return to Roslyn piece was how we were going to, over time, return to the work place.
Notice I didn’t say returned to work because, for all intents and purposes, starting with the second week in March of this year, we went to about 100% telework within the span of less than 10 working days. When everybody was in here doing their day-to-day activity, we had 130 or more folks deployed overseas from our Washington office which we had to recall back over time all made it home safe and sound but from then moving forward we were pretty much at 100% telework.
And what this slide on the screen shows you is the phases that the department developed under their diplomacy strong effort, which was the department’s effort to really address telework and return to work efforts and providing, you know, protection for our employees across the globe. And it basically just lays out– I won’t go into detail– a phase zero, which is where we started with really restricted travel, restricted building access, and 100% telework. And then once different criteria was met along the bottom part of that timeline, we would advance to phase 1, phase 2, and phase 3.
And so today across the globe and here in Washington, you’ve got a variety of State Department, embassies, consulates, and agencies– some at– still at phase 0, some at phase 1, some at phase 2, which really drives the day-to-day activities, you know, at that location. But for us, it also meant really stepping up to the plate to make sure that all of our folks had capabilities that they needed in terms of laptop support, monitors, and other portable devices to enable them to do their jobs safely and securely at a remote location, you know, all intensive purposes at home, but also working up a schedule that will allow individuals to come back into the workplace on a case-by-case, mission-by-mission requirement basis, backside access, you know, classified programs and other information that is really a key component of our projects overall.
Go the next slide, please. So again, that was the whole Return to Roslyn effort. And then the 2.0 portion of that– and I had mentioned the plant itself was OBO 2.0 Return to Roslyn. And so the Return to Roslyn I just talked about. So the OBO 2.0 is the notion that we have, you know, transformed as an organization over time, you know, using COVID-19 as a catalyst.
And so the vision that we had was, if you go back to where we were in, let’s say, December or January this past year, that was OBO 1.0. You know, everybody coming to work every day. Everybody traveling around the world doing those things that we do on a routine basis. And then if you fast forward to where we are today, and where we’ll be, know, later this month and into October, that’s what we visualized as an OBO 2.0 frame of reference where we have really advanced, you know, and very rapid taste in terms of enhanced, you know, communication skills and the ability to continue to operate in this COVID-19 environment.
And then we don’t just stop at 2.0, but we continue moving forward in terms of determining and developing where we’re going to be six months or so from now once the conditions improve as far as potential for a successful vaccine, reductions in COVID cases, et cetera. So again, it’s a work-in-progress right now. And what we’ve tried to do is develop this notion of a process, which will help us facilitate what we’re doing for people from a talent management standpoint, and then also the technology that will, again, and form the basis for much of how we are working right now will continue to transform the organization, as we move through COVID-19.
The reimagination effort is the department’s effort to do the same thing, but at the department level in terms of those things that we know we need to change, should change, and can change as a result of lessons learned during the COVID-19 experience moving forward. And so, again, that’s– from 2.0 to 3.0– is where we want to move here shortly so we can better understand what that environment’s going to look like, and how we can leverage all the lessons learned during COVID-19 and apply those to how we’re going to operate, you know, successfully and more efficiently, you know, in the future. Next slide, please.
I’m really, at this point in time– yeah that’s– that’s fine. Go ahead to the next. Well, skip this one here. We just had a lot of different activities during this past six-month period. And just to kind of capture the essence of some of them, again, when you think about the portfolio and the global footprint, but the fact that we continue to operate where we’ve awarded seven major construction projects this year valued at over $445 million and additionally awarded 11 A&E services contracts value at another $28 million.
This fiscal year, we completed nearly $5.3 billion worth of new construction, or in some cases rehabilitation work. And another $5.2 billion has been obligated for additional projects. We sent out 13 request for proposals, for major projects. And again, these major projects are embassies and consulates, if you will.
Interesting to note during this time as we were trying to continue to support the various posts around the world, we had about 20 of our International Maintenance Assistance Program or IMAP teams that were stationed, again, in each of the different regions throughout the world. And we were able, over the last six months, to keep those teams out there. In some cases, we brought teams back home and then redeployed other teams.
But the strategy was– and it pretty much worked– was it would be easier for us to get teams around the continent of Africa or around Europe than it would be to deploy people from the United States out to those locations. And so, in some cases, the team that was located in the Hague was able to pull folks down to Luxembourg, Frankfurt, and other European posts to manage issues there. We saw some of the same opportunities in Africa as well.
And so, today, we’ve got about four– I think it’s close to 50 individuals making up 20 teams. And these, again, are two- three- and four-person teams. In many cases– in all cases, cleared Americans, many with top secret clearances that are very highly skilled at what they do and provide a tremendous asset to the public they support out there.
We’ve increased our recruiting and retention efforts. This past year alone, actually over the last 14 months, OBO conducted over 100 recruiting engagements. And these were engagements, of course, last six months virtually, but with leading colleges and universities for entry-level employees with the critical skill sets we need, but also working with professional organizations, associations, general contractors, American Planning Association, all sorts of other professional organizations out there to use their platform and partnership to help tell the OBO story, but also to use their ability to reach out to their membership to apprise them of opportunities to work with OBO.
Because in addition to highly-skilled, highly-motivated, entry-level employees, we also need folks that have a good 10 or 12 or 15 years of practical experience at construction projects in design efforts on highly-complex projects that can come in the mid-level management positions in the organizations. And again, in many cases, we’ve been able to expand the base of applicants for our positions by 50% because of these recruiting efforts. We’re not where we need to be, but I think it’s a move in the right direction.
We’ve also been able to work very closely with folks out at posts where some critical events have occurred during this past year. Many of you are familiar with the attack at our embassy in Baghdad that took place New Year’s eve and New Year’s day. And we actually had OBO personnel who were on the ground there for other projects were able to spring into action and to assist in very quickly, you know, shoring up, you know, some of the breaches that occurred and reinforcing, you know, some of the damage that took place during those attacks.
And as a follow up, we sent a diplomatic security and OBO team out there within 30 days to assess the conditions on the ground so we can develop a plan which is in the works now to help improve the conditions there, moving forward. Some of that work has continued in spite of COVID. And again, the fact we had forward deployed folks on the ground was a tremendous benefit to us.
Many of you are familiar with the blast that took place in the harbor in Beirut, Lebanon not too long ago. Again, you may think, well, how did that affect as well? Our construction site there for the new embassy is 10 miles away. We had windows were shattered at that location because of the blast. We had materials that was stored at the warehouses there that were destroyed during that blast.
And so, again, many of these are second- and third-order effects that we’re faced with not only during COVID, but at other times, you know, throughout the year. I mentioned the 2.0 Return to Roslyn effort. And actually, not only were we able to implement that here, but we shared that with others in the department and others overseas. And it’s really served as a guide for many posts around the world in terms of how to, you know, set up operations and what is it allows you to ensure safety and protection in the COVID environment.
And I could probably go on and on, but it’s really been, in particular, the last six months, a very unique set of operating circumstances that we’ve been working through on a day-to-day basis. But it’s– I can assure you that, you know, the members of OBO and our partners across the department and at posts have really held up well. And they’ve really, as I said earlier, leaned into it and really made things happen in a very creative way.
And I think all of you that are on the call today can take a tremendous amount of pride in the work that’s done. Much, much more remains to be done moving forward. And as we unravel the circumstances with regard to COVID, we’ll be looking at new ways in which we can continue our work moving forward.
But the short-term things have continued. Sites have been acquired for new properties for construction. We’ve initiated projects. We’ve continued projects. We’ve actually finished projects to enable folks to move in safer, more secure facilities. And we’ve maintained facilities, you know, all over the world during some very trying circumstances.
And so it’s a tremendous organization. It’s a pleasure for me to report to you the work that’s been accomplished this past year on behalf of you and, you know, the American people. And we’ll continue to do that to best of our ability moving forward. So I’m going to stop there. Enough from me.
Is kind of the little review of things we’ve accomplished. And we’re not going to have a test, by the way. So don’t worry about that. But at the same time, I want to turn it back over to Christy. And we’re going to launch into our more formal program at this point in time. But once again, ladies and gentlemen, thanks so much for being with us. And I hope that you find this a worthwhile [INAUDIBLE]. Thanks very much. Over to you, Christy.
Thanks, Tad. I just have to say that I find it incredibly successful that we have not had major mute issues at this point. So thanks to everybody for being so great with the muting and the video. And for those of you, just another reminder, if you’re having issues or questions, we’ve got folks monitoring the Q&A and chat functions. So keep letting us know what’s going on, and we’ll troubleshoot to the best of our technical abilities.
We’re moving on to our industry advisory review section of the agenda. Each year since 2012, we have had IGC members participate in reviews of our projects in mostly our larger projects embassy in conflict, new construction, or significant major renovations, as well as program changes or our program reviews that we’ve tried to talk with industry about better aligning sort of our efforts with what’s going on in the professional space.
So this year is no exception. And we are really proud to say that since 2012, our IG folks have precipitated and impacted nearly 50 projects and programs within our organization. And that’s no minor feat for any of you that have been involved in one of our peer reviews.
We greatly benefit not just the work, but the people benefit from the collaboration and the conversation between peers. So without further ado, Christian Bailey and Marion Weiss are going to– Christian Bailey from ODA and Marion Weiss from Weiss/Manfredi are going to share our read-out session of the projects and the programs that you all looked at since we last met in 2019. So I’m going to turn it over to Christian and Marion and let you guys take it away.
Great. Thank you, Christy, for the introduction. So there are four new exciting projects to cover, plus a recap from the industry roundtable on commercial real estate. So I’ll get into it. We’ll begin with Doha in Lagos and then turn it over to Marion to go through the other reviews.
So the new Embassy at Doha in the United Arab Emirates was designed by Richard Kennedy Architects in Phoenix, Arizona. And the anticipated Design Build Contract Award is scheduled for later this year. For the project, the Industry Advisory Peer Reviewers met twice last year in August and October.
The reviewers included Susanna Drake, Founding Principle of DLANDstudios. She can’t be with us at this moment. She’ll join later; Craig Schwitter, Partner at Buro Happold; and myself, Christian Bailey, Founding Principle at ODA.
So a little bit background on the project– the Embassy in Doha is a design build project on a newly-acquired 12-acre site. And it consists consist of a new chancellery building, parking structure, the port facilities, athletic field, and marine guard security quarters. The architects presented three concepts in August of last year.
They had a arcade scheme which draws inspiration from the traditional Arab suit of the Arab– of the old the Doha street market, the tent scheme based on the Bedouin tent structure was used throughout the area, and finally, the dunescaping scheme based on the erosion of rock formation in the region. After the initial meeting, the peer review group recommended to the OBO and to the Richard Kennedy architects to further pursue development of the arcade scheme for its modern and timeless approach.
And some of the key challenges and recommendations from the review meetings included understand the desert environment as it’s critical to maximize multiple shade and heat mitigation strategies, which we elected to keep developing, and also to keep studying the [INAUDIBLE] articulation as a main chancellery to respond specifically to sudden orientation, environmental and local culture. I have to say, after seeing it recently with the final execution, the design was very skillfully done incorporating the suit-inspired fabric of the facade element at functions of the diffuser and daylight strategy.
Some other things to consider with their ideas of the Bedouin tent concept and see how they could pull that into the archaic scheme as well. Parking was a big challenge on the site and creating compelling street edge along the hallway. And this was approved in the final integration with the smart use of topography and landscape.
And speaking of landscape, what was also considered and discussed was ideas of the deep escaping scheme. And to bring those ideas into this traditional archaic scheme, strengthen the concept of design meets oasis– I mean, desert meets oasis– sorry about that. It was also important to bring clarity, precession of the outdoor spaces for the visitors by providing more hierarchy organization for the interior gardens and water features located throughout the campus. And I’ll turn it over to Craig Schwitter. Do you want to add anything regarding the feedback on the sustainable challenges and recommendations on that end?
Well, I think– thanks, Christian. I think one of the elements of a review and one of the unusual issues is it’s a open site, which is not that common for four embassies, as we know. So really trying to take advantage of, you know, the space here, but mainly the climate. Because the climate, while it’s very aggressive and harsh at times is also quite pleasant at times. So really trying to find the right balance between shading, pathways, and really trying to get as much of conditioned elements outside of the perimeter as a building as possible to make that a comfortable experience.
Furthermore, I think, here in Doha, again, a unique condition is the treated sewage effluent along– for the site and trying to incorporate that into the planning early so that we can actually take advantage of the local utility infrastructure. Whereas, normally, where we’re dealing with embassies that might have to basically build out that infrastructure here with the advantage of taking advantage of it and seeing really what type of economic benefit that might have for the State Department in the long run. So those are some of the comments.
Yeah, yeah, that’s it. And then they also– I think the architects did a great job in, you know, improving and maximizing the development strategy and putting that over the parking. And so, all right, well, thanks for that, Craig. And so I’ll just conclude with this project. You know, the peer reviewers felt pretty strong about the resulting design of the Doha Embassy, as it embodies the narrative of the mission and the mission and vision of OBO.
The modern, yet traditional, archaic scheme inspired by the Arab Sic connects seamlessly with the organization of the site and the design elements of the building. The Bedouin-inspired tent pavilion added and cultural and welcoming element. And finally, the archaic threads together the unique lamps the concept of the premiere landscape bringing with the more formal interior gardens of the campus, really capturing that idea of the desert meets oasis.
With that, I’ll move on to Lagos new compound. That’s the image of the courtyard. So this is a new consulate compound in Lagos, Nigeria that was designed by Ennead Architects N in New York City. The anticipated Design Build Contract Award is scheduled for early 2021. And the Investor Industry Advisory Review met twice last year in July and October, similar to the Doha schedule.
And the peer reviewers included Mark Robbins, President and CEO of the American Academy in Rome; Claire Weisz, Founding Principal at WXY Architecture and Urban Design; and Robert Sandberg, Principal at TDS Design. I’ll give a little bit of the background and then I’ll hand it over to them to go over the individual parts.
So the new Consulate Compound Project in Lagos is a design build project on a newly-acquired 12-acre site on the Eko Atlantic development in Lagos, Nigeria. The project consists of a new office building, support annex building, marine security guard residence, utility building, parking structures. And also what made it unique is a pedestrian bridge leading to a new boat dock at the water’s edge.
The three ideas– concepts ideas were presented to the group– the curve, the fold, and the stack. And I’ll turn it over to Mark to discuss context and urban settings. Mark, are you able to hear me?
Am I– am I unmuted?
We have you.
Great. Great. OK. Thank you. Thank you, Christian. It’s been very interesting to see this project evolve from Ennead. And as Christian mentioned, this is in the Eko Atlantic development area. And this is built as new land much in the same way the Battery Park city is adjacent to New York outside a very dense setting of Lagos, a city of 20 million people. And that population is expected to double by 2050.
The site itself is quite large. And it will be developed in five phases. And the site selected for the compound, the embassy compound is just next to the second phase of deployment. So it will be an early part of making up the urban fabric. So the idea was to think about not only the space of the compound itself, but to think about the impact of this open space, the landscape, and the way the building, or the major part of the building, has been sited to create an open space, which responds to the scale of the larger urban plan, as well as to the needs of the compound, so that it, in fact, gives something back.
The site is unique, though, Lagos is on water. And water is part of the culture. As part of the Eko Atlantic development, there is a Canal Boulevard, which is introduced, which becomes a new front faced for the embassy compound. It creates an amnesty for the entire development site. So we were– we were pleased to see the evolution of this project, which makes both a central landscape figure like a park, as well as responding to the needs of security and open space for the compound itself.
Great. Thanks, Mark. And Claire– Mark, you mentioned some ideas on the landscape. And Claire, did you have anything you wanted to add on landscape strategies for the project?
I want to elaborate on how the kind of design team responded to the challenge of essentially making a Central Park for Eko. Like, the concept, really, of creating not a vertical symbol, but actually this landscape symbol meant that a lot of hard work had to be done in terms of looking at the fact that this actually had three security access points from the canal and from kind of essentially both directions.
One would be interior to Eko Atlantic, which is going to be an urban development, and one for embassy personnel really coming in, and visitors, coming in from other parts of Lagos. So really even though the work of the team, you know, is usually driven by building programming, the team very– kind of worked very hard at a sectional approach to a lower level and upper level that allowed this to be scaled, to be really a kind of– seen as a landscape opportunity.
And I think that, related to what Rob is going to talk about, trying to create a consistency in architectural language so that, again, landscape and architecture work together. Also, to incorporate landscape and parking together, not have– and that really links to a sustainability approach. Lagos is, as we know, a megacity. There are a lot of environmental challenges in terms of both resiliency, but also looking at changing climate. And the project really approaches– I think they focused on at all scales being able to really see this project as a model.
Great. Claire, thanks. Robert, do you want to conclude with where Claire left off on the architecture?
Sure. Christian, as you mentioned, they presented three distinct schemes in the first review. And that was very helpful in comparing what was essentially three different organizational models for the site and three different architectural narratives telling the story of, you know, the United States and Nigeria. And so relative to the organization, I think that we– that we found the best of the three different approaches.
And when they came back, and at the second review, the organization had taken pieces of the three different organizational approaches and really highlighted the one architectural approach that clearly the designers were the most passionate about and most interested in. And that was the carve in this diagrid. And I think what they were most interested in was the fractal language and comparing that to some local precedent for pattern making in Nigeria.
Great. Well, Robert, thanks. Claire and Mark, and are there any other remarks y’all want to say before we move on? Well, excellent. OK. Well, good. You know, we’ll– we’ve got a couple more to go over, and I’ll turn it over to Marion Weiss, who’ll start with the Embassy at Hanoi. Thanks, guys.
– Thank you.
All right, Thank. You. Thank you, Christian. And I’ll be speaking to two embassies– the Embassy in Hanoi, which has had one review, and then also the embassy in Lilongwe, which has had two. And because I was fortunate enough to be one of the industry advisors on the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi project, I’ll speak on behalf of my peer reviewers– Jim Richard RKA adjunct, and Jay Taylor, MKA Adjunct.
EYP’s the architect engineering design firm for this– there was an Industry Advisory Review Panel. We all gathered on August 11. And if we go to the next slide– can we advance to the next slide? Thank you. There were several very interesting goals for this particular embassy.
And just to contextualize, things this is an embassy in a part of Hanoi, Vietnam, which is being invented as we speak. It has gone from a green field site to a place of towers seemingly overnight. And so to be captured within this precinct for the embassy is a powerful and very important gesture.
It’s one that actually connects from the urban edge, which is quite tall, down to park. And so you could imagine that landscape played a toll in the thinking. The goal is to create an embassy that recognizes the importance of the emerging urban context, capitalize on the challenges of flood events as inspiration for the site development landscape, amplify the connections between indoor and outdoor representational spaces, and develop an architecture that exemplifies the contemporary sustainable requirements.
Now, to think about the components here, this is– we’ve had the opportunity of seeing three ambitious strategies. And yet all of them really had to accommodate the key goals as an FY 2022 project to include a new– an NOB, a New Office Embassy Building, which included two towers on a plinth, a Marine Security Guard Quarters or MSGQ, support annex building, decks, utility building, parking structures, staff, and official vehicles, compound access control facilities, and warehouses.
And so while this was nothing unusual in many ways when we look at the embassy complex, there were three strategies that were approached by EYP called tranquility, harmony, and flow. And as we looked at the collection of strategies, one of the things that emerged was that there was an opportunity to leverage the phenomena of water being so present and being so important to manage.
And the landscape strategies that we’re beginning to emerge in harmony and flow, we felt that those ideas about the landscape and the plinth and the public identity site could be leveraged even further. And that would allow things as serviceable as, say, a parking garage that was taking up, in a sense, good footprint. And if it was suppressed, it would have an opportunity to be able to devote more to the landscape, not dissimilar to what Claire was mentioning in the prior scheme.
It also seemed possible to say that with a pair of towers on plinths, perhaps there could be some hierarchy that might actually be higher and lower that could embrace the super scale that’s emerging around and also the lower scale of the park across the way. And so, again, thinking through the thesis of maybe this building to landscape, the idea of cascading the building through sites with tall urban scale to the park level became an opportunity.
So there are questions of stretching the ground plinths to incorporate spaces in the NOB footprint, evaluate shifting the Annex Tower to consolidate expansion the north side of the site, and really clarified a performative nature of the proposed water features. In fact, there was a real focus on the service buildings taking up a fair amount of footprint on the site to see about [INAUDIBLE] tight configurations that might allow, in fact, leveraging other areas for the site or open space. And, in fact, future expansion could then be accommodated more easily.
And then there were comments on the facade. There was appreciation in some ways of the variation between the two buildings– some which had more desire for transparency and some which had less. And yet there was still performative opportunities yet to be considered. And so the long-term corrosive effect of that environment was something that could actually start to look at more resilient considerations to the way this site is developing.
So those were really the overarching observations that emerged. But there was, I think, great appreciation of the fact that in this invented context, this task from an urban context to keep landscape at the heart of that expression seemed like an incredible opportunity. So I think we can go to the next one.
And then this is the U.S. Embassy in the Lilongwe, Malawi by architecture firm Miller Hall with an anticipated contract date of late 2020. Now, the industry advisors on this for, I think a pair, because there were two industry advisory panels. Sandy Brock from Nitsch Engineering, adjunct. Matthew Kreilich, from Snow Kreilich, and I thank Julie Snow, for a prior review. Also adjunct, Nico Kienzl, Atelier Ten member.
In many ways, when we think about this U.S. embassy in Malawi, the design goals– and if we could go to the next page– the design goals here, in many ways, had to address some similar questions of what the language of climate resilience can look like here. How do we minimize the risk to both [INAUDIBLE] and future climate conditions? How do we maximize the site functionality for vehicles, maintenance, and emergency access? How is there a possibility of prioritizing pedestrian experience for all users? And how do we respond appropriately to the formal representational edges and natural side of the site and capitalize on viable view ports.
And strategizing the environmentally sensitive development is something that is critical, and of course, all of this really is to support the USAID and public outreach missions and provide local engagement for the community and job training.
Now, as we think about the evolution of this, the exciting thing here is this project has a scope here that is co-locating using U.S. embassy and ancillary facilities that don’t meet the OS-EB standards. And this new embassy campus will include a new office building, three campus access buildings, main conference, service support annex for shops, vehicular maintenance, warehouse, marine security, residence, parking for 118 vehicles– and then, among other things, and staff and visitors, in addition. And they provide space requirements for 306 desks and a chancery of 11,000 in change gross square meters.
Three concepts were presented to the industry advisors in September 25, 2019. The terrace plus frame concept was created in response to the first review. The concept married the buildings to the topography of the site and embrace degraded of the site through a series of walls and terraces, modulating the grade from the high point at the center to where the chancery is located.
And the site building’s located on lower terraces as the site slopes down toward the Lilongew River south, allowed the strategy of nestling many of the buildings into the grade and having retaining walls that reached out into the landscape, so this connection between landscape architecture and structure was really taken into consideration.
Now, the industry advisory review one– Sandy Brock, Chief Civil Engineer and Principal at Nitsch Engineering, Julie Snow, [INAUDIBLE] Nico Kienzl had a series of comments about the site layout after they expressed appreciation of the site analysis and preferred combination of terrace and frame concept. And so that site organization was plateau and stack, utilized significant elevate changes, stacking program elements, utilizing topography, navigating the views over to the river, and were not possible to maintain these identified green grooves rather than EV. Identifying reqs, potentially as a social development, leveraging cut and fill, keeping the service elements out of the floodplain and minimizing civil engineering costs at arrival port and exploring stacked parking.
So again, under the NOB, the building entrance– its locations, distinction of front doors were discussed, as were opportunities for shared and collaborative space for the separate identities of DOS and USAID. Amplifying the potential of a transparent base with less transparent office above, mitigating solar gain by being mindful of the direction of the slope on the north facade and the primary solar orientation, ensuring the facade was performative in any screen takes on maintenance into account and mindful viewing of the cultural legibility and the contextual appropriateness of form.
An Industry advisor review, too, Sandy Brock, Matthew Kreilich, and Nico Kienzl. Again, there was a discussion about the site organization and appreciation of the site organization that was presented with the well-positioned distribution of building, parking, and again, an appreciation of the landscape organization, but with a query to develop the landscape even further to enhance building integrate into the site.
There was a desire to see clarity in the exterioral representational spaces– north and spacial relations with the main entry and American Center function, and recognizing that there is, in some ways, a recognition that some of the specimen trees might be difficult to maintain that were existing on the site.
With the building organization there was a query to further clarify the building entries, choreographed screen walls to provide more interest, be performative, and clarify the design intent of building angles that modify the shape or simplicity of arrivals in the dining terraces. Looking at opportunities like double height space as the American Center, assessing and re-examining internal ceremonial approaches, to developing a series of cache buildings that could use the language as the NOB, itself, such as shading devices, et cetera, but scaling them to their location.
And I would love to call on some of the reviewers who were there, Julie Snow, so maybe start with a few observations.
Sure, thank you, Marion. I assume people can hear me. You can’t see me, I did something to the camera I don’t know, I broke it. I’m not sure.
Your voice is clear as can be.
Good. Thank you for the feedback. This was an extraordinary site for an embassy compound. It had relatively steep topography but did have two seasonal water channels that crossed the site, creating some complications for managing hydrology and long-term water resilience. There were incredibly beautiful views to the south, which southern hemisphere of the Lilongwe– I can’t say it– Lilongwe River Valley.
The design, we think, did an amazing job of managing the site’s opportunities and constraints. It optimized the future water resilience, it minimized the presence of utility areas, such as shops, maintenance, and parking, and used those to create some really beautiful green terraces as the Embassy steps down towards the river. This also created really wonderful social opportunities to reinforce the Post community. And that was also reinforced through the recreational facilities.
Finally, I’d just like to quickly commend the design team for its incorporation of cultural and ecological research. Their early research, I think, was influential in not only the development of the initial three schemes, but also in the development of the final design. And I think it led to a design that fundamentally conveys the mission, not only of department of state, but also USAID– which were unusually combined in this facility. So it’s something I look forward to seeing constructed. Thanks.
Yes. Thanks, Joy. And Nico, I don’t know if Nico Kienzl, if he wanted to add anything further. I know that sustainability was at the heart of much of the ambitions for this project and if you wanted to elaborate any further on the ambitions here– and what was– I realized that that would be welcome.
Sure, I can touch on this. I mean, a lot of things were already said about the very sensible site design and I think the project progressed beautifully through the reviews in really embracing a rich site. I think what we seem to highlight is how the design really through the iterations that we’ve seen worked very hard to create a very climate-responsive building enclosure. And so we see here a snapshot of the shading devices. And I think that a lot of attention was paid not only to the expression of that, but also to tie into local cultural references of weaving, and to optimize views by mixing maximize shading– which in this particular climate is of high importance by maximizing view.
And there was a lot of discussion about then how do you– not how do you design this, but also how do you clean it, how do you deal in that kind of red and dusty climate with an external shading structure? So the team really embraced the practicalities of building something that is both high performance and wants to be representative over the long-term in this particular climate. So I think the reviews and the process was great here.
Thank you, Nico. And thank you all. I think that what has been such a privilege, and I think that Christian I can both say this is, is being able to be an advisor on the other side of the table and actually see the extraordinary work and the immense number of complexities that are choreographed, ultimately, in buildings and projects and embassies that can feel effortless and graceful on their sites, to express the diplomatic mission is extraordinary.
I’m going to introduce the last panel, if you will, which is the Industry Roundtable of Commercial Real Estate and with participants, Greg Cannito of Corvias, Maureen Ehrenberg of WeWork, Michael Norton of JP Morgan– or JPMorgan Chase and Company, and Barry Scribner of JLL.
This was a group that was addressing something that couldn’t have been more time sensitive, given the kind of context we are– a supporting staff as we navigate productivity at home and away from colleagues and clients, and recognizing that real estate needs truly do need to change in these times. So what I’d like to do is turn it over to Michael Norton and have elaborate a little bit further and start the kind of reveal, if you will, of what this industry roundtable discussion reviewed.
MR. MICHAEL NORTON
Good afternoon. Thank you. So the last time we discussed we obviously were in the middle of this pandemic, and it looks like a lot of us are still at home and fighting that fight. But I think what we’re really thinking about now is how do we come back to the workspace and how is that going to be different than what we traditionally were used to pre-COVID. So a lot of things have transpired, a lot of folks have been working with architects. What does the future of office space look like?
I know a JPMorgan, one of the things that we’re looking at is traditionally, we’re a 250,000-person firm, we have 250,000 seats, but we knew pre-COVID that on any given day we were probably 40% vacant. We had people that were on vacation, they were traveling, they were sick. So these seats weren’t being utilized.
So as we come back in the next wave of post-Covid, what is the office space going to look like? And it’s almost like we’re setting up a ubiquitous type of a seating arrangement where you would probably have an application on the phone of some sort, you would come in, you would sign up for a seat or conference room or wherever you were going to do work for that day– whether you get on a plane and you travel throughout the market, a lot of industry-folks have done this. Like Deloitte has done this and others.
So we’re starting to look at that as a bank, and it’s sort of nontraditional from where we sit, but we’re also realizing that we’ve been successful working from home. A lot of the lines of business at JPMorgan have been extremely successful. And so do we need that, you know, in an economy, paying for that kind of real estate. You can reduce your run rate, you can take those sheets off your books, and you can become more efficient. So I’ll open it up there and let some of my colleagues jump in, as well.
MS. MAUREEN EHRENBERG
Well, this is Maureen. [INAUDIBLE] I’m sorry– I’m getting [INAUDIBLE] my laptop [AUDIO OUT] [INAUDIBLE] like an echo.
Yeah, we’re getting a little bit of an echo Maureen. Yeah, but maybe– if you mute one? Are you having both of the two machines on? Like a phone and a laptop on?
Actually, OK we are getting [INAUDIBLE]
All right, I’ll– I think this is better. What we saw is there were trends that were going on in the industry for several years and they were very slow to get the uptake and pick up. And what happened is over the last several months there’s been incredible [INAUDIBLE] and the trends have moved forward much more quickly around focus on purpose, around digitization, around resiliency to the organization. And as a result, the alignment between corporate real estate– C-suite has never been stronger.
Through many initiatives that would lack funding, lack focus, or lack sponsorship now are being fast-tracked. And so as Michael was talking about has to do with space utilization and footprints, but many of these are achieving goals around sustainability, around community impact, and around our organization being true to their stated purpose and mission. And the CEOs are really taking a look at that and saying, what is the purpose of the organization? What’s its impact with diversity inclusion, with its social contract, with society, and around governance?
And so I think the digitization piece, particularly around great governance and helping support resiliency is a trend we’re seeing across industry sectors.
MR. BARRY SCRIBNER
OK, well this is Barry. If you can hear me, I’ll jump in now.
We can hear you really well, Barry.
OK great. So a couple of thoughts from my JLL experience. What we’re seeing on the financial side is that while there are some big lease deals still occurring in places like New York and San Francisco, there are very few of those. You know, we are seeing some green shoots, but on the leasing side 2021 is going to be almost as difficult as 2020. And what occupiers are doing in this space is they’re punting the notion of the typical long-term 10-year with annual escalation-type leases and they are going to shorter leases.
For example, in Hong Kong, the average lease right now is about three years. In London, you know, the bedrock of the 10-year lease is down to about 6 years. U.S. average is down 15% to around seven years. And interestingly enough, a lot of the occupiers are not moving out of their old space. Historically, we’ve seen about 29% of the leases being renewals. Now we’re seeing 51%. So it’s really ramped up. And I think that that goes hand-in-glove with my next comment, is that a common theme throughout is just extending the lease for maybe a year or so– to sort of figure out how all this is going to play out.
And then elsewhere, occupiers are looking at the space, you know, the office space, a little bit like hotels. In other words, I’ll take three rooms and a conference room. In three months, I’ll take an additional room or an additional conference room. It’s not really [INAUDIBLE] people say, because there is exclusivity in place. And all this means that it’s much more difficult to value buildings for sale. And for example, in JLL, our investment sales volume is materially down from what it was. And these changes in the leasing structure are going to make it more complicated.
Now on the occupancy side, it’s clearer. Like Michael and Maureen said is that there’s more space per occupant going to be required. We see this at JLL. For example, the floor I’m at– you know every other two. Bathrooms are at half capacity, which makes it tough for men of a certain age. There’s [NO AUDIO] about 25% of normal capacity.
But the real question in all this is [NO AUDIO] Right now, when I look at our floor plate of just under 20,000 square feet, there are about 12 people here. What we’re seeing throughout is that employers who are stating, make sure you feel safe before you come in– people aren’t coming in. So that’s going to be a challenge going forward.
Property tech, as Maureen, said it’s big business. There are over 1,400 startups in Prop Tech, right now, and about $17 billion of money going into that. Which ones stay, which ones go– who knows? But increased usage of systems like Archibus and TRIRIGA being deployed.
The big issues, as far as all employers are concerned and relates to occupancy, is commuting. Even if the subways are clean, even if the transit systems are thoroughly policed, commuting is a big issue.
And then finally, the elephant in the room for every parent– it’s daycare and school. People aren’t going to come in until all the children are taken care of in one way, shape, or form. So from a commercial perspective, that’s what we’re seeing.
MR. GREG CANNITO
This is Greg Cannito. I’ll add from the perspective of the impact into the residential and multifamily living environment. And as commercial space reconfigured is various, and Maureen discussed and Michael– reconfigured their usage, reconfigured their purposes for their commercial space, their office space. Employers are re-looking at not the impacts just from their facility management– manager side but the impacts that are now being managed by HR and IT in order to manage that telework community.
The impact of employees having to reconfigure their behaviors in balancing between one, they come to the office for what purposes for what uses, collaboration or team-building versus staying at home more often for productivity, independent-style work, and leveraging some more of that prop tech that might be out there. But also, that impacts the HR and their psychology and also the fact of regardless if the office opens up, that varies if the daycare doesn’t open up or if the school isn’t opening up– you can’t just leave the house and hope that it all works out in a lot of cases.
So the reconfiguration of all commercial space and how it interrelates and how that now employers are renting space in your home, in a way. And what does that look like and how you support that, help make it efficient for them, but also– those are space needs that they never planned for. And then that also impacts just in general, this whole new configuration, then what will be the standards? How will that impact lead standards? How will that impact healthy building standards as a bigger portion of building code or building retrofits or building improvements?
So all of these– you know, it’s interesting to see from the media reaction of the facilities and what the uses will be, but then down at a reaction into the HR and the IT groups on how they support just overall working from whatever location that your employees may be at.
MS. MAUREEN EHRENBERG
One obvious area that we should probably just get on as a group is also the impact on retail. And so what we are seeing is particularly large malls are being tremendously challenged. And we are seeing that the landlords are being extremely industrious because a lot of the– whether it’s Walmart or Amazon– are actually able to use a lot of the big box vacant space for logistic purposes. It brings the products closer to the rooftops, and they’re able to distribute from there.
And so while it’s been an opportunity, it does show that there’s going to be a big dynamic shift with massive capital that’s needed to reposition the malls. And so you’re seeing opportunities– everything from public/private partnerships, all the way down– with local communities and municipalities and developers, but also partnering between residential groups, the retail groups, logistics, to kind of really reinvent the mall.
And with that, is probably an opportunity for the remote work. So as Barry talked about and Greg and Michael with the challenge on commuting with the employees, there could be some sort of an opportunity with shared work environment or something leveraging that local retail to reduce the commute time.
Thanks so much, Maureen. Marion and Christian, any closing remarks before we move on to the next session– section?
It’s just a good thank you, Christy, for hosting all of us here. And I think we’re all grateful for the privilege to be advisors to see the work emerging of all.
Thank you so much. And obviously, we’re really glad to have you all here. And I will say, in the planning of this, for all of those who– I was overruled on a mid-session dance competition. I’ll collect on Venmo after this is over, because I think we could have all use a little song and dance.
But this has been really great– the conversation. I think is really important. I think that anybody that listened and saw the impact that peer reviews and peer conversation has on, you know, the information that we have at hand when we’re making critical decisions, but also the ability to tap into you all as we’re developing our country’s platforms around the world. So thank you so much for that really through an informative read out.
Just a few pieces before we move on. I know some folks in the Q&A are asking for transcripts and videos and slides and we will have all three of those available for you. The transcript from the session, for anybody that’s kind of got a spotty connection, we’ll have the slides that are here, and those slides will have DOHA in the correct location. There was no announcement. It did not move to UAE, it is in Qatar. That was just a typo. But we’ll have the slides available for you all, as well as the videos that we’re showing, just in case you’re having any issues.
But thank you so much, Christian and Marion. That was really great.
So for the next part of the session, we have teed up a– what we really want to have is a conversation with you all on how we are modernizing, impacting, and innovating the portfolio. Director Davis gave a good outlook on this strategic priorities and are kind of re imagination conceptual framework. And so much of what you’re going to hear in this next part of the session is what we are doing now in each of those spaces, and some of the things that are shaping our work, that we do with you and alongside you.
So what we hope to have is a really good robust exchange with you on these topics. So we set up 20 minutes presentation, which is really more of a prompting conversation for each of these areas. And then we want to have another 20 minutes of discussion on these three.
For those of you who are not panelists that are in the audience, from the general public and from the industry, feel free to use the Q&A function. And time permitting, we’ll obviously bring those in. So we’ve got folks monitoring that. So as you hear these presentations and you want to ask a question or have us elaborate on an issue, please feel free to use that function.
So our first– first of the three topics that we’re going to introduce today under modernized, Tracy Thomas, our Managing Director for Construction Facility Security Management is going to talk to you about what we’re doing in collaboration, in bolstering our cultural collaboration through instituting partnering, but also our adoption of lean construction methods in an effort to be more efficient and effective in our work.
I think what you’ll see– Tracy’s is going to talk about a lot of really great projects that she and her colleagues have worked on over the past years that have some examples of where we’re moving as an organization, collectively. But it’s important to remember that those are happening as an underpinning of our strategic priorities as we’re modernizing our process, people, and technology.
And what we’re really doing is aligning with you. So we’re looking to what you all are working on and showcasing as pointing us in that direction. And so we really hope after you hear Tracy’s talk that you’ll join us in a conversation on how we can continue to shape that approach. So Tracy, I’m going to turn it over to you.
Thank you very much, Christy. And I want to wish everyone a very pleasant afternoon. I think before then, if we were live, we may be going for a coffee break, so I’m going to ask you not to do that while we’re speaking. It’s very nice to spend time with you all and engage on how OBO can continue to modernize. And I look forward to the discussion after the presentation.
As I consider modernizing OBO programs and how that’s reflected in partnering in lean construction, I want to frame the discussion around modernizing our approach to successful outcomes. That’s a foundation of partnering aligning project goals and expectations across the team, and then following practices that will support all the stakeholders in meeting those goals.
So in this context, partnering– whether formal or informal is an approach to risk management, and it includes developing strong teamwork, and open communication. Lean construction is an approach to identifying and reducing waste in the execution of projects. And we have been implementing lean practices with formal partnering and also as standalone efforts.
So in this presentation, I will describe some project examples that highlight effective collaboration and in some cases, not so effective collaboration, and also examples of how we are using lean practices to improve the efficiency of our projects.
As I describe the projects and the outcomes, you may see yourself in the story and have your own perspective on whether the project had a successful outcome. And at the end, I welcome your input on those perspectives in what industry is doing to increase collaboration and support of successful outcomes.
So we will start in the Fiji islands where I was a first time project director for the Suva new embassy compound. The complexities came in because of a contract structure that envisioned separate contractors for the non-secure and secure portions of the chancery. So you can imagine the very close coordination that was needed, particularly at the interface for services going into the secure boundary.
The team met this challenge by bringing all the field superintendents and designers to OBO Headquarters to meet with OBO to explore issues. That’s a little extraordinary, especially coming from Fiji into Washington, DC. This is an example of bringing trade partners together as early as possible in the process so we didn’t just come up with good ideas, but actual construction solutions. In today’s terms, that was a lean construction approach which was successful because of the close collaboration.
So when the Suva NEC was finished it was a great success on many counts. Post was very happy and the facility beautifully respects the local culture. However, before the project started, the base scope had been cut because of budget constraints. So even today, we’re still working on what we call the Suva look-back project. So in terms of successful outcomes from a financial and master planning point of view, one might not consider it a success.
From the Fiji Islands, let’s go to Burma, where we have a lean construction pilot underway for the Rangoon Modular New Office Annex. We are targeting several specific lean practices to include modular construction in a very tight space, big room collaboration, and a design competition that will have two teams working simultaneously to develop innovative strategies along with a guaranteed maximum price proposal. And that will result in a design build contract award.
That framework, also, allows participation by the trade partners, as early as possible, similar to what I mentioned earlier. They will collaborate in the big room environment with all the other team members. This approach pushed the limits of our standard procurement models and the success will go beyond providing additional space for a very tight mission, but also on increasing OBO’s agility in lean construction concepts as we roll out training programs together with the lean pilot.
Next, may I invite you to Africa, to the country of Uganda, where we have one of our partnering pilots ongoing for the compelling new office annex and support annex. Folks ask me if we’re seeing positive benefits from formal partnering and I respond, it’s difficult to measure specific benefits of partnering on a single project. It’ll be more informative to review the results across the program and over a period of time.
However, the results that come in on our monthly surveys for the [INAUDIBLE] project, every soft indicator that we’re tracking to include confidence in the ability of the team to meet schedules, satisfaction with quality on the project, the ability to have difficult conversations– all of those measures improve month-on-month in that partnering project. And we attribute that to partnering, although we don’t have a measure of how much actual schedule or budget has improved as a direct result of the partnership program.
And under the banner of partnering in Kampala, we have incorporated some practices of lean construction, particularly targeted to waste reduction and efficiencies around project planning. The team has adopted a collaborative pull-planning approach to identify milestones, and then make commitments to meet the milestones to bring the right resources. Those efforts have the contractor and the OBO field teams working side-by-side as they plan and review their progress.
Another successful outcome we observe in Kampala is the healthy dynamics of the field team. Now, I believe that’s a common goal among many of our contracting partners to develop teams that can stay together after they’ve mastered expertise in our program, but that’s a challenge in the construction industry, as a whole as projects start and finish and then many teams disperse. And procurement by the U.S. Government follows regulations for open competition which doesn’t necessarily support the continuity of strong teams.
So perhaps when we go to open discussion, I would welcome input on that subject to see how we can strengthen the continuity of our teams that learn our program. As we continue around the world, I invite you to Shangri-La, because of some legal issues, I prefer not to disclose the real location. There is very little trust on the project team and it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to implement formal partnering or even attempt any alignment of values and goals.
However, we have been able to implement collaborative pull planning as an effort in management assistance. It’s a good example of applying a lean construction practice to increase coordination and commitment to get the right resources for a successful finish.
So the project might not have successful outcomes, in terms of the expectations of all stakeholders, but it will meet State Department goals of providing safe, sustainable space for a diplomatic community.
Next, we will go to the near east to Jordan, where we recently completed a new office annex and major rehab in Amman. Contractually, this project was a success and it certainly met State Department goals for security and functionality. The project was recognized for meritorious achievement in government buildings by engineering these records.
Contract administration was described favorably by the Office of Inspector General, which is a major accomplishment for OBO. So the project had successful outcomes across almost every stakeholder. But Congress is one of our most important stakeholders and the project completed outside the time-frame that we initially reported to them. So from that perspective, the project may not have had a successful outcome. And we are responding by implementing best practices around prospective scheduling that incorporates risk analysis.
I mentioned the ENR Award, so I will invite you to consider that viewpoint in pursuing work for OBO. Some projects are prime targets because of the prestige or location or the opportunity to develop other international markets. In some cases, those factors may be more important than profit margins.
Some of our iconic facilities come to mind, perhaps the new London Embassy. I’m not saying that profit margin was not important in London, because it was, but there were other factors in play specifically related to the opportunity to work on a high-profile project. That project is a big success to most stakeholders. It was also an award winner. But the finish required a great deal of collaboration and some compromise that resulted in a hybrid completion that allowed some commissioning activities to finish after move-in. Not necessarily a success for our operation and maintenance folks. It’s not how we want to finish. But for the work of diplomacy, it was a successful outcome.
Finally, let’s go to another project under litigation that I referred to as Neverland. This is another example where there was very little trust between the contractor and the OBO Field Teams. The mission was left in the position to choose sides. It’s not a good model for many reasons, but in particular, we’d prefer to have a mission as a partner with us in a stakeholder in the process and not have sides.
The lack of collaboration resulted in disputes and delays, as you can imagine. However, when the project was ready for final inspection for accreditation, the facility passed with flying colors on the first pass-through. So certainly a successful outcome with respect to the diplomatic security. It’s a beautiful facility for the diplomatic community. But the contractor is no longer participating in our program. We’re still dealing with litigation.
I have heard predecessors in my position at OBO say, if we lose one of our contracting partners, we all lose. And I agree with that. So it was a big loss for us to lose them from the contracting pool. So I didn’t want to end on a negative note, but I want to underscore our commitment to that best practices that will result in growing the contractor pool and becoming a client of choice. And now I welcome your thoughts and input. Back over to you, Christy.
Thank you so much, Tracy. I really appreciate the honesty and the detail on some of the projects that I know many here that are listening in that are on our group might have participated in, or have had similar experiences. As we move the discussion part of this of this conversation on collaboration and early contractor– sorry, lean construction methods, I wanted to just kind of pose two questions out and then open up to the group.
First of all, we’re interested in and learning what are your experiences that have positively shaped your approach to work? Whether it’s civic work, other public work, or in the private sector– if you have good experiences or examples to share, we’d really like to hear them.
And also, as we continue to modernize, what are the other avenues that we should identify and focus on outside of lean and partnering and others– what are things that you’re seeing in your work that you’re finding to be beneficial and ways that you think the industry will move in the future?
So I’ll just kind of open it up. You can raise your hand or just jump in.
Or I can call on people, too. And you’re going to be–
This is Kevin Flaherty.
Hi Kevin, how are you?
Good, thank you.
You’re my new favorite person.
I have been on successful ones and unsuccessful ones, as described by the team here today. And I will tell you that all of those that are less successful are two-way streets where both sides contribute to the discourse and the problems that arise and the lack of cooperation. And yeah, it needs to be diffused– whether by collaborative meetings in Washington, DC or whatever. But if they get off the ground on the wrong foot, you’ve got to change the dynamic to get them back right that it should be.
Thanks, so much, Kevin. And I’m sure I’ve seen Tracy’s face like– yeah. We also have had, I’ll just put this out there to Tracy and others– we had a good comment from the panel that is, in both unsuccessful projects that you mentioned that lack of trust was a major contributor. What steps on behalf of government and industry are folks taking to shape trust or lack thereof?
I’ll answer that one first. Part of our partnering initiative includes a major training effort. And so what we’ve done, we have what we call in-service training. We bring back our project directors and field teams from overseas. And what we’ve done is set up the training module as an actual workshop environment where half the team representing government folks, half the team representing contractor folks– those new engineers said that that really helped them build empathy to get the perspective of our contracting partners.
But what’s included in that training module is that you go in with an expectation of trust. You don’t go in doubting one another and thinking that the other side is your enemy. You go in with a foundation of trust and you align your values from there. So we’re trying to get that done through a culture shift in the training program.
Thanks so much, Tracy. Tracy, this other– I’m going to do one more question from the group, and then I’ll open it up for another panel member. And Tracy, this might be you or a combination of you and Angel and others. But the question is, can you share your vision regarding the REC Program– the vision behind its use, to what outcomes you’re anticipating, and how it complements other project delivery tools? And if this is a part of that in the modernization aspect that you’re talking about?
I’ll defer to Angel on this one. I saw the question came in. It’s a question I mentioned in what I said, some of the challenges form around our procurement processes so there probably are some opportunities to modernize that.
OK, so the REC Program Is the Rapid Engineering and Construction Program. And it is one of our modernization efforts, its opportunities or streamline our efforts. The real beauty of the REC Program as it stands today is really leveraging the private sector to help us do our work. And what that means is that we would use small businesses that are part of the REC program actually have them work with us to develop what the scope of the effort is, and this actually be the ones to design and construct it.
So it’s sort of one-stop shopping for the contracting. It is something that we’re rolling out right now. So it’s really kind of piloting an effort. Mike Schilling, which is one of our Division Directors in Project Management is the one that’s kind of leading the REC Program. So he’s always consistently saying, we’re still piloting. But we see a lot of opportunity in this. And it’s scalar. So there is this opportunity to move it up and down in scale. So right now, I think where we are seeing the benefit for our post is in these small projects, you know, very focused kinds of scopes of work where we can get a small team out there and essentially execute the work at the right kind of price point and the right of speed.
But there is this opportunity, depending on how the pilot goes, to sort of scale it up and down, depending on what our need is. But it really is one of the ways that we think that we can collaborate with industry and leverage their expertise, leverage their strengths in an environment where, you know, honestly we don’t have as many tactical resources as we used to in the future. So we do think it’s probably something that will apply to a lot of different parts of the program. And like I said, we’re piloting it right now.
OK. Thanks, Angel. We’ve got a lot of good questions coming in. I want to be sure that the group members also kind of get an opportunity to get some feedback before we have to move to our next session, given time constraints. I just want to give a second for Frank or– I know Chuck Bowen, from Harvard is not able to make it today. But if any of the other partners on now want to talk about experiences or methods and approaches that they’re seeing that are beneficial, we’d to hear from you.
Christy, this is Stephen Mulva, and we have an ongoing research effort now– at the University of Texas at CII for many years into this. And the thing we’ve been discovering is how do you make people behave more as neighbors than strangers? With a stranger, you have a lot of adversarial characteristics. Certainly that shows up in contracting and I’ll say project acquisition. So we’re looking at how to do that. And there are really two things that are surfacing. One is really early supplier engagement. Normally, we think about the owner and then the architect and the contractor, but a lot of the suppliers and the material suppliers comes into play here. So we’re engaging them earlier.
The other is a mindset, which is more of a portfolio-nature, but the mindset we have is nobody gets hurt. But when we say that, people usually think of safety, but we also think of reputationally nobody gets hurt, nobody gets hurt financially. And so if you start from a portfolio standpoint, almost an advisory thing– and the REC Program sounds like it’s a bit of that, even the Industry Advisory Group is a bit of that. But starting from that standpoint, nobody gets hurt portfolio-aspect. And then a broader range of stakeholders seems to be yielding quite a lot of advantages.
You know, Stephen, I’d like to follow up on that a little bit. You know, I think the experience that we’ve had as owners is that it’s about relationships right that obviously it’s one organization with another organization, but it really comes down to the people that are working on it. And it’s how do we engage in that kind of relationship and you know, like all kinds of relationships, you know, trust isn’t something that you give to another person, it’s something that you earn.
And we have to earn that in the way that we interact in the way that we engage, and when to be consistent about it. And I think that’s how we sort of change– not only the culture, but we change our reputation and the way that we work with others is exactly that, because it’s tough. You make one mistake– I mean, it takes a lot forever to earn trust. It takes just a moment to lose it. And so it’s a very precious commodity and we have to be really careful with it.
Thanks, Angel. I’m going to do one more question here from the Q&A group before we move on to our next session. And I think this is Stephen– this is to you, actually to you. How can suppliers with innovative solutions and technologies best get their foot in the door to present new state-of-the-art? Must be the solutions.
Yeah, I think it’s a tough question. I think a lot of the focus on the project tends to limit the ability for them to bring the innovations to the forefront. That’s actually the reason why we started this. We looked at other industries where the supplier– like in aerospace, for example, the supplier community was really leaned on to come up with their innovations during the product development.
So I think there’s actually maybe during the facility planning an opportunity to involve the suppliers early on. Now, one other thing that we look at is is sort of this issue– we call it advanced work packaging, but if you involve the supplier community early during the design and in the planning for it, you can actually integrate that digitally into the architecture engineering work packages and then into fabrication as you go into a facility assembly. So there’s a number of opportunities for that, but I think one of the big hurdles is just going to be the project acquisition and contracting methods that, by statute, the government has to have to follow.
And there may be ways to work with those or do something in addition to it.
OK. Thanks so much, Stephen.
Yes, Christy, can I add to that, too? I think for our organization, innovation is critical to our success those of you guys who have worked on our projects, or any project for that matter, when you are trying to innovate on that project, during that project’s schedule, it’s very, very challenging to do. So the key for OBO is really to pull those opportunities of innovation outside of the projects so that we can understand what those opportunities are and then once we feel comfortable with it, once DSS feels comfortable with it, we can start to deploy it on a project as we already have this sort of state of confidence about it.
And so one of the things that we’re doing as an organization and Christy runs this part of it is you know, we have these opportunities for the industry to come and talk to us in these capabilities conversations and share with us things that you want us to know– either about your firm or some kind of innovation. And then there is any variety ways that we can either work with you or someone else to figure out how to start to study that and research it so we can figure out how to deploy it later on projects outside of the project schedule.
Thanks, Angel. Tab, I’m going to turn it over to you really quick to check in.
Christy, could I make a comment– Frank here
Frank Sciame! How are you doing?
I just wanted to add, you know, we are having great success. First of all, trust and confidence established between the team is paramount. But with design assist– where we bring in the subcontractors, a few of them, and ask them to come up with ideas on how to best design and then ultimately fabricate the design. And especially when you’re trying to do great buildings, which you are and I applaud, it’s really a win-win. So I’d be happy to talk to you about this offline, but it’s been very successful and we have some models as to how we’ve been doing this. We’re not the only ones doing it. The private sector is taking advantage of the design assist procedure.
Frank, I think that would be a great idea– it’s a great idea for us to have a conversation, I think, specifically on that– how you guys are doing that and maybe we can have others join us, but I really appreciate that. And it’s great to see you.
Thank you, likewise.
Yes. Tad, I’m going to check in with you.
I mean, some great discussion here. I really– we appreciate. There’s like– you can’t see it in the background, but there’s just a steady flow of questions and comments coming in and we’re going to do the very best we can to capture some of those. And I think since we’re not able to address all of them on this call today, we’ll work the answers and we’ll have that available later. But just a couple quick comments. Just first of all, to follow up on Frank’s comment on design assist effort.
And we’ve had some very good engagement over the past year, year and a half with the associations or contractors where we partnered with them on conducting quarterly roundtables, if you will, with the notion of you know, an open exchange of ideas, in terms of learning from others, in terms of what some of the emerging techniques and technologies are that they might be employing into the planning and design and construction efforts.
And so I think we’re doing some of that, Frank, but I think that there’s much more to be done in that area. And it’s got to be that open exchange of information, in terms of you know, maximizing the opportunity to learn from our partners on things that they’re doing– maybe in other projects where they’re reducing costs and reducing overhead through the procurement of materials or other components for construction of the project or other techniques. Getting into the design effort, as well, that might be able to streamline construction itself. So that open dialogue, I think, is extremely important and look forward to talking more about the design assist effort moving forward.
The other thing I would highlight getting back to Angel’s comments on the REC Program is there is, I think, I see this as a potential opportunity for small businesses, as well. And we get that a lot in terms of the outreach efforts that Christy’s been involved in for many years now where we want to try to find a happy medium of the type of partner that is able to successfully compete for and be selected for some of these projects because you know, all the projects that we’re involved in– REC’s mega-projects, billion dollar new embassy compounds, $500 to $600 million new concept compounds. There are again, smaller scale projects that we do through our rehab and improvement projects and other even smaller scale projects than that.
And so I think that is something that we have also wanted to look at moving forward is, how do we look at the whole spectrum of capabilities that are out there in the construction field that can be brought to bear to support many of our projects moving forward? And then the other piece that Angel highlighted is the speed. And we need in many cases, when you look at situations that we’ve been faced with where we had, for instance, you know a breach at an embassy here or there or the attacks that I mentioned earlier. In Baghdad, when you have a situation that arises and you’ve got to take active steps immediately to enhance safety and security or very rapidly follow up with a renovation effort or a restoration efforts that’s needed to enable the functionality of that embassy or consulate to continue, these are things that have to happen quickly.
And so we’re also working closely with the acquisition side of the house to ensure that we don’t just get too narrowly-focused on one acquisition strategy or another, but we look at the broad scope of opportunities that are out there that allow us to align the proper skill set and capability with the need on the ground that would allow us to do something much, much more rapidly than we have in the past. And so again, appreciate the opportunity that we’ve got today to get so much great feedback from the audience and we’ll do the best we can to respond to those questions. And with that said, back over to you, Christy. We want to try to keep on track here.
Sure thing. Thanks, Tad. And yeah, we are getting lots of really great questions. Please keep them coming. We will record all of these and get answers for you and get them out via our e-mail distribution list. And we’ll also try to figure out the right way to post it and make it available. But if we weren’t able to get you an answer in this session, we’ll be sure to do it in the follow up, as Tad mentioned.
We’re going to go to move to our next topic, which again is set up to be a 20-minute presentation to prompt conversation between industry and the government. This topic is Embassy Effect. And Embassy Effect is not anything new. It’s just new in that we’re starting to capture the information that’s coming about. I think we all believe that any time we’re doing work on behalf of our government in another place it’s having an impact. I think we’re just starting to understand and collect what that is. And this conversation is really focused on how we with you, our industry partners, work– or how our work around the world doesn’t just impact our portfolio, but also the people and the places that surround it.
And we really are able to showcase that work, but in that showcasing, there are things that happen that we’re starting to look at in the economic ways, in environmental ways, and in social ways. Things like a fence upgrade project that provides lighting in a country that has not a lot of power and children at night can come to those fences– come to that fence and do their homework. Things that nobody’s contracting for or things that we’re not even having– that we don’t even list as a goal, but that we’re realizing are incredibly impactful and reach well beyond anything that we had ever intended with the build environment.
So today, we have Angel Dizon, our Managing Director for Program Development Coordination Support and Victoria Hartke, the Managing Director for Planning and Real Estate to talk to you about these effects that touch those economic, environmental, and social spaces. I’m going to turn it over to you, Victoria.
Christy, I’m going to jump in for Victoria. I’m just kidding. She should be on, I think.
Victoria I’m just looking to see– it looks like you are muted.
Now, can you? Oh there we go.
I got you now.
[INAUDIBLE] before me. Thank you, so sorry about that. All right. thank you, Angel. Welcome, everyone. We had to have some technical difficulties somewhere, right? So I’m glad I could oblige. And if you’re looking for a presentation, I know it says presentation– really, this is really teeing up the ideas about impacts and asking you to think through as we have started to do some of these impacts. And perhaps towards the end, we can have a broader discussion. But I don’t really have slides. It’s more narrative and sort of evocative storytelling, I guess.
For example, some time ago, one of our real estate teams was reviewing potential disposition of excess land adjacent to our Embassy in Panama. And as part of the fact finding, team members traveled to Panama and met with the developer who had built a large residential subdivision near the NEC– the New Embassy Compound, and it was called Embassy Club.
And several other residential developments came out of the ground shortly after the NEC was built and all included embassy in their names. And the developer shared with the team that the residents who were not U.S. Diplomats or Foreign Service Officers felt comfortable and safe being located near the embassy and that the existence of the Embassy in the neighborhood lent a certain prestige to it. The people– also the tenants also believed that the local government would improve infrastructure and things like transportation access to the area just because of our presence.
So the developer was very interested in acquiring our excess land so could develop another residential community, and said, of course embassy will be included in the name.
So a similar phenomenon occurred in London when OBO made the decision to look at Nine Elms as a location for its new embassy there. Over 50 sites were considered, and many were in former industrial neighborhoods or urban neighborhoods that were in transition. And not only did we think about the benefits represented by looking at these neighborhoods, in terms of lower land costs, the availability of larger land parcels, fewer challenges in putting assemblages together, and maybe the design and zoning flexibilities, as well– we also considered the fact that the new embassy would spur economic growth in this transitional neighborhood.
So as in Panama, if you visit the London NEC, you will see embassy in the title of everything from apartment buildings to dry cleaners. And these stories highlight several of the impacts that we believe intrinsically, and that we’re attempting now to quantify. Our current efforts center on the embassy we built in Santo Domingo and our work with industry partners on an inception report.
Our initial efforts identified two basic themes that there are things called core impacts and then a group called catalytic impacts. And the result– these all result, I should say, from investment in land and construction and from our presence, in general.
Now, we’ve thought about core impact as any activity that contributes directly to the local economy. An example of this in Mexico, for example, is the over $1.5 billion that the department has invested in construction. And this is represented by contracts with vendors, suppliers, and laborers, and the employment of over 4,000 local workers. And this is spread across seven consulates and the embassy in Mexico City.
Supply chain is another area of core impact and this includes purchase of local materials, payroll paid by local materials– local materials providers. There’s another group we were thinking about called induced activities– and these are activities generated by embassy workers. I think of this in the context of a OBO travelers going out to a post, it’s entertainment, restaurants, transportation spending– any of these type of expenses for inspections, meetings, or community and relationship development.
Now, these are a little harder to quantify, but we’re really trying to drill down and see if we can begin to quantify this data or capture this data. But perhaps the hardest impacts to quantify are certain spillover effects that we refer to as catalytic. And these occur gradually over time and represent wider benefits, including possibly benefits to the host government to consumers, to industries, and to society. For us, they include indirect or ripple effects of knowledge that’s passed into and through the economy of the host country. On a human scale, at an individual level, we think of long-term productivity like upskilling of local workers and. This may open new horizons for members of an individual’s community.
And we also contemplate examples like contributions to urban development, urban design, and considerations related to security. And a lot of these– I think you’ve heard the Industry Advisors talking about when we think through a very thoughtful approach to how we go about designing our new embassies and consulates.
Part of the challenge, I think, is that we also have a housing component that we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of, right? So Tad mentioned earlier, our work with the Diplomatic Residential Initiative, which was intending to assess and identify those areas where we can improve the quality of life for our diplomats living overseas and looking at how to improve seismic residential security, safety, a lot of these components. And we have begun to do this in our Build to Lease Program and we’ll continue to do this. But our work on studying core and catalytic impacts really isn’t including housing, for the time being, because they’re working on it through DRI.
Now, all of these things that I’ve talked about seem very– at least, seem to us very benefit and very salutary, but not all host governments are as quick to appreciate these kind of benefits. And they may see detractors such as long consulate waiting lines, or increased traffic due to vehicles screening, or security features that don’t really feel very neighborly– they may not really appreciate these or see them as benefits or see our presence as a benefit.
So one of the reasons that we have been looking to put more rigor behind and quantify these anecdotal beliefs, is to enable the missions empower of the missions and enable them, to talk with their interlocutors at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Lands with real hard data in hand to inform them about these benefits when we’re beginning a site search or beginning planning for a new embassy or consulate.
And this is really encouraging us to consider new ways to deliver this message, to get this point across. And I do want to tee up Christy, if you can do it, a video related to our site acquisition efforts in Chisinau, Moldova.
I can, yeah. We’ve got ready to go right here.
Chisinau’s Republican Stadium shows a monumental feature of a city, a source of civic pride and culture. But over time, the grandeur of the area has faded in the three decades of [NO AUDIO]
Moldova’s partnership with the United States has thrived. Today, commitment to the future of Moldova and the city of Chisinau [NO AUDIO]
There was no way we were going to do 90 minutes without– and two videos without technical difficulties. We knew this, it’s still disheartening. Sorry, I think we’re trying to get this back going.
Yeah, you know, Christy, it’s too bad they’re not able to see it. Because it is– I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I heard that it’s up for an Academy Award. So that’s pretty amazing. You guys are really missing out in the crowd– the opportunity of seeing this video.
What we’re going to do guys, is we’re going to just we’re going to pause and regroup here. Reset it. And I would just ask if anybody who’s out there that isn’t muted, if at least for the duration of this short very short video, just ask everybody to go ahead and mute. And I think that will help us, significantly, get through this one. Thank you. Over to you, Andrew.
Chisinau’s Republican Stadium was once a monumental feature of the city and a source of civic pride and [NO AUDIO] culture. But over time, the grandeur of the area has faded. In the three decades of its [NO AUDIO]
Victoria, maybe we just continue with your talk and then we’ll let the AV tech people kind of figure it out and maybe we can show it at the end.
OK. Keep rolling.
[INAUDIBLE] OK, just keep rolling.
Yeah, Victoria, I’m going to let you pick it back up.
Is she on?
You want to go ahead and move over to the– Victoria really started to outline the economic pieces. And Angel is going to talk about the environmental and the social impacts of Embassy Effect.
First thing– yeah, I got it. The first thing I want to say is I actually want to go to Embassy Club. That sounds super fun. Actually, in the room with me, I have Curtis Clay, who is the Director of Architecture. So as I’m speaking to you live, he’s going to be fact-checking me.
So if the– you know, the stink eye, I’ll know that I’ve made a mistake in this presentation. So the first thing is really, you know, you’ve heard about the economic effects of our work and now we talk a little bit about the environmental effects when we put this work out there.
Obviously, our projects have a whole host of performative features and sustainable features and they are built to provide some kind of form of value or ensure the security of the platform. But in addition to that, they actually contribute to the resilience of the community in which they live. Now the way we define resilience is sort of three ways. Its durability, adaptability, and sustainability. And those words really are pretty well self-described.
As we look at some of the examples about that, you know, if we look at our approach towards renewable energy, our goal is really just to reduce our consumption and produce as much energy as we can. In effect, we have an effort ongoing now where we are actually pushing a whole host of PV at four of these different locations in the South Pacific.
All four of those missions are going to essentially achieve net zero. And I think in the regular world, net zero is not that big a deal, but for an embassy and a consulate project, net zero is a pretty substantial effort. Now, obviously, the value to us is we’re not reliant on very expensive municipal power, but for those communities we’re actually just not taxing their infrastructure and drawing upon that and also from a security perspective, we’re providing some energy independence for our projects.
In London, the project that Caren Timberlake did, we actually developed a co-generation plan. So beyond providing you know, usefulness for us, we’re actually providing heat for the entire district of Nine Elms.
So that’s something, obviously, that the community gets the benefit from. In Bangkok, you know, the infrastructure there struggles to manage all the sort of flooding in the area and so a shop on their work for the recent annex that we had there, they actually utilize these mechanisms called clongs to retain the storm water and slowly release it into the system so that we weren’t overwhelming the infrastructure that was there in Bangkok. And you have to appreciate, for a people that live with these kinds of events all the time, being able to manage it effectively impacts that community pretty amazingly.
In Manila, we recently did this master plan– and just a quick side note, my parents immigrated from the Philippines and they also struggled with some of their infrastructure there and so there’s a whole host of flooding there. In our project, our mission there, it’s actually built on reclaimed land. And so part of our master plan study did this effort to understand sea level rise. So as we did this analysis so that we understood what the sea level rise impacts would be, actually our mission was actually pretty good because of what we had done to raise free board. And so we were in good shape.
The unfortunate part is the community was actually the one that was going to be overwhelmed by these kinds of events. And so we were literally going to be an island in manila, you know, when we talk about these kinds of sea level rise. And so we have a sort of obligation to share with the community, you know, what are the things that we’re identifying that they may want to understand.
And then, we also have– we work in places where there actually isn’t any water at all. So we do have areas of drought and we have posts that have had been in droughts for 40 years. And so part of our responsibility there is to really make sure that we are capturing what we can, reusing what we can, and ensuring that for our neighbors in the communities that we look at this sort of very, very precious resource is something very important.
And so, actually, we have this project done by Weiss/Manfrei, which was the renovation of this historic campus in New Delhi. And in one of the centerpieces of the entry is this historic fountain. So in a place that’s struggling with water, maybe a fountain is not the appropriate mechanism for that. But what they did, though, is they you know, they refurbished the fountain, but then was able to turn it into a device to store water. So now, it’s a place where it’s a symbol of how we store and reuse water all over the campus.
And you know, these kinds of engagements and all these different kinds of communities have actually led for different kinds of opportunities for OBO to engage with the governments in ways that we haven’t ever before and sometimes they’re changing building policies to adapt to the things that they’ve learned from our work in Ashgabat. We were actually invited to participate in their Electrical Innovation Conference– which was the first time they’ve ever done that. But they’ve seen things in our work that they thought they could try and learn from.
And in Windhoek, where we were finishing up an embassy, the Namibian version of the AIA actually reached out to us and to SOM and said, would you be willing to speak to some of our architects about it? Turns out, they had 100 architects– over 100 architects from all over the country coming to listen to SOM talk about their projects that they could learn. And it was the largest public affairs event that the post had ever held– not about policy, not about any of this, but the work that you do for us. And that’s pretty amazing.
On the social side, which I’ll you know, Christy, if it’s OK, I’ll just move into the social side. The third effect that we had– we had economic, environmental, and the third one is social. And for me, it’s really all about the people. Right? It’s done by all of us, it’s done by people. But it’s for the occupants. So we’re building these buildings to protect our occupants, to serve our visitors, and to provide a platform to engage with our diplomatic community.
And these kinds of engagements allow us to showcase, and in some cases, improve the cultural and humanitarian experience. So in terms of infrastructure and amenities, a lot of times, when we put our projects in the different locations there’s a need to provide infrastructure like an electrical substation, a storm water management, roads, different kinds of things like that, they obviously benefit us as owners, but they definitely benefit the communities in which they’re in.
The same thing with some of our amenities– we have gestures, right? Gestures that we have contributed to. And so we’ll have places like London, where there’s a public park, or in Rio– there’s a public promenade where the United States has put out this public gesture that the community lives with day in and day out. And we are part of their day-to-day experiences moving in and out of the city.
You know, other kinds of social impacts would include our cultural engagements and art is probably one of the biggest ones we have were we have this really wonderful art exchange where we export American artists to do the work and showcase some of their work. We also introduce some of the local artists to do exactly the same thing. So without ever speaking the language, we are starting this dialogue about our relationship through the art.
And I believe wholeheartedly that architecture does exactly the same kind of thing– where we’re exporting the best in American architecture and engineering and helping to start setting sort of a technical conversation with folks about you know what our real our work really is and what it means to those communities.
And then, in terms of humanitarian efforts, I think Christy stole my favorite story which is about the Juba security site lighting thing. It’s a really wonderful story if you guys get a chance, go to Mason Hangars’ website and check out their video of all these kids doing their work. But we have, like in Haiti, we built our embassy obviously to withstand earthquakes, but the first introduction that a lot of these people– a lot of these Haitians had with the American Embassy was after the earthquake this is the one building that’s still standing, that still has power, still has water, and their introduction to Americans and our values is us providing them water and blankets. It’s literally a base of operations for humanitarian assistance.
That’s not in anybody’s scope of work, but it is really kind of one of the unintended consequences of being able to provide a resilient facility. And then, I will close on with this story which is my favorite story since Christy stole the Juba one, but I’ll put you back in April, 1975, and it’s the fall of Saigon. And those of you that are old enough to remember, there’s this really iconic image of a helicopter on top of the building with a long sort of trail of people waiting to get in the helicopter.
So at the time, there is this sort of locally-employed staff that works for the Defense Attache Office. And he’s been working for them providing them– whatever. But before the fall of Saigon, the U.S. Government decides to start evacuating people that have been helping them do their jobs. And one of them is this locally-employed staff. So they evacuate and his young wife out of Saigon and they move them into Kentucky.
At the Time, the wife is pregnant. So all of this stuff’s happening. They move– moving the two of them to Kentucky and they have this little baby boy in Kentucky. That kid grows up and then wants to be an architect, which is literally the most awesome thing that you can be. And ends up going to UVA for architecture school.
After several years in private sector working as a consultant for OBO, ends up becoming a Design Manager in OBO. And so you have this kid that we had developed a platform to provide safety and security, it was used by their family to move them out of Saigon, and now this person that has benefited from this opportunity is now Design Manager providing safe, secure, functional, resilient platforms all over the world so that another family can share a very, very similar kind of story. That’s– that’s the impact of the kind of work that we have.
It’s really about the kinds of things– there’s all these stories, the Foreign Service guys have tons of them, construction guys have tons of these stories where it is about the kinds of influences and impacts that we have on people. It’s absolutely awesome. And that’s the work that I do. And I think that’s the work that all of you are a part of, too.
Thanks so much, Angel. I think when you and I and a few others we’re talking about AIA’s convention that didn’t happen this year, one of the talks that we were going to give was on a topic that we’ve been working on called Civic Causality. I think a lot of the things, Victoria, that you mentioned and that Angel talked about really hit on this idea that you know, the civic space maybe especially the unique civic space that happens not at home is really this ripe opportunity for so much of the stuff that we’re talking about on impact in innovation.
And as we move forward with Embassy Effect in capturing those pieces, I really– we really wanted to hear from you all in the audience both on our Industry Advisory Group Members, as well as with the public, because we know that you’ve been along the ride with us on these projects. And in a lot of cases, it’s been you that have brought the attention to us about what’s happening on the ground.
Chuck Bohn, again, isn’t with us today but [INAUDIBLE] has been so moved by their work on the ground around the world, that he’s instituted corporate approaches like a respect tour with their employees. They’ve done things like they make commitments to build schools in the countries that they work in. And these aren’t– as we always say, these aren’t anything anybody’s asking anybody to do. They’re done because they’re really– they’re inspired by the work and they’re impacted by their experiences in doing that work.
So we wanted to open it up to folks. We have kind of a discussion prompt that says, you know, how do we better capture Embassy Effect and amplify the conversation to activate industry engagement and enhance diplomatic relationships? And also, what are the other areas– I mean, you’ve heard us today talk about economic, environmental, and social, but what are the other areas where you’ve seen an impact or experienced an impact? What are we missing?
So I’d to open it up to the group right now. I do have some questions coming in from the public, but do any of the group members– I know who have worked on our products have some stuff they want to add in?
MR. ALAN BRANGMAN
So Christy? Christy, it’s Alan Brangman.
Hi, Mr. Brangman, how are you?
Pretty good. And yourself?
Good, good. Hopefully you guys are all staying safe. And I know you are, because everybody’s socially distanced. But you guys have really hit– like in the last session, you really hit a nerve with me, in terms of how colleges and universities look at their existence in the communities they live in, OK?
So take your embassy hat off for a moment and think of yourself as a college or university. Because Angel said something that’s very significant. Most communities for college and universities that they live in or exist in– the neighbors want you to be there because they want to take advantage of all of the great things that you do for the community. But all the other things that they perceive to negatively impact the community, they want no part of you.
So I think you heard me say before, we had neighbors who complained about the fact that there was a university next to them because the kids were trashing their neighborhoods. Now, they just bought their house five years ago and that university has been there for 200 years, but low and behold, it just showed up. So how do you fix those kinds of issues?
Every college and university probably every five years or so– some more frequently than that– will do an economic analysis study of the impact or economic impact study of how they impact their community. You guys need to do the same thing. For every embassy that you build in every community in every country, you need to catalog everything that you do with respect to the jobs as you talked about, with respect to the benefits that you bring– whether they be economic benefits or they’ve been cultural benefits, whatever it might be, you need to list all that out– all the things that you’re doing. And you need to report that out every year, so that there is a record of the things that you’re doing in that community to hopefully make the community better.
There’ll also be other things where you’ll be hammered for things that you’re having a major impact on. And again, Angel, you mentioned the fact that you put a co-generation plant on one of facilities. Georgetown tried to do that, too, when I was at Georgetown, by the way. We couldn’t get that through the district. But I would argue, when the benefit of that goes out to the community, it’s a very different– it’s a very different discussion than the community just saying, oh, that’s only going to benefit your campus or your facility.
But you’re not documenting that and if you’re not tooting your own horn about that– and not in a way where you’re being overly egregious or dramatic about how you’re doing it, but just saying oh, by the way, these are things that we do to hopefully influence and benefit the community and we’re not just here to take, but we’re here to give.
And Alan, [INAUDIBLE] what you’re seeing here with the sort of three effects is exactly that. This is the start of telling that story. And you know, we have done some napkin math on the kinds of economic impacts our missions have overseas. And with the construction alone, we’re talking about 25% to 35% of the construction value to go buy labor, to go buy materials, that go directly into those communities. And then there’s these follow along-effects sort of construction-support activities and these other kinds of things where the multiplier of that money is two to three times that.
That’s the story that we’re starting to tell now because I agree like you, this is not too dissimilar from the partnering conversation, right? That we’re in this together. We’re in these communities with those people and whether or not we have an obligation– that is part of what we do. And so let’s just talk about a little more, let’s make Victoria’s job just a little bit easier people and people want us to have it there. But there’s a lot of good reasons to have the American Government in your backyard, and I think there’s a lot more good reasons than there are bad.
I think we have an example of this. I want to say when I sat in recently on a senior manager of– I think it was Marita, and one of the things that really struck home with me about that, about what the team had done was they held town halls with the members of the community in the community. They were– I think there were some commercial, there was maybe a strip mall nearby, there were some other different kind of retail uses and out ahead, right? I mean out ahead of the construction start, already out there in the community talking about these impacts.
And so, Mr. Brangman, I really think you are exactly right. We want to do that. We’re a little bit behind the eight ball, but having– but now that we know this is really super important, I mean, this is something we can we get in front of and start as part of our planning before we even go into a site acquisition scenario.
And I think there was a comment in the question that came up in the chat, Christy, about how we look at transitional neighborhoods and what effects there might be on communities. I think part of what we do when we’re out there looking is we’re not really looking into– we’re really not looking to disrupt housing. We’re looking at neighborhoods whose adjacent uses are really compatible with an embassy presence. So we’re not– we’re really mindful of it, but I think the suggestion was greatly appreciated, in terms of getting out a little bit further ahead.
Yeah, OK. Thanks, thanks so much Alan, for that. I think we all appreciate the idea that academia is doing this anyway. Why shouldn’t– why shouldn’t we? And anybody else on the group have something they want to contribute relative to experience on Embassy Effect or–
[INAUDIBLE] to look differently.
Christy, I’m not sure if I’m off or on?
You’re on. We can see you. We can hear you.
It’s great. Hi!
Look, I a lot of time in Italy at the American Academy in Rome. And we have a great deal of interchange with the American Embassy there. I mean, they’re really a lifeline– not just for the American institutions but for the entire community. They’re supporting Italian scholars, and you know, and of course the relationship between Italy and America is a great one. So it may be more problematic to have these social impacts in other countries. But it seems to me when you’re selecting a new site, I’m not sure how you go about speaking about the impacts– which I think is a fantastic idea– actually, as you beginning to go in.
And I would assume there are security issues in getting too far ahead, but usually, with community-based projects or when you’re trying to build a of steam for the value of the work that you’re doing, there are a series of stakeholder meetings which engage the voices in the community. For instance, kind of data that the National Endowment for the Arts collects on the impact of the arts is then disseminated to mayors and governors around the country so that they have a sense of what the payback is for the support for their arts councils.
So that’s a clear way of getting the message out that there is an impact for especially in the cases that you’re talking about these unintended consequences which actually have very meaningful impacts socially and economically. So again, this is as much a question as a statement. I don’t really know what the chain of pioneering messages are to the locales that are going to receive embassies in advance of them happening.
PRINCIPAL DEPUTY DIRECTOR HENRY JARDINE
Christy, this is Henry. If I could interject, I could offer a little bit of insight on that, but also offer another dimension which I don’t think has been referenced– it’s just the broader geopolitical aspect of the investment. You know, in some instances, we’re investing literally you know half a billion to a billion dollars in some countries where U.S. Private sector investment is fairly limited. And we’re, as you know, sort of in a you know, geopolitical competition globally. And it is pretty significant for us to say that we’re establishing or constructing a state-of-the-art modern platform in countries that might not be seeing the same private sector investment.
If you think about Harare in Zimbabwe– that embassy that just recently opened there was a huge investment in a very modern facility– hundreds of millions of dollars. And so, you know, the messaging, the coordination to talk, you know, to respond to Mark’s question– the coordination happened fairly early on with the public diplomacy team that’s on the ground there. And they will, you know, I think highlight certain discreetly, you know, some of that collaboration– whether it’s architectural technology in exchange of ideas, artistic representation exchange of ideas.
But they’re also trying to really highlight the fact that this was a commitment on part of the United States to a country in very tangible ways, in a very physical way to a relationship for the next several decades. And it’s a really, I think, a reassuring message for a lot of these countries because as they wonder, you know, how is the global dynamic going to change, you know, whether the U.S. and its approaches to various countries, you know, they can’t argue with an embassy that’s hundreds of millions of dollars that’s newly opened right there in their capital. I mean, it really is a testament of our commitment to the bilateral relationship. That’s all I’ve got. Thank you.
Thanks, Henry. We’re going to– given the time, we’ve got a lot of good feedback coming in on an Embassy Effect, and more to come from us on that as we begin to continue to capture and tell that story. I’d like to move next to the innovation piece of the conversation.
We started this idea of talking to– Tad approached us and said that we really needed to be engaging with academic university. If we would sit down with a host of folks last year. And we learned a lot. And I think the biggest thing we learned was that when they us the the question, what’s your plan, you know, in 2050, we thought we were really good with the 6-year plan, and we realized there was a lot we could learn.
And so we wanted to put that together in more of form, and we named it 2050. And it’s really coming together in a way that it’s allowing us to be the government that’s– the kind of government that thinks about sending somebody to the moon, the kind of government that makes the forward-thinking and progressive idea, the progressive movement in our industry to do the most effective, you know, in a line appropriately with the way that the industry is moving. So that we don’t get caught flat footed on major issues and changes in approach.
So what we’ve been doing, and what Angel is going to talk about, is really how we’re connecting with America thought leaders, researchers, and the makers, to position ourselves to be the government focused on the future. So Angel is going to talk to you more about the drivers that we’re working on– population, urbanization, resources, climate, and technology, and the folks that we’re having those conversations. So Angel, I’m going to turn it over to you.
Thank you. So we talked about innovation a little bit earlier in the segment and we talked about carving off space in the organization to do that. This is one of those things. And let’s start off with what the difference is between modernization and innovation. So modernization is really about playing catch-up, right? Aligning with industry, doing what’s available to us now. Innovation is about doing something original– more effective, more better– it’s game-changing in that way, and that’s where you need to engage with academics. There’s actually legit people whose title is futurist. That’s who we’re talking to– where they are really reading trends in the world to determine how things are moving.
And this Embassy 2050 effort is is about investing in our future– and in our collective future, right? And so it’s sort of three parts– three phases, and the first phase is really about understanding what are those global drivers that are going to impact the built environment.
So we’ve done some research independent of the academics that we’re at talk to them about what those are. We’re having engages with Northwestern, Harvard, ASU, Virginia Tech, some of the schools that we’re talking to now about you know, what are those global drivers. And what we believe today is that one of the big global drivers is going to be population.
So in 2050, there’s going to be something close to a 2 billion people increase. There’s going to be an aging population, so 20% to 25% of the population in 2050 is going to be 65. And in 2050, that I’ll be almost what? Almost 36 at that time. So that’s it’s a long ways away from now. There’s going to be a lot of disparity in the way that these people kind of live. There’s going to be income disparity. There’s going to be a wealth disparity. There’s also going to be an education disparity. And the sort of big gaps in access sort of to you know, political access and those kinds of things. So population is the big one.
The second thing is, all those people are going to need to live somewhere. And what folks are saying is that there’s going to be a big push for people to migrate in the cities. And what they’re suggesting is that 75% of this population is going to live in cities because that’s where business transactions are happening. In a lot of countries, if you’re running out in the fields– that’s just not going to cut it. You’re going to have to be someplace else. And so there’s going to be this migration.
Now, what that means is that I think we had presented Lagos to you, which is one of our megacities. But like in 1990, I think there were 10 megacities and now there is– I don’t know– 30 or 40 of them, Lagos kind of being one of them. But any city with greater than 10 million people are going to start having resource problems. Right? And we’re starting to experience that day. So if you look at the back half of our portfolio, it’s hard to find land. So there’s going to be land constraints, right? If you’re talking about a place that has that many people. There’ll also be food, water, power constraints. So we to start thinking strategically about how do we– what kind of platform do we need to satisfy these kinds of resource constraints?
Climate is going to be a big player in the future. And there’s these different kinds of shocks and stressors for which we need to prepare. Shock’s going to be an event kind of a thing, a stressor is going to this kind of constant pressure. So in terms of shocks, there’s sea level rise, there’s tsunamis, there’s earthquakes, there are those kinds of things for which we need to prepare.
And then the stressors are going to be stuff like Doha where it’s you know, hitting 120 something degrees– not for a couple of days. We’re talking months at a time. You know, we have droughts [INAUDIBLE] for 40 years, excessive flooding as a stressor. Air quality becoming an issue. Those are the kinds of things– we need to have a resilient platform to adjust to those kinds of events.
In fact, I read this article this weekend. It was talking about Tyndall Air Force Base. Those of you guys that work with the DOD know that in 2018, they got hit by Hurricane 95% of the buildings were devastated– 95%. Plus, all these sort of operational impact to the Air Force. So they’re talking about $5 billion to fix all this stuff. But one of the things that the article said was that the destruction of Tyndall Air Force Base was worse in terms of material losses than any missile strike that they’ve experienced in Mideast.
So when we’re preparing ourselves with so much effort to defend against all these sort of man-made sort of hazards, we also have to do that for the sort of natural hazards.
Then the last sort of big drive– big global driver is really about technology and how much technology is changing. You know, there’s increased automation, which will obviously impact construction. Cyber dependency– there is going to be artificial intelligence. Any variety of things that where all these always of data-driven kinds of things are going to impact the way that we do our work. We’re actually going through a process now of trying to better understand how people use our spaces, how we’re using energy, how we’re using water, so that it can influence the standards that we do.
So that’s phase, one kind of really understand the global drivers. The second part of it is, once we see those big global drivers impacting the built environment, how are they going to impact OBO work? How are they going to impact embassies and consulates? And then the follow on to that is, how is it going to impact our tenant’s work? Right? So does Consular Affairs still need a teller windows so this is physical presence? Or is there some other kind of technological advance that allows people to understand whether someone’s fibbing about getting a visa or not? You know, is diplomatic security still focused on those sort of physical security threats– which I think they will be– but there are probably going to be also parallel concerns from the technological forefront.
The other thing would be the diplomatic platform and I think we’ve all shown that we’re able to work all over the places. Does that mean the diplomatic platform change? We want to understand that for ourselves, but we also understand that for our tenants. And then the last part of it is really understanding these issues and then doing some research and development to prepare for the future.
So when I kicked off the discussion, I talked about investing in the future. And there’s this really fun article this weekend that I read that talked about buying a luxury item versus buying the stock of the luxury item. And what it said was if you bought a 2012 Tesla Model S or you purchased the equivalent value in stock, what would be the difference? Obviously, the car is going to depreciate in value. But the stock would turn out to be $6.7 million dollars today. So that’s really about foresight. That’s about understanding the future, and making the right kinds of decisions so that we can prepare ourselves for what will happen.
That really the trick. So we’re talking the right kinds of people to understand what’s happening in the world. So that, very similar to the modernization efforts, we have an opportunity to adjust our people, our processes and technology for the future that we think will be there.
Thanks so much, Angel. We are just about five minutes before we’re going to start to the process of kind of closing out and getting some public input in final remarks. But I did want to just open up the opportunity for any of the panel members to talk a little bit about their sense of Embassy 2050 as Angel talked about these drivers that we are engaged with that community and conversation.
This must be a tough one.
It’s very tough.
I mean the future is tough.
You are so innovative.
If I could the future I wouldn’t be working here at OBO.
You’re so innovative No one can– we just don’t even know what to say.
This is more– I’ll share some articles with you. This is actually the crux of the commercial real estate and corporate real estate right now. The drivers you’re talking about– you know, climate change, environmental sustainability of the real estate, the location analysis, the digitization– all of this in shared economy– they’re really at the heart of the trends that we were talking about where these trends within commercial real estate are completely aligned with the investors and with the corporations on where they’re taking it and looking to see what’s next. And that’s why we always talk about this always on transformation.
So you’re right on. I’ll share some things with you because my– I probably think that a lot of the academics and things you’re talking about are actually also working very closely with industry and with real estate. So it’s your is I couldn’t agree more with what you said. It’s exciting. You’re right on target. And I think there’s a lot of stuff we can share with you on some of the writings and findings early on in real estate sector.
You know, Maureen, I really appreciate that– mostly because I have my performance review in a couple weeks, so it’s good to know that I’m right on track.
And it’s been recorded.
That’s even better. So Henry, you’ve got no choice. I’ve got to get outstanding.
[INAUDIBLE] about that.
There’s a higher power that really will be the judge–
That’s what I’m afraid of–
You do or don’t do.
Just to leave– we’ve got a couple questions coming in that I wanted to, before we leave, just a minute or two– does anybody else want to have anything to say about, you know, kind of us being an example or leader for innovation and how we can better play in that space?
Christy, I’ll just jump in on this one. I think that you know a lot of good discussion on the modernization versus innovation approaches. And I think we do a little bit of both moving forward. And yes, when you look at examples like Harare in Zimbabwe and Pristina in Kosovo– you know, those two embassies that were open within the last 14 months or so are the most technologically advanced structures in each of those respective countries which again, I think send a strong signal of our commitment, but they also are not only platforms for diplomacy but also the cultural arts, but also for technology and innovation. And I think it was mentioned the fact that we did bring in a lot of engineering students and others you know from throughout the community there in Harare to really gain an appreciation for much as we could, a behind-the-scenes look, if you will, of what goes into an embassy, the likes of which we constructed there in Harare.
But at the same time, I would also– I don’t want to be Debby Downer but you have to strike a balance on how we doing these sorts of things and our senior management reviews or IERs and other processes, you know, the two things I always come back to over and over and over again– constructability and maintainability of the facility.
I’m not sure who that is. And so we need to be cognizant of all of the wonderful things we’re talking about here today. And it’s a very, very complex world out there– maybe even more complex you know by COVID-19 and other ancillary factors like that. But in some cases, we’ve got to make sure that we don’t come up with a wonderful design that is too difficult and too expensive to construct, that we don’t come up with something that is so technologically advanced may get us to Mars and back, but it’s in the middle of the third world and we can’t maintain it for one reason or another.
So I think there is a need for a little bit of a balance here. While we’re not going to slow down one bit in terms of those things that Angel shared with us on the innovation side of the house, the things that we talked about with Victoria on the Embassy Effects, and the things that we talked about, you know, with Tracy on the modernization aspect of this thing. We’re going to continue to pursue each of those because at the end of the day, there’s a tremendous amount of goodness that each of those bring to the table. And I think that’s kind of the tie in to where everybody on this call is is trying to work together to figure out what is right for a Harare? What is the right fit for Kosovo? What is the right fit for Lilongwe, and some of these other projects that we’ve got coming down the pipeline.
And so we’ll see where all this takes us, but again, it’s one thing to plan and design something and another thing to build it and yet another thing to maintain it. And so I think that’s really what separates what we’re trying to do from others that design something, hand it off to somebody that builds something who hands it of to somebody who operates it. And we’re basically involved in all three of those processes down the road. And so it’s even– I think we even have a greater stake than most folks might have from an ownership perspective in the products that we deliver out there for our diplomats at the various posts around the world. So anyway, back over you, Christy, because I know we’re trying to wrap this up so if you have any other comments on innovation.
Actually, to add just a couple of things. I think you’re right, Tad, in terms of innovation for us– I mean, I think the trick for us is not to be pioneers, right? So pioneers get slaughtered but settlers prosper. We want to make sure that we’re heading in the right direction, doing the right kinds of things, and we need to have a measured approach about what we deploy in our work because it is in these kinds of remote environments, and what we don’t. And that’s kind of our job is to make sure that we’re able to sort of parse out what’s right and what’s wrong for our organization.
And one of the things that in preparing for this discussion, talking to Victoria, we were talking about that phrase, good enough for government. I’ve always hated that phrase. It’s always the wrong phrase. But what Victoria talked about was that that phrase came out of– it was sort of– it really gained legs out of World War II, when good enough for government– it had passed all these rigor standards and all these sort of all these tests. So that when you said enough for government, it was actually a very complimentary thing. It’s not been that now, Right? It’s kind of an ironic thing to say good enough for government. What we’ve talked about as a little group was really taking that phrase back. Right? That good enough for government and the kinds of aspirations that we had for our governments– really for ourselves– was that we are the type of organization that engages with industry, engages with academics, to provide value to the American taxpayer. That’s it.
Thanks. Thanks, Angel. And you took good for government from me so I’m glad I took Juba from you. Sarah Whiting has a quick point that I want to offer her the opportunity.
I appreciate that, Christy. And this has been, I think, a really important panel. I really appreciate the reach that the group is trying to have for thinking about how the organization can look forward. And of course, I’m appreciate the pairing with academia. But I think that the categories actually are quite different. So when you look at population and urbanization, I think those are categories where you can partner with the community there for thinking forward how the embassy or how the conflict can play a role in a community, in engaging a community, and working with a community.
I think with resources, climate, and technology, you’re talking about how it can serve as a model. And I think those are two very different components. I think, in other words, I think all five categories– they’re great. I think as Maureen said, frankly, everyone is interested in those five categories. In terms of thinking about the future, it’s a little bit too broad. So I think that if you tranche them in areas of how you can actually operate effectively, I would at least understand those two different ways.
Thank you so much, Sarah. That’s really great. Angel? Yes.
Yeah, no. She’s the dean of GSD, what am I going to say? She’s a smart guy. We’ll do whatever you say. We got it.
You got it. Thanks so much.
You always get an A plus on humor, Angel, anyway.
Tad, I’m going to move to the public input part. We do have some good questions from folks I want to get into the conversation. But we have about five minutes left.
We are getting a lot of questions about the upcoming A&E support services solicitation that was out. When is that shortlist going to be announced? And we are, I understand, that in the coming weeks– Angel, I don’t know if you have more to elaborate, but I believe we will have an announcement within the next two to four weeks. Or maybe Curtis, we can put Curtis on the spot since he is fact checking you.
Yeah. Don’t put out a number like two to four, but you know, what we’ve done is everybody’s gone through the process of evaluating all the proposals. We have a list that’s developed that’s been shared with our ALM folks and our legal folks and it’s in that process where they’re just confirming that and then in very, very short period of time the short list will be announced and then we’ll go through the whole process of interviews.
OK. Thank you, Angel. Tad, Kimberly Dowdell, the President of NOMA, and also an architect HLK is asking, and I think it’s an opportune for you to mention, she’s saying, how is OBO ensuring that a diverse pool of architects are deployed to represent U.S. Design talent from many different perspectives, including racial, ethnic, gender, et cetera?
Well, I appreciate that Kim, and thanks so much for your leadership of NOMA. And I think that those of you that aren’t familiar with Kim’s background it’s very inspiring, to begin with. But she also serves as the President for the National Organization of Minority Architects and as one of our outreach efforts, we are in the process of establishing MOU with NOMA so that we can increase the collaboration that we have with one another.
This past year we began a pretty deliberate internship program. And so we see that as an opportunity as we try to reach out across the country to world-class academic institutions, but also to our historically Black colleges and universities. And you know, I’ve been around the block a number of times and dealing with federal government and other levels within state and local government and my thought has always been that diversity really improves and builds and strengthens any organization.
And in order to actually become more diverse, you’ve got to want it. You’ve got to make an extra effort to achieve it, because in most cases, the standard you know HR talent management procedures won’t get you where you need to be. So that’s one of the things we’ve embarked on has been a deliberate effort to engage folks across the board.
And Kim has been a tremendous partner with us moving forward to develop opportunities– both from an internship perspective, but also to use her platform to spread the word on the employment opportunities that we might have heard OBO, but also of the opportunities for partnerships, as well. So again, Kim, thanks for being on the call with us today. Thanks for your leadership of NOMA, and I look forward to continuing our partnership moving forward. So thank you very much.
So Tad, we’re right at 4:00, and we do have a wealth of questions that we could get down, but I think we’ll go ahead and get answers to those for folks that put those out. And I want to– before I turn it back over to you for a final closing, I want to give a special thanks to everybody for those of you that are listening in from the industry, for our panel members on OBO’s and our Industry Advisory Group, especially Christian and Marion.
We did not know how this would go and there was a lot of bounce between talk, presentation, video. So we appreciate you hanging out there with us and seeing it through. We obviously think these are critically important pieces.
I just would mention that for folks interested, I’m getting a lot of questions on OBO 101. Email OBOEA@state.gov we’ll get you in front of our management so you can present who you are, your firm. We have our website to keep you up to date on what’s happening with us, where we are with conferences, and any industry days or other things that we have in the works.
So join our distribution list, watch our social media, check out our website, send us an e-mail, give us a call. Our job is to make sure that you are talking us and we’re talking to you. So thank you, everyone, for your time today. And Tad, I’ll turn it back to you.
OK. Thanks, Christy, I just first and foremost, I’d just like to thank everyone who joined us on the call today and hung in there with us to the very end. It’s been a great opportunity for us here at OBO to talk about some of the things that we’re doing, some of the things that are in the works for a little bit down the road. But I think the innovation tone that Angel shared with many of you is something that we take to heart and it’s important. And we’re not just going to rest on our laurels, we’re going to keep our efforts moving forward to really learn as much as we can and to expand our horizons, so to speak.
But I do want to reach out and thank each of the participants that are on this call today because we thank you for being with us but for listening at the things that we’re involved in and learning about opportunities that might be presented for your participation down the road. I’ve spent a lot of time probably over the last 20 years, mostly in DOD, but working with small business community and with emerging businesses, in terms of trying to work with them to shape them so that they can be competitive from a government contracting standpoint.
And one of the things that I highlight time and time again, for many of these organizations is to understand where you fit into the greater scheme of things, but look to partnerships because we have a number of large companies and corporations in the construction field that do work with us.
We have a number of tremendously talented architectural engineering firms and others across the whole spectrum of design and construction, if you will. And so that’s one of the things I would encourage a lot of you to do that are just getting going and still at the small business level. Look at some of these larger organizations that are already doing work with OBO and to figure out how you can develop a partnership with them to be part of our overall organization and the things that we do on a day-to-day basis.
Christy mentioned some of the industry days we have coming up and also our OBO 101s and I would really highlight those for everyone, because they’re great opportunities to learn about who we are and what we do. I would also tell you that we’re trying to do the best job we can to work with a multitude of folks across the spectrum of size and shape of the organization. But at the same time, we are held accountable to the American taxpayer. We are held accountable to the far and other government regulatory procedures. And so that in itself is a challenge to really navigate. And that’s where, by partnering with who’s already navigated through that course successfully, can help going back to the mentor-protege approach that I think is so prevalent in a lot of private sector I’ve been involved in in the past.
So again, there’s any number of ways to do work with OBO down the road, but a lot of it is going to take some hard work– plain and simple. But we welcome the opportunity to talk to each of you more about the opportunities that are here and the success stories that many have had, in terms of doing business with us.
I’d also like to thank our industry advisory group members for the great work that they’ve done this past year, in particular. In many cases, we’ve ramped it up a little bit and put a lot more activities in play for them to be involved in that have a direct impact on our mission. And we talked about a couple of those opportunities whether it was a real estate roundtable, whether it was the industry advisory reviews that we’ve got and our senior management reviews, so that we can take full advantage of the expertise and experience that’s out there in the private sector moving forward.
I mentioned that Lloyd Caldwell, who is ex officio member of the Direct for Military Programs for the Corps of Engineers is retiring. So Stacy [INAUDIBLE] will be moving in and assuming that role here very shortly, because we think it is important to tie-in to other federal agencies that have large-scale projects and portfolios like we do. And the Corps certainly does both here at home and the Civil Works Projects, but then also with DOD projects all over the world that many of you I’m sure work with already.
I also want to thank the OBO leadership team who presented today. Many of you got a chance to meet them over the years and each time we do one of these we try to mix it up a little bit so that we can share different perspectives of what we as an organization are doing and who’s leading charge on many of these different initiatives.
And we’ll continue to do that down the road and in the future. But again, we’ve got a great team here and again, I think you would have a good takeaway from today’s discussion that we’re all very, very committed to what it is that we’re doing and we want to succeed and– with the exception of, Angel, time from time, he does a pretty good job, overall. And so we’ll take that into account when it’s time for his evaluation to come out. Just kidding, Angel. Just kidding.
But it’s a great group, and I’m fortunate to have so many wonderful colleagues to work with here within the Department of State on a day-to-day basis. In particular, I’d like to highlight Henry Jardine, who’s my deputy and as I mentioned before, over 30 years– a Minister of Counsel within the Department of State, and he’s been out there and done it at many of the posts– some in some of the third world countries, but brings a wealth of knowledge and experience of helping us to establish good relationships, even within our own department to get things done– which sometimes–
DEPUTY DIRECTOR JARDINE
Sometimes the hardest thing to do. But thank you very much, Tad.
Good job. Well thank you, Henry. And then, of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Christy and the wonderful External Affairs team that we’ve got on board here at OBO. You know, when I came on board, we basically looked at that organization and I think we basically retooled a little bit so that it better met the needs of us as an organization, but also better met the needs of you– the folks that we work with on a routine basis so we had open dialogue through a variety of means with the private sector as we move forward to plan, design, construct, and operate these important facilities out there.
And I think we also, we were going to try one more time because we never give up. OK? We keep trying over and over and over again. So we’re going to try– just in closing here. We’ve got the Chisinau video. We’re going to try one more time. If everybody could mute, I’m going to mute myself here and then I’m going to come back with one final word. And it’s a very short video, but I think you’ll enjoy it. OK, over to you, Andrew.
– Chisinau Republican Stadium was a monument featuring the city and a source of civic pride and culture. But over time– [AUDIO OUT]
OK, success. We tried something different. I think it worked this time. But anyway, Christy, thanks, again, to you and the team. And thanks, especially, to Jazmine for that wonderful video that kicked us off earlier today and then also for this video on Chisinau which is still circulating over there in Moldova.
But as we depart obviously there’s a lot of unknowns out there for us as a department moving forward with COVID. As I said earlier, we’re at OBO 2.0 moving on to 3.0 and beyond to 4.0 or 5.0 with our Embassy 2050 initiative. So there’s still a lot of work to be done down the road. But again, thanks to each and every one of you for being with us today and for your continued support of our efforts on behalf not only the Department, but equally if not more importantly, on behalf of the American People. Please be safe out there, continue to take the appropriate cautions, and we look forward to hearing from you and to working with many of you in the days, weeks, and months to come.
Have a great rest of the day. And please, be safe out there. Thank you very much.
(Whereupon, at 4:23 p.m., the above-entitled meeting was concluded.)