Founded in 1997, Juneau Construction Company (Juneau) is a female-owned general contracting and construction management firm headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Juneau specializes in hospitality, multi-family/mixed-use, historic restoration, commercial and higher education, with projects ranging from $10 to over 100 Million. The company has built a reputation of being best-in-class for its close attention to detail, and focus on quality, schedule, safety and cost, which is evidenced by its over 85% repeat business. It is one of the largest general contractors in the Southeast, with an estimated revenue of over $275 Million.
Co-founded by Les Juneau – a former estimator with Holder Construction – and his wife Nancy, a focus was placed on preconstruction services from the beginning, which has contributed to the company’s success. Most of Juneau’s work is heavy design assist, where an owner or designer comes to the firm with a napkin sketch and a budget.
From there, Juneau takes a hands-on approach by bringing their Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) team in to produce a conceptual model and works directly with the owner, architect and engineer to provide the best design options for their budget. “We’re going to be as detail oriented as we can from the start,” says Jake Landreneau, VDC Director at Juneau. “There’s definitely a focus of getting it right the first time and that’s one of our key differentiators.”
This approach helps Juneau build better relationships with their clients because they’re doing that due diligence upfront. By enabling a proactive conversation during preconstruction, Juneau has addressed the opportunities to:
- Reduce the cost and time for construction
- Improve constructability
- Identify construction gaps and challenges earlier
“There’s definitely a focus of getting it right the first time and that’s one of our key differentiators.”
Jake Landreneau, VDC Director, Juneau
Reduce Construction Cost & Time – Flexibility with Prefabrication Services
Prefabrication allows Juneau to stay on budget without compromising aesthetic
Juneau is currently the general contractor on the Star Metals Residences project – a 415,000 sq. ft. multi-family/mixed-use facility – in Midtown Atlanta. “It was an old industrial facility before we started working there,” says Landreneau. “We’re a little over five feet off existing buildings and had to blast almost 12,000 cubic yards of rock out of the way before we could even begin construction.”
Juneau worked together with the design team to come up with ways to be efficient, while keeping costs down. “Looking at materials only goes so far, so the team needed to ask the question, ‘How do you make the structure more economical?’ ‘What's the best way to build that?,’” says Landreneau. “That’s how we landed on the idea of prefabrication.”
Given the proximity to existing buildings, the team is prefabricating the exterior panels. The panels are manufactured by a Tennessee-based company, and then shipped onsite. “On this project specifically, having pre-sheated panels on the exterior is extremely helpful, since we’re working on the property line and can’t get to the exterior very easily. Instead of being screwed together, everything is welded together, making a more solid system,” says Landreneau.
Another benefit to prefabricating the exterior panels, is staying on budget without compromising aesthetic. “Throughout preconstruction we completed several different conceptual models to achieve the architectural vision, but it still had to be feasible and buildable, without being redundant,” says Landreneau. “We worked through how the wall can serve two purposes: being the aesthetic feature, as well as being a structural component of the building.”
“Looking at materials only goes so far, so the team needed to ask the question, ‘How do you make the structure more economical?’ ‘What's the best way to build that? That’s how we landed on the idea of prefabrication.”
Jake Landreneau, VDC Director, Juneau
Improve Constructability – Taking it to the Field
Juneau modeled the rock quantities in order to see how they'd calculate rock blasting, removal and excavation
The structure is fast-moving and has vast changes in elevation, so it's useful for the team to visualize in 3D, to see how they’re going to build.
The team started by using Autodesk Revit for Building Information Modeling (BIM) to model the rock quantities and update it with shots of the total station in order to validate it and see how they'd calculate and deal with the rock blasting, removal and excavation. "We had 3D mapping of what we blasted to give the Owner comfort in what we're doing, because of all the possible unknowns," says Landreneau. This was especially important with this being an extremely tight site in West Midtown Atlanta. From there, the team transitioned into using Autodesk BIM 360 Glue for overhead and structural coordination.
“Autodesk BIM 360 Glue is an easier way to convey the model. The team has so much knowledge about the building, since they've been coordinating on it for over a year. To be able to relay that information out to the field workers through a tablet, makes the quality control process a lot easier,” says Landreneau. He compares the building to an erector set, because all the pieces fit together, and you may not realize a piece is not in the right place. By plugging in the QR code, field workers can ensure the panel is in the right place by comparing it to the model and checking it off as they go.
Another benefit of Autodesk BIM 360 is that field workers can take pictures and notes directly from their tablet. Once uploaded, everything is automatically populated into Juneau’s construction management platform. “It’s great. We can filter by trade, building, zone etc., and get the issues to the people who need to make those corrections quickly,” says Landreneau.
Identify Construction Gaps & Challenges – Communication Is Key
Juneau is 100% schedule focused from the beginning, delivering its projects on-time, every time - a strong testament to preconstruction services
Communication and collaboration across teams is key in design assist work to stay on budget and schedule. To achieve this, Juneau keeps its Ops team involved throughout the process to create transparency and confidence with the owner.
“Any way you can demonstrate your ideas better to the client, the better off you are. We have a lot of preconstruction projects in Autodesk BIM 360 Glue, because it gives people access to manipulate and visualize the project, even before it’s built.”
Jake Landreneau, VDC Director, Juneau
Juneau learned that it’s important to ask the hard-hitting questions upfront and use prior project experience to help make decisions quickly that impact cost. “When it starts with three sheets of paper and we're saying it’s going to cost $50 million. Now we have 200 sheets of paper and we're still saying it's going to cost $50 million. Now we have a full construction document and it's still going to cost $50 million. That linear estimating is something that's important to Juneau. It’s a key factor, and as we integrate technology with it, it helps to achieve that process,” says Landreneau. “Being accountable for the budget and schedule we're providing is important to us, and that's something we handle through preconstruction.”
Juneau is 100% schedule focused from the beginning, delivering its projects on-time, every time, which is a strong testament to the value of VDC and preconstruction services. The company is an example of how smart technology combined with a hands-on approach can lead to better project outcomes.