"That results in a lot of companies getting into BIM or certain other aspects of technology," Woods says. "It's part of an ongoing process for us—constantly changing the way we do things, trying to get better at what we do and ultimately, hopefully, change the industry."

The other founders, Nosler and Davidowski, are board members but not active in day-to-day operations like Woods.

Manufacturing a Building

Woods says the firm now is looking at a future in which "building a building will be more of a manufacturing process."

"If you can build it on a computer, you can, in theory, build it in a factory and ship it in components, which is a faster, safer and cheaper way to do it," he says.

"We're not there, yet," he adds, but DPR is getting closer to doing prefabrication on a large scale.

Mike Ford, executive vice president, says that data center owners are looking at prefab assembly to drive down their costs. In recent years, DPR, which has concentrated mainly on health care, research laboratories, office complexes and high-tech factories, has dived head first into the data center segment, earning a partnership with Silicon Valley giant Facebook. DPR has built an energy-efficient data center in Prineville, Ore., for Facebook and is currently building a $121-million data center for the company in Lulea, Sweden and another in Forest City, N.C.

The four-year economic downturn has done little to slow DPR's growth. Revenue grew 23% from 2010 to 2011, and Woods says that "believing we're on the right track, being a highly disciplined business, will get us through any period of difficulty."

Michele Leiva, chief financial officer, says the firm did have some regions "feeling more economic pain" than others. Phoenix's revenues dipped in 2009, she says, but last year the firm invested in building a new net-zero-energy office complex to help keep employees focused.

As Woods puts it: "This is a tough business, and you need to be passionate and love what you're doing—the 'enjoyment' part of the core values. If you do, you'll thrive well here."

Furthering the reach of BIM in every aspect of a project, including visualization and clash detection, is another of DPR's primary aims, according to Lamb.