"Bringing more of what we're going to build into the process of design increases predictability, reduces the risk and adds more value to the customer," he says.

BIM is also contributing to DPR's goal of being a self-performing builder. Lamb says the firm is one of the largest drywall contractors in the U.S. (No. 9 nationally in volume, he says).

"We're employing BIM to increase our efficiency and our ability to do prefabrication in the trades that we self-perform," he says. "On about 10 projects so far, we are doing prefab concrete formwork, prefab metal drywall and metal stud drywall, and framing tables done off site and then moving it on site."

Lamb says DPR is also pushing hyper-visualization, which "really tries to marry BIM models with reality."

Augmented reality on jobsite iPads enables DPR staff to take a picture of rough-end plumbing and electrical sections, for example, and match it up to the model, doing clash detection in real time, he says.

This level of sophistication will also be valuable in predicting how buildings will perform down the line. Lamb says that DPR has one project now where the owner is requiring a five-year performance guarantee, which is being done regularly in Europe.

When they're not focused on construction innovation, DPR staffers, who work in an open-concept office in the Redwood City headquarters (no private offices, not even for Woods, Leiva or Lamb), are active in community outreach via the DPR Foundation. It was created in 2008 to help kids facing socio-economic challenges to reach their full potential.

Currently, the DPR Foundation supports 12 charities across the country with both financial and volunteer contributions. In 2011, the foundation contributed $590,000 to various organizations.

Recent charity work includes Turning Wheels for Kids, which provided 2,500 bikes to children last year, helping with Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers Riverdale chapter's six-week summer program and doing remodeling at the Roberts Family Development Center in Sacramento, Calif., which focuses on early childhood and family education.