Andrew G. Wright/ENR

Like many other boys growing up in the Bronx, Joe Byrne dreamed of someday earning his paycheck by performing in a starring role at Yankee Stadium. Today, Byrne is the toast of his Throgs Neck neighborhood for making his dream a reality. He works as a project executive for Turner Construction Co., the lead contractor for the Yankees’ new ballpark, under construction across from the existing stadium in the South Bronx.

During the past decade, Byrne worked on two of Manhattan’s signature proj-ects: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s Bear Stearns headquarters and Foster + Partners’ Hearst Tower. But for diehard Yankee fan Byrne, the job at  River Avenue and 161st Street tops them both. “In terms of size and public image, this will be the most talked about job in my career,” he says.


A Day in the Life of Joe Byrne

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Joe Byrne: Major League Construction

Byrne typically arrives at the jobsite trailer complex at about 7 a.m. He hits the canteen for a coffee and a quick conversation with Frank Gramarossa, project engineer. “Frankie handles the outside work, with the trades and the supers,” Byrne says. “I’m the inside guy, pushing paper, doing the liaison work. We’re a team.”

Moving to his office, he dives into his e-mail stack, typically 60 to 100 messages daily. It’s a triage exercise, moving critical path items to the top.

On this day, Byrne preps for the 9:30 a.m. weekly team meeting that he leads. Before it starts he talks with a colleague about processing a seven-figure check that will enable an overextended subcontractor to meet payroll and keep workers on the job.

The O.A.T. (Owner-Architect-Turner) session brings together the team to look ahead 60 days, update progress and identify issues that could affect schedule or budget. Reporting is succinct, round-robin style. Much of the discussion is about drawings—who has them, who needs them and to what level of detail.

Andrew G. Wright/ENR
Byrne ( l) with partner, outside man Gramarossa.

After the meeting, Byrne meets with Harry Olsen, project manager for owner’s representative Tishman Speyer, and Earl Santee, principal with architect HOK, to decide whether concourse tiles should be running or stacked courses. In a 10-minute meeting, they reach a compromise that saves a half-million dollars.

The rest of the day is a blur: a bid opening, another huddle with the accountants, lunch ordered in, quick chat with Yanks’ community liaison Benny Catala to review local hiring goals, a polite dressing down for a new subcontractor and endless phone calls. A trip outside at 4 p.m. to check with Gramarossa and watch a concrete deck placement is a welcome respite.

It is just another day in Byrne’s field of dreams as he works toward his goal. “By opening day in April of 2009, Derek Jeter and the rest of the Yanks will be able to take the field in front of 53,000 people in their new house,” he says.