With a $15-billion portfolio of projects from LA Metro alone, California is brimming with construction opportunities. Pro-entrepreneurial opportunities in Long Beach, progressive design-build at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and evolving virtual design and construction programs were major highlights of the 18th annual Western Winter Workshop, presented by AACE Region 6 in Indian Wells, Calif., on Feb. 8-11.

The program brought together key players from Northern and Southern California to discuss scheduling, cost engineering, project management, risk, claims and capital program management. Rick Clarke, deputy director for Metro, noted that to overcome a past of construction cost overruns, Metro CEO Phil Washington directed staff to set a formal budget later on during the engineering process for more realistic risk assessments and cost estimates. Annual project evaluations were also established, and the past year saw no cost overruns, he said. “We also make a list of at-risk projects to the board [of directors],” he said.

Geoff Neumayr, chief development officer at SFO, said that $3 billion in construction has been completed to date with “no claims whatsoever” due to a culture wherein the consultant role evolved from looking to “protect against” designers and contractors to ”the need for stakeholder buy-in.”

Discussing virtual reality tools, Ken McBroom, regional director of planning and scheduling for McCarthy Building Cos., echoed the idea of collaboration: “The McCarthy mind-set has changed. Who’s the owner? Everyone.”