Byline Written by: James Palace, Co-Founding Executive Vice President and Operations Manager at UAG
Symbolically, building entrances represent the beginning of your relationship with a structure, providing a focal point for occupants that plays a significant role in our experience within a given space. An entryway can evoke feelings of excitement, grandeur, or even safety and pride.
Enter Portico, a
UAG-specific initiative designed to provide enhanced welcoming experiences for our onsite project teams and trade contractors.
Humanizing Construction Management
At Urban Atelier Group (UAG), we have cultivated a job-site culture that encourages and rewards safe practices. While these initiatives have been successful, jobsite safety is mainly contingent on the human element of each trade contractor. Critical to our overall identity, we believe human connection is nurtured from the top down. To achieve this, our project teams regularly prioritize safety practices such as kick-off meetings, monthly reviews, and continued education to provide necessary touchpoints for connection. To reinforce our efforts annually, we participate in the industry-wide Safety Week to further familiarize our team with innovative technologies, new equipment, and host lunch and learn to provide open communication of safety measures to our superintendent partners. Additionally, our firm leaders actively visit the job sites to build relationships with subcontractors, personally and professionally, further cementing a culture of gratitude and respect that carries over into on-site strategy implementations.
When we consider the human aspect of the collaborators we work with daily, we foster connections leading to better relationships and more positive outcomes. Our true task lies in challenging industry norms to create an emotional response in the workplace that impacts individual actions. As we continuously work to ensure our employees feel safe at work and return home to their families with peace of mind, the Portico has become a critical initiative.
Portico at 100 Flatbush in action, providing a substantive touchpoint for on-site stakeholder engagement. Image Credit: Selvon Ramsawak
Portico, a Welcoming Entry Experience
Portico was established to subvert a construction site’s traditional look and feel, instead awakening familiar feelings of home and security. This creates a sense of authority on the job site, which is crucial for securing long-term engagement from team members to take care of their environment. Each Portico is custom to the site and rooted in relevant local history while reflecting a unique design intent.
Our welcoming walls feature project renderings to inspire a sense of pride, a list of critical subcontractors and consultants to thank, UAG’s safety standards and protocol to reinforce, and critical milestones achieved. These details fuel palpable momentum throughout the project’s life cycle. By keeping our project sites clean, efficient, and well-run, we’re raising the standard of operations within construction management while boosting morale. We’ve seen our teams latch onto this concept in practice, and we’ve experienced an authentic sense of community among our internal staff and subcontractors on site, leading to enhanced safety-related outcomes.
In addition to cultivating a strong culture on site, UAG actively engages the community in which we’re constructing. For example, the Portico at Bronx Point features a commissioned mural by local graffiti artist Tats Cru, paying homage to the South Bronx with references to music, dance, and the community. Upon completion, the team will sign the mural and donate it to the Universal Hip Hop Museum as part of the project’s legacy. The intentionality of design for each Portico often involves our clients, strengthening our commitment to collaboration and safety in all aspects of our work.
Custom Mural Commissioned by Tats Cru as part of Bronx Point’s Portico; Image Credit: Selvon Ramsawak
Reinforcing Safety Through Proactive Planning & Cutting-Edge Technology
Beyond the Portico, UAG is diligent in ensuring safety is at the forefront of operations. We consistently conduct pre-test plans to ensure trade constructors on site are aware of proper protocols and hazardous tasks. These meetings often involve candid conversations around processes and logistics aimed at mitigating potential risks and adverse outcomes. Our communication is documented and always recorded for reference.
We regularly audit our projects with
Safety Stratus, an enterprise environmental, health, and safety (EHS) software that can manage programs and data analytics. Safety Stratus offers our project teams predictive data points that identify high-risk areas and activities that require immediate attention.
Beyond verbal communication, UAG prioritizes hands-on and virtual reality educational programming, workshops, training, and discussions. Safety continues to be revolutionized by innovation, and as construction-related technology advances, it’s imperative to honor the human aspect without replacing the workforce. We continue to advocate for technology within our culture because these advancements supplement the workforce, ultimately streamlining workflows, reducing human error, and providing safer working conditions.
UAG’s Ongoing Commitment To Safety
Construction safety requirements are merely a foundation to build upon, and we strive to transform the standards of our industry while evolving as a firm. Through the Portico, safety programs and technology implementation, as well as prioritizing the human aspect of construction, we’ve seen significant progress in establishing healthy jobsite cultures that relate to the people on site, instill value in team camaraderie, and establish channels for continuous communication. Enforcing stringent safety standards and regulations is necessary, but leadership should prioritize proper buy-in to develop the habits that lead to consistently safer job sites. This mentality is the true power of human connection.
At its core, the definitive strength of our practice lies in our commitment to the health and long-term well-being of our people, places, and processes, seamlessly integrating culture, safety, and operations. At the forefront of changing the landscape of construction management safety, UAG will continue to raise safety standards that produce cutting-edge work and return our people home.
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