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Monument East Celebrates Ribbon Cutting

Harkins group photo in front of building sign for ribbon cutting event
Baltimore, MD

The Harkins team attended the ribbon cutting ceremony at Monument East apartments on Monday, March 2nd in Baltimore, MD. Located in the Oldtown neighborhood, this 19-story mixed population development houses mostly seniors with over 170 units available to residents.

The project scope included restoring the current brick, replacing windows and balcony doors, new roof coating, interior finishes, upgraded plumbing fixtures, and new mechanical and electrical systems. In addition, accessible units and common areas were reconfigured to meet the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards. Common areas located on the first and 19th floors were renovated. Both include ample seating, TVs, a kitchenette, and decorative murals painted by local artist Michael Owen. In addition to these features, the 19th-floor common space includes a pool table and chess tables for residents to enjoy throughout their day.

During the ceremony, Harkins recognized a particular resident for his positive attitude, assistance in communicating changes, and relaying any feedback to Harkins so adjustments could be made during construction to accommodate the needs of each resident. Harkins Lead Superintendent Brent Tracey presented Harry Brown with a Harkins branded vest and plaque to thank him for his help throughout the project.

Monument East is a result of HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration Program (RAD). RAD was established in 2011 to preserve and improve the country’s affordable rental housing capacity by allowing public housing agencies (PHAs) and owners of HUB-assisted properties to convert units to project-based Section 8 programs. In doing this, it allows an opportunity for private developers to invest in properties that are at risk of being removed from the nation’s affordable housing inventory. This was Harkins’ first project with owner The Community Builders.

Ribbon Cutting Photos

An Interactive Experience on Our Jobsites

Employee pointing at digital plan table

Over the last few years, advancements in technology have changed many aspects of the way we manage the construction of our projects. Our site teams are relying less on the physical paper plans and more on documents being stored digitally. To support the effort, Harkins’ project controls team has been deploying new technology solutions to take our projects digital. One example of this includes installing digital plan tables on our jobsites, an effort started by Harkins Project Engineer II Austin Achenbach.

These models convert a standard 55” 4k television into a touchscreen with an intuitive 10-point multi-touch display and offers full compatibility with planning and review software such as Procore, Adobe, and Bluebeam. The touchscreen makes it simple to flip through pages, zoom in to specific areas, and make notes where needed.

The plan table can be built for less than $1,000 using the following parts:

  • 55” 4K television
  • Mobile touchscreen cart
  • Infrared touch frame
  • Repurposed laptop
  • Plexiglass sheet
  • Wireless keyboard/touchpad
  • Miscellaneous tape, Velcro, cables and cable ties

When used with the Windows Procore App, all project plans can be viewed, marked up, and shared with other Procore users without the need to reprint or transport paper plans. This has been the biggest advantage this advance has afforded to our teams. The ability to keep the as-built and redline information live on Procore has eliminated the need to duplicate that information on paper plans and reduced the chances of items being missed.

While many people will always prefer to flip through a multitude of pages while digging into a set of paper plans, it’s hard to deny the convenience and accessibility of the digital plan table and its role in getting us closer to a paperless workplace. Assembling a plan table takes only a few hours and the feedback received has been overwhelmingly positive. Here’s a time-lapse installation of a plan table, completed by our very own Network Manager Chris Thomas.

Harkins Awarded DOS Parking Structure

Project rendering of DOS Parking Garage
Charleston, SC

The Government Group is excited to announce that they have received notification from the General Services Administration (GSA) that Harkins has been awarded a $36M design-build parking garage for the Department of State at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Charleston, SC. The project is the first win for the group’s small business administration approved mentor-protégé joint venture with Property & Environmental Management (PEM), Inc. The federal government set aside the procurement for small businesses only; therefore, Harkins was required to utilize its mentor-protégé relationship to bid on the project. The procurement required that PEM-Harkins submit a phase I qualifications package, of which the GSA reviewed and selected the three most qualified bidders to provide a phase II price proposal. After submitting a price, the team was invited to interview with GSA in Washington, DC, and ultimately were awarded the contract as the best value to the government.

The project consists of a five-story precast parking garage with an option to expand to seven-stories. The garage sits on a deep foundation comprised of 1,500 precast piles driven to a depth of 70 feet. The GSA has requested that the design process begin in March of 2020. Construction is scheduled to start in July and is expected to take 13 months.

“Winning the DOS Parking Garage project is directly in alignment with the Government Group’s strategic initiatives of chasing the right shortlisted design-build work and further cements Harkins’ footprint in the Southeast,” said Vice President Ben Nichols. “The team consisting of key players within the government group, estimating, marketing, and project controls have been working on elements of this procurement since August of 2019. I could not be more proud of the team’s effort and look forward to working with GSA, who will be a new client for Harkins.”

Project rendering of DOS Parking Garage

Rendering of the proposed parking garage for the Department of State.

Industry Trends: The Principles of Passive House

Rendering of residential project

By Project Executive Mike Pryzbylkowski and Lead Superintendent Derek Geisinger

You hear of passive house buildings popping up everywhere from California to Pennsylvania, but what exactly is passive house? Passive House is a green building trend that focuses on design principles and construction practices to provide energy efficient buildings, creating a comfortable and sustainable building for owners and residents.

In 2003, the first home in the United States was built with passive house principles and the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) was founded. Since then, the market standard of PHIUS+ certified buildings focus on creating energy efficient buildings, while also considering occupant comfortability and indoor air quality.


To obtain PHIUS+ Certification, a passive building is designed and built in accordance with these five principles:

  1. Employs continuous insulation throughout its entire envelope without any thermal bridging
  2. The building envelope is airtight, preventing infiltration of outside air and loss of conditioned air
  3. Utilizes high-performance windows and doors
  4. Uses some form of balanced heat and moisture-recovery ventilation
  5. Uses a minimal space conditioning system

Currently, there are only five PHIUS+ multifamily buildings located in the State of Pennsylvania. Harkins’ Northeast Region is proud to be joining this short list of multifamily projects that are built with these concepts in mind. Located in Hatfield, PA, the Susie Clemens project will be a 60-unit affordable senior care building. Being developed by Advanced Living Communities, with Kramer + Marks Architects, this project will be implementing the passive house concepts to reach PHIUS+ certification. Steven Winter Associates, the PHIUS+ Rater, and the Susie Clemens project team have been working together through preconstruction and the project is currently in the precertification stages.


In December 2019, Lead Superintendent Derek Geisinger of the Susie Clemens project attended the Certified Passive House Builder Training conference in Washington, DC. Derek worked with the PHIUS representative at the conference to review plans and details relating to this specific project. Along with utilizing an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) with a dehumidifier to provide heating and cooling, a continuously insulated slab, hot water recirculation pumps, reduced thermal bridging, and air sealing are also designed into the building.

One of the challenges the project team will face will be completing the whole building blower door test. PHIUS+ standards for the blower door test require the whole building be tested and the baselines for air leakage are more stringent than any other energy standard.

We look forward to building an energy-efficient, durable, and resilient building for the future tenants of the community. The team anticipates breaking ground in early 2020.

The Evolution of the Harkins Logo

Person sketching logo on paper

Ever wonder how the Harkins logo came to be? Legend has it that the nine triangles of our logo are based on a doodle drawn by our founder Mr. Harkins himself. Known for always carrying a day-planner, he would often be found scribbling down his thoughts and drawing pictures. Although not confirmed, we can only assume that the sketch started out as an “H” and the nine triangles build structures that represented our groups and our values.


While the original triangle design remained unchanged for our first 50 years, after we hit our 50th anniversary, our executive team was putting plans into place to prepare the company for even greater success as we embarked on the next 50 years. As a result, we took a fresh look at how we presented ourselves to the outside world. We surveyed our clients, employees, and industry professionals with “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Harkins?” One of the findings was how many people referred to us simply as Harkins. Although still technically known as Harkins Builders, Inc. as our entity name, we dropped “Builders” from our logo in December 2016. This was done in large part to separate ourselves from the multifamily builder we were known to be and increase the emphasis on our other offerings such as commercial and government.

The refreshed brand system retained our signature red yet subtly reimagines the mark on the left of the triangles. Our logo looks forward while staying grounded in history, just like us.

Merritt Mill Apartments Celebrates Grand Opening

Grand opening construction group photo
Salisbury, MD

The Harkins team attended the grand opening of Merritt Mill Townhomes on Friday, February 7th in Salisbury, MD.

Eastern Shore’s newest affordable apartment community, Merritt Mill Townhomes consists of 75 new apartment units in eight buildings. Units are made up of 11 one-bedroom units, 50 two-bedroom units, and 14 three-bedroom units. Apartments feature open floor plans that are perfect for entertaining, modern kitchens and full-size washers and dryers in each unit.

Townhomes are accented with cultured stone, high-end vinyl siding, and covered porches. Additional amenities include a new community building with a fitness center and lounge, along with a tot lot.

Grand Opening Photos

Expanded USO DCA Lounge Celebrates Ribbon Cutting

USO lounge ribbon cutting
Arlington, VA

The Harkins team attended the dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony for the new and improved USO Reagan Lounge on Tuesday, February 4th. Held in historic terminal A at the Ronald Reagan Airport in Arlington, VA, guests celebrated the relocation of the original space to the new 1,600 sf space that will be used by over 300,000 servicemen and women throughout the year. This expansion nearly doubled the size of the previous lounge.

The USO’s mission is to strengthen America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home, and country, throughout their service to the nation. To aid in these efforts, the USO offers the use of lounges in several US airports to active members of the military for no charge. Each lounge varies, but visitors can generally find comfortable seating, reading material, high definition TV, a fully stocked snack bar, and Wi-Fi to enjoy. Additionally, the lounge hosts a variety of special events such as welcoming incoming Marine Corps officer candidates, families of the fallen, and snowball express (an airport-wide holiday event for military kids).

Harkins has a long history with the USO, dating back to over 30 years. J.P. Blase Cooke, Harkins’ former president & CEO, served as an Army policeman in Ft. Dix, NJ where he met his wife at a USO dance. Known for his devotion to giving back to the community, it was no surprise that he would want to make a lasting contribution through his deep involvement on their board. Since his passing in 2007, Harkins has remained involved with the USO of Metro Washington-Baltimore. Vice President of Construction Ben Nichols in our Government Group serves on the board of directors.

“As a 22-year-old Marine Corps platoon commander in charge of 44 Marines, the USO and its volunteers met my platoon on the runway on our way to Afghanistan, supported us through deployment by sending care packages, and were the first ones to greet us when we arrived back in the United States”, said Ben. “I’m personally grateful for the USO’s support and thankful for the many opportunities to give back.”

Ribbon Cutting Photos