Legos on Steroids?
We met with DIRTT prez Scott Jenkins when he visited the S.F. office last week. DIRTT, which turns 10 this year, constructs customized commercial prefab spaces (residential is coming soon). It's got 171 Fortune 500 clients, and 80% of projects are renovations. DIRTT's dumped $32M into its 3-D ICE design software, which speeds up installation. (Delivery is typically four times faster than conventional construction, he says.) There are tons of modular layouts and designs; in Toronto, accounting firm MNP and Google each have vastly different spaces in the same building, but you’d never know they were both by DIRTT, he said.
DIRTT’s biggest growth area, particularly in NorCal, is health care. (Makes sense, since big growths are a perfect reason to see a doctor.) The S.F. office will get redone this year and possibly show off examples of hospital spaces. Companies in the Bay Area trying to attract top talent need a beautiful workspace people want to be in, he says. (You can write on DIRTT’s walls, for example, and pop TVs into them.) In short, “we make walls sexy,” he says. And sustainable: The acoustic barrier between walls is made from recycled blue jeans (a dissected wall in its S.F. office shows off the reincarnated pants, above). Residential has a higher bar than office space, he says, so it's working on perfecting that over the next few years.
GE's San Ramon space by DIRTT is shown above. One DIRTT manufacturing plant opened in Savannah with 40 employees in 2009 (it was the recession, so people thought the execs were nuts); now the plant's doubled and employees call themselves “DIRTT bags," he says. Scott gave up his desk two years ago as an experiment, and today he hops around his Calgary HQ and other DIRTT offices with knapsack in tow. (He’s here a few times a year for both work and husband duties; he promised his S.F.-loving wife in his vows to take her at least once annually.) Last week, his after-hours agenda included a dinner at Boulevard.