The Weitz Company tops off innovative new skilled nursing facility

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The Woodlands at John Knox Village

The Weitz Company has completed the main structure of The Woodlands at John Knox Village, a new, 111,426- square-foot, 7-story nursing home in Pompano Beach, Florida, created on an entirely new concept in elder care. The construction milestone was celebrated by residents and staff of John Knox Village at an April 28 topping-off ceremony—complete with the traditional placing of a tree on top of the structure.“This building represents the start of a new era in South Florida senior living,” said Michael Hass, Weitz Director of Senior Living. “The Woodlands will be the first licensed nursing facility in the state of Florida built on the Green House model of care, which is an alternative to traditional, institutional skilled nursing environments.”

At The Woodlands Green House, 12 elders will share one of 12 self-contained homes. Meals and care will be provided by caregivers dedicated to each home rather than by rotating shifts of specialists. Because Green House offers an environment that feels like an elder’s previous residence, homes have private rooms and bathrooms with a shared living room, open kitchen and fireplace. A large emphasis is placed on making the health care infrastructure invisible and treating elders with supreme dignity.

“John Knox Village is wisely embracing the new trend of person-centered elder care, which simulates the experience of living in one’s own home,” said Hass. “The South Florida market is clamoring for this, because elders desire the sense of community in each home and families love the residential environment.”

This is Weitz’s third building project at John Knox Village in Pompano Beach. In 1980, the company completed a 78-bed health center and an independent living building consisting of three 10-story towers. Senior living is a key market for Weitz; in the past 50 years, the company has built more than $3 billion in senior living projects around the country.

The Woodlands at John Knox Village is expected to be completed in 2016. The architect is RDG Planning & Design.

The Weitz Company selected to build $101 million Iowa Events Center Hotel

The Weitz Company, a national full-service construction firm, is proud to announce it has been awarded the contract to build the $101 million Iowa Events Center Hotel at Fifth Avenue and Park Street in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Iowa Events Center Hotel will include a build-out of a 330-room convention hotel. The new hotel will be connected to the Iowa Events Center, a multi-venue convention center and entertainment complex. Weitz will work with Des Moines-area architectural and engineering firms to complete the project.

Weitz has a history with the facility, serving as construction manager of the 17,000-seat Wells Fargo Arena, 100,000 square foot Hy-Vee Hall and general contractor for the renovation of Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center.

“The Weitz Company is thrilled to be the construction partner for the Iowa Events Center, a facility that will support the economic vitality of the greater Des Moines area,” says Mike Tousley, Weitz executive vice president.


Weitz announces LEED certification of Broken Sound Spa and Fitness expansion project

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Broken Sound Spa and Fitness Club, Boca Raton, Florida



The Weitz Company, a national full-service construction firm, is proud to announce its client, Broken Sound Club, in Boca Raton, Florida, has been awarded LEED® Certification for New Construction for the recent expansion of the club’s Spa and Fitness Center. Broken Sound Club is one of the first private clubs in the United States to receive this prestigious recognition. The LEED certification was established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI).

“The Broken Sound Spa and Fitness project was a great team success, which required innovative problem-solving,” says Jim Wells, vice president, The Weitz Company. “Not only did Weitz help build our client’s reputation as an environmentally responsible country club, we also delivered a top-quality project that optimized the cost of operation.”

The Broken Sound Spa and Fitness renovation included a complete interior replacement to the club’s existing tennis and fitness building, and a 15,793-square-foot spa building addition. Now totaling 38,000 square feet, the complex houses best-in-class amenities, including a world class fitness facility, a high-end spa, a tennis pro shop and a café with indoor/outdoor dining.

Weitz worked closely with longstanding partner Peacock + Lewis Architecture, Planning and Interior Design to incorporate energy-efficient mechanical systems, water-conserving fixtures and green building materials and methods.

Weitz sustainable building practices

The Weitz Company is committed to the promotion of sustainable design and construction practices. Weitz consistently works with the owner, design team, subcontractors and suppliers to make the best sustainable decisions, all the while balancing initial and life cycle costs.

Weitz has completed all levels of LEED certified buildings throughout the United States, including the largest commercial office building in the world to achieve LEED Platinum Certification, the Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa.  As a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, Weitz fully supports consensus-based LEED Certification rating systems as the construction industry standard.

Is geothermal good for my community?

Michael Hass, director of Senior Living at The Weitz Company, shares his thoughts on considerations for the use of geothermal in construction and gives ideas to help owners and developers evaluate this technology.

This article originally appeared in the April 9 issue of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.


It’s news to no one that construction for senior living is strong, in no small part because large investment dollars are flowing into the space. But those investors, and even mission-driven nonprofits, are looking harder at each dollar spent on construction to make sure it is used as wisely as possible. As builders, our charge is to help those teams invest those dollars however it best serves the goals or business case of any specific project.

Beginning with the energy crisis of the 1970s and elevated by the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) guidelines first published in 1994, project teams regularly evaluate geothermal heating and cooling as an energy-saving option. Depending on the myriad variables of a given project, geothermal may or may not be the right choice.

Here are a few ideas to help you evaluate this technology.

First, let me explain the basics of the system. Geothermal takes advantage of the fact that at a relatively shallow depth, below-ground temperatures remain essentially unchanged all year. So in the coldest of winters or the hottest of summers we can move heat to or from the ground into our buildings with essentially the same science that traditional heating and cooling systems use.

Geothermal’s advantage is that those traditional systems use expensive mechanical machinery (a chiller, a boiler, a compressor, etc.) and a lot of energy to generate that heat transfer, whereas the Earth is free (or at least paid for). The system pumps a liquid (usually water) down into wells deep enough and long enough for it to assume the proper temperature and then returns it to the terminal unit in the resident room where the heat transfers to or from the loop depending on whether there is demand for heating or cooling.

There are also “open” loop systems that simply draw water from the ground (or a deep lake) and reject water from the terminal units in a balanced quantity but these are rarer. So instead of large central plant, the community runs a series of small water pumps and energy bills drop significantly.

The first consideration for most systems – and even more so for geothermal — is the cost to install it (so called “first costs”). Geothermal, justifiably, has a reputation for being expensive to install. It is. However, at a per-resident-unit level, geothermal may carry a first cost premium of $10,000 or more (sometimes quite a bit more) over traditional systems. In a long-term care or assisted living unit, the energy usage is probably less than $100 per month, so the payback on that first cost is exceptionally long, much longer than most providers or investors would consider prudent.

So why is geothermal done anywhere, ever? One reason is definitely marketing. In the communities for whom we have installed geothermal, there is a “sustainability theme” running through the entire brand and the communities show potential residents and their families how much energy geothermal saves as an explicit demonstration of their commitment. With these communities, being green is much more than lip service and recycling bins.

Another reason is architectural. Especially in long-term care, regulatory bodies often require each resident unit to have an independent (not shared with another resident) HVAC system. Generally, this is a through-wall unit that sits under the window so it can draw fresh air from the outside.

The grille or louver that allows that air to pass through is a potential source of leaks and generally considered to be an eyesore when viewed from the outside. With a geothermal unit, we can bring fresh air in through a rooftop unit (where it can be preconditioned enhancing comfort) and the wall penetration eliminated. Hotel brands think similarly. Hilton’s limited service Hampton Inn will usually have these grilles below the windows whereas Hilton’s luxury line, Conrad, almost never will.

Lastly, we encourage clients to consider geothermal systems when renovating landlocked buildings or spaces where reclaiming rooms for revenue-producing activities or care is needed. Because geothermal systems don’t require that boiler or chiller (a central plant), we can often reclaim some or all of the mechanical room space and repurpose it to the betterment of the community.

Similarly, in a new construction project with a limited footprint, we can reduce building square footage (also an economic enhancement), particularly if your local jurisdiction allows for the geothermal wells to be installed directly under the building.

There are a few operating issues geothermal raises (the wells can be a path to ground for lightning, the terminal units are technologically complex so servicing is usually outsourced, they run constantly so residents don’t hear that on/off cycle they’re used to). But first costs are always the reason the system isn’t chosen.

In 50-plus years of building senior living communities, we’ve done geothermal less than a dozen times. But as competition increases and differentiation becomes critical, this is one way to set a community apart and drive down operating costs.

It won’t make sense for everyone, but it’s worth evaluating to make sure.




Weitz Faculty Fellow named at Iowa State University

Cormicle Weitz Faculty Fellow

Larry Cormicle, senior lecturer in civil, construction and environmental engineering (CCEE) at Iowa State University was named Weitz Faculty Fellow. This fellowship is the result of the Weitz Fund for Excellence in Construction Engineering, established by The Weitz Company in 2004.

“The Weitz Company has had a long-standing relationship with Iowa State University and the Construction Engineering program, both as a resource for recruiting talent and as a client. We are very pleased to be able to provide support to Mr. Cormicle, as he continues his work to educate the construction professionals of tomorrow and advance the industry,” says Mike Tousley, executive vice president, The Weitz Company.

Larry Cormicle is an internationally recognized leader in construction engineering education. He joined the Iowa State University CCEE department in 2002. Since then he has been a dedicated, passionate leader in Iowa State’s construction engineering program – internship coordinator, Associated General Contractors chapter adviser, National Association of Home Builders chapter adviser, and coach and adviser for the annual Associated Schools of Construction teams. He also teaches courses in construction planning, scheduling and control as well as construction engineering and design.