Fireside Chat with Joe Dardis

Earlier this month, BuiltWorlds’ journalist Jim Lichtenwalter sat down with Joe Dardis, who is slated to speak at Buildings 2.0 on Thursday. The two spoke about the construction of tall buildings and the pains of being a Cleveland Indians fan. Read the transcript below.

Let’s start with some basics: Who are you and what do you do?

I am the steel specialist for the Chicago market. AISC has specialists planted in most of the major metropolitan areas across the country and our jobs are pretty straightforward: promotion, education, a lot of speaking engagements, a lot o making the design community more aware about  what we do, what’s out there for them, how they can be more efficient with steel, how they can optimize their processes using steel. So that’s basically my day to day.

What’s the big industry problem that the American Institute of Steel Construction is addressing?

Well there’s a lot. Sustainability is a pretty big one. There’s a lot of misconceptions out there about how steel is created and its carbon impact on particularly related to other materials. One of our major focuses is also fabricator and erector certification and quality control.

Labor and workforce is also really big issue that’s bugging a lot of steel fabricators right now. There’s just not a workforce coming into the industry to replace those leaving and that’s making it really difficult for them to operate. Almost every fabricator I talk to, one of their top three problems is finding people that, you know, want to weld steel together. It’s a good paying job, there’s just no one out there that wants to do it.

Without giving anything away, what will you be talking about during Buildings 2.0?

The majority of the presentation will focus on the new revolutionary speed core system. And what that is, is an innovative twist on your traditional concrete core and it speeds up construction tremendously and reduces a lot of problems you find in the field. We participated with some other folks to sponsor some research on this several years ago and now it’s actually coming to light and they’re actually building their first building using a speed core system in Seattle. So this is the first run at it. This is the concept model behind it. And so far, everything’s going well. They haven’t quite come out of the ground yet, but we really think, with the success of this project, this is really going to transform how we build tall buildings It’s really going to add a lot of value. It’s really going to change the landscape on how you evaluate your ROI on the system and how materials are utilized. So we’re really excited about moving forward on this.

Since speaking engagements are part of your bread and butter, why are you excited to be speaking at a BuiltWorlds event?

Well, it’s a great mix of people. Really anyone in the AEC community can look at what we’re presenting on and take away a different thing from it and\utilize it in a different way. The owner is going to love the cost benefits and the schedule benefits. The contractors are going to love the simplicity of it. Engineers and architects will love the design aspect of it and how it just makes things more simple for them as well. So really the breath of the individuals there and how they can just take different pieces and walk away with it.

Back to the topic of your presentation for a minute, what do you think the future holds for the construction of super-tall buildings?

Well, if urbanization continues on the path that it’s going,  we will need more housing and office space in urban centers and you can’t increase the geography of a city. So the only way to really solve that problem is to go vertical. There’s not the space to house the demand right now. People are going to continue to want to move into the city even, possibly raise kids there, so you need all that infrastructure built.

Alright, enough of the serious stuff. Now I’ve got some fun questions for you. To kick it off, what was your first job?

My mom actually owned an ice cream store and I worked for probably from the age of 12 all the way up through college. That was a lot of fun.

What has been your favorite moment in your career so far?

I would say seeing something you’ve drawn on paper actually get built. Actually seeing what’s required out of the workforce and out of the industry to make that all happen is a really satisfying thing. Especially as a young player, back in my twenties, when you don’t have a good concept of how that works and how what you do impacts so many different things.

What app do you use the most on your phone?

Probably my CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) app

I also use that app all the time. Along the same vein, what was the last app you used on your phone?

ESPN, I was trying to see what time the Indians play tonight.

Are you an Indians fan?

I am, yes.

Oh no, you’re living in Chicago. That’s so unfortunate.

I know, it was a rough 2016 for me.

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