In the days of construction yore, contractors waited until after the architect and the owner had hammered out a design before they submitted a competitive bid and became a part of the building team.
MCL Construction worked to change that by putting the construction contractor at the project table from start to finish.
"MCL was probably the leader in changing the way business was done in Omaha," said Ken West, an architect with the DLR Group.
Two other Omaha architects agreed.
Keith Basham with Holland Basham Architects and John Sova with RDG Planning and Design both described MCL as a leader in developing a "team approach" when it comes to large-scale projects.
It worked to everyone's advantage. MCL was able to advise the owners about various costs and materials while the project was coming alive on the design table and - in return - MCL didn't have to go through the usual bid process.
"Bob (Carlisle) was out at the forefront on this," said Basham, referring to one of MCL's co-owners and original founders.
The three architects - Basham, Sova, and West - all recently met at a local Benson restaurant to toss back a few pints of pale ale and to discuss their relationship with MCL Construction as the Omaha company celebrates its 30th year in business.
The three laughingly noted that they are all competitors and that typically they wouldn't be sitting at the same table together on a Tuesday afternoon. But, when it comes to MCL Construction, beer and a few good hair jokes at Carlisle's expense, they were happy to join forces.
Turns out, Carlisle's secret weapon is his follicles, including his dearly beloved mustache, which is no longer with the company.
"He's got awesome hair," said Basham, dripping insincerity. "He could really lock you in, with that hair and that pornstache."
"Oh yeah. He was always working on his mustache and combing his hair," Sova chimed in, as he proudly fingered his own facial brush.
The three architects have worked with MCL Construction on various projects since the company got its start 30 years ago, when Carlisle and former co-owner Jim Meyers orchestrated an exit from Hicks Construction.
The company had success written on it from the start, in large part, because it placed an emphasis on hiring some of the best people in the business. And, because they worked to ensure its customers were happy at the start, during, and after a project was completed, the three architects said.
Basham recalls working on one project many years ago when an owner suddenly changed his mind on material that had already been purchased for the project. That change of heart would cost MCL tens of thousands of dollars and, Basham said, he told Carlisle that he had every right to argue for additional payment.
Carlisle refused. "Bob said, 'no.' This is my company and I'm going to be around for a long time and I want to work with these people in the future."
Sova and the other architects said MCL established a reputation as a company that would stand behind its work and schedule. When a superintendent at MCL Construction says they can get a project done by a certain date, architects and others can trust their word.
"They can do it in a timely fashion and do it well," said West.
MCL has not only led the construction trend in working as a team, but the company has been at the forefront of an idea that owners have come to love: MCL will write a check if they finish a project under budget.
It's an idea, said the architects, that has set MCL apart from some other contractors.
"If they come in under budget, they give it back to the owner and the owners love it," said Basham.
After they got up from the table this Tuesday afternoon, after rehashing old war stories, the three architects made it clear that MCL Construction had become one of Omaha's biggest construction companies by putting an emphasis on building relationships within the Omaha business community.
They also agreed that Carlisle's hair deserved the credit.
Yes, they were back to carping on Carlisle's hair, before they suddenly veered to tackling his pearly whites.
"He was big on flossing early on - early on," Basham dryly observed.
"Yup, a big floss guy," West agreed.
Teeth and hair, let's leave it there.
Part 1: Jim Meyers
Part 2: First In The Field
Part 3: Nancy Benson
MCL Construction recently completed the renovation of a new office space for LinkedIn’s Omaha operations. It’s a unique space that focuses on the employee and the collaborative nature the way the business social network operates.
The 20,000 square foot space was designed by API Design out of Mountain View, California, and assisted locally by Holland Basham Architects.
The following is written by Nina Tomesevich, the API designer on the project as she describes her vision and approach to the project.
LinkedIn Omaha’s expansion will seamlessly blend heritage of Omaha’s past, embrace the current trends of workplace environments and the young, vibrant culture of LinkedIn, and be a portal to cutting edge technology and design of the future. An authentic natural palette of creamy whites and warm grays is the basis to highlighting modern elements. Clean architectural lines are the backdrop to ornate detailing, vibrant colors, native patterns, local art, and diverse furniture; the look and feel of the homelike environment. Without overpowering the space, deep colors, textures, and patterns are strategically applied to create balance and contrast; an eclectic blend that is unique to Omaha by aligning to LinkedIn’s brand. Materials will combine effortlessly throughout the space, blurring the lines in which one area or era ends and the continuation of another begins; a space that is recognizing of the past, present and future.
As Omaha was a “Gateway to the West,” so too is the message of the front entry. Omaha was built west of the Missouri river and the location of the first transcontinental railroad. The layout of the entry directs you true west through a portal of hand-hewn railroad timbers toward the beacon of light (or the neon-lit logo symbolic of the Omaha’s local brew houses of the late 1800s and LinkedIn’s fun and approachable attitude). The portal holds the message “Connect to Opportunity” to emphasize LinkedIn’s underlying mission; that every minute of every day is an opportunity is within reach.
Near the front entry, there is a modern interpretation of LinkedIn’s economic opportunity globe. At the core, LinkedIn provides a professional networking platform that focuses on bringing connectivity and productivity in the modern working world. In the same manner, this sculpture reflects these same ideals — the center symbolizing the ethos of the company itself, while the surrounding bands of wood collectively forming a larger network. Each of the four lighting sequences provides visual cues directly inspired by both connectivity and productivity with individual lights and colors referencing a community of people interacting through the online platform. Two additional sequences include a pulse of light radiating from the center out symbolizing the heartbeat and commitment to the growth of a successful business while a repeating eclipse expresses how LinkedIn is shifting the working landscape.
Translated, the word "Omaha" (actually U-Mo'n-Ho'n) means "Dwellers on the Bluff,” and usually, the word is translated "against the current.” Omahas were the most powerful Native Americans along the stretch of the Missouri and thus, the asymmetrical layout responds to how the initial town settlements and native dwellings centralized and materialized along the natural curving bends by the river. The overall layout pushes the work zone to the perimeter of the floor plate to allow connections to natural daylight for all employees, thus creating an even hierarchy amongst workers. Divorcing from the rigid orthogonal design of traditional office environments - centralized meeting rooms and support spaces clustered internally help provide additional privacy and acoustic separation from the open office. The informal juxtapositions of the modern meeting rooms and unique angles provide additional connecting sub-corridors that weave throughout the space, creating interesting intersections and informal places for interaction amongst employees. The assorted blend of furniture in the mid-century style, the industrial modern, and country prairie provides the proportionate mix of past, present, and future. New streamline LED lighting and an open ceiling plan helps to enhance the lofty modern forms by reducing visual clutter as it focuses attention on the unique graphics within the space.
Custom graphics embrace the local heritage and culture to Omaha. An oversized native head, the infamous “Kerrey Bridge,” and the “LinkedIn For Good” wall are ever-evolving murals in which employees can pin and post their experiences that help create impact within their company and local community. Other sculptures and graphics are subtle plays on the heritage that is Omaha – the Blue corn logo and the modern interpretation of the corn maze bookshelf helps to enhance further the connection of the LinkedIn Brand.
Nina Tomasevich - As a Senior Designer Nina has over 9 years of experience on projects ranging from commercial and hospitality, to healthcare and retail. Her expertise derives from the diversity and complexity of designing commercial and institutional environments.
MCL Construction uses many voices from within and outside the company to give informed advice, opinions, and techniques about construction methods, innovation, and technology.