Jim Silvester

Director of Marketing & DesignBuild Services, VRH Construction

A graduate of Pratt Institute with a degree in Industrial Design, Jim Silvester is a registered interior designer in the state of Connecticut and has been certified an Associate DBIA from the Design-Build Institute of America. As the Director of Marketing for VRH Construction since 2010, Jim is responsible for the development, implementation and maintenance of the VRH brand and marketing strategies, public relations, and business development for the firm including VRHRetailBuild and VRHJetworks divisions. In 2018, Jim also became Director of DesignBuild Services applying 35+ years of design and construction experiences for more than 2-million square feet and $800 million in completed projects to developing this new delivery process.

Jim Silvester Director of Marketing & DesignBuild Services, VRH Construction
Jim Silvester Director of Marketing & DesignBuild Services, VRH Construction

1 What are the most exciting things about working in such a diverse environment? 

Transportation design has been my career-long passion. For nearly 35 years, as an Aviation Design Professional, I had the privilege of directing the design and implementation of aviation-based projects. Today, at VRH, I am still exhilarated and challenged by projects — at the core of aviation design and construction — that require creative and enduring solutions. 

I am proud to be associated with an industry-leading aviation construction firm. VRH has a sterling industry reputation for integrity and quality, and an outstanding staff of construction specialists ready to tackle the most-challenging projects. This unique combination provides the resources necessary to deliver comprehensive and demanding aviation construction services and solutions to an ever-evolving aviation community. When you are a recognized industry leader, you must have the ability to respond expeditiously to industry change. To do so, you must be flexible, knowledgeable, and strategic — all the components of a continuously exciting and rewarding journey.

2 What are some recent projects completed in the NY/NJ Metropolitan Area? 

Recent VRH Construction projects include:

  • JFK, British Airways, Terminal 7 – This project encompassed the public areas, lounge facilities, concession areas, facilities and maintenance, baggage systems, and information technology. 
  • LGA Terminal B – VRH completed more than 37 projects including the installation of the new water fountain. Combining lasers with 450 programmable water jets, the fountain is the only such installation in the United States and the only one located within an airport globally. 
  • LGA Terminal B Retail Installations – VRHRetailBuild completed more than $19M in retail-concession tenant fit-outs located within Concourse B and the head house.
  • EWR ConRac Solutions – This ongoing project entails the construction of a 2.7-million-square-foot ground-up consolidated rental car center (ConRAC) facility and parking garage.

3 How has VRH Construction adapted to the needs of its clients during the pandemic? 

At VRH, our clients’ needs are always front and center. From the onset of the pandemic, our immediate goal was to ensure the operational continuity of all our projects. To achieve that we implemented an array of protocols and procedures, both at our construction sites and offices, to maintain an uninterrupted workflow.

At our worksites, we added procedures to our VRHVigilant Safety and Security Program. These included social distancing protocols, proper hygiene and PPE usage, and daily cleaning and disinfecting of all construction areas and remote offices. These procedures and protocols will be incorporated into our Site-Specific Safety Programs on all projects as a standard business practice. We greatly expanded our use of in-house 3D imagery and scanning technology, which provided significant benefits during the pandemic. Based on this experience, we plan to continue these procedures going forward as well.

To reduce office density, we implemented a rotation for office and field staff to work alternate days in the office and from home. We maintained a continuous workflow by transitioning to online meetings and teleconferences. That enabled us to continue to manage our work process and delivery deadlines without interruption. We will utilize that data to inform our policy and procedures in the future. 

4 What advances in technology and design would you consider game-changers? 

Forty years ago, hand-drawn presentation renderings and construction documents were the industry standard for communicating the scope of a project’s design and construction. Today we rely on computer-generated photo-realistic images of a design concept, with fly-through tours of new terminals that include lounge and retail facilities generated in the project’s early stages.

The most recent game-changing technology in the design and construction process is 3D imagery and scanning. This communications tool provides project stakeholders with remote viewing of existing conditions, construction progress, and completion documentation. All this vital project information is available through the VRH VBuild mobile app, which provides stakeholders with 24/7 access to project information.

5 How do you envision the impact of technology on future airport design?

Even after working nearly 35 years developing design solutions for aviation design interior projects in the Northeast region, the question remains: How do you design for an evolving landscape or moving target?

The fundamental nature of air transportation is change. Future facility design and construction will have to accommodate future operational changes and technology by developing flexible solutions. Whether the solutions comprise creative space utilization or flexibility in constructability such as modular construction, one thing is certain: change will inevitably occur more frequently as time and technology advance.

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