Daniel Ramirez is the Director of Innovation for Skanska CDUS. Based in Seaport-Boston, he has extensive expertise in directing highly complex projects that leverage data acquisition and analysis while building organizational infrastructure to maximize business results. He leads Skanska CD’s strategy for innovative solutions and improvements, including the development of new products, services, and processes in design, construction, and building operations. Daniel’s work developing novel technologies has contributed to the completion of internationally recognized buildings including the Miami Science Museum and the Alliance Theater Renovation in Atlanta. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Columbia University and a Master of Architecture from Pratt Institute.
What role do you believe diversity and inclusion play in the construction and commercial real estate industries? What effect does a more diverse and inclusive workforce have on the field, and on you personally?
Diversity and inclusion are incredibly important in the field. As the demographics of cities change, those changes have to be reflected in the workforce that shapes the built environment. Additionally, diverse viewpoints correlate directly to the creation of new and disruptive ideas.
In my world, automation is a growing trend and its implementation will lead to the creation of new career paths. Making sure those opportunities are open and available to an inclusive group of people is essential. To create a more skilled workforce, we need to make it easier for diverse populations to access the necessary education and training to succeed. I’ve benefitted from that myself.
I grew up in the Bronx below the poverty line. Luckily, I was identified for a gifted track as an elementary student and introduced to the Prep for Prep program, which aims to help students of color matriculate to independent schools. Getting placed in the program involved a rigorous process of testing and interviews followed initially by summer classes, and then by extra classes once a week after school and all day on Saturdays. Ultimately, St. David’s, an all-boys’ K-8 school on the Upper East Side of New York, accepted me. Going from a Bronx public school to an Upper East Side private school meant a huge cultural shift for me, but that academic and social transformation changed my life. The whole experience taught me how to work hard and prove myself — lessons I carry with me to this day.
Data analysis and tenant engagement are two areas of focus for Skanska. What analytics and what types of engagement are you seeking? What impact do they have on your work?
We’re working on finalizing our data strategy and developing the best Building UX for our projects. Our IT team is developing our data infrastructure, and we have a number of great partners. As a global enterprise Microsoft customer, for example, we have access to best-in-class tools that allow us to scale our data collection and analysis. The typical census, payroll, and drive-time data from other tools can’t supply the level of detail and nuance we need. We’re looking to partner with companies who can supply that higher-level data on mobility, parking, and building occupant habits. We want to know not only how long it takes you to get to work, but how you’re getting there, at what times, etcetera. And once you’re there, how are you using your office building? It’s all about leveraging technology to achieve a high quality of life for the people who occupy our spaces, to create the best building experience possible for tenants.
What development project are you most excited about now and why?
I’m excited about all of our projects, but I’ve got to give some love to Boston. Two Drydock is a 13-story office building we’re developing at the edge of the Seaport district. Lord Hobo is opening a fabulous brewery and restaurant on the ground floor, and above that, we’ve got eight floors of Class A office space with some of the most incredible views in the city. We’re pushing powerful tenant engagement tools there that we envision will become part of all of our buildings.
With Two Drydock’s Tenant Engagement App, we’re developing a superior, streamlined building experience. For example, guests to the building will receive a QR code via text message which will allow them to seamlessly enter either the front door or parking garage, pass through the security turnstiles, and will then call an elevator and know which floor to bring them to. For tenants, the app eliminates the need for fobs or key cards by having everything you need right on your phone. Another function allows users to manage meeting space reservations. Those are just a few examples; functionality can be added and customized as you go.
As a Pathways to Inclusion cohort member, how is ULI Boston/New England helping you to meet your professional goals?
It’s been tremendously helpful. I moved directly from New York to the suburbs north of Boston, so I never had the opportunity to build my network in Boston proper. Being part of ULI has turbocharged my networking. And through Pathways to Inclusion, in particular, I was able to join the Tech Product Council in Boston, which has led to even more meaningful connections. Being part of ULI has also been really beneficial for finding companies to partner within the city.
When you’re not actively transforming construction development, what are your favorite pastimes?
I’m a father of two, so most of my time outside of work revolves around them. They both have a little of the design and engineering bug in them. My daughter recently had to build a model of a lighthouse for a school project. She went through a process similar to what I do in my work: research, design, and present. With the little spare time I have beyond that, I like to design and create products using digital fabrication tools. I do a lot less of that than I used to, but I try to get back to it whenever I can.