09/30/2004

A Day in the Life

Steve Puttroff Builds For the Future

 

Up Close and Personal

Steve, do you have any particular hobbies?

I’m an avid golfer, but the thing I do that probably surprises most people is I garden. I like to be outside.

An alternative profession?

If I had to pick another career, I think I’d be a cook.

An industry buzzword that you hate?

Currently, if something has to be revisited, people will say we’re going to “circle back on this.” Every time we “circle back,” I cringe because it sounds like we’re retreating.

Any two people you’d like to meet?

I’d probably start with the golfers – Tiger Woods and anybody I think could give me advice on how to improve my game. And then, Justin Wilson, the comedian/cook from Louisiana. I grew up in the South and he used to have a TV show where he’d dispense humor and recipes at the same time.

Anything else?

You asked me about the resources I use. My wife and I ride to work together, so I consult her a lot – but indirectly, not like I do with some of the other people here. She has to listen to me complain all the way home and she usually helps me solve my problems. I think it’s so she doesn’t have to listen to [me] for very long.

Steve Puttroff is a man who clearly enjoys his job. As senior director of construction management at Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority (MPEA), Chicago, which owns and manages McCormick Place and Navy Pier, he sees tangible proof each day that he and his staff of 12 professionals are making an impact on the city’s convention and tourism future.

He marvels at the wealth of resources this results-oriented group brings to each project, noting the benefits and challenges of working on the variety of MPEA facilities. “From the exposition business at McCormick Place to the retail and tourism aspect of Navy Pier, we are just so diverse,” he explains. Two common themes for these two complexes prevail – placing a premium on customer service, while keeping anything other than business as usual “invisible” to the public. It’s a balancing act, he says, “especially since we’re a small department within a big organization. However, it’s always a matter of whether the glass is half full or half empty: Is this a headache or an opportunity?”

Most of Puttroff’s (and his staff’s) time is presently occupied by the construction of McCormick Place West, an expansion to the city’s premier convention center that in the current design proposes adding about 720,000 square feet of exhibition and meeting room space to the McCormick Place complex. Official groundbreaking occurred in late May, with substantial completion slated for late 2007 and occupancy in 2008. Once completed, the West Building will allow new conventions and meetings to be booked in Chicago (main exhibit halls in each building of McCormick Place currently operate above practical maximum occupancy), and it will also create a unique, flexible facility that will set the standard for convention centers in the future.

Puttroff’s 3-year experience as MPEA’s senior utility manager during his 14.5-year tenure has provided him a unique perspective as this expansion – and others in the future – unfold. “I gained a true understanding of what our customers expected,” he recalls. “When you meet with people and deal with them on a day-to-day basis about how to get their electricity and plumbing in on schedule, you really get in touch with their needs and how best to respond.”

Such responsiveness extends to his colleagues as well, in the form of feedback and accolades. Puttroff recalls the pride he felt during his first big project at MPEA: the renovation of Navy Pier from 1990 to 1994. “After substantial parts of the complex were opened up, I’d go to Navy Pier in a jacket or a hard hat that identified me as an MPEA employee. I remember people coming up to me on the dock and saying, ‘It’s great to have Navy Pier rehabilitated. You guys did a great job; you got it right.’ I always made it a point to spread the word to as many people as I could. That was really satisfying – not just to me, but to everybody involved in the project.”

And satisfying projects have been a part of Puttroff’s history almost as long as he can remember. “As a kid, I was the one [at the site] where they were building houses and I just liked watching construction,” he says. “Now, I get to be involved in construction and I still enjoy it to this day. It’s rewarding to be a part of something that you know is real and concrete and will be there for a long time.”

Linda K. Monroe (linda.monroe@buildings.com) is editorial director at Buildings magazine.

 


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Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

Bluebeam® Revu® simplifies digital facilities document management from design review to leveraging as-builts, maintenance manuals and O&Ms submittals.

Yaskawa drives offer quality performance for air handlers and cooling towers on the roof to secondary chilled water pumps in the basement

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.


 
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