Megaprojects are exactly what they sound like; massive projects with long construction timelines and hefty price tags — specifically, a megaproject is one that costs $1 billion or more. They include stadiums, railways, airports and mixed-use.
In 2023, many megaprojects are in the manufacturing sector, as demand for electric vehicles and semiconductors skyrockets. While under construction, megaprojects often dominate their space, disrupting the smaller projects in the region due to supply chain and labor constraints.
Read on for recent coverage of megaprojects featured in Construction Dive.
Construction’s manufacturing boom: Mapping the biggest facilities underway in the US
Construction Dive tracks the top projects focused on products such as semiconductors, EV batteries, food, cars and consumer goods.
By: Sebastian Obando• Published Aug. 7, 2023• Updated Oct. 19, 2023
Spending in the manufacturing sector has ballooned since the CHIPS Act was signed into law in August 2022. Projects underway include everything from plants focused on chip fabrication and electric vehicle batteries to consumer goods and cars.
Here, Construction Dive rounds up the biggest of these projects announced since August 2022, sorted by value and location, along with their contractors when available. Please check this page for regular updates.
The U.S. continues to gain ground on other countries’ manufacturing dominance a year after President Joe Biden signed the $52 billion CHIPS and Science Act in August 2022.
The renewed push to revive American manufacturing after decades of offshoring has led to over $516 billion in private company investment, according to the White House. The multibillion-dollar investments scattered across the country range from biotechnology facilities and chip fabrication plants to electric vehicle battery factories and clean energy projects.
Some major manufacturing projects added to this page over the past four weeks include Wolfspeed’s multibillion-dollar John Palmour Manufacturing Center for Silicon Carbide in Chatham County, North Carolina, and Joby Aviation’s $500 million manufacturing facility in Dayton, Ohio.
The map also lists the contractors working on these projects when they are available. Some of the notable wins since the last update include:
Whiting-Turner’s award to begin initial sitework on the John Palmour Manufacturing Center for Silicon Carbide for owner Wolfspeed.
Evans General Contractors’ contract on a $1 billion BMW EV plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
McCarthy’s win on the $400 million ICL manufacturing facility in St. Louis, Missouri.
Tippman Group’s contract on the $205 million SK Food Group’s manufacturing facility in Cleveland, Tennessee.
Manufacturing construction surges across US
Top projects by value and location since August 2022
Through August, manufacturing construction spending increased 65.5% in 12 months, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis. On a seasonally adjusted annual rate, spending in the sector hit approximately $198.45 billion in August.
Manufacturing activity skyrockets on the heels of 2022’s CHIPS Act
Percent change in construction starts since January 2019, seasonally adjusted dollars
That exponential growth isn’t expected to hit any speed bumps either, according to Richard Branch, chief economist at Dodge Construction Network.
”Public dollars are flooding into the manufacturing and infrastructure sectors,” said Branch. “[That’s] leading to significant growth over the last year.”
The CHIPS Act provides $52.7 billion for American semiconductor research, development, manufacturing and workforce development. This consists of $39 billion in manufacturing incentives, including $2 billion for the legacy chips used in automobiles and defense systems, $13.2 billion in research and development and workforce development and $500 million to strengthen global supply chains, according to the Biden administration. The CHIPS Act also provides a 25% investment tax credit for capital expenses for manufacturing of semiconductors and related equipment.
Additionally, several $1 billion or more manufacturing projects remain in the pipeline over the remaining months of the year. That should keep construction starts in the sector elevated for the foreseeable future, said Branch.
Article top image credit: Courtesy of Intel
$19B JFK project opens construction support facility
The hub will produce concrete on site and employ barges to reduce emissions and congestion on the airport rehab project.
By: Sebastian Obando• Published Oct. 6, 2023
A new construction support facility at the $19 billion redevelopment of John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, aims to reduce truck traffic and environmental impact, according to a press release from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The construction support facility will employ barges to transport materials to and from the airport, eliminating over 300,000 truck trips on local streets. In addition, a batch plant will produce concrete on site, while a crushing facility will recycle old material.
The facility will result in reduced emissions and disbursal of dust and other particulates associated with the transportation of construction materials and construction debris, while making efficient use of the airport’s water access for transfer of bulk materials, according to the release.
The Port Authority awarded earlier this year the contract to build and operate the on-airport construction support facility to Melville, New York-based Modern Efficient Transport. Under that contract, Modern Efficient Transport already built the marine transport facility that uses water access to JFK at the western end of the airport property.
The first barge unloaded at that dock on the western edge of the airport on Sept. 27. That single barge eliminated the need for nearly 200 trucks to carry the equivalent load, according to the release.
Barges will carry bulk materials, such as sand, aggregate, steel and other building materials, to the airport and remove non-hazardous debris and soil from the construction sites on the airport, according to the Port Authority. Those barges have the capacity to responsibly recycle up to 75% of certain categories of construction debris, according to the release.
Meanwhile, the concrete batch plant will use local suppliers from the communities immediately surrounding JFK, according to the release. The plant will provide all the concrete to support construction, including for the two largest terminals and all the roads, parking garages and other infrastructure at JFK, according to the Port Authority.
“Creating a construction support facility that enables us to eliminate hundreds of thousands of diesel-powered trucks from traveling across local streets is proof of the Port Authority’s commitment to our goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions agency-wide by 2050,” said Rick Cotton, executive director for the Port Authority.
Article top image credit: Courtesy of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Singapore builds 1500-acre “industrial park of the future” with BIM
The use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) has seen a significant increase in the past decade, particularly in the context of large-scale construction projects. BIM has emerged as a valuable tool for contractors in planning projects, reducing rework, cutting costs, saving time, and providing other benefits.
BIM processes have greatly benefitted the construction of Singapore’s Jurong Innovation District (JID), an “industrial park of the future” for advanced manufacturing, robotics, urban solutions, clean technologies, and smart logistics.
On this project, designers, architects, contractors, subcontractors, government agencies, and other partners have been using LeapThought’s FulcrumHQ intelligent construction management platform. The platform provides Integrated Digital Delivery (IDD) and has served as a Common Data Environment (CDE) for all JID projects since 2015.
As a next-generation collaboration platform, FulcrumHQ powers over US$200 billion in capital assets globally, supporting the AECO industry in future-forward capital infrastructure projects.
Digitalization, automation, and integration
The JID is built to improve digitalization, automation, and integration in manufacturing. And it was designed and constructed using those same principles.
Bringing the physical and digital worlds together together in an intelligent construction management software, such as FulcrumHQ, ensures project data is both accessible and accurate. All stakeholders can have access to the same information and they can be confident they’re looking at the latest design.
FulcrumHQ allowed all stakeholders on the JID megaproject from designers to subcontractors—more than 2,000 people—to seamlessly collaborate across all infrastructure delivery lifecycle use cases.
Also, by using a digital construction collaboration platform, data and workflows that used to be separate can now be integrated into a single software. It also allows for automation of tasks, which saves significant time and resources.
A CDE for all stakeholders
A common data environment (CDE) serves as a central repository where data, ranging from project plans to progress reports, is stored and updated continuously. This ensures that all the stakeholders involved have access to the latest project information. The implementation of a CDE streamlines project management, enhances decision-making processes, and contributes significantly to the efficiency and success of complex construction projects like the JID.
A CDE helps reduce rework and minimize time spent on RFIs—the two greatest obstacles (besides the weather) to keeping a construction project on schedule. With the JID project, for example, over 50 percent of time was saved on design and coordination approvals, and rework was reduced by 65 percent – translating to better outcomes across the board.
With FulcrumHQ, project stakeholders could design, construct, and perform quality control relating to sustainability, environment, fire code, capacity, discharge and consumption of resources, and more. One platform brings together the broader ecosystem and helps them stay connected and informed.
Collaboration is key on construction megaprojects
Construction projects always have a lot of moving parts, with interdependent elements and a wide array of stakeholders. For mega-projects, the complexity is even greater, demanding seamless advanced management systems like BIM and Integrated Digital Delivery to streamline the process.
Collaboration, and therefore communication, are essential for completing projects on time and below cost.
A digital construction management solution can allow for effortless, cloud-based collaboration with configurable workflows and integrated document management. FulcrumHQ offers advanced, sophisticated regulatory solutions that feature multi-partner collaboration with workflows complemented by machine-powered algorithms.
These tools are essential for bringing together all the stakeholders on a large infrastructure project, such as the JID, from design to operations.
Digital twins offer benefits in all phases
Stakeholders involved in mega-projects and large-scale developments like JID can leverage digital twin technology. This ensures design intentions are clearly communicated and collaboration can take place effectively.
Digital twins allow for low-cost, design-optimization of large-scale construction projects, and time- and cost-savings during the construction and operational phases of the property.
During the construction phase, a digital twin provides stakeholders with insights into the performance of construction equipment, materials, and labor. This helps to identify potential issues before they occur and allows stakeholders to make necessary adjustments to optimize the building's construction.
During the operations phase, a digital twin provides operations and maintenance personnel key information for making smarter decisions, responding to issues more quickly, and better resources for planning.
Discover the future of BIM in large-scale construction with FulcrumHQ. Learn more here.
Article top image credit: Permission granted by LeapThought
Manufacturing megaprojects gobble up workers
Multibillion-dollar factory projects are pushing construction workforces to their breaking point.
By: Sebastian Obando• Published Aug. 14, 2023
In 2020, chip giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. found the perfect site for its next generation $40 billion semiconductor manufacturing facility in the middle of Arizona’s Silicon Desert.
As billions in both public and private money flow into onshoring construction, labor shortages threaten to derail both the manufacturing boom and other construction activity in those hubs, according to industry sources.
Certain states — Arizona, Ohio, New York and Texas, to name a few — are rapidly becoming centers of manufacturing in the U.S. That centralization is putting great strain on the construction workforces in those communities, said Anirban Basu, chief economist at Associated Builders and Contractors.
“These projects are enormous, which means there is an outsized demand for subcontractors and workers,” Basu told Construction Dive. “Just trying to amass that much talent at one time in one place is very expensive.”
That’s because many of the skills needed to build an EV battery plant, for example, overlap with some of the same trades in demand to build other projects in the manufacturing space, like semiconductor facilities, said Brian Turmail, vice president of public affairs and strategic initiatives at Associated General Contractors of America. In other words, megaprojects in these areas are competing for the same labor, which is already scarce.
“Many of our members with auto manufacturing and semiconductor construction are struggling to find enough workers to meet very aggressive timelines,” said Turmail. “There’s enormous pressure to get these plants built.”
Multibillion-dollar manufacturing projects require special construction techniques including sophisticated electrical work and the need for “hyper clean spaces'' that differ from typical construction projects, said Turmail. These facilities must be protected by changes in air pressure to keep particulates out of rooms, which adds another layer of complexity for contractors.
Many of these structures must also be resistant to vibration and other environmental factors, said Basu.
Some projects, particularly for General Motors, Stellantis and Ford, the three largest car manufacturers in North America, carry additional union worker requirements as well, said Turmail. That further limits the pool of workers available.
For instance, Ford announced in February a $3.5 billion investment to build an EV battery plant in Marshall, Michigan, as part of an overall $50 billion effort to grow its EV business by 2026. General Motors in January announced a near $1 billion investment in four manufacturing sites.
That demand for construction workers across the country has demonstrated how strained the skilled construction workforce is, Basu said.
“And I emphasize the word skilled because this is not an ordinary form of construction, this is precision construction. You really need a very skilled workforce, and we just don’t have enough of those people.”
For their part, subcontractors may also end up working on these projects for years, which means they must have the financial wherewithal to complete the work, he added.
“Because there is so much at stake, [such as the] global market share in computer chips, for instance, the potential for legal liability is outsized,” said Basu. “Contractors have to deliver to specifications. Failure to do so can have extraordinary negative consequences.”
TSMC’s case provides an illustration of exactly those kinds of impacts.
Mark Liu, TSMC chairman, said in July during the company’s second quarter earnings call that there “is an insufficient amount of skilled workers with those specialized expertise required for equipment installation in a semiconductor-grade facility.”
For this reason, the semiconductor giant sent technicians from Taiwan to Arizona in order to train local workers. Still, the semiconductor company ultimately pushed back the opening of its Arizona chip factory until 2025 due to those skilled labor shortages.
That lack of specialized labor forms part of a greater trend of unfilled jobs in the U.S. construction industry, which had 374,000 open positions as of June. To fill the gap, Turmail said AGC members are reengineering plants in a way to work around the shortfall.
“[Labor shortages] are certainly changing the way the plants are built,” said Turmail. “To some extent, it may have an impact on cost and it may have an impact on scheduling, but I think that’s still playing out.”
AGC members have also been writing in longer timelines in their bids and raising their prices due to workforce shortages, Turmail said.
Owners of these multibillion-dollar starts are providing higher compensation in order to attract workers, said Ken Simonson, AGC chief economist.
But that is further aggravating labor shortages for other builders who may not be able to compete with those salaries, Dorsey Hager, executive secretary-treasurer of the Columbus/Central Ohio Building & Construction Trades Council, told Construction Dive.
For this reason, smaller contractors are offering amenities in addition to compensation in order to attract and retain workers. That includes everything from hot meals and heated bathrooms on jobsites to paid volunteer and education opportunities that may even extend to workers’ families.
Calls for immigration reform
Despite these immediate adjustments, both Turmail and Basu advocated for some form of temporary worker visa program to alleviate workforce shortages.
“Because we have this short term exigency, we really could use more global talent to help us bring these manufacturing plants online not just for semiconductors, but for batteries, alternative energy and electric vehicle projects,” said Basu. “[The U.S.] needs that skill, whether it’s from Taiwan, South Korea, Germany, France, wherever it happens to be, we could use it.”
That move would help fill the hundreds of thousands of vacant construction positions in the U.S., said New York Building Congress CEO Carlo Scissura. Turmail added, however, that immigration reform is currently not top of mind among legislators.
“We’re not, frankly, optimistic that the political climate is there for getting responsible immigration reform enacted,” said Turmail. “It’s too easy for parties on either side of the aisle to demagogue this issue without actually doing anything.”
Article top image credit: Skyhobo via Getty Images
$2B Disney-sized theme park set to break ground in Oklahoma
American Heartland will sprawl over 1,000 acres in the northeastern part of the state, according to developer Mansion Entertainment Group.
By: Julie Strupp• Published Sept. 28, 2023
A new $2 billion-plus theme park and resort called American Heartland is coming soon to Vinita, Oklahoma, according to a developer press release. The 1,000-acre development, first announced in July, will include roller coasters, an indoor water park, a 300-room hotel and a 320-acre RV park.
The park portion will feature six Americana-themed environments sprawled over 125 acres that host a variety of rides, live shows, waterways, concessions and other family attractions, according to developer American Heartland, an affiliate of Branson, Missouri-based Mansion Entertainment Group.
The development will be built in phases starting with an RV park and cabins, scheduled to open in spring 2025. The theme park and resort eye a 2026 opening, according to the project website.
The developer tapped Columbus, Kansas-based Crossland Construction to build the 320-acre Three Ponies RV Park and Campground, according to Fox23 News. Oklahoma City-based architecture firm ADG Blatt designed what will be the largest campground in the central U.S. with 750 RV spaces and 300 cabins, according to the developer.
Plans for American Heartland indicate the final footprint would rival Disney's Magic Kingdom Theme Park and Disneyland Park in size, and its design team includes former Disney Parks builders and Walt Disney Imagineers.
Vinita Mayor Josh Lee said Mansion Entertainment has secured funding for the park’s construction, according to Fox23 News. On Tuesday, the Vinita City Council approved a proposal to annex several square miles of land for the development.
Lee also said the city is expediting the permitting process to build the necessary homes, restaurants, hotels and other infrastructure to support the town’s projected surge in population, which currently stands at a little over 5,000 people. Local leaders plan to ask the Oklahoma State Legislature for at least $36 million of infrastructure improvements to support the project, according to NonDoc.
At least one expert has expressed skepticism on the project's likelihood to come to fruition. Robert Niles, who runs Theme Park Insider, wrote that theme park projects are notoriously challenging to build and critical questions remain about American Heartland in particular. Not only is the price tag astronomical, but the park's planned location is far from any major city or airport.
Construction Dive reached out to the developer for more information on the project, such where funding would come from and if any contractors had been chosen. Mansion Entertainment replied in an email, “We will follow back up in a few weeks once we have more information to share.”
Article top image credit: Courtesy of Mansion Entertainment Group
Megaproject boom squeezes supplies for life sciences construction
First, it was a labor squeeze. Now, contractors say lead times for generators, electrical switchgears and elevators stretch to two years because of billion-dollar builds.
For example, contractors in the life sciences sector report lead times increasing from four weeks to nearly two years for materials such as generators, electrical switchgears, electrical panels, AHUs and elevators, said Jason D’Orlando, senior managing director at Cushman & Wakefield.
“We are still seeing that labor and material shortages are not only causing cost increases but continued delays for companieslooking to move or expand,” said D’Orlando. “They are impacting potential growth opportunities.”
Multibillion-dollar government infrastructure projects and net-zero efforts are stiffening competition for frequently-used materials.
For life sciences construction, contractors should expect to continue to experience delays in the following supplies, according to the report:
AV and security systems: microchips, logic boards.
HVAC equipment including AC units, air handlers, speciality equipment.
Electrical light fixtures, electrical switchgear.
Additionally, increased demand for materials used in electrification efforts, like copper and electrical switchgear, will only apply more upward pressure to both prices and lead times, according to the report.
For example, electrical switchgear, which during normal production periods took four to six months to obtain, has seen delays double, and even triple in some cases, over the last year, according to the report.
At the same time, labor constraints continue to make staffing projects difficult, especially as megaprojects across the U.S. drain away potential manpower from other projects.
That suggests the pipeline for lab space has peaked in the U.S., according to a recent life sciences real estate report from JLL, a Chicago-based real estate services firm. The report mentions completion of projects should surpass new project starts in the near-term, thus reducing the pipeline.
Nevertheless, life sciences construction activity remains well positioned to eventually bounce back. That’s because demand for lab space will return when venture capital ramps back up again, according to JLL.
Although the immediate future of private capital flows deployed into life sciences construction activity remains uncertain, record dry powder among the top-20 venture capital firms suggest a hopeful outlook. With this strong level of available capital, investment in 2024 will likely increase again, according to the JLL report.
Article top image credit: Courtesy of Lendlease
Indiana breaks ground on $1.2B prison
The Westville Correctional Facility will be the most expensive state building project in Indiana’s history, according to local media.
The construction team, Build Westville, is a joint venture made of Lansing, Michigan-based Granger Construction, Indianapolis-based F.A. Wilhelm Construction and Garmong Construction Services, headquartered in Terre Haute, Indiana, according to a release from the governor’s office. The architect on the job is Elevatus Architecture, based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, according to Granger’s project page.
The 1.4 million-square-foot project will replace the current Westville Correctional Facility, originally built in 1951 as a mental health facility and converted into a prison in 1979. It will house up to 4,200 inmates, about 700 more than currently live at the space, and consolidate employees and other prisoners from the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, according to the governor’s office. Some inmates may also be sent to other facilities.
The prison will have space for administrative functions, program services, security, medical, food services, recreational and facilities management, according to Granger’s project page. Key project features include:
18,000 square feet of classroom space.
A vocational training program space.
400 beds for mental health care and addiction recovery.
A central utility plant.
The governor’s office expects the prison to be complete in early 2027. Kevin Orme, the director of construction at the Indiana Department of Corrections, echoed that target date, but told Construction Dive that could change as the project gets underway.
“We’re just now getting started. There’s a lot of variables, so that’ll all become clear as the project evolves,” Orme said.
As work at the Westville facility gets off the ground, another large prison project has run into issues. The cost of a new prison in Elmore County, Alabama, has ballooned to $1.08 billion, the Associated Press reported on Sept. 28. Montgomery, Alabama-based Caddell Construction is building the project, according to Contractor News, which said the state hired Caddell at a $623 million price tag.
The overrun will eat into the $1.3 billion total that the state promised in 2021 for the Elmore County prison, along with another one in Escambia County, which included money from COVID-19 relief funds. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey blamed inflation for the latest cost jump, AP reported.
Article top image credit: Courtesy of Indiana Department of Corrections
Construction megaprojects to watch in 2023
From stadiums to railways, airports to factories, megaprojects dominate their space and eventually deliver instant landmarks. Priced from the hundreds of millions to the tens of billions, these developments-in-progress are notable for their size, impact and importance to their respective sectors.
included in this trendline
$19B JFK project opens construction support facility
Megaproject boom squeezes supplies for life sciences construction
Indiana breaks ground on $1.2B prison
Our Trendlines go deep on the biggest trends. These special reports, produced by our team of award-winning journalists, help business leaders understand how their industries are changing.