Managing WashU’s biggest construction project ever

  • October 3, 2017
  • By Guest Blogger
  • 3 minute read

Ryan Moss, BSBA ’01, BSCE ’01, is serving as project director for McCarthy Building Companies, overseeing the major transformation of the east end of the Danforth Campus.

While his friends played with Tonka trucks in the sandbox, Ryan Moss visited real building sites and rock quarries across the St. Louis region. Moss’ father, Ed Moss, worked in construction and, at a young age, Moss knew he wanted to work in the same industry.

“In some ways, I’m still a kid — I like the big trucks and the high lifts,” says Moss, who grew up in nearby Hillsboro, Mo. “But what I really find satisfying about construction is that you can see progress every single day.”

Today, Moss works for McCarthy Building Companies, and he is project director for the East End Transformation of the Danforth Campus, the largest construction project in the history of Washington University.

The $250-million transformation features three new academic buildings, an expansion of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, a welcome center, a multi-use building with dining and offices, an underground parking garage and an expansive new park. The project broke ground in May 2017 and is scheduled to be in completed in two years. “We are working at lightning speed,” Moss says.

Moss, a 2001 graduate of Washington University who earned bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering and business administration, is wowed by the project’s scope and vision. Back when he was a student, the East End was basically an asphalt lot.

“I never went there. No one did unless you were an architecture or art student,” Moss recalls. “To be back on campus and be a part of something that will change the student experience for generations to come is really cool.”

McCarthy is the project’s general contractor, and in his role, Moss communicates constantly with university leaders. He also oversees McCarthy’s on-site staff and some 650 workers employed by 60 subcontractors. That means he must be an expert in a wide range of disciplines, including geo technological engineering, architecture, plumbing and LEED standards, to name just a few.

“We have a favorite saying around here: ‘We must feed the machine,’” says Moss, who works out of an office near the site. “We can’t let anything slow us down. If a problem arises and — knock on wood — that hasn’t happened yet, we must be prepared to respond quickly.”

Ryan Moss, BSBA ’01, BSCE ’01, is serving as the project manager for McCarthy on the East End transformation. Photos by Joe Angeles/Washington University
Ryan Moss, BSBA ’01, BSCE ’01, is serving as the project manager for McCarthy on the East End transformation. Photos by Joe Angeles/Washington University
Ryan Moss, BSBA ’01, BSCE ’01, is serving as the project manager for McCarthy on the East End transformation. Photos by Joe Angeles/Washington University

As a civil engineer, Moss admires the design of the new parking garage, a 790-space structure that will be both functional and beautiful. But as an alum, he is eager to build the Sumers Welcome Center.

“It makes so much sense to have a dedicated building that can serve as a first stop for prospective families or alums,” Moss says. “It’s going to be an amazing space that’s all glass, allowing panoramic views of Brookings Hall and Forest Park.

“I can’t wait to come back as an alum or, it’s my hope one day, as the parent of a prospective student,” says Moss, who is a father of three.

Q&A with Ryan Moss

What is the biggest change you’ve observed in the construction industry?

Definitely the focus on sustainability. There wasn’t much of a LEED movement when I was a student. But that has changed. Clients care about natural resources and energy efficiency. That’s especially true here. WashU has the highest standards of any client I’ve ever had.

What are your goals for the industry?

Construction is a male-dominated industry. As the father of two girls, I would like to change that. I’m part of a women’s resource group that is committed to making sure the needs of women are addressed and that women are recruited and mentored.

What is your favorite memory of Washington University?

Definitely my time playing basketball. Playing for Coach (Mark) Edwards was an amazing opportunity. I was here when the women’s team won all of those NCAA championships, and it was so much fun to watch them dominate. I used to tell people that I tried out for the women’s team and was cut.

By Diane Toroian Keaggy, this story first appeared on WUSTL’s Campus Next website

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