When making comparisons to Project Speedway, the 2.7-million-square-foot e-commerce fulfillment center currently under construction in Richmond, the Museum of the Bible on the National Mall in Washington, DC is not the first project that comes to mind. But if you dig beyond the surface, a common denominator emerges - Conner Gentil, a key member of the construction team on both projects, has tackled these two complex projects with a consistent commitment to the details and delivering excellence as a team.
A tight schedule is the driving force behind Project Speedway, requiring planning and precision to keep the project on track. Sitework began in March 2021 with an average of 12,000 cubic yards of dirt moved per day to make way for the facility’s 15-acre concrete pad. After steel framing began last summer, an average of 4,000 cubic yards of concrete per week was poured at peak production to keep the decking on schedule. As senior superintendent, Conner and his team oversee the coordination between trades and ensures that quality and safety remain at the forefront of the massive effort. With his oversight, the project team has put over $260 million worth of work in place during the past 18 months and is slated to be delivered in November 2022.
Conner attributes his ability to execute under pressure to his military background. He grew up in the military and served as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps for nearly 10 years after graduating from the University of Virginia with a civil engineering degree. After deployments in Afghanistan, Libya and Djibouti, Conner returned to his home state of Virginia as an infantry officer instructor at Quantico.
Reflecting on how his time in the military shaped his leadership style, Conner explains, “I learned to confront challenges head on. When the going gets tough, I love motivating my team to work together to deliver.”
The Museum of the Bible presented a different set of challenges for Conner. The project required the renovation of a century-old building and new construction of a lobby and rooftop galley overlooking the National Mall. The striking roof, curvilinear glass-and-metal envelope, visible structural ribs, and dramatic prow projecting over the entry façade required meticulous execution. Conner worked closely with the museum’s architect, SmithGroup, to realize the vision for these spaces, constructing 20 different mockups of key building features, including the atrium stairs, the decorative glass guardrail, and various portions of the performance hall, to verify the materials, quality, and craftsmanship of each component. The result is a striking landmark recognized with numerous industry awards.
As Conner wraps up his successful effort on the distribution facility, he looks forward to the next challenge Richmond has to offer his team. “I am excited to continue to build in Richmond. This is home for me, and I love the city’s vibrancy and respect its history”, he says. With a keen ability to execute on every detail, Conner will undoubtedly leave his mark. Clark is excited to have Conner and the Speedway team on the forefront of the recently opened Richmond Office, assisting the Richmond team in expanding Clark’s growth in the Mid-Atlantic region. Conner would be remiss if he didn’t take this opportunity to thank the Bible and Speedway teams for tremendous efforts In Conner’s words, “Nothing happens without incredible teams and trade partners respecting the work every single day while creating the spaces we all get to enjoy.”