Shaping communities through partnership and investment in four commercial development markets

In developing and divesting sustainable commercial projects, Skanska USA Commercial Development (CDUS) leads with a community-first approach. Across our CDUS markets, thoughtfully developing alongside the communities where we work shows up in more ways than one.

In this piece, we explore how CDUS’ commitment to developing with a community mindset comes to life in Washington, D.C., Houston, Boston and Seattle.

Washington D.C.


OZMA in Washington, D.C.

On the surface, one might assume the impact of Skanska’s commercial development operations in the metro D.C. area is felt solely by the tenants who occupy our completed spaces.

Looking a little closer, it’s evident that an intentional focus on positively affecting those in proximity to our developments is of equal importance.

“In all of our projects, we approach our designs with great consideration for the community and surrounding neighborhood,” says Executive Vice President Mark Carroll. “We believe our impact goes beyond the perimeter of our buildings.”

The number of CDUS-developed buildings in Washington D.C. and Virginia continues to grow, and with it, the number of chances to make an impact. By the end of 2024, three of our projects will have completed construction: 17xM, OZMA and 3901 Fairfax.

These projects, along with the recently completed Heming, have provided opportunities for project teams to keep people at the center of everything.

“3901 Fairfax is being developed with a public outdoor plaza that serves as an amenity to the building and the surrounding community,” says Mark. “This was envisioned and designed with Arlington County and local community groups.”


3901 Fairfax Drive in Arlington, Virginia.

In the case of residential buildings, OZMA and RESA, there was a concerted effort to positively shape the pedestrian experience. Master planning included integrating an internal block pedestrian connection—a linear greenspace known as “The Meander”—between the building to provide connectivity for tenants, and exterior space for the public to gather.

“OZMA was designed in conjunction with planning for the surrounding developments, to provide an outdoor community amenity across several blocks,” says Mark. “In this urban environment, outdoor space for both public use and retail exterior use is greatly needed, and our designs provide this amenity to the community,” he adds.

The team behind Heming, Skanska’s residential tower in Northern Virginia, kept this in mind and incorporated an exterior area known as “The Levels” into the master plan. “The Levels” serves as an outdoor community space where the public can gather and attend local events.

As a result of planning with the community in mind, the street where Heming sits is designed to allow for road closures, making it easy to host community events such as farmers markets.



The Great Steps within the Bank of America Tower in Houston, Texas, offer a new gathering space for the public.

In Houston, embodying a community-forward approach to commercial development happens early on and throughout a project’s lifecycle.

In the case of our Bank of America (BoA) Tower project, completed in 2019, project plans formed out of a vision to create a sense of welcome and oneness with the community.

Pieces of Houston’s culture and creativity anchor the Understory, the building’s lower level. Here, a chef-driven culinary market contains more than 21,000 square feet of upscale retail and dining options. Local artists’ work marks the space—the result of a partnership with Sawyer Yards, one of the largest working artist communities in the country. 

Designed to serve as a vibrant point of connectivity for all, the Understory stands out as being the only place in Houston with five pedestrian tunnel connections. It can be reached by rail, car, bus, bike and foot.

The space’s grand staircase, known as The Great Steps, and complimentary Wi-Fi throughout, also promote connectivity and collaboration.

Similar to BoA Tower, planning for the recently completed 1550 on the Green project involved envisioning a space that draws people in to connect with each other.

Situated across from Discovery Green Park, the 28-story office tower is the first development in a three-block district bringing new public spaces, restaurants and more to downtown Houston.


1550 on the Green in Houston, Texas, sits across from Discovery Green Park.

“What makes 1550 on the Green special for Houston is that it’s fully integrated within the existing walkable neighborhood, and an extension of Discovery Green Park,” Brandon Hendricks, manager, real estate development previously said.

“From designing pedestrian-focused streetscapes to lush native planting throughout the building, 1550 embraces and complements its local context,” added Shannon Emerson, manager, real estate development.

During construction, team members also made a point to invest in the community. As a part of Skanska’s Day of Discovery program, the 1550 on the Green project team hosted 40 young women from Katy Independent School District.

The day’s activities included a project tour, interactive discussions with industry professionals and a women-led panel focused on introducing the group to career opportunities in real estate and construction.



In Boston, Massachusetts, Skanska’s USA Commercial Development group is developing a Living and Learning Center on the Academic Campus of Simmons University.

In Boston, creating and maintaining an open dialogue with those in the community is a top priority.

In May 2023, Skanska commenced construction of the Simmons University Living and Learning Center. The construction and delivery of the Living and Learning Center will be a significant milestone in Skanska’s partnership with Simmons University in support of ‘One Simmons,’ the institution’s three-phased strategic master plan that will consolidate all of the University facilities onto one campus.

The plan is designed to advance the Simmons mission as one of the only remaining women’s-centered universities in the country.

Delivery of the Living and Learning Center in 2026 will also allow for the development of Skanska’s transformational Longwood Place project to begin. Once complete, Longwood Place will create a hub of sustainable research and workspaces, active community amenities, housing and an inclusive public realm in the Longwood Medical Area.

To keep everyone connected to the broader ‘One Simmons’ vision, Skanska and Simmons are hosting informal “office hours” aligned with Living and Learning Center project milestones.

These in-person forums are opportunities for students, faculty and the community to share helpful feedback directly with the project teams. Voiced ideas help Skanska and Simmons better ‘personalize the project.’

“We want to be a great partner to Simmons and deliver this great facility to their students,” says Ally Riley, manager, real estate development. “Students on campus are very excited to learn about the project and see progress.”

“Additionally, the office hour sessions are a great way for the Skanska team to engage with the student population and faculty, and answer any questions and concerns they might have,” continues Ally.


USA Commercial Development team members volunteer with the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, whose mission is to maintain, restore and protect the parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in Massachusetts.

CDUS team members enjoy partnering with neighborhood groups that serve the community where the Longwood Place Project is located.

Through volunteering with and donating to Fenway Cares, an effort of The Fenway Alliance, the team has found a tangible way to give back. Twice a month, Fenway Cares organizes and gives away more than 400 bags of fresh produce and groceries to those in need.

The team has also recently volunteered their time planting with the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, whose mission is to enhance and preserve the Emerald Necklace Parks for all.



The Eight in Bellevue, Washington.

In the Pacific Northwest, visionary CDUS projects such as The Eight, 2+U and Kaye are enhancing the tenant experience.

Simultaneously, team members are partnering with organizations like Project Destined, which connects firms with undergraduate and graduate level students to enhance opportunities for those interested in the real estate industry.

Project Destined is a leading social impact platform that provides training in financial literacy, entrepreneurship and real estate. Since 2016, the organization has trained more than 8,000 students across the globe.

The program arranges students into groups and fosters the skills needed to conduct market and feasibility studies, underwrite ground up and value-odd development opportunities, and create an offering memorandum.

CDUS supports Project Destined by providing sponsorship to back student participation in the program. Team members also mentor program participants through a competitive group project in which students must develop a proposal for a value-add acquisition.

“Everyone in the Seattle office has had an opportunity to participate as either mentors or judges during the group project component of the students’ internships,” says Alison Crowley, senior manager, real estate development. “As the students developed an acquisition and redevelopment strategy for an assigned property, we met with them to better hone their skills around financial analysis and underwriting.”

“Also, as volunteers, we helped the students develop the creative and strategic thinking that’s necessary to succeed in real estate,” continues Alison.

The students’ enthusiasm and interest to simply learn has stood out to Skanska team members along the way.

“Our first interaction with the program started in Boston in 2021 and I was so impressed by the students of Project Destined,” says Senior Vice President, Strategic Services Christopher Westley. “The focus and professionalism I witnessed from each participant was very rewarding.”

“Each student had different interests - some were looking for careers in real estate, many weren’t, yet all showed incredible engagement and genuine interest in providing different perspectives to our conversations,” continues Chris. “Overall, the experience has really helped our team’s dynamic in how we look at and pursue aspects of our projects.”