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Construction Management Jumpstart is the definitive introduction to the field, providing a detailed walkthrough of each stage of a project from the construction manager’s perspective. Authoritative coverage of fundamental concepts and practices clearly delineates the manager’s role, while step-by-step guidance provides valuable instruction for essential management duties. This new third edition has been updated to reflect the field’s current environment and best practices, giving students a highly-relevant introduction to an evolving industry.

Construction Management Jumpstart
The First Best Step Toward a Career in
Construction Management

What’s New


New Chapter:

Performing Preconstruction Services


New Chapter:



New Chapter:

Sustainability & the Built Environment


Expanded BIM and Beyond chapter


Recent project delivery research findings


Common construction acronyms list

Chapter 1 Excerpt

“It’s just construction.”

In my experience, the average observer of construction regards the process as rather insignificant and inconsequential—nothing special, nothing unique, not an industry of any major importance—mostly filled with noninfluential blue-collar macho types. After all, when compared to medicine or law or even architecture, the common notion is “it’s just construction.” This is why our great buildings and structures are typically identified only with the designer, and not with who built them. The contractor is incidental. Let me give you a few recent examples to drive home my point.

The distinctive architectural designs of Frank Gehry are known all over the world. One of his newest creations, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, is “the most challenging of all Frank’s buildings … an enormously complicated structure because of the curved shapes and intricate joinery,” according to Terry Bell, project architect for Gehry Partners, LLP, as quoted on the Walt Disney Concert Hall website. The website mentions that “extraordinary state-of-the-art construction techniques” were needed for the Concert Hall—“[o]ne of the most technically advanced structures in the world, [with] its lack of right angles and the overall sculptural quality.” At any one time as many as 550 construction workers were on-site to transform the concrete and steel into one of the most acoustically sophisticated concert halls in the world. However, you would be hard-pressed to find one mention of the building contractor of this magnificent construction feat in the popular press or on the Concert Hall’s website. Not one single mention! This incredible construction challenge was accomplished by the M.A. Mortenson Company.

Let’s consider another example. In 2002, the third-largest cathedral in the world and the first cathedral to be built in the United States in more than a quarter of a century was constructed in downtown Los Angeles. Designed by the world-renowned Spanish architect Professor Jose Rafael Moneo, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels stands 11 stories tall and weighs a whopping 151 million pounds. The cathedral rests on 198 base isolators so that it will float up to 27 inches in any direction during an 8-point magnitude earthquake. It has been stated that the design is so geometrically complex that none of the concrete forms could vary by more than 116th of an inch. Having visited the cathedral several times during its construction and been witness to the extraordinary efforts made by the construction team to ensure the quality of the design along with the requirements for the budget and schedule, I was very disappointed, again, not to find one mention of the contractor, Morley Builders, on the cathedral’s website.

Consider any of our architectural jewels: the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) in Chicago, the Space Needle in Seattle, the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco, and the Empire State Building in New York. With a little research, you would find that each of these buildings is easily identified with their designers. However, it would be a real challenge for you to discover that Morse Diesel International, Inc., was the builder of the Sears Tower, that Howard S. Wright Construction built the Space Needle, that the general contractor for the Transamerica Pyramid was Dinwiddie Construction (now Hatheway-Dinwiddie), and finally that Starrett Brothers & Eken, Inc., was the builder of the Empire State Building.

To me, not recognizing and acknowledging the contractor along with the designers of these buildings is a grave injustice—but, unfortunately, indicative of how our society views the construction industry. Apparently, to some people it is not very important. Well, let me explain why it is very important. Drawing a pretty picture on paper or calculating a complex engineering formula does not make a building real—construction does, and that takes tremendous creativity, ingenuity, tenacity, skill, blood, sweat, and tears. So remember, no matter how outstanding the design, it is not architecture until somebody builds it! “Just” construction? I don’t think so!

Construction’s Contribution

Our society does not take the contributions of the construction industry very seriously. But it should, because without these contributions, this world would be a very bleak place. When you walk out of your office, home, or classroom today, just take a good look at the world around you. I want you to notice the houses, the churches, the hospitals, the shopping malls, the theaters, the baseball stadiums, the bridges, the streets, and even the cars driving around. None of these would exist without construction. There would be no cars or any other manufactured products because there would be no manufacturing plants—no Nike shoes, no McDonald’s restaurants, and no iPhones. There would be no commerce, no transportation, and no manufacturing. Progress and construction go hand in hand—we can’t have one without the other. Our society, our economy, and our culture are all dependent upon the construction industry. So, the next time you hear someone complaining about construction workers stirring up dust at the intersection or delaying their trip to work in the morning, I hope that you will take the time to point out what our world would be like without construction.




“This book is for those who are seeking CM as a career path, or looking to change careers, or for those seasoned folks already in it—especially those who might want to move from field operations into management.  I highly recommend giving the book a read.  It’s written in a conversational style from someone who has been there and done that.  Barb Jackson knows her stuff and she shares her experiences on every page.”

Ty Backer
TC Backer Construction
Dover, PA 

“Construction Management JumpStart was such a comprehensive text when I was teaching at East Carolina University, that we are considering adopting it at University of Southern Mississippi, because it’s the most relevant book available for construction students that I know of. It is easy to read, well organized and comprehensive, so much so that we recommend the architecture students use it as well.”

Dr. Erich Connell

Professor, School of Construction + Design, USM

About the author.

Barbara Jackson is Director of the Franklin L. Burns School of Real Estate & Construction Management in the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver.  She is also a professor of Construction Management and Design-Build at DU.  She holds a BS in Housing & Design, an MS in Construction Management, and a PhD in Education and Human Resources.  With over 30 years of experience as a licensed contractor and design-builder, she is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant on alternative project delivery, integrated project leadership, high performance teaming, and the transforming culture of the AEC industry

“Today the career opportunities in the construction industry are greater than ever.  The advances in technology and the complexity of projects demands expertise way beyond simply pounding nails and erecting steel.  The learning and growth opportunities across all sectors of the industry are expanding and the rewards are significant—both financially and professionally.  If you are looking for a challenging career and enjoy seeing the fruits of your labor manifest in real buildings and structures, Construction Management just might be for you!”


Barb’s Books & Contributions

Design-Build Essentials

Construction Management Jumpstart

Regenerative Urban Development

Guest Author

Journey’s Out of Homelessness

Guest Author

Coming Soon!

Design-Build Essentials
2nd Ed.

We are excited to announce that the 2nd Edition of Design-Build Essentials will be coming soon.  It will be self-published by Dr. Jackson herself and include new updates and content to reflect the latest information on Design-Build Done Right!