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    ‘Virtual’ groundbreaking for a real building

    Executives at Suffolk Construction have been to their share of groundbreakings, with all of the souvenir shovels, helmets, and snapshots of men in suits behind mounds of dirt to prove it.

    So for the groundbreaking of Suffolk’s own headquarters expansion Thursday, the executives decided to try something a little different: A “virtual groundbreaking.”

    Instead of actual shovels, Suffolk CEO John Fish, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, and others will don headsets and hoist virtual dirt with a virtual shovel. And with each simulated scoop, another chunk of the new wing of Suffolk’s headquarters on Allerton Stret in Roxbury will appear on-screen, from foundation to framing to floors to finishes.

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    The change of pace is a chance to show off Suffolk’s new “innovation lab,” which is working on new ways to help the construction giant manage big projects, a spokesman said. And unlike at most real-world groundbreakings, no one will even get dirt on their shoes.

    Tim Logan can be reached at tim.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.