The project was awarded to mOrphosis through the typical RFQ and interview process. After selection, mOrphosis engaged a local architect, at the request of the owner, as a consultant to help with the local permitting process and other pertinent issues. In the pre-design phase, mOrphosis assisted the owner in the selection of a Construction Manager. The owner and CM entered into a contract for a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) with Design Assist. The CM became an integral part of the project team throughout the design process.
The project only strays from the traditional GMP with Design Assist in the Construction Administration Phase. Morphosis believes that it is in the client’s best interest if there is at least one member of the design team on-site during the construction process, preferably the whole design team. This expanded scope of services, however, must be included in the contract. Most owners see the benefit of bringing the contractor in early. With a little education, they can also see the benefit of increasing the presence of the architect on the job-site. This scope can then be added to the contract.
The project designer is the only one who knows the full extent of the design intent; the complexity of mOrphosis’ projects does not lend itself to being conveyed through drawings. The client and CM benefit from easier and faster access to the design architect when design issues arise. The designer’s presence can limit and address change orders and RFIs, as well as clarify design intent, and facilitate a smoother construction process The on-site designer has the same contractual relationship that is found in traditional contract documents. The same channels of communication exist. He is unable to direct sub-contractors; all communication must be directed through the CM. There is no inspecting or testing; he is simply there to observe and report. "We're here to help the contractor," says Tamm-Seitz of his role on the project site.
In the case of the Perot Museum, the project designer spends 2-3 weeks on-site and then returns to the L.A. office for 2-3 days for meetings with the entire design team and consultants. Similarly, the project architect spends the majority of his time in the L.A. office handling the technical side of project management, but occasionally travels to Dallas to meet with the CM. Tamm-Seitz joked that "it's feasible to fly between Dallas and L.A. every two to three weeks; it's not feasible to do the same if the project is in Shanghai".
Regardless of contract structure, all parties have the same goal: to produce a great building. Through early collaboration, the design team facilitates a greater understanding of the project by all parties. Through this project understanding, the CM knows what is expected as far as quality and design intent. "It is in the CM's best interest to solve issues in their construction sequence," says Tamm-Seitz. He shared that his CM will come to him with items he knows are unacceptable, rather than waiting to address them later. Similarly, Tamm-Seitz says that he might occasionally give the GC a heads-up on issues that may arise in an upcoming Observation Report in order to foster a good working-relationship with the GC.
Through additional services, mOrphosis is able to better serve its clients without entering into a full-blown Integrated Project Delivery method. The early collaboration, lines of communication, and shared goals are all the same as in IPD, they are just structured differently in the contract.
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