Attendees network at the Symposium reception at AIA National. Image: Emma Tucker
Discussion and strategy sharing take focus at Innovation Day symposium
By Jeff Reynolds, AIA
On March 11, the Construction Contract Administration knowledge community hosted its inaugural symposium at the AIA National Headquarters in Washington, DC. The advertised focus of the event was to explore the ways that technology is influencing the entire building delivery process. However, much like architecture practice, bringing an array of ideas and backgrounds together led to some great discussion on the symposium sessions, and general construction phase services for design professionals.
The morning started off with the importance of the Construction Phase Process, and how proper planning and strategy allow for better results. This session was a great reminder of why the AIA has placed a focus on Construction Contract Administration through the AIA-CCA knowledge community. Our contracts, our specifications, and our execution are the baseline for successful delivery. How we utilize our resources is fundamental to positive outcomes. While, in general, “no one was sued during the design phase,” proper planning and execution before construction begins is just as important as executing our contract responsibilities during construction.
The second session focused on Building Systems and Envelope Commissioning. As building systems and details become more complex, and more reliant on proper installation, façade consultants and building commissioning continue to move toward “standard” services during construction. The presenters provided an excellent introduction as to the drivers (LEED, WELL, etc.) and issues that are leading more owners to request building systems and envelope commissioning. The variety in experiences with those in attendance really heated up the conversations on how we embrace systems and envelope commissioning, pitfalls of scoping and contracting agents, and how the industry continues to evolve. It was clear that certified is not necessarily equal to qualified, and that even standards are catching up to what is needed to truly verify the building envelope is performing as intended.
After we were provided a wonderful lunch, we had three additional sessions after lunch. A big thank you to CADD Microsystems for being a Meal Sponsor.
Tyson McElvain set up the room to discuss the tools and programs available to assist architects in electronic project management, by reviewing software interfaces and features that available programs can or should offer. It was apparent that we could have continued this conversation for most of the afternoon, with many participants advocating for and against software solutions. We tabled the conversation to the reception after the conclusion, but the consensus reached is that there is room for improvement in the systems and how we coordinate with software and systems that contractors and program managers utilize to manage construction projects.
While many of us utilize some form of design assist and delegated design in practice, the penultimate session or the day related the keys to success for a design professional when using each. Mark Walsh presented the advantages and challenges inherent to design assist, by sharing a case study of a window system with integral shading fins and frits on a tight budget. The conversation quickly evolved into procurement of design assist services from vendors, either to avoid limiting competition or to ensure fair treatment for the work delivered. Clearly situations vary, but generally, the need for a design assist service contract that does not guarantee or prohibit award of the work is key. The other big take away is that design assist does not relieve the architect or engineer of record for the information included in the contract documents.
The conversations related to delegated design included everything, including the proposition of renaming the practice. It is clear that as contractors and owners push back on the idea that delegated design somehow represents a failure by the design team, it is critical that we ensure that owners understand the benefit of delegating engineering of specific systems and components for efficiency and optimized performance. It is also critical that we meet the AIA contractual obligations to provide the necessary design criteria when we have owner agreement to employ delegated design for these system.
The last session of the day provided some much needed visual stimulation, as we reviewed the developing trends of virtual reality and augmented reality in the design process. While many firms have started to implement virtual reality for client presentations, David Fersh provided some exciting ideas on how these tools can be utilized to enhance construction phase site observations and review. Whether it be with mesh overlays of the in-progress work, or taking the VR presentations on the road to “walk” the site digitally, the potential was exciting and apparent that much more is on the horizon.
We left the room excited to share additional thoughts and ideas at the reception and with some positive momentum for next year’s event.
Thanks again to CADD Microsystems for their generous sponsorship; and thank you to all of the participants and presenters for attending and offering your experience and dialog to each of the sessions. The Symposium was a great success because of your involvement. We look forward to seeing you all again next year at the CCA-KC Symposium Year Two!
Session Schedule (6.25 LUs)
- Session 1- Innovative CA is not an oxymoron—it's a survival strategy
- Dale Munhall, AIA, LEO A DALY
- Kristina L. Crawley, AIA, LEO A DALY
- Timothy Duffy, AIA, LEO A DALY
- Session 2- Integrating CA with BECx
- Kelley Vogel, AIA, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates
- Fiona Aldous, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates
- Jay Santos, Facility Dynamics Engineering
- Session 3- Electronic project management: A designer's perspective
- Tyson McElvain, AIA, Snow Kreilich Architects
- Session 4- Blurred boundaries: Design assist and delegated design
- Mark Walsh, AIA, Perkins + Will
- Session 5- Immersive reality for efficient building delivery
- David Fersh, AIA, SmithGroup