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The AIA Project Delivery Knowledge Community (PD) promotes the architect’s leadership role in all project delivery methods by assembling and distributing knowledge and best practices for a variety of project delivery methods, e.g. design-build (DB), integrated project deliveries (IPD), and public-private partnerships (P3).

  • 1.  Basis of Design - definitions, guidelines, checklists - asking for input from AIA colleagues

    Posted 08-08-2022 05:32 PM
    Promoting collaboration in all delivery methods requires an early and accurate definition of the project's Basis of Design.  I have always thought or felt that the BoD is the very early stage understanding and statement of those objectives, owner requirements and standards, codes, engineering criteria and design intent narratives that drive designing and recommendations.  What is the BASIS for the design you are offering the client?

    More and more, whether forced by construction partners or controlling design professionals, I am seeing the BoD actually containing propositions.  The BoD seems to have become an early stage specification.  Further, I am witnessing team members who argue with cost estimators and construction partners that we architects "own" a certain product because it was codified in the Basis of Design.  

    What are all of you seeing in your practices?  Do you have guidelines or checklists to share?  How about a better definition for the good intentions forming and delivering a Basis of Design to our clients.  What should the BoD include, but better, what should it not include?  I look forward to reading your replies.

    Architecturally yours,
    Carter

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    Carter Reich AIA
    Ballinger
    Philadelphia PA
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  • 2.  RE: Basis of Design - definitions, guidelines, checklists - asking for input from AIA colleagues

    Posted 08-11-2022 03:56 PM
    Carter - you are raising a good point. 

    As a former owner (US General Services Administration), we evolved away from low bid/sealed bid at the beginning of my federal career, to more collaborative methods like design/build toward the end of my career.  The reasons were clear: collaborative delivery methods, done right, provide greater control over cost and schedule, allows the project team to unlock innovation in design and construction, and result in significantly less post-project litigation.  For the owner that is win-win-win.  Any conflict within the project delivery team will get in the way of that - although every project faces issues, no project is perfect, it is how the team addresses the issues that matters.

    Readers - what do you think?


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    Laura Stagner FAIA
    US General Services Administration
    Cherry Hill NJ
    ------------------------------

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  • 3.  RE: Basis of Design - definitions, guidelines, checklists - asking for input from AIA colleagues

    Posted 08-12-2022 06:10 PM

    Hmmm...not convinced that the overall result is better.  First, there are many ways of doing design build, so one should first define what one means by it.   The issue is, of course, with the "when done right".  Sure, when done right, many methods can work well.

     

    Some potential roadblocks or challenges with Design/Build:

    1. How to assess the value of long term quality and operational costs  of a facility when selecting a design builder based on a relatively thin Basis of Design? The Brits resolved this with a system they call PFI.  Homework:  What is the verdict on PFI projects in the UK after 30 years of implementing them?
    2. In the AIA Design-Build contract (A141) the architect does not owe a fiduciary duty to the client, other than complying with the code and the Basis of Design, thin as it may be.  And since the devil is in the details, who is watching for the Owner's interest?  When the Builder screws up, and the architect is an employee of the builder, said architect has a big incentive to validate whatever solution the builder comes up with.
    3. If Bridging is used, the quality of the final product is determined by the effort expended in bridging:  very little effort results in a thin basis of design, easily skirted by the builder, resulting in poor quality buildings with high maintenance and operational costs.  Too much effort results in too many constraints to the design-builder, curtailing innovation.  So "doing it right" is neither easy nor cheap. 
    4. Is the D/B contract bid in the open market?  Or is the DB selected based on qualifications, issuing a GMP later?  If the latter, how do you confirm that the price is as low as the market would bear?
    5. It seems to be true that there are fewer litigations between owner and design-builder, but that is the case because a negotiated GMP is essentially a cost plus fee contract, with very large margins of error for the builder, so it is easier to not exceed them.  So when the Owner is willing to pay a high price in order to avoid conflict, then yes, you can avoid conflict.
    6. It is NOT true that the typical disagreements between designer and builder disappear.  They are just pushed behind the veil of the D/B contract and the Owner does not see them, so they seem to have disappeared.  But they are still there, internal to the D/B team.  And if the Architect works for the Builder, then guess who will win those discussions?

     

    Anyway, Design-Build is no panacea, once we realize all the hidden costs, especially the long term ones.

     

     

    A picture containing night sky  Description automatically generated

    Gustavo Lima, AIA, MRAIC, DBIA, CCCA, LEED AP

    President

    www.LimaArchitecture.com

    716-909-1709

     

    Sent from Mail for Windows

     




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  • 4.  RE: Basis of Design - definitions, guidelines, checklists - asking for input from AIA colleagues

    Posted 08-13-2022 09:10 AM
    All excellent points, and very well stated and founded.  I don't believe DB is not for every project or project type, however for large, complex projects that require a sophisticated team, such as a hospital or manufacturing plant, where there may be only a handful of qualified teams out there, DB can produce excellent results, innovative solutions, and value.  The procurement process is the critical component, compensation for bridging documents for competing teams is my recommendation to address some of the concerns you have elucidated so well.

    Alan Burcope, AIA, MBA, LEED-AP
    Principal Architect, NV5

    Formerly with HBE Corporation, healthcare design builder

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    Alan Burcope, AIA, MBA, LEED-AP
    Senior Forensic Architect
    NV5, Inc.
    Orlando, FL
    ------------------------------

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  • 5.  RE: Basis of Design - definitions, guidelines, checklists - asking for input from AIA colleagues

    Posted 08-15-2022 06:15 PM

    Excellent  points Gustavo. 

    I agree.

    DB  works well for  a  warehouse . 

    Not  sure about   a  ' design '  project. 

     

     

    Lee Gamelsky AIA, LEED AP BD + C

    Lee Gamelsky Architects P.C.

    2412 Miles Rd. SE

    Albuquerque, NM 87106

    505.842.8865

    lee@lganm.com

    www.lganm.com

     

     




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  • 6.  RE: Basis of Design - definitions, guidelines, checklists - asking for input from AIA colleagues

    Posted 08-15-2022 06:32 PM

    Well, It CAN work for a high design project. Check out the CHUM in Montréal

     

    But those projects end up being not a pure Design-Build, but a "Develop to Suit" deal.  You  need extensive bridging documents (which means somebody has to be paid to do them, and that it will take some time), you need to bid the Design & Construction of the Project (which means you have to pay a stipend to the developers who compete for it), and then the winner of the competition OWNS the building for a long period of time and pays for its upkeep and energy costs.  So the user is just a tenant.  Essentially, what the Brits call a PFI.

     

    And even in those cases, whether the result is "high-design" or not is in the eye of the beholder.  The performance requirements are so high that those projects are an exercise in compromise.   Seems to me that what most peoiple (especially most architects) call "high design" would not pass muster in a rigurous performance-driven and measured analysis.  The examples abound, we all know many buildings that are beautiful, but a pain to maintain, do not function properly or ended up costing much more tan originally planned. 

     

    A picture containing night sky  Description automatically generated

    Gustavo Lima, AIA, MRAIC, DBIA, CCCA, LEED AP

    President

    www.LimaArchitecture.com

    716-909-1709

     

    Sent from Mail for Windows

     




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  • 7.  RE: Basis of Design - definitions, guidelines, checklists - asking for input from AIA colleagues

    Posted 08-24-2022 04:25 PM
    Gustavo - 

    You are raising some important issues, and I wanted to take the time to respond thoughtfully.  I have consulted with a few colleague architects who lead the design practice for nationally known design/builders, and these responses reflect their input.

    1) To the first of the seven points you raised, "Are design-build results better?"

    There are many ways of doing Design-Build, and owners need to be thoughtful on selecting the right Design-Build strategy when procuring their projects. That requires an owner that is educated in the different project delivery strategies and a knowledge of their personnel and organizational structure and how they will integrate with the Design-Build team.  

    The next key ingredient is selection of the Design-Build team.  Choose your partners wisely.  This cannot be overstated. It's all about the team, and it needs to be a high-performance team. Choose the team for the right reasons.  This is true of the Owner - Design Builder relationship as well as the Design Builder-designer relationships.

     All the independent research to date (Sanvido, Konchar; Molenaar; et al) indicate that Design-Build outperforms Design-Bid-Build and CM@R in terms of cost, schedule and quality. Yet, there are Design-Build projects that fail.  There can be many reasons for these failures, some of the top ten common occurrences we've seen:

    1. A lack of understanding of the basic principles of Design-Build and education in Design-Build best practices.
    2. Not making the mental shift from an adversarial relationship to an integrated team approach.
    3. Lack of professional respect
    4. Lack of trust
    5. unreasonable expectations and poor delineation of the scope of the project
    6. Failure to confirm the budget with the scope prior to issuance of the RFP
    7. Reconciliation and validation of the "ask" with the "offer" post award
    8. Failure to manage on-boarding of stakeholders
    9. Lack of timely, informed, and sticky decisions
    10. Failure to check egos at the door

    All these are manageable. 

    Why do some teams struggle with Design-Build?  The number one reason – Failure to pick the right Design-Build partner. Period.

    2) To the second point - "How to assess the value of long-term quality and operational costs of a facility when selecting a design builder based on a relatively thin Basis of Design?"

    Owners need to define the expectations for their facilities in terms of long-term performance and operational costs.  If this is part of the equation, then the industry will respond accordingly.  The owner must be prepared to analyze the proposals for conformance with their defined expectations.  After Notice of Award, it's a best practice to reconcile the ask with the offer and validate the assumptions, confirming the Basis of Design the Design Builder will use to complete the project.

    3) The third point -"The AIA Design-Build contract (A141) the architect does not owe a fiduciary duty to the client, other than complying with the code and the Basis of Design, thin as it may be.  And since the devil is in the details, who is watching for the Owner's interest?  When the Builder screws up, and the architect is an employee of the builder, said architect has a big incentive to validate whatever solution the builder comes up with."

    Architects have a moral and ethical obligation to provide prudent design guidance to the Owner within the terms of the contractual obligation, oblivious of the delivery method.  They represent the Owners interests, and they represent the budget, the schedule and the scope of the agreement, and they represent the Design Builder. That is paramount.

    Architects should lead the design process for the design builder, with the support of the design builder in terms of cost, schedule, quality and constructability.  If your design build partner isolates you from access to the Owner, you chose the wrong partner. 

    Architects need to be aware of the cost of their designs and the impact to the constructability and the schedule.  A close working relationship between the estimators, builders and designers is essential. So is communication, it's fundamentally essential.  Additionally, no designs should be presented to the owner for consideration until it has been vetted for scope, cost, constructability and schedule impact by the Team.

    In Design-Build, when the builder messes up, they are on the hook.  They are also on the hook if the architect messes up as well.  A high-performance team is looking to make sure no one messes up, everyone is on the same team!

    4) The fourth point - "If Bridging is used, the quality of the final product is determined by the effort expended in bridging:  very little effort results in a thin basis of design, easily skirted by the builder, resulting in poor quality buildings with high maintenance and operational costs.  Too much effort results in too many constraints to the design-builder, curtailing innovation.  So "doing it right" is neither easy nor cheap."

    Bridging documents should define the Owners intent for the project and indicate what is sacred, and what is open for innovation or alternate design considerations.  Too many constraints will curtail innovation. 

    Part of the intent of the Design-Build project delivery strategy is to single source the design and construction, the shift of design responsibility to the Design Builder.  Who owns the design if it was in the Bridging documents provided by the owner and it is insufficient or inappropriate?

    If an Owner wants participation in the design process, best to utilize Progressive Design Build and avoid the excessive cost and lack of clarity of Bridging documents.

    5) The fifth point - "Is the D/B contract bid in the open market?  Or is the DB selected based on qualifications, issuing a GMP later?  If the latter, how do you confirm that the price is as low as the market would bear?"

    Low price is not what the project should be judged by.  Value is a better metric.  In hard bid, the design is fixed, the variables are cost, quality and schedule. Budget to design.  In Design-Build, the budget is fixed and the team designs to the budget. In Design-Bid-Build and CM@R the cost is a variable and the final cost is unknown until the final change orders are in.

    Owners who choose Design-Build appreciate the cost and schedule certainty the delivery method brings.

    6) The sixth point - "It seems to be true that there are fewer litigations between owner and design-builder, but that is the case because a negotiated GMP is essentially a cost plus fee contract, with very large margins of error for the builder, so it is easier to not exceed them.  So when the Owner is willing to pay a high price in order to avoid conflict, then yes, you can avoid conflict."

    When in a Design-Build relationship, there should be close communication between the Design Builder and the designers regarding the budgets and cost of the design.  The Designers MUST be intimate with the budgets and understand where the cost of work is in order to make the most informed decisions with the project's interests in mind. Whether it is a lump sum low bid, a stipulated sum best value, or a negotiated GMP in a Progressive Design Build, there is greater opportunity to understand the cost of work in a Design-Build delivery and adjust accordingly. 

    Open, transparent contracts build trust between the Owner and the Design Builder.  Owners should not have to pay a higher price to avoid litigation, they just need to select a high-performance Design-Build team, operating at a professional level.  As a former owner, I can attest that my budget did not vary with the delivery method selected.  The selection of delivery method had to do with assessing budget and schedule constraints against the project risk profile, the budget was fixed.

    7) The final point - "It is NOT true that the typical disagreements between designer and builder disappear.  They are just pushed behind the veil of the D/B contract and the Owner does not see them, so they seem to have disappeared.  But they are still there, internal to the D/B team.  And if the Architect works for the Builder, then guess who will win those discussions?"

    Part of a High-Performance team is having mutual Trust and Professional respect. Every project has its challenges, sometimes external, sometimes internal. It's how those challenges are overcome that makes the difference.  In Design-Build, it's a Team effort.  The most important thing an Architect can do in Design Build is to choose the right Design-Build partner.  Ditto the Design Builder.  Choose your partners wisely, it's all about the Team.

    With respect to who wins the argument?  Who's at risk?  What are the consequences? Whose money is on the line? When Architects can bond projects, and when it is legally appropriate, they can assume the role of the Design Builder and make the decisions.  Until then, pick the right partner, get educated on Design-Build Best Practices and go out and conquer the world.

    Regarding the comment on hidden costs, Design-Build is probably the most opportunistic delivery method to avoid hidden costs to the Owner. Price is fixed, the design risk and the cost risk shifts to the Design Builder.  Owners have the opportunity to define expectations, both quality and performance wise and they have the opportunity to fully integrate with the Design-Build team.
    In design-bid-build, the builder builds what is given to them and if there are performance issues as a result of the design, well that's not their problem. The Owner warrants the design (the Spearin Doctrine).  In Design-Build, the Design Builder warrants the design and there should be the business incentive to do the right thing to minimize the risk exposure.


     






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    Laura Stagner FAIA
    US General Services Administration
    Cherry Hill NJ
    ------------------------------

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  • 8.  RE: Basis of Design - definitions, guidelines, checklists - asking for input from AIA colleagues

    Posted 20 days ago
    I've been practicing Design-Build delivery for close to 40 years.  I've done office buildings ,retail, City Halls, convention centers, higher education, research facilities, aerospace testing and assembly buildings, federal courthouses, prisons, semi-conductor manufacturing facilities, and an NFL stadium.  All delivered Design-Build, many delivered through the GSA's Design Excellence program.  All these projects have won many design awards through AIA or other industry associations, a few have even won "Project of the Year".   When the goal is design excellence, as defined by the owner, there are few better ways to achieve the goal then through a holistic, soup to nuts, approach that incorporates a high performance team (educated in Design Build best practices) integrated at the beginning of design, not after the design is complete.   However, the project type is usually not the limiting factor. Not all teams or owners are right for Design-Build. It takes a hi-performance team that has the right mindset. Choose your partners wisely! BTW I've never done a design build warehouse!

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    Gregory Gidez FAIA
    Hensel Phelps Construction
    Greeley CO
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