Classically, there were no architects as we think of them today. Instead, there were master builders. The designers of Greek temples and medieval cathedrals were the stonemasons and carpenters in charge of building them. During the Renaissance, an emphasis on the individual began.  Buildings started to be credited to specific architects, who were the designers and engineers, but they also oversaw construction. There was no dividing line between artist, architect, engineer, and builder.

During the industrial age, with the rise of new building technologies, architecture and engineering began to separate, and the architect began to concentrate on aesthetics and building use. There was also the rise of the “gentleman architect” who usually dealt with wealthy clients and concentrated predominantly on visual qualities derived usually from historical prototypes. Formal architectural training in the 19th century emphasized the production of beautiful drawings above constructability. The design and construction of buildings began to separate into totally different trades.  In fact, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) until 1979 in its code of ethics actually prohibited its members from providing construction services.

In the 80’s, Design Build started to become more common, as contractors started teaming with architects or hiring their own in-house designers. In 1993, the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) was formed. Finally changing course, in 2003, the AIA published “The Architect’s Guide to Design-Build Services”.

Today, Design Build accounts for 40% of all non-residential construction and is growing steadily.  It is mostly led by the general contractor but there is a segment of architect-led design build firms, like ours, which emphasize design and are able to integrate design and construction to not only streamline the process, but to create a better design.

So, although Design Build seems to be a relatively new phenomenon, it is actually the “traditional” design-bid-build method that has only been around for about 150 years.  Design Build, and the “master builder” before it, has been around for millennia.