Archives for posts with tag: design build

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.

To kick off our discussion about Design Build, we need to first define it.  In general, Design Build is the process where you hire one company or entity to provide both design and construction services.  It is more than that, though; it is an integrated process from beginning to end where we think about construction during the design phase and are still considering design as we are building.

The most familiar process to most homeowners – called Design-Bid-Build – is where the client first hires an architect who draws the project.  Then, once the drawings are complete, they are sent out to various contractors for bids.  The contractor then builds the project with the architect providing support for the client during the construction phase.  This model has some strengths but is a linear process that can be inflexible and provides difficulty when trying to compress the project schedule.  Additionally, it relies on two separate companies with separate motivations to work towards a common goal – this is where the trouble often starts.

The strengths of the Design Build model is exactly where Design-Bid-Build falls short – by aligning the motivations of the project team.  It is becoming more and more common in non-residential projects, because those industries realize it leads to better projects due to the collaborative nature of the project team and the flexibility it lends to the project.  It currently accounts for 40% of all non-residential projects, up from 30% in 2005.  It can also lead to faster (34% according to Construction Industry Institute) and cheaper (6% according to CII) projects.

The industry we serve, residential construction and remodels as well as commercial tenant improvements, has specific needs and pressures that the Design Build model works very well for.  We will discuss these in-depth in upcoming blog entries.

We began offering Design Build services for several reasons. For one, it allows us to draw on Jason’s history and experience as a contractor, something many architects do not share. It also allows us to more fully serve our clients by providing them care and consideration of the design quality regardless of project size.

Design Build isn’t perfect – we will also address some weaknesses in future entries – but our clients are finding it very compelling because it alleviates their concerns and gives them a single point of responsibility for the entire job.