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November 17, 2016


Approximating Integrated Project Delivery in Design-Bid-Build Environment: Innovations in Design and Construction

In collaboration with AIANY/Public Architecture Committee and MethodLean

Town+Gown began exploring design and construction innovation within the design-bid-build environment at its Symposium event Service Delivery Not Procurement in April 2013, a broad-stoke public policy exploration using a systems analysis approach to identify the several related sources of constraints and challenges that public owners face when attempting to innovate the delivery of public projects within public sector parameters of cost, schedule, safety and quality. This exploration was followed in November 2014, at an event, Modernization of New York’s Built Environment Laws: If Not Now, When?, in conjunction with Albany Law School, ACEC New York, AIA New York State, Citizens Budget Commission, New York Building Congress and the New York City Bar Association. 

The April 2013 exploration focused on the potential for innovation at the project level in a design-bid-build environment, which could eventually translate up to changes in overall policies and practices supported at the enterprise-wide level with a level of awareness of systemic issues that can obscure impediments to innovation at the project level. The tendency of referring to project delivery as procurement and/or contracting, which New York State law encourages public owners to do, is thought to obscure thinking of ways to improve service delivery within the public owner enterprise. The November 2014 exploration focused on one significant impediment to project-level innovation in New York State, which are the laws that mandate, for the majority of New York State public owners, a single service delivery methodology—the segmented design-bid-build methodology with the award for construction projects going to the bidder with the lowest responsible and responsive price. 

The purpose of this Symposium event was to focus on ways that New York local government public owners, operating within the statutorily constrained design-bid-build service delivery model, can nonetheless pursue project management innovations in ways that approximate the benefits of integrated project delivery, a modern service design methodology currently unavailable to them. These innovations occurred within a broader context of some enterprise-wide initiatives at the City over the past 10 years and one targeted State law reform in 2008. The first conversation consisted of a transactional economics analysis of the design-bid-build methodology, concluding that this methodology in the setting of construction all but guarantees cost increases and delays beyond those expected at project authorization and later at contract execution. The second conversation highlighted various innovations in project delivery within the design-bid-build service delivery methodology that included multiple prime contracting on “steroids”, which, in the hands of a public owner with sufficient internal capacity, can lead to successful projects, and lean construction techniques, such as design-assist elements during construction, which reflect that construction is a design process. The third conversation focused specifically on lean construction principles and techniques that are finding wider use across the country and within the New York City market. The last conversation continued Town+Gown’s ongoing focus on the use of building information modeling (BIM) technology during all phases of construction and post-construction operations, with the conclusion that it is no longer a question of whether public owners will use BIM for their projects, but the question is now about how they will use BIM for their public projects. Click here to see a video of the event.