by Jen Luoni
A common misperception within the design build methodology is that architecture and design do not coexist under the same roof or that design is of lesser quality due to the idea that the general contractor is viewed as the dominant entity. Many clients do not realize that true design build is composed of in-house architects, and only see architects under the umbrella of the general contractor, thereby forsaking creativity for obedience to construction principles. The reality is that architecture plays an equal if not greater role.
Architect as Team Member, not Outlier
Within the true design build method, all team members are recognized as equals to the project’s success. Expertise across roles – architect, project manager or superintendent – harmonizes to produce the best product possible. The ability to have open and honest communication ensures expectations are met.
Realistic Design and Budget Goals
In-house pricing enables architects the ability to align design expectations with budgets. In traditional construction models, a lack of cost understandings leads to over design by many architects. However design build’s value engineering component enables manipulation of the design to attain optimal product for the cost.
Integration within the entire build process engenders enhanced knowledge of construction details, overall product performance, means and methods. Learning through experience and close interaction with subcontractors allows greater understanding of product functioning in the short and long term.
Accelerated Engineering Process
Performance based design allows for engineering to be strategic instead of wrapped within a single line process. Without the need of drawings to get the client to the end goal, engineering can be done in segments to allow phases of construction to proceed even if drawings are not complete. Architects are not stifled by details backed by broad based experience which pushes facility drawings forward. Additionally, experience gained from working with field staff in a non-confrontational environment is key.
Within a market of economic fluctuation, design creativity and timelines can still prosper when utilizing design build. Costs will always play a predominant position within the overall outcome of facility design, yet synergistic decisions between architect and builder streamline processes and create design efficiency while qualifying costs. The design build environment creates a mindset for growth, understanding and experience that enables the best client outcomes.
Jen Luoni is director of operations – architecture at Dacon Corporation of Natick, Mass.