by Danae Tinsley
Few have emerged untouched from the supply chain and inflation issues of the current economic climate. In the hospitality industry, specifically in gaming and entertainment, owners and developers of casino projects, new construction and renovation alike are grappling with increasing costs and delays. As the architects and designers behind these projects, it is our job to help our clients navigate the challenges facing the industry today, a role that requires a fresh approach and creative solutions.
The Supply Chain and Construction Documents: Two Methods
The supply chain crisis is a much discussed scourge on construction sites globally. Material availability has had a great effect on construction schedules and the way project teams are approaching design and documentation. One of the options designers have to combat delays in construction schedules is to order specialty items such as custom fixtures or long-lead finishes in advance of construction documents being completed. This shifts the standard workflow to require a bit more effort earlier on but allows designers to prioritize the top-quality design items that casino properties are looking for without compromising the project schedule.
Alternately, given the current unpredictability of costs and supply chain delays in the market, some owners may choose to move further along with the design and construction documents before releasing early bid packages and starting construction. This strategy can provide the team with additional time before committing to a GMP (guaranteed maximum price contract), in the hopes that material costs will decrease in the coming months.
The Impact of Partnerships and Collaborations
Another way to approach these issues is through open-book partnerships between construction managers and primary subcontractors that are tied to long-lead items like concrete, steel, and roofing materials. Primary subcontractors can be brought on after the initial Program of Requirement, Concept Design, and Control Budget development tasks are finished. Candidates are vetted in regards to pricing, availability, and schedule adherence. The primary subcontractor then becomes part of the OAC (Owner-Architect-Contractor) team and participates in all relevant meetings. In this way, they become part of the problem-solving process directly, working alongside the design team, operating staff, and construction manager to make smart and efficient design decisions. This can also help eliminate the amount of change orders, as the subcontractor has been assessing design and construction documents as they are developed.
In gaming projects, where designers might struggle to source prefinished metal products such as bronze and brass, the key to success is thinking creatively and exploring other options. This might mean choosing a different product, a stock finish, or field painting materials. In the past, we’ve seen similar efforts involving changing tube steel to more readily available W-sections, and reworking support systems to use less custom steel and more U-Channel style systems. Whatever the options may be, alternative solutions are always available with creative thinking and transparent, collaborative discussions amongst all parties and stakeholders.
The Opportunity for Innovation
Look at every design obstacle as an opportunity for innovation. The most exciting and impactful designs and creations throughout time have resulted from a willingness to look at situations in a different way than those before – so why can’t we take the same approach to navigating the current cost and supply chain crises? The silver linings in all of this are varied. We are seeing unprecedented levels of collaboration between formerly separate entities in the construction process, and domestic vendors are now at the forefront of the industry out of sheer need for alternative products. This will undeniably lead to opportunities for economic growth at home. It’s time to embrace the challenge and do what those of us in the entertainment industry do best: think outside the box!
Danae Tinsley, NCIDQ is senior associate/project manager at JCJ Architecture.