IPD and Design-Build: A Manifesto

Posted on April 22, 2010


Around the house, when an unfamiliar project comes along, most handymen will jump at the chance to buy a new tool. Do-it-yourselfers know there are tens of thousands of tools, each tailored to do a specific purpose, and nothing is more frustrating than tackling a project with the wrong tool—a tool you know is not the best one for the job—and trying in vain to get the outcome you want.

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) is that new project around the house.  For some, it will be a paradigm shift, to employ an overused term. It will be a struggle to gather the tools needed to work in a new, more inclusive project delivery method. IPD is a comprehensive way of working as a team to provide a better project. Specialist thinking is dead.

Design-build (DB) is the foundation of the IPD I advocate since DB is the most collaborative way of teaming.  Design-build offers value. Anything else is selling hours, injecting limited expertise at varying levels. IPD looks to eliminate the contractual cover that architects, engineers and contractors hide behind in design-bid-build (DBB)setups to not get involved or overstep supposedly legal boundaries under the guise of not being liable.  News flash:  if you are the sealing drawings, you are involved and will be liable for screw-ups, so you might as well control the process, or have as much input as possible.

Architects and engineers gets hammered for being marginalized, for selling hours, not adding value, being passive, handing over control to the contractor, avoiding and shunning risk. Reward is directly proportional to risk.  It is a fundamental business and life rule. Limited risk= limited reward (DBB). Risk is not bad; risk is not the enemy. Uneven or uncalculated risk is bad—high risk without equivalent opportunity for high reward.

IPD with DB is about value and proactivity.  They holistically solve complex building problems, and buildings are getting more complex—how they get built, what goes in them, how they are used—by the month. DB is enlightened, innovative, collaborative and team-driven, unlike traditional project processes which are siloed, with a lot of finger-pointing and CYA.

And for the flavor of design-build I practice, integrated design-build (IDB):  it isn’t about the contract. Anyone can have a shot gun marriage (DB contract); Haskell (IDB) marries for love, passion and belief, not because there is a baby (project) on the way—architects, engineers and contractors with the same company.

Design-build is not a flavor-of-the-month; it is the way of the future. Firms dabbling in DB without overhauling their business methods and design processes are like prospectors panning for gold: they may hit it big once (get noticed by a client and do a project), but the legit operations are building mines and sustainable processes for the long haul—not getting tied up in get-rich-quick schemes. To integrated design-builders DB is a lifestyle, not a trend to cash in on, and the fool’s gold will be exposed.

Posted in: Design-Build