Design-Build Delivers Rarified Results

Posted on April 1, 2011


This is no April Foolery: design-build has become the go-to project delivery method.

As I have blogged in the past, design-build keeps showing up whenever owners demand exemplary performance. In the past year, design-build has been defended as the best way to control costs.  And design-build is being used to deliver complex healthcare projects like proton treatment centers.  Conventional thought says design-build is low quality and cannot be used for technically complex projects like healthcare. Conventional thought is clearly wrong because conventional thinkers are stuck in 1961 with their blueprints for design-bid-build.

For me, the most impressive endorsement of design-build is its use to spur the best innovation on a project; this was showcased in a recent article in Architectural Record. Interestingly, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) chose a “performance-based design-build” process to deliver its net-zero project. This was done because it would provide “the optimal design solution within tight schedule and budget constraints.”

Now, let’s be clear here.  Net-zero is not simply hard; it is like LEED Platinum times ten—an incredibly difficult and monumental challenge to design and build. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy only lists eight net-zero buildings on its website—none even top 20,000 square feet.  The new NREL is over 200,000 square feet.

I can think of no better evidence at design-build’s stature, acceptance, and capabilities than an owner choosing it to trail blaze innovation and do what has never been done before.

Posted in: Design-Build