Digging Into the Hype

Posted on April 11, 2011


Two weeks ago a trailer parked in an open lot adjacent to Jacksonville’s Prime Osborn Convention Center. On its side was painted, quite broadly: “Salvation * Healing * Holy Ghost Revivals” and the namesake carrying out this special service. I laughed out loud.

I saw the trailer the next morning on my commute and thought: who is going to pay money for that?  Those jokers will be gone tomorrow.  The day after a large, blue-and-white, big-top tent was set up. The next day? Tables and chairs.  The day after that’s addition:  a smaller tent.

That was two weeks ago. This miniature city is still there putting on, apparently quite successfully, its events, day after day. Someone must think this service has value. In fact, as kooky as it sounds, I am actually intrigued with this particular gang’s staying power:  what is it they offer that people find so appealing?

I think of design-build in the same way. At first, people in healthcare scoffed at design-build:  ha, a trend that will be gone with tomorrow’s trash. But administrators keep hearing about it:  surely no one will trust design-build enough to do it on their project! Year after year, design-build continues to stick around. People write about it in trade magazines, talk about it at conferences. They may have heard: a hospital a couple counties over did their most recent replacement facility design-build—and paid off their note three years early.

That was years ago. Really good integrated design-builders have been successfully cranking out projects, day after day, for decades. Administrators think to themselves:  someone must think this service has value or it would have been gone by now.  Some even admit to each other: as kooky as this sounds, I am intrigued with design-build. Why is it that administrators who go design-build say they’ll never go back to the way they did it before?

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  One administrator’s spiritual renewal is another man’s design-build. Design-build has staying power beyond the word ‘trend’; its believers are a stout subculture that seek design-build out for the value it delivers—and it has followers with an almost religious zeal.  Can you say that about your last project experience?

Posted in: Design Zeitgeist