Design-Build: Who Leads?

Posted on January 4, 2012


When discussing how Haskell executes its projects, I am sometimes asked: “Are your design-build projects contractor-led or design-led?”  This question puzzles me. As a company that has everyone working under the same roof for the same company flag, I answer “both”. 

To me, design-build is like our country’s legislature:  “bicameral”, to borrow a civics term. Bicameral means having two legislative chambers, two origins for idea development, two halves that must talk and agree to push something forward together. No one ever asks if the U.S. government is Senate-led or House-led; both work together to lead, and neither has the information or power to do anything without input and agreement from the other side.  And the President has veto power over both.

If someone asks me, “Who leads?”  My answer:  the owner. I tell hospitals their greatest benefit is achieved in a way where nothing—not price, not schedule—except the owner’s performance objectives drive the project. Maybe the funds for the project are strictly limited. Maybe quality at every turn is more important than raw square footage of program. Only the owner places limits, and these owner-created goals are the parameters with which project decisions are governed. The owner is the President, and likewise exercises veto power in all value decisions regarding the project.

At its best, design-build is not ‘left-handed’ or ‘right-handed’, red or blue, design-led or contractor-led; it is equal input, equal responsibility and equal effort for success.

Posted in: Design-Build