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Architecture & Design

Ralph Hawkins: Design and Construction Models

As clients look at alternative ways to expand, renovate, and build new facilities to address growth and change over time, there are myriad approaches. The choices may be confusing, but they are easily broken out into simple categories, and can also be a hybrid of several options. Here are some basic approaches that we see.
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Ralph Hawkins

As clients look at alternative ways to expand, renovate, and build new facilities to address growth and change over time, there are myriad approaches. The choices may be confusing, but they are easily broken out into simple categories, and can also be a hybrid of several options. Here are some basic approaches that we see.

Conventional. Most common is the conventional design-bid-construction approach, which is appropriate for the knowledgeable client that wants to have not only clarity about which services the architect will provide and which services the builder will provide, but also the most competitive price on the market. Some clients prefer to have contractors on board in a construction manager capacity to have the benefit of early sensitivity to costing. Construction management services can be provided to assist in an open bidding process of individual subcontractor bids and also may provide some self-performing services to “guarantee” the price at risk.

Design-Build. Design-build is an emerging model of typically contractor-led teams providing both design and construction. Some contractors provide in-house architects, and some use outside architects. This model usually is best for clients who desire a single point of responsibility, have limited staff to lead the project team, and consider the cost to be a major driver of the project.

Developer-Led. Developer-led teams may provide both the architect and the contractor, giving a client a full-service team to develop, provide access to funding, design and build the project. Many clients like the overall approach, which uses an experienced developer, to prevent errors in their own organization.

Some financing groups are approaching the client directly as a funding mechanism only, rather than providing development services that the client may not need. This financing group can minimize cost of capital and also assemble a design-build team for the ultimate project. Originating the capital for the project can eliminate some clients’ need to expend their own capital or raise capital through the sale of corporate or municipal bonds.

Public-Private Partnerships. (Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Manage). Another option is to provide a public-private partnership. This is where an architect, contractor, and financing group approach a public entity that may need facilities. They can produce the facility with a governmental client as the client/tenant of the building, and return the building to the client in a certain time frame—typically 30 to 75 years.

Many of the teams can also provide operations and maintenance contracts to ensure the building is both operated at peak performance and maintained so that the facility will not depreciate in value as quickly. Many times, in this economy, government agencies must reduce operating and maintenance staff in order to meet budgets; this approach alleviates that problem. This approach also may be beneficial for a corporate client.

There are many alternatives to provide proper facility needs for private and public organizations. These approaches can be custom-tailored from the menu of services available. An architect can help you review your options, and most firms can use all of these approaches to provide your facility needs.

H. Ralph Hawkins is chairman and CEO of HKS Architects, one of the top five architectural and engineering firms in the United States. Contact him at [email protected]