Experiences and Insights from Use of a Design-Build Process in Founding a New Campus: Design-Build Was the Best Choice for K-State Olathe Because of the Flexibility with Regard to Unknown Users and Change Stakeholder Expectations

By Richardson, Daniel C.; Freeman, Lisa C. et al. | Planning for Higher Education, July-September 2012 | Go to article overview

Experiences and Insights from Use of a Design-Build Process in Founding a New Campus: Design-Build Was the Best Choice for K-State Olathe Because of the Flexibility with Regard to Unknown Users and Change Stakeholder Expectations


Richardson, Daniel C., Freeman, Lisa C., York, Valerie K., Shuman, Cynthia A., Middendorf, B. Jan, Planning for Higher Education


Introduction

At public research universities, state funding is decreasing and budget cuts are now the norm. Establishing a new campus may seem impossible under these conditions; however, Kansas State University (K-State) recently established a new campus in Olathe, Kansas. K-State Olathe's first building, the International Animal Health and Food Safety Institute, a $28 million, 108,000 square foot facility, expands K-State into a three-campus system and provides the Kansas City region with increased access to the university's programs. K-State was able to take this significant step during an economic downturn, in part because of strategic planning with a focus on innovation coupled with the support and hard work of some nontraditional stakeholder groups.

Background of Innovation at the K-State Olathe Campus

The K-State Olathe campus emphasizes public-private, university-industry partnerships. The campus serves working professionals by providing graduate degree programs, credit and noncredit courses, certificates, and continuing education opportunities. At the same time, the campus partners with local school systems to offer K-12 student and teacher outreach programs and workshops. In addition, there are active collaborations between K-State Olathe and neighboring higher education institutions. This innovative mission is reflected in the processes used for campus planning, design, and construction, as detailed below.

Several aspects of the development of the K-State Olathe campus were innovative, including the nature of funding, the spectrum of stakeholder groups involved, and the building delivery. First, the campus was funded by a countywide sales tax passed in November 2008. To our knowledge, this is the first local sales tax passed in support of a higher education initiative in the nation. The tax campaign succeeded in large part because of a partnership between K-State and the University of Kansas, the two largest public research universities in the state. It is unlikely that either university's action alone could have succeeded in persuading voters to support the tax. However, by collaborating to engage the alumni and support bases of both schools, the initiative was successful and each university now receives proceeds of the sales tax. Second, a variety of nontraditional stakeholders were engaged in campus planning. The City of Olathe donated the land for the campus, and the citizens of Johnson County passed the tax initiative that provides funding for the campus. Third, the campus pursued a design-build process for the acquisition of its first building; design-build is an alternative to the design-bid-build construction delivery process traditionally used on higher education campuses.

The innovative pursuit of the design-build process is the focus of this article that (1) describes the design-build delivery method and contrasts it with the traditional design-bid-build method; (2) details the method used to acquire the first building at K-State Olathe; (3) discusses stakeholders' perceptions of the design-build process, including challenges encountered; and (4) summarizes lessons learned during the process. Although there are a wide variety of construction project delivery strategies, this article focuses on two--the strategy that was pursued on the K-State Olathe campus and the strategy that is most commonly pursued on college and university campuses. This article aims to inform higher education administrators about the design-build process and to share experiences that may inform the efforts of others who pursue this delivery method.

Design-Build vs. Design-Bid-Build

Design-bid-build (i.e., the traditional approach) involves two separate teams making contributions to the delivery of a building. In this process, an architect/design team develops design plans for the building and then a bid is sought from a construction company, which in turn builds the building (Mohsini and Davidson 1992); these steps occur sequentially. …

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