Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Design-Build Delivers Added Value to the University of North Georgia

Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Design-Build Delivers Added Value to the University of North Georgia

Article excerpt

For many construction projects, design-build delivery offers significant advantages over more traditional delivery systems, including shorter construction timelines, lower costs, continuous and unified quality control, and reduced risk for the project owner. Frequently, those advantages can be traced back to two distinctive elements of design-build projects: integration and collaboration. Integration and collaboration are inherent features of the design-build delivery system in which design and construction work together without contractual tension or corporate priorities in the best interest of the project outcome.

A paper presented at the 20th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction stated, "collaborative project delivery systems produce a more reliable cost outcome for public owners" (Kulkarni, Rybkowski, and Smith 2012, "Conclusion," ¶ 2). An earlier study conducted by the Construction Industry Institute concluded, "Owners who see an advantage to continue to fine-tune the scope, up to and even after the capital project has started, have a distinct advantage in using a design-build contractor in lieu of other methods of execution" (Beck Group, n.d., p. 2).

So, how does the design-build model bring added value to higher education institutions when providing task order services (i.e., the execution of individual task orders)? An in-depth look at the developing relationship between the University of North Georgia (UNG) and design-build firm Pond offers a greater understanding of the potential benefits.

Since May 2016, Pond, a fully integrated design-build firm headquartered in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, has provided task order construction services to UNG. In addition to construction services, Pond provides the added value of in-house design, planning, and assessment services. As a design-build firm, Pond applies the additional expertise of its design team to help develop numerous viable and informed solutions when tackling UNG's more complex task orders. Design-build firms like Pond are far more synergistic, able to engage designers and constructors to provide well-thoughtout, comprehensive solutions for their clients. When asked what influenced UNG's decision to use Pond for its task order services, UNG's director of facilities Mike Hyams answered, "It shortens the process, allowing us to be increasingly capable and flexible." He added, "One-stop shopping-the process is quicker and more efficient when working with one organization."

Efficiency, though an important factor when determining the best delivery system for task order projects, is not the only consideration. Past experience, having the right personnel in place, and communication bear weight as well. According to Ken Crowe, UNG's assistant vice president for facilities, "What we are looking for is mainly strength of the team and prior work. Have they ever done task orders for another school? If they have existing task order agreements with other schools, that tells us that someone else has found value in the firm." He added, "What you're looking for is a firm that will understand the problem and have the best personnel in place to work with you through multiple types of solutions to finally get to the ultimate solution. A lot of it is communication; you're looking for somebody you feel comfortable communicating with, who can understand what you're talking about. A lot of that is gleaned through the interview process." Crowe's associate Mike Hyams weighed in, "Understanding previous projects and how they relate to our objectives is important. When it was being determined which contractor was a better fit for us, it was good to see those types of projects that resemble those on our master plan. Also, relationships are important-are the personnel good people to work with?" (See the sidebar, "Tips for Choosing a Design-Build Firm.")

When asked how the design-build model performs specifically for task orders, Hyams replied, "It goes back to efficiency, and with efficiency comes effectiveness. …

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