A Conversation About Design-Build, Bridging Documents, and How to Align Expectations

Design-build has become a go-to delivery method for accelerating construction on complex projects, but it’s not one size fits all. Ultimately utilizing design-build depends on many factors like project size and complexity, the capacity of the owner to execute, the ability to convey and develop a good set of requirements, and a collaborative team.

I sat down for a Q&A with two design-build veterans: Aaron Altman, AIA, Director of Operations for HOK’s Washington, DC Studio, and Mike Bagshaw, PE, CCM, LEED AP, Senior Vice President, Building Services Leader at MBP, to discuss considerations of design-build delivery that are often overlooked. We had a robust conversation that lasted almost an hour.

Here are a few highlights:

(3:24)

How do you know whether design-build is the right delivery method for your project?

(8:59)

Design-build is not without its risks. How can owners confidently define and control risk associated with using design-build?

(15:29)

What advice would you personally give to owners about determining the right level of design development for bridging documents?

(23:11)

What role should the bridging designer play in the design process once the design-build contract has been awarded?

(30:45)

We have seen that for design-build to effectively expedite construction, collaboration is essential. What form should that collaboration take?

(33:46)

What are some key elements of a successful handoff from the bridging designer to the design-builder?

(38:50)

What advice would you give to owners who are interested in accelerating their projects by overlapping design and construction?

My key takeaway was that ideally, design-build delivery can bring efficiencies in cost, reduced risk, and expedited completion in comparison to traditional design-bid-build delivery. For that to work, it’s also imperative to have a well-defined scope of work, clear criteria for measuring success, a knowledgeable and engaged owner, and a collaborative spirit. Not to mention consultants with a wealth of design-build experience to help owners deliver design-build project success.

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