The standard design-build construction method, where a contractor and designer work in tandem, differs from the traditional design-bid-build construction method in which the owner/developer maintains separate contracts for both the designer and contractor. Generally speaking, the contractor leads the design-build method, and then hires an architect to design the facility.
However, in more recent cases, designers have begun to take a lead role in the design-build framework and, upon the completion of a design, will hire their own contractors to execute construction. This post breaks down the uniqueness of architect-led design and how the method facilitates fast track construction.
Design-Build Emerges as Most Efficient Method for Fast Track Construction
Design-build, whether established as a joint venture or one party subcontracting another, inherently facilitates project completion by placing major players under a single point of communication and unified contractual obligations. For the owner/developer, there is far less time spent handling tedious paperwork for multiple contracts or resolving numerous liability claims.
Furthermore, since the designer and the contractor are working as a singular unit, the design and construction phases can overlap. Construction documents do not need to be completely finished prior to the beginning of construction. This not only enhances flexibility for changes during the project itself, but dramatically shortens the construction timeline. Equipment, personnel and materials can be obtained and set in motion well before a design is “final.” Of course, with a reduced timeline comes a decrease in overall project costs and, as importantly, speed to revenue once a facility is operational.
Benefits of an Architect-Led Design-Build Method
The designer effectively becomes the “master builder” in an architect-led design-build scenario. Not only is there complete direction over design, but the designer gains substantial control over the construction processes themselves. The architect will bear far more risk in a project as a result of accepting a much broader range of responsibilities. Depending on the level of ownership the designer takes, they could even go as far as managing subcontractors and taking on a full-site supervisor role (in lieu of the general contractor).
For owners/developers, this method has the following benefits:
- Your chosen designer can see their vision through exactly
- You work with your designer directly, not via a contractor
- Cost and time can be more easily optimized in the design and construction phase
- There is more efficient communication and relaying of ideas
Architects and Their Involvement in Concrete Construction
Architects in an architect-led design-build scenario will be the primary decision-makers regarding which building materials will be chosen for a given project. Design-build in all of its forms is often preferred when speed to market is required. For concrete construction specifically, the use of rapid-drying concrete gives architects and owners an effective, predictable product.
Conventional concrete is the only building material without a set “finish time,” because of the many factors that contribute to curing and drying. Rapid-drying concrete, by contrast, will dry to acceptable levels in less than 45 days. This empowers architects, especially those accepting a supervisory role, by allowing them to plan around time constraints with accuracy.