State Department's Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations
Briefs AIA|LA Members
Working with other federal entities, the US State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) sets overseas priorities for the design, construction, acquisition, maintenance, use, and sale of real properties and the use of sales proceeds.
On January 12, 2017, key officials representing the OBO, met with AIA|LA members to brief architects on the program. After a formal presentation to attendees, Casey Jones, Deputy Director, Angel Dizon, Managing Director Program Development, Coordination and Support, and Jason Arnold, Architectural Division Chief offered to a answer individual architects’ questions, staying well after they had completed their power point.
Here are a few take-aways:
1. The big take-away for your firm. (Who the OBO is open to selecting for projects):
There’s a general perception that to get work from the OBO firms must have been previously engaged by the bureau or be based in Washington.
But the purpose of of the OBO’s current national tour is to dispel that. Next time an OBO team is out here presenting work, a goal would be to include more Los Angeles firms. (We can't stress the bureau's emphasis on this enough. They are open to qualified firms.)
2. A few metrics. OBO oversees:
80 Million Square Feet Owned
43 Million Square Feet Leased
12,500 Culturally Significant Objects
3. (about the project that an LA firm is designing at the moment)
The U.S. Embassy Beirut, designed by Morphosis is on one of the largest sites under OBO purview. A compound that Pritzker Prize winner Thom Mayne, FAIA, is rumored to have hiked across lengthwise. .
4. Due to how the OBO is budgeted, priority of projects is based on security concerns. Conditions don’t drive the quality of architecture, but they may drive the construction methodologies.
5. OBO has no preference as to whether they are contracting with a large business or small business. Make the case for delivering the best possible product. Small firms can partner with larger firms. (see number 1)
6. “Not in the Box Score” the interest and commitment to great design that all three men brought with them.
screen grabs from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations' presentation