PHOTO: Photo: AIA|LA Staff

Changing delivery models, and particularly how they can be harnessed to develop a more collaborative approach to project documentation, was the topic of a Fall 2019 round table organized by the AIA|LA Practice to inform and support architects and designers.

To expand exposure of the practices discussed,  key points of the meeting were summarized to share with attendees.

Thanks to the AIA|LA Practice Committee, you’ll find them below. Please feel free to share within your firm or circle.


November 12, 2019
Planning for Changing Delivery Models: Developing a More Collaborative Approach to Project Documentation
Location: HOK, Culver City

This round table addressed documentation required for a design/build project, approaches to increase collaboration between designers, contractors and craftsmen and how to make the process more efficient and cost effective resulting in better outcomes. The conversation focused on positive approaches, lessons learned and common issues faced by D/B teams using panelists’ experience on recent projects.

The following tips/suggestions/best practices were recorded during the four discussion topics:

1. Design resolution required far earlier in phases
+ Progressive Design/Build being used more – Quals based selection of DB team then moving forward with design of a project
+ Key to success is for Owners to start with thorough, detailed program and/or feasibility study in order to establish an appropriate budget
+ Bring major trades in early to provide input
+ DB teams need detailed project requirements early, i.e. acoustics, fire-rating, anything above and beyond typical project requirements

2. How much documentation is enough vs. how much is required for approval agencies
+ Architects/DB teams should hire specialty consultants early in the process – Teams should use experts with prior experience in systems being proposed
+ Contractors would like to bring on experienced subs as late in the process as possible to ensure better pricing/ earlier in the process sometimes means more hidden contingencies because design is not yet fully baked
+ There should be a collaborative discussion between the contractor and architect to determine how much to draw, who is responsible for drawing it and at what point in the process.
+ Pull-planning sessions with the team suggested to figure out sequencing of packages and documentation requirements for each
+ BIM/Revit model: team should determine what is the purpose? Internal coordination or something else. Include the builder and owner in the conversation, they may have needs that can be incorporated into the model

3. Stakeholders/subcontractor involvement on DB team in design decisions (architects have to let go a bit)
+ Communication and collaboration are key / trust the other team members
+ Architect needs to describe design and code/agency requirements; Contractor needs to explain construction tolerances and requirements
+ Success is having the right amount of information at the right time – collaborative effort among all team members

4. Understanding how trade procurement aligns- or doesn’t – with design resolution, and what to do to keep moving design forward
+ Make sure the team has the right trade partners
+ Conduct submittal charrettes

Key takeaways:
+ Complete and open communication is crucial to the success of a project
+ All team members, especially experienced members, need to be engaged in the project for the duration; can’t handoff to younger team members or outsource tasks
+ Architects need to get comfortable having difficult conversations about deliverables, schedule, add services, and other challenges they face during the course of the project
+ Good owners and builders are your partners and may not agree with our assessment but will work to find resolution and make sure their architect is successful
+ Develop and manage logs – schedules, deliverables, changes to design and items that differ from criteria documents, pull planning and responsibilities. D-B projects move fast and are complex, information must be tracked and managed more rigorously than traditional D-B-B
+ Use Expedition Behavior: “Expedition Behavior” is the term National Outdoor Leadership School founder Paul Petzoldt used to describe the set of behaviors that keep a group moving together in the wilds. Like a finely tuned marriage, an expedition must navigate good times and bad and manage complex unknown risks. Also like a marriage, while any group can hang together for a weekend, the pressures of long outdoor adventures mean that it’s likely that at some point everyone will mess up in one way or another. Expedition Behavior is how teams get along while also performing at a high level (From website The Clymb)

Dana Wiehe – Project Manager, PCL Construction Services
Warren Jacobs, AIA – Interim Director of Architecture/Deputy Building Official, Capital Planning, Design and Construction, Office of the Chancellor, California State University

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