- Sep 1, 2020
Considering a design-assist approach on your cultural or institutional project? While design-assist may not be appropriate for all projects, it has the potential to deliver certainties that matter to a cultural project owner and its stakeholders. Gilbane has utilized a design-assist approach on many of its cultural facilities and institutional projects resulting in cost, quality and schedule certainty for our clients and design partners.
Gilbane has had success utilizing the design-assist process which brings an additional level of expertise and assurance to the table early in the planning process, well before construction begins, including at the acclaimed Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Common design/trade elements favorable to a design-assist approach may include curtain wall and exterior enclosure systems, mechanical and electrical systems, deep foundation systems, and architectural cast-in-place concrete systems. Other design-assist elements specific to cultural and institutional projects may include pre-condition surveys and as-built conditions of MEP distribution and structural systems, as well as the evaluation of existing specialty finishes.
Some advantages of utilizing a design-assist process include:
- Developing high-quality design and constructability solutions which are compatible and achievable.
- Shortening the duration of the submittal/shop drawing process during the construction phase.
- Alleviating long lead item concerns and gaining speed to the market.
- Developing mock-ups early on for quality control and design maximization.
- Achieving necessary Agency approvals for systems that must meet code standards for fire ratings, hurricane forces, seismic ratings, etc.
- Gathering accurate data of existing field conditions relating to structural, MEP, and foundation systems.
- Collaborative and transparent process with an improved value management process.
- Maximizing quality of finishes and systems.
- Mitigating interferences and disturbances to ongoing operations.
When considering a design-assist approach, weigh the teams overall experience in their respective disciplines and specific markets as well as their experience as a design-assist entity. Evaluate each firm’s approach to creative and cost-effective design solutions, including their commitment to achieving cost, schedule and quality expectations.
As soon as Design Development documents are complete or no later than early construction documents (approximately 30% complete) are underway, the project team should consider bringing on its preferred design-assist partners. Creating the opportunity for the design team to work closely with fabricators, detailers and installers in developing the design and construction details, will best ensure an efficient set of design documents. Additionally, the design-assist partners can offer suggestions for simplified constructible details which can add value while meeting the full intent of the design.
Our project teams have created shared best practices for managing a design-assist process which include ensuring that there is a competitive proposal process with the ability to disengage a potential partner with an undesirable bid result. Define goals and objectives clearly through a kick-off meeting ensuring that all partners come to the process with an understanding the importance transparency and the commitment to yield maximum value to the project.
If these key considerations make sense for your project, design-assist may be an appropriate strategy that can help realize several its many benefits in terms of quality, cost, and schedule certainty.