4 ways to wow community college clients

February 21, 2013 |
Rob Cassidy

The 46,000-sf Natural Sciences Building, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College, one of the Maricopa Community Colleges. Building Team: richrd+bauer (architect); Energy Systems Design (MEP); Paragon Design (SE); PK Kland Consulting Civil Engineers (CE); Research Facilities Design (lab planner); CF Shuler (landscape architect); Barton Malow Co. (CM at risk).

We've got a great March issue in the works ... here's a preview of our Cover Story, "How to Win More Work from Community Colleges," by Contributing Editor Peter Fabris.

1. HELP YOUR CLIENT FIND COST SAVINGS. “Treat our projects as if you were spending your own money,” says Arlen Solochek, AIA, District Director of Facilities Planning and Development, Maricopa Community Colleges. “We know what you are used to spending on private-sector jobs. A pet peeve I have is when contractors don’t hold down overhead costs: Do you really need that second work-site trailer?”

Sally Grans-Korsh, FAIA, LEED AP, former Director of Facilities Planning for the architect of the Minnesota state college system, recalls a renovation project where the contractor asked the college to change the curriculum so that the lab would not be needed for the next semester; this enabled the contractor to finish the job months sooner than planned. “He would have made more money with a longer construction schedule, but he realized it was not in the best interest of the college,” says Grans-Korsh, Principal Consultant/Owner of Minneapolis-based ArchiStudio. “We were impressed.”

2. MAINTAIN CLOSE COLLABORATION BETWEEN OWNER AND ARCHITECT, especially on design-build projects. Solochek says there’s a reason he seldom uses design-build project delivery: “I don’t want the contractor between me and the architect.” He recalls a project from bygone years. “We said the HVAC system plan wasn’t going to work, and the contractor went to the engineer and they insisted that it would work. Sure enough, it didn’t work, and we had a big fight over it.”

3. SHOW HOW YOU WOULD MANAGE PROCESSES In projects with multiple client partners. “Building Teams are going to have to demonstrate in their RFP responses and interviews how the would deal with multi-client projects––or how they have done so in the past––to give me confidence that they can manage these processes on my project,” says Solochek.

4. ADVOCATE FOR THE COLLEGE’S BEST OPTIONS when dealing with design planning committees. “Use your professional perspective to help enlighten people that have a more limited perspective,” says Grans-Korsh. “The worst examples are projects where the designers did exactly what the college officials said they wanted, even though that is not what the college needed.”

Rob Cassidy | Building Team Blog

Rob Cassidy (“ClimateGrouch”) is editorial director of Building Design+Construction. A city planner, he is the author of several books, including “Livable Cities,” and was a co-founder of the Friends of the Chicago River.

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