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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The 'Building Team' concept represents the real AEC world

September 10, 2010

For most of the last decade, we at Building Design+Construction have been advocating for the integrated Building Team: AEC professionals all working together to meet the needs of their clients—school districts, healthcare systems, real estate developers, colleges and universities, etc.—and the people who use their clients’ buildings—school children, hospital patients, office workers, college students, etc.

We even adopted the motto “Inspiring the Building Team” and put it on the cover, right under our name.

We feel strongly about this concept because, when you look at what’s been happening in the AEC field over the last 10 years, you can’t help but see that the major trends—what we refer to (perhaps somewhat grandiloquently, but with good intentions) as “transformational forces”—are converging toward early integration of the Building Team.

Some of these “transformational forces” have been around for some time, but have been gaining momentum in recent years—trends like design-build project delivery, which has established a firm foothold in publicly financed projects, as well as lean construction and fast-track project scheduling. All of these delivery systems owe their growth to the escalating demands of clients for faster, smoother, less risky, and more unified delivery of projects. All require early and intense integration of the Building Team to be successful.

Then there’s green building. Say what you want about the U.S. Green Building Council and LEED—and we’ve said plenty, as evidenced by the 250,000 words in our seven White Papers on Green Building—the green building phenomenon has forced AEC firms to work together in integrated Building Teams, right from the start, or they will have no hope of attaining the higher and higher levels of LEED certification that today’s clients are demanding. These days, earning LEED Silver is becoming ho-hum for many clients.

Building product manufacturers, too, have responded to the green movement, creating thousands of new products for building green. Many of the products you will see on the floor at Greenbuild in Chicago (November 17-19, 2010) didn’t exist 10 years ago.

More recently, the industry has witnessed the rapid adoption of building information modeling. Our 2009 Giants 300 survey revealed that 80% of the nation’s large AEC firms have adopted BIM, which absolutely requires early team integration. BIM’s ability to change a project’s design “parametrically”—meaning instantaneously—across as many as seven dimensions has made it a powerful tool that is telescoping condensing schedules.

On the contractual side, integrated project delivery is gaining the attention of owners, particularly for large-scale projects like hospitals, where $100 million is the base point. IPD’s very name calls for team integration, and we think AEC firms are going to be involved more and more in IPD projects.

Finally, there is globalization: Building Teams on one continent working seamlessly with their counterparts in another, virtually anywhere in the world. These projects, many of them breathtaking in scope (remember the “Water Cube” at the Beijing Olympics?), could not have been completed without rigorous team integration.

All of this requires education—learning new technologies, new systems, new ways of integrating project teams. “Lifetime learning” is a strict requirement for AEC professionals and an important strategic differentiator for the firms that employ them.

“The Building Team” is not some fancy gimmick we dreamed up. Rather, we believe it is an accurate representation of how progressive AEC firms are working together to produce the excellent commercial, industrial, and institutional projects we feature in these pages.

For excellent example of integrated Building Teams, see the Building Team Awards winners in our September 2010 issue. 

—Robert Cassidy, Editorial Director


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The Design Community and teamwork? Tri-True Design Build

Tri-True Design Build Update: IPD, Vie Cost Analysis, and Pictures Dear Large General Contractors and others, Problems are opportunities. Project Delivery Method (PDM) innovations and economic downturns have corresponded with one another. Design Assist (DA) was an early eighties creation. Consultant Led Design Build (CLDB) was an early 1990s creation. AutoCAD wants the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) PDM be this economic downturn’s creation. None of the above mentioned PDMs became a reality over night. It took years for DA and CLDB to get to 15% of the PDM market. The following is link to my amateur Tri-True Design Build (TTDB) PDM promotion site: Traditionally, industry hubs have created PDM. The TTDB PDM can be created the traditional way or very quickly from underneath. The AIA’s Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), the AGC’s ConcensusDOCS, and the European aftermath of a CLDB landmark court case are very positive TTDB developments. PDMs have all sorts of names. I originally called TTDB Design Build Facilitation. In the United Kingdom, the CLDB PDM is called Consultant Novation. In Canada, CLDB is called Design Build Facilitation. TTDB is more descriptive and eliminates confusion. I toyed with EMfacilitation. Consultant Facilitation is another. Tri-Assist, CM at No Risk or Tri-IPD are some more. Anyone can come up with their own custom name and variation. TTDB is design and prime contractor community idea. I tied my best to give the intrigued the ideas to make TTDB a wonderful reality and create a web site that the non-intrigued will find useful. Putting myself in a contractor owner’s or officer’s shoes and doing the vie cost market and PDM analysis was an eye opener and some of the related sketches are timeless keepers. For years I have been eager to explain how two non-compete design build contractors can eliminate an amazing number contemporary and historic PDM related problems. Unique solutions do not come pre-packaged. Power seekers are good at foiling those who are the most qualified to lead without seeing power sharing as an option. Because of being temporarily displaced, I temporarily did not have to worry about design community leverage. I had time on my hands to try to get over the TTDB huddles without having to worry so much about the Clark law. Revolutionary ideas and paradigm shifts evoke three stages of reaction. This is impossible, so do not waste my time with this. This is possible but not worth doing. I said TTDB is a great idea. I have an excuse to contact large general contractors and construction managers to share my TTDB idea. When TTDB becomes a reality, it will be packaged differently than I did. Perception is reality. In reality PDMs are created for self-serving reasons then professionally sugar coated. I live in and want to stay in a relatively small metropolitan area. TTDB has a hidden and irreversible geographic component that is very favorable to smaller metropolitan area mechanical contractors and engineers. If TTDB garners 35% of the PDM market over the next ten years, Milwaukee area mechanical contractors will all be up 34% in terms of margins across the board. There does not need to be any growth in the construction market while doing right! Proponents of change try to get far more than one out 50 people try new things. The easiest way to get the intrigued not to wait and see as long is by whittling down the number of people who will resist change or by eliminating their leverage. I have always seen TTDB as a wonderful way to avoid a fight the design community has been looking for since the 1996 AIA design build contract forms. The 2005 AIA design build contract forms and the design community’s updated position on leading design build projects is even more hypocritical, provocative and vulnerable. The design community lost taking similar positions in the past. Due the stakes and design community solidarity, zero sum victories took a long time. TTDB has checks and balances built in to it. Thanks to TTDB’s geographical component only 6% to 25% of the design community, located in large metropolitan areas, should fear the change I am advocating. The design community cannot stop very positive change if the general construction community takes the TTDB lead. Ethical members of design community can take the TTDB lead to avoid being called on individually to defend the design community’s position on leading design build projects. I have sent close to 2,000 e-mails to individuals who work for prime contractors on nights and weekends in attempt to create TTDB peer pressure. After I exceed 3,000 e-mails to prime contractors, I will move on to construction managers. I hope you will find TTDB intriguing enough to more elegantly package TTDB and become a leading TTDB proponent. I would like to stay in the Midwest and have TTDB come to the Midwest elegantly packaged. I have been working my way from the East and West coasts to the Midwest while conjuring up TTDB selling points. My resume is a web site page primarily for reference. At the end of the Stacked, Flat, and Lumpy is my mechanical contracting business story. How to prevent a big contractor blowout? The Sweet Spot and IPD page is also from personal experience. Boomers are becoming elder statesman and my Generation X is taking over. My previous good fortune, strongly held PDM and mechanical contractor opinions are the reasons why I am displaced. Sharing them in PDM promotion format has helped me find much needed objectivity and grace. I also need to find the right place for the next 20 years. If you know of a mechanical contractor who is looking for someone like me, please pass on my reference resume and e-mail. Yours truly, Richard Illingworth