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Owners, AEC firms primed for real collaboration

Building Team

Owners, AEC firms primed for real collaboration

Survey findings point to a growing demand for collaboration and partnership during these chaotic times.

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | April 15, 2021

Courtesy Pixabay

Cost isn’t the only thing on building owners’ minds these days, but it certainly informs their choices of AEC partners, projects, and products. This is one of the many takeaways from BD+C’s inaugural Owners Survey Report, which collected input from 156 building owners and developers throughout December 2020 and January 2021 on a variety of topics: their top development challenges, what they look for in AEC firm partners, and their most promising innovations.  

The survey findings point to a growing demand for collaboration and partnership during these chaotic times—and mounting frustration over a lack of focus and discipline among their AEC firm partners around project costs. 

“Architects and designers need to work within a budget,” said Michael Vachio, LEED AP, Vice President of Development and Construction for JL Capital in Hawaii. “The value engineering phase of a project is becoming longer and larger.”

Time and again, in their comments, owners asserted that AEC firms don’t listen to their concerns, especially—but not exclusively—about taming a project’s cost. Owners also claimed they want closer collaboration with their teams, subs, and suppliers, some to the point of encouraging integrated project delivery methods that ultimately speed the construction process.

At the very least, AEC firms might reconsider how they pitch projects, with an eye toward appreciating the owner’s perspective. 

AEC firms also need to overcome some owners’ lingering skepticism about investing in strategies that are environmentally responsible but whose implementation costs “impact the rents tenants are willing to pay and [what] financial institutions are willing to lend in some markets,” said Cassie Paben, Director of Business Development for Tetrad Property Group.


Click To Download BD+C's 2021 Owners Survey Report


This exclusive BD+C survey of 156 building owners and developers explores the changing and most-pressing needs of this highly influential group. From project financing to client service to design, construction, and operations, this research breaks down emerging trends, innovations, and the biggest wants and needs among owners/developers. The survey covers:
• What owners/developers look for in an AEC firm
• Biggest development challenges
• Top health/wellness/environmental strategies on projects
• Single-biggest innovation implemented on projects
• Response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Download the 16-page PDF report with the complete findings from BD+C's 2021 Owners Survey. Thanks!


That being said, AEC firms should also test those waters to see if owners are prepared to enter into contractual commitments necessary for establishing accountable and financial collaboration on both sides.

Owner–AEC relations that work usually boil down to trust. Our survey reveals that, perhaps more than ever, owners are turning to their AEC partners to help their companies and projects take advantage of the 

latest products and best practices in such areas as technology, building systems, energy efficiency, and sustainability.

Our survey’s respondents sounded eager to try out new ideas that deliver predictable ROIs. But as one owner conceded, the industry is moving faster than any one company can keep up with. AEC firms only increase their value when they provide practical solutions for projects that factor in an owner’s budgetary, marketing, and operational parameters, as well as end-user and occupant comfort.

Download the Owners Survey Report at:

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