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Design-Build Delivers

Innovation and collaboration build efficient projects that stand the test of time

Whether you’re a public or private, large agency or small business Owner, design-build delivers innovative and resilient projects allowing you to do more with limited resources.

The Pentagon

Design-Build Delivers in Times of Crisis

The renovation of the Pentagon is one of design-build’s most inspirational examples of how collaboration and innovation deliver project successes for our nation — in good times and bad.

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Before the terrorist attack on 9-11, the Pentagon was in the midst of one of the most complex renovation projects in contemporary history. By the 1990’s, the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and information technology systems in the Pentagon were inadequate for the needs of contemporary office workers. With the deterioration of the building infrastructure came constant problems. For example, facility maintenance crews reset more than 100 electrical breakers or fuses every day. Renovation was clearly needed, and a traditional design-bid-build project began in 1992. However, six years later, serious budget and schedule overruns endangered the entire project. Design-build came to the rescue.

Walker Lee Evey, a contracting officer at the time and later CEO of DBIA, pioneered an innovative design-build contract that would combine the Pentagon wedges under a single contract with a single line of responsibility. The new contract was conceived and the request for qualifications (RFQ) issued in late 1999. The procurement method was not the only innovation. Where most federal RFQs/RFPs run thousands of pages with drawings and design specifications, this proposal was a mere half-inch thick. It was a set of “performance guidelines,” giving interested firms the opportunity for innovation. The project presented a challenge: design and then build a new vision of the Pentagon, one that would keep the historic structure, while enabling it to meet the needs of the future. Staying on budget and on schedule would also fall to the design-builder.

When Flight 77 hurtled into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, reconstruction of Wedge 1 was near completion as part of the Pentagon Renovation Program (PenRen). After the attack, the Phoenix Project was born with a promise to rebuild the damaged area before the one-year anniversary. Project leaders based much of the Phoenix Project’s structure on the PenRen program’s organization and the contract for Wedges 2 through 5 was awarded to the Hensel Phelps Construction Co., just three days later. At that point, two facts were clear: 1) the already completed renovations at the site of the plane crash proved their worth. The section of the Pentagon struck by the plane had been renovated earlier to include blast-proof windows and Kevlar in the walls, helped minimize the human toll of the terror attack. The same antiterrorist measures, and more, were planned as part of the modernization of the remaining four wedges. 2) The renovation of the rest of the building needed to be completed more quickly than originally planned. The contract originally called for the complete Pentagon renovation project to be finished in 14 years. After 9/11, that schedule was reduced to four years. The 3,000-member Phoenix project team completed demolition and reconstruction of the damaged section 28 days ahead of schedule, before the one-year anniversary of the attack, and approximately $194 million under budget.

Efficient and Productive Systems:

The design-build contract’s flexibility and the design-build team’s dedication and originality were vital to the Pentagon project’s success. The team planned every phase of the work for maximum efficiency. The usual renovation practice would be to move all staff out of one wedge, complete that wedge, move everyone back and then repeat for each segment. Instead, the Hensel Phelps team developed a phasing scheme that moved people to and from swing spaces and other sections of the building within 17 overlapping phased turnovers. Other government contractors installing communications systems and moving furniture were also able to use this method for efficiency. The team refined their design and phasing so that there was almost no disruption of services to any of the tenants during the project, an unusual accomplishment. This process also allowed the Pentagon’s leadership, including the secretary of defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff, to enjoy a smooth, phased move, permitting them to continue their important work with minimum interruptions.

Teamwork:

Throughout the project, Hensel Phelps adapted systems to improve communication, collaboration and team efficiency. The team motto became, “On time, on budget and built for the next 50 years.”

Hensel Phelps systematically re-sequenced the design effort to support construction, while still allowing for a proper design review process. It developed a short interval production scheduling system, known as SIPS, by analyzing the design and construction process for common, repetitive elements. Hensel Phelps grouped related activities into five-day workweek blocks that were then organized to produce a constant and predictable flow of work. The SIPS blocks were arranged into a “SIPS train,” which, once started, progressed through the entire sequence of activities until completed. These simplified scheduling and disseminating plans aligned the design and construction teams and produced a highly effective and very fast-paced project.

In addition to innovative design and construction processes, the team developed a universal space plan (USP) for the Pentagon. The USP provides a flexible use of space that can be quickly reconfigured to accommodate changing needs. Hensel Phelps used the concept of “flexibility through rigidity” to pre-define workspace configurations that allow for different needs while staying within the floor plan. As needs and personnel change, the office areas can be reorganized quickly, without disrupting the overall plan.

The final project met its design mandate. It stays true to the Pentagon’s historic past but embraces the future with innovative and flexible elements to anticipate future needs. Designed to provide a comfortable workplace for a large workforce (25,000 at the time), with the most stringent anti terrorist protections possible, we can expect the Pentagon to stand strong for another half century.

Design-Build Team:

Owner: U.S. Department of Defense/Washington Headquarters Services/Pentagon Renovation & Construction Office
Design-Build Team Leader: Hensel Phelps Construction Co.
General Contractor: Hensel Phelps Construction Co.
Architects: Shalom Baranes Associates (Architect of Record) Studios Architecture (Interior/Space Planning) MCLA (Lighting Designer)
Engineers: Tadjer Cohen & Edelson Associates (Structural Engineers) Timmons Group (Civil Engineers) Schirmer Engineering (Fire Suppression)

Pentagon Aerial View

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Making Connections

Finding that perfect team for the perfect project requires making and keeping good connections. DBIA is here to help.

Design-Build Project Solicitations

Following is a list of websites and resources for design-build project solicitations:

California Bid Network
HubDOT — News about transportation projects
New Hampshire DOT
New York DOT — Doing Business with NYSDOT
North Carolina Design-Build Letting page
North Carolina DOT Projects
Ohio DOT, Division of Construction
The RFP Database
U.S. Coast Guard Mission Support Log
Virginia DOT projects and studies

If you have a project to share, please email us a link to your website or specific project posting.


Owners’ Frequently Asked Questions

How many projects are completed each year using design-build?

Market trend data based on research conducted by FMI in 2018 shows design-build at 43% of all design and construction (based on dollar volume).

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Do you have past examples of design-build projects?

DBIA has a comprehensive project database that is searchable by project type, size and location. In addition to a project photo and cost/schedule information, the database also provides details of added value and innovative solutions that resulted from a collaborative design-build approach.

Project Database

What is unique about design-build?

Design-build is where one entity, the design-builder, enters into a single contract with the owner to provide both design and construction services. In all other project delivery systems, there are separate contracts for design and construction. The single contract for both design and construction is the design-build distinction. As much as design-build is defined by a sole-source contract for design and construction services, design-build is also defined by the attitude of everyone involved in the project. In successful design-build projects, everyone makes the mental shift to think and act as a single entity.

Why would an Owner choose design-build as a project delivery method?

There are numerous reasons an Owner might select design-build. Among the most common are:

  • Design-build delivers projects more quickly
  • Cost efficiencies can be achieved since the contractor and designer are working together throughout the entire process
  • Fewer changes, fewer claims and less litigation
  • Enhanced innovation and problem-solving due to the early integration of the project team, including the Owner

Is there data to support that design-build is faster and more cost effective?

Yes. A study conducted in 1999/2000 by Penn State and CII showed design-build to be an average of 6% less costly and 33% faster than traditional design-bid-build. There are numerous other research projects that substantiate this data.

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I’ve heard about unsuccessful design-build projects. Why were they unsuccessful?

As with any process, there are best practices that determine the chances for success. In design-build, there are best practices related to the procurement, contracting and execution of design-build that, if implemented, significantly enhance the chances of successes. DBIA has found that unsuccessful projects and/or teams have not been properly educated in Design-Build Done Right™ best practices and principles. Owners and industry professionals should understand and be educated on design-build before pursuing their first project.

DBIA Best Practices

We are a public agency. Do we have authority to use design-build?

Design-build is authorized at the Federal level and to varying degrees in each state and locality. Currently 27 states and the District of Columbia have full authority for design-build. 16 additional states have widespread authority. Only 7 states have very limited authority. See DBIA’s State Authorization maps for more details.

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What is DBIA certification and is it for Owners?

DBIA certification is the industry’s only measurable standard to ensure experience and knowledge of design-build principles and techniques. Of the nearly 4,000 credential holders, about a third represent Owners. Many Owners award points or additional consideration in solicitations for teams that have DBIA certified professionals as it is a way to ensure an understanding of Design-Build Done Right™ best practices.

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What kind of education does DBIA provide for Owners?

DBIA’s core curriculum is recommended for all who plan to engage in design-build. The core curriculum includes three courses: Principles of Design-Build Delivery and Procurement; Post Award: Executing the Delivery of the Design-Build Project; and Contracts & Risk Management. In addition to these courses, DBIA has coursework designed specifically for Owners. Developing an Acquisition Strategy walks owners through the three critical synergistic elements of successfully procuring design build.

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Will DBIA provide education specific to my agency/organization?

Yes, DBIA offers in-house custom training based on your organizational culture, level of design-build experience (if any), internal design-build policies (if applicable) and training goals. Contact DBIA’s education department to discuss ways to craft a program specific to your needs.

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