Project delivery

An expected trend regarding project delivery, noted by Mark Zweig, founder of the AEC management consulting firm ZweigWhite, is that even though traditional design-bid-build is still the most dominant method—accounting for 60 percent of firm billings—it is slowly being superceded by other methods. It has declined 5 percent since 2002. While design-build receives much attention as the delivery method that will replace design-bid-build, it was construction-management-at-risk that made the greatest gains, increasing from 6.9 percent to 10 percent. Conventional construction-management accounts for 13.5 percent, and contractor-led design-build grabs about 9.6 percent. For the first time, architect-led design-build has been called out separately, and represented a scant 3.9 percent of all firm billings.

The idea that design-bid-build is being supplanted by other delivery methods has implications for development of specific skill sets for future architects and, therefore, for architectural education. This paradigm shift, according to David W. Hinson, AIA, chair of the architecture program at Auburn University, in Alabama, suggests that the construction phase will be just as collaborative as the design phases. “The importance of working in teams will extend dramatically deeper into the project timeline,” says Hinson. The art of collaborating and negotiating must be integrated into courses across the curriculum, including design studio, architectural technology, and professional practice.

Data in context
In interpreting the firm survey, it is important to place the data in the context of one’s own practice goals and vision, which may indeed aspire to achieve something different from the representative numbers (“benchmarks and best practices”) in the survey. As noted in the survey’s appendix, survey results are based on 2,606 responses (a 22 percent response rate) from domestic offices of U.S. architecture firms owned by AIA members. The survey data was weighted to accurately represent all office sizes in the universe of domestic firms noted above. Jean R. Valence, Hon. AIA, vice president and director of strategic development at Symmes Maini & McKee Associates, sums up the consensus among several firm principals and management consultants: “While there are no great revelations in the findings, the amount of effort that the AIA invests in composing a valid sample for this survey is laudable.”

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