Architectural practice is in for a Change. At least, to gauge from the room filled with about 300 intent expressions of architects, owners, constructors, and building product suppliers and manufacturers this week in San Francisco gathered at the UCSF Mission Bay Conference Center. That word, “Change,” formed the title of the conference, sponsored by AIACC and McGraw-Hill Construction (that’s us, if you didn’t recognize the name.)

How are we changing? According to the participants, we are headed toward Integrated Project Delivery—a lofty sounding title, but an appropriate one. In fact, as Chet Widom, FAIA, suggested to me from the floor of the gathering, it really isn’t about Integrated Practice as much as project delivery. IPD (ready for a new acronym so close to IDP—really?) recognizes that the current system of design-bid-build is grossly inefficient, actually broken in a sense, and in need of streamlining. I readily agree there. Owners are demanding more and more in less and less time. How can we possibly do more than we’re doing?

Well, new software helps. BIM (Building Information Modeling) is absolutely necessary, according to Kimon Onouma, AIA, who has been an advocate and practitioner (and winning awards in the process). He underscores that using BIM, all participants can see a 3-dimensional project in real time—a critical necessity of this new IPD. So does a new way of organizing teams into a modified design-build model to include all stakeholders, particularly the owner and contractor.

Architects then become leaders and communicators, orchestrating an effort that results in more decisions made up front, and simultaneously, as opposed to our traditional system. We all know that construction has been sequential, from idea to contract to construction, and here, the linear process collapses, with multiple decisions made from project inception.

Sounds a bit conceptual, but some are already succeeding at the job. I flew back from the gathering with a head filled with ideas, and the subject was change.