Whenever man tests uncharted waters, there are ripples and resistance. Some boldly step forward, others cling to the past, and some test the tide without truly getting in and swimming. In our second part look at the topic of Design Build vs. Design Bid Build construction methodologies and what makes the most sense for churches today, Worship Facilities Magazine explores new territory in an effort to better prepare church leaders for both alternative and future options.
Some call the future methodology 3D modeling. Some refer to Building Information Modeling, or BIM, the data-driven software that allows for virtual 3D building of a space down to minute details. Some speak of rapid prototyping (see sidebar). But M. Rex Miller, theologian, futurist, and author of The Millennium Matrix, reports that these terms are names associated with a new methodology that can simply be called Integrated Project Delivery.
More than intellectual thought, this new method has the potential to interject a new model, beyond Design Build (a process where an owner contracts with one firm for both design and construction services) and Design Bid Build (a process where an owner secures design professionals to design a building first, followed by securing multiple bids for the construction of the project)and beyond Construction Management, an alternative model to Design Build and Design Bid Build that is touched on later in this piece.
Integrated Project Delivery
In an Integrated Project Delivery approach, churches can expect a charrette-type setting where all players in a building projectchurch owner, architect, building contractor, audio-visual designer, mechanical and electrical engineers, and other key playerssit down together in an environment of trust and accountability to conduct intense creative brainstorming and hash out the details.
"[All commercial construction] is moving toward integration; an integrated model means you don't have asymmetrical power," Miller explains. "In Design Build it's in the favor of the general contractor. In Design Bid Build you have fragmentation and lack of coordination. Integrated Project Delivery is equalshared cost and responsibility."
And Miller adds, "[The Integrated Project Delivery] approach assumes a trust-based relationship as a prerequisite for Integrated Delivery." If the trust-based relationship is not in place, then the tools for integration, such as BIM, have limited effect.
One firm that has changed its consulting practice to take advantage of an integrated approach is Acoustic Dimensions in Addison, Texas. "We're working in a rapid-prototyping fashion with about 10% of our clients at the moment," says Principal Craig Janssen. "The advantage for the design team, and cost savings for the client, comes from developing core concepts for the project collaboratively. Coordination is far tighter up frontreducing changes further down the lineand the deliverables are visual, allowing the client to provide immediate feedback on something they can see."
Just why is Integrated Project Delivery important to the average church that's planning a building project? "It will lower the cost of the project if they do it properly," Miller contends. "Most projects get off center because the owner or the client isn't clear on what they really want or need. An integrated or collaborative approach pulls in all the stake holders involved earlier in the process, and you can simulate how a building will perform [using BIM-type software] before you ever build it."
Moving forward into a building climate that will offer the beginnings of an Integrated Project Delivery approach, Janssen has this advice for church leaders: "Step back and have a different metric. Define people who are trustworthy, who you can collaborate with. The potential advantages to the [church] client are huge. The lack of building conflict with the new approach will be massive. Churches can glean the reward of speed and low cost by learning how to do this."
Construction Management and other Options
Another building methodologyan alternative to Design Build and Design Bid Buildcurrently exists, and that is Construction Management.
According to Todd R. Phillippi, president and lead architect with WPH Architects for Ministry of Penndel, Pennsylvania, "We advocate [a Construction Management] option that gives churches the advantages of both [Design Build and Design Bid Build] approaches, while largely removing the adversarial component without sacrificing the architect's authority to advocate for the owner."
Under the Construction Management approach, an architect, owner and construction manager (builder) work together on a new building project or renovation in an open-book approach. The Construction Manager serves as the builder and advises the architect and owner on all components of construction. Architect, owner, and Construction Manager are part of a team that works from the initial design-development stage through to completion of the project.
"Before detailed plans are prepared, we look to pre-qualify, interview, and solicit proposals from Construction Managers," Phillippi says.
The details of the design are worked out with the Construction Manager who ensures that the costs stay in line with the church's budget. "Once the plans [are about 80% complete], the Construction Manager will guarantee a not-to-exceed price as part of an AIA [American Institute of Architects] agreement to build the project," Phillippi describes. The main construction management firm is given a fee upfront for pre-construction services (estimating and value analysis) and then a percentage of the construction cost fee (generally 3% to 8%, depending on project size) for their work thereafter.
According to Phillippi, "This process gives the church more control, maintains the architect's role, and reduces the contractor's riskall of which contributes to more of a team atmosphere, which is essential to a successful building project."
Phillippi points to Grace Fellowship in Latham, New York, as a good example of Construction Management benefiting a church. The church had hit a growth wall, he reports, and ran five services each Sunday. Then a vacant 150,000-square-foot shopping center became available, and WPH developed a conceptual design for the space.
"A Construction Manager was hired and we fast-tracked the project through design and construction, enabling the church to occupy the building with substantial renovations only six months after settlement," Phillippi says.
"Since all the costs were open-book, the church knew it was not over-paying for the work being done. It required incredible teamwork, which was made possible through the collaborative efforts of architect, church, and builder."
Another team-focused approach has grown its own network throughout the church building world since its inception in 1998. Building God's Way, a design and construction program offered by Ogden, Utah-based BGW Services LLC, offers church planning, funding, design, and construction under one umbrella.
"BGW has worked out national purchasing agreements with [more than] 80 manufacturers that produce products that fit well in Christian churches and schools," says Daniel W. Cook, founder and architect for BGW Services. "We are able to purchase those products at significantly reduced prices from the world's' approach and control the quality at the same time."
A BGW building program contains very little, if any, bidding, Cook reports. "This program would not work without aligned general contractors (BGW Builders) who understand the program and have agreed to all of the process that makes this possible."
The company has BGW suppliers, as well as BGW architects and builders that work in concert with the church owner. And aside from its network approach, BGW offers a targeted ministry to each building project. "Good stewardship [includes] that we impact the workman on the job site, the suppliers, and the owners of the different construction firms," Cook explains. "Our goal is to tell every person that ever has anything to do with a BGW project who we serve, why we serve Him, and what it means to have a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ."
Whether a church chooses one of the main models of buildingDesign Build, Design Bid Build, or Construction Managementor the new and promising Integrated Project Delivery approach that's beginning to gain traction, one factor remains paramount to a successful building project, and that is trust. Oftentimes in church building, Janssen notes that "our contracts are contracts of conflict, not collaboration."
It seems evident that the successful building methods of the future will involve deep collaboration on many levels, and a non-linear way of getting from concept to ground breaking.