Tomorrow's Engineer: Change Is Coming (February 2001)
Well, the times are always changing and the building industry is no exception. Just look around at the methods of building programming with the popularity of design-build, program management, and project delivery services. All three of these terms imply the same thing, "single point responsibility."
Traditionally, in years past, architect and engineers focused their efforts on the design responsibilities but "the times they are a-changin'." Partnerships are becoming the trend for building program success. Yet some professionals continue to hang on to the old way of doing business while the song goes on to say, "Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall." A week doesn't pass that I hear someone echo the process of the past, "Long live design-bid-build."
TeamworkA good resource that reinforces that the building process is changing is The Project Delivery Institute (PDI), the organization that has come out of department of architectural engineering at Penn State University. This organization has continuously collected data, analyzed this data, and offered their findings in a very comprehensive format. Based on their findings, the information to date clearly supports the philosophy that teamwork and partnerships are the most successful process of choice. It is tough to argue with statistics, and the PDI has plenty of statistics to support that the times they are a-changin'.
In the future, a building program will see less and less of the design team "passing the baton" to the construction team and more and more of partnerships and teamwork from beginning to end. For those who don't believe in this process need only to look at all the major projects being implemented beginning with the Pentagon renovation featured in Engineered Systems magazine last year. Another resource, although somewhat bias is the Design-Build Institute of America. Refer to www.dbia.org for more information. For obvious reasons, the DBIA has evolved around design and construction organizations that truly believe in the design-build process.
A third group to consider for changing trends is The Lean Construction Institute, also committed to changing trends in the design and construction industry. Information on LCI can be found at their web site www.leanconstruction.org/. With this group, changing processes are of major interest for them as they focus on today's fast track building needs. And while you are looking up these various websites, consider how much of the design and construction activities are being performed over the Internet.
Numerous companies are offering/providing interactive software for the designers, builders, and owners to work together on a project. Our own company recently finished a design-build chiller plant out of our Chicago office that required some engineering and CAD services of our Minneapolis office. A seamless, fast-track job, changing times have made it possible for companies such as ours to provide the service in partnership with the owner and local contractors.
As Bob Dylan's song goes on to preach, "Don't criticize what you don't understand." Using the Internet and various websites, you can form your own opinion of how "the times they are a-changin'" the design and construction industry. ES