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Architecture & Engineering

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October 30, 2014

Survey: Notkin Mechanical Engineers

Specialty: Mechanical and electrical engineering

Management: Principals Sandy Bonderman, Larry Brown, Tom Ferlan, Stacy Knight, Darren Schwend and Larry Swartz

Founded: 1951

Headquarters: Seattle

2014 revenues: N/A

Projected 2015 revenues: N/A

Projects: UW Medical Center expansion phases one and two; Perry Center for Fisheries & Aquaculture Sciences at Bellingham Technical College; Aviation Battalion Complex dining facility at JBLM

Photo by C9 Photography [enlarge]
Notkin worked on the Perry Center for Fisheries & Aquaculture Sciences at Bellingham Technical College.

Principal Sandy Bonderman answered questions about the industry and how business is going for Notkin.

Q: In the last year, have you seen a rebound in construction?

A: Yes, construction is rebounding in healthcare and higher education, especially for clients who use design-build construction. Though funding is decreasing in the defense sector, Notkin’s work is increasing due to new relationships. Integrated project delivery continues to be popular. Some clients are also using multiple construction delivery methods, such as combining design-assist with GC/CM delivery. Design-bid-build construction is declining.

Q: In what areas is Notkin growing?

A: Notkin is experiencing an increase in design-build construction and prime consultant work. Previous success in leading prime contracts for federal clients has led to successful award of a prime contract healthcare client for infrastructure work. As clients seek ways to revitalize their facilities within their current footprint, they engage engineering consultants earlier in the design or funding process to support programmatic changes.

Q: What technical advances in mechanical engineering have affected you?

A: Three-dimensional modeling and building information modeling are the norm, and clients want to see the entire project in 3-D, not just areas that require extra attention because of equipment and component density. Clients also have a heightened awareness of the potential energy simulation and life-cycle-cost analyses have on their construction and operational costs.

And while not a technical advance, traditional lines of responsibility between a project’s design and construction members continue to blur. For example, when Notkin teams with a contractor to perform on-site assessments, the contractor’s perspective on constructability and reliability allows the project budget and schedule to be further defined. Also, for Notkin’s Department of Defense design-build work, extensive modeling is required by contract to support overall energy reductions of 30 percent over a comparable project.

With early contractor engagement, Notkin can capitalize on the contractor’s specific skills and creativity to develop specific solutions with lower financial and performance risk — a win-win arrangement for everyone.

Q: Have you focused more attention on the public or private sectors in the last year?

A: Notkin would like to obtain more private work because of the decline in public work, but our focus remains on clients within specific market sectors, regardless of whether they’re public or private.

Q: Which of your private-sector clients has become a significant source of work?

A: One of our private healthcare clients has increased the number of projects awarded, and more of these projects are funded for construction. This is an important difference from activity during the economic downturn when clients were awarding assessment-type work only.

Q: Has Notkin made sustainable design a regular factor in its projects?

A: Yes, even before sustainable was quantified by organizations such as the U.S. Green Building Council or Green Globes. A significant component of sustainability is energy conservation; the more energy-efficient the HVAC systems or the higher the water savings in plumbing systems, the lower the impact on our environment.

Notkin works with clients to develop sustainable options that make sense for their budget, the program for the facility, and effect on facility users. Years ago we bored people talking about our mechanical systems. Now, mechanical systems are often one of the marketing features of a building.

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