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November 16, 2017
Over the past two years there’s been a quick shift in the way projects are delivered at colleges and universities across Washington state. The shift is to a model that is better suited to accommodate today’s fast-tracked, cost-constrained market conditions.
In the next five years the state’s two largest schools of higher education will together make available millions of square feet of new and/or renovated space. The successful delivery of this magnitude of physical space is of vital concern to owners, with factors at play like ever-shifting capital improvement budgets and super-consolidated timelines. The need to “do more, quicker, with less” is ever more present.
Both the University of Washington and Washington State University have embraced design-build as their exclusive project delivery method for major capital projects, replacing the traditional general contractor/construction manager or design-bid-build models that had been in place for decades.
Design-build expedites design and construction while providing a level of seamlessness for the client via a single team and a single contract.
WSU’s Troy Hall is one of the state’s first higher-education projects to partially preserve, adaptively reuse and expand a historic building through design-build.
Led by the team of the Seattle office of Perkins+Will and Spokane-based Lydig Construction, the project transformed an early 20th-century creamery into a 50,000-square-foot, four-story, modern academic science facility and it did so in less time and with less cost than a traditional GC/CM model.
From pre-design to delivery, Troy Hall was achieved in 27 months, or approximately 30 percent less time than through a traditional delivery model. This was possible in large part because design-build gives everyone a seat at the table through each phase of the project designer, contractor and client alike.
From programming and design to construction completion, overlaps between phases shorten the overall timeline of a project. For example, using the foundation from the new addition as reinforcement for the historic facades from the original building shaved three months and thousands of dollars off the project alone.
WSU set out to preserve as much of the original building’s historic character as possible while also expanding space for the current and future needs of the school.
Historically renovating a building can be complicated and costly, but design-build helps curb these issues because it’s inherently collaborative. It relies on the design-builder, designers and trade partners to work together as a team to solve issues as they arise.
With Troy Hall, the relocated south entrance was the result of a creative solution by the designer, contractor and subcontractor, who all identified a problem and worked together to effectively address it.
The relocation of the terra-cotta entrance to the ground level brought the south entrance to the pedestrian level of the campus. The coordination of the entire team included making molds of existing intricate terra-cotta details for the re-creation of pieces damaged by the relocation.
A budget cut
Because the designer and contractor were in close collaboration throughout the duration of the project, it was delivered on budget despite funding cuts that took the project from $30 million to $27 million two months after the project was awarded.
Suffice to say, the funding cuts presented some challenges that resulted in balancing the needs of the program with the needs of the design. Ultimately, the completed product fit well within the overall concept of the building without sacrificing the design aesthetic.
With design-build, everyone comes to the table willing to work together for the best interest of the project. It’s refreshing to see people coming together to create unique and innovative decisions. Everyone has skin in the game. It makes a difference both to the delivery of a project and in the overall process of developing it.
As a testament to its success, this past October the American Institute of Architects Washington Council awarded the 2017 civic design award of citation to Troy Hall. The annual awards program “celebrates the best examples of what can be realized when architects and civic clients work together to achieve quality design.”
Anthony Gianopoulos is a principal with Perkins+Will’s Seattle office, and Tony Corigliano is a senior project manager with Lydig Construction’s Spokane office.