Question Of The Week: Integrated Project Delivery Insights?

Posted by Anne Cosgrove


In Basalt, CO, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is currently constructing its Innovation Center, a 15,610 square foot building designed to exhibit the principles of integrative design and energy and resource efficiency. Working with architects ZGF Architects LLP and general contractor JE Dunn Construction, RMI broke ground in October 2014 with completion expected late this year. With performance outcomes at the forefront, RMI decided to employ an integrated project delivery (IPD) process for the facility. This emerging method of design and construction aligns financial incentives around a truly integrative design process. As part of a multi-party agreement between project team members, a risk and reward pool ensures both cost and performance goals are met.

A recent Facility Executive article highlighted another IPD driven project—North Park University’s Nancy and G. Timothy Johnson Center for Science and Community Life. Located in Chicago, the new facility was dedicated in September 2014, and in the article, Carl E. Balsam, executive vice president and chief financial officer at the university explained the IPD process was a first for the school.

Differing from traditional methods such as design/bid/build and design/build, the IPD approach brings design and construction firms together to create one project team for the duration. There are varying versions of IPD. For the North Park University project, the owner, architect, general contractor, owner’s rep, and major subcontractors were co-signers of a single project contract. This ensured collaboration throughout—an aim motivated further by the creation of a financial “risk pool.” Each signatory was tied to a portion of the risk pool from through which profits would be reduced if undue and unexpected costs arose.

Said Balsam, “Having profits at risk motivates creativity. But the beauty of IPD (and there are IPD processes that don’t have this risk pool) is the basic process brings collaboration into every major aspect of the building. It allowed us to see the chronology of the project. You start out with a comprehensive understanding of how inextricable and linked people’s work is to one another.”

Have you used an integrated project delivery method for your projects? Has the design delivered the intended performance? What insights would you share?

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