Design-Build Goes Public

by James Denning, Assistant Editor; Civil Engineering, 345 E. 47th St., New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1992, Vol. 62, Issue 7, Pg. 76-79

Document Type: Feature article


Public owners of civil works get paid to avoid risk. It's their job. Why try some experimental technique for building offices when safe, proven methods exist? But times have changed, budgets have tightened and more public works are needed. The public sector is looking for methods that deliver faster and cheaper than traditional methods. They may have found it in a new concept that has been a hot topic in the private sector for several years: design-build. Proponents say design-build offers improved communications, fewer legal disputes and faster and cheaper construction than the conventional design-bid-build process, but others raise questions about how widely it can be applied, how well it serves the client and the public and its financial impacts on mid-size engineering firms and contractors. The article covers the range of opinions on design-build among engineers, details the conflicting responses of government agencies, and describes projects by the U.S. Postal Service, General Services Administration and others that have used design-build.

Subject Headings: Design-build | Public health and safety | Infrastructure | Owners | Risk management | Safety | Construction methods | Budgets

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