Integrated Project Delivery is here

New technology, combined with a tougher economy, is yielding new project delivery models for today's construction industry. One such model is Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). As most of you know, the traditional Design-Bid-Build (DBB) method that has been used for years requires an architectural consulting team to develop the project documents for the owner, after which the owner sends the plans out for competitive pricing from contractors and then selects a contractor to build the project.

In the IPD model, the owner pre-selects the entire team of both consultants and contractor(s) to work together on a project from beginning to end – in other words, from design development all the way through construction. This delivery method fosters a close working relationship and a thorough understanding of the project among all team members right from the start.

The result is quick resolutions to project challenges, which can reduce construction time by weeks.

Communication and the sharing of information are the keys to the success of the IPD delivery method. With today's advanced communication technologies that facilitate the sharing of information from anywhere on the globe, the proximity of team members to a project or to each other becomes moot. Instead, communication is accomplished through group meetings via the internet, and sharing of information is achieved through the use of a collective central design model and storage of all project information in one all-team-accessible location.

Regular meetings among all of the team members in the IPD approach are accomplished using internet programs such as "Go-To-Meeting" or "Web-Ex." Team members are able to visually share the project model and other documents simultaneously, while discussing project issues. Using these programs, attendees have the ability to control and mark up the screen as they troubleshoot problems and develop solutions. The meetings can be recorded and then stored for future reference, if needed.

Three-dimensional building modeling programs, such as Revit, allow all of the consultants on a project to share a central project model at the same time. At regular intervals, each team member uploads his new information to the central file. This three-dimensional model allows all the consultants an opportunity to clearly understand the intricacies in the design.

Conflict or clash scans can be made, whereby these conflicts are resolved during the design phase versus the construction phase, saving time and preempting costly last-minute corrections. The Revit model can also be used for 4D construction sequencing during the design and construction phases, assisting the team in better visualizing the construction project and in sequencing it over time so as to support project coordination and to help accelerate the construction schedule.

Another critical component of the IPD method is having a central location for all team members to store and share information. One program that facilitates this is called "Projectmates Construction Program Management Software (CPMS)."

Vital project information, including the Revit Model, the project schedule, Design RFI's, and all other documents are accumulated and shared at a single location, accessible via the internet. Correspondence is broadcast via this site as well and stored here for access by other team members and for future reference.

An example of the IPD delivery method is demonstrated via a project that ZFA recently completed with Codding SFS (a construction company specializing in panelization of light gage framing) and Crate & Barrel.

The project site for the new Crate & Barrel store was located in Pennsylvania, the owner in Chicago, the project architect in Texas, and other consultants in various places around the United States. ZFA started the structural design of the light-gage framing for this project on January 11th of 2010.

The foundation was placed by the construction team on April 1st, Codding SFS fabricated the light-gage steel framing panels and delivered them to the site on April 19th, and the erection of all the panels was completed by May 14th. The interior work ensued, and the store opened for business in November. The panelization reduced the construction time of this project by four weeks.

With team members scattered across the globe, what once would have been virtually impossible, or at the very least, long and laborious, is now achievable. The process is not yet totally seamless, but as the use of new technology is perfected, this new and effective approach to building structures will evolve into a familiar methodology in the world of construction.

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