DBIA Hosts Panel of School Officials
INDIANAPOLIS, IN The Design Build Institute of America's Central Indiana Chapter hosted a panel of leading school officials for a discussion of their preferred building methods. Included on the panel were John Voigt, AIA, Chief Operations Officer for the Brownsburg Community School Corporation; Paul Rivas, Director of Facilities and Security at the Metropolitan School District of Pike Township; and, Andy Guljas, Director of Construction for the Catholic Archdiocese.
Jeffrey J. Qualkinbush, a Partner with Barnes & Thornburg LLP, with expertise on the subject of public construction was also on the panel which was moderated by Garry Webb, the Director of Construction Administrator and Senior Associate at Fanning Howey Architects.
Voigt cast a shadow on Brownsburg's use of the design-build delivery method recently authorized for use in Indiana's public schools. "I like the concept and so does my staff," he said. "But I am not sure that the culture of our corporation or community is set for the design-build process."
He explained that the design-build process requires the use of paid consultants that is at least one reason the community may shy away from using it.
Rather, Voigt said the School Corporation has been using a method incorporating a construction manager in the process. "I have a construction manager because it is important to have the best people in charge of sequencing and scheduling and while it is an added bonus if we save money or if we have a better project because of collaboration, that is good. But mostly I think that proper sequencing is a key to a successful project," he said.
Rivas emphasized the importance of maintaining a professional relationship with architects and contractors and of not attempting to build personal relationships. That view was the result of his first days on the job when he attended a meeting at which he and others were told that a project was ahead of schedule only to find out much later that it was months behind.
"I can't delay school," Rivas said. "When that occurred, I told myself that this won't happen again, that I need more control."
Rivas also requires successful bidders to have attended a pre-bid meeting. If they don't then their bids - even if low - are not accepted.
Guljas prefers using the "construction manager as constructor" delivery method. He noted that he tried using the construction manager as agent approach but said that he felt overwhelmed by having 20-30 invoices on his desk to process every week. He was also concerned about a lack of a clear "liability path" which he believes is made clearer when the construction manager serves as the constructor.
As for using design-build, Guljas said that he "works for a 2,000-year-old company and it is hard for us to change our ways," so design-build is not likely to become a preferred delivery method at least not in the near future.
Each of the panelists agreed that public owners have a reputation for wanting more control over the construction process than those in the private sector. This is caused, they believe, by their relative inability to dismiss a contractor once they have the job and concomitant inability to ban any substandard contractor from successfully bidding for work on their projects in the future, each of which are advantages enjoyed by owners in the private sector.