IPD is Working…..But, Where’s the Proof? – 6/2/11

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Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), is a collaborative delivery method that requires architects, contractors, owners and all stakeholders in the enterprise, to take on new roles and competencies. This necessitates a change in culture, especially for the practitioners where new methods of learning, in order to upgrade the industry and move to virtual environments, need to be implemented.

The AIACC is taking the lead in defining this issue within the design and construction industry and has developed several publications which respond to this changing environment.

While there may be no set definition of collaboration, the construction industry has had some unwritten guidelines in the past regarding collaboration on a project. However, currently the industry is grappling with the possibility of rewriting those rules to some degree. Any project, regardless of the delivery type, has several levels of collaboration in terms of how the design and building teams operate, govern and perform. IPD aims to establish guidelines for owner, architect, and construction professionals to create shared risk and reward structure in a project. Of the owner, architect and contractor, the architect may have the most responsibility for getting the project delivered correctly from the outset.

The methodology and structure of Integrated Project Delivery is proving its value. For several years, IPD has demonstrated the strengths of its process. Developing partnerships amongst the project participants has proven to be extremely effective. When evaluating how IPD is working across the design, construction and building professions, and the effectiveness has been documented, and project owners are happy with the outcomes as well. Jim Bedrick, FAIA, and Vice President, of Virtual Building and Design for Webcor Builders, recently stated, “Since its inception, the IPD approach has yielded successful results on many projects. In the 2010 AIA California Council study of six completed IPD projects, there were zero change orders not related to owner-initiated scope changes – this is typical of the metrics we are finding. It’s clear that the IPD approach of supporting collaboration through alignment of business interests is benefiting all participants in these projects.” (The National AIA has many successful case studies as well.)

In addition, the parties involved in the IPD process appreciate the many benefits and protections offered them via the contract language. In other contract structures, if an architect does extra work they may not necessarily see extra money for their efforts. The IPD incentive structure for compensation allows those who work harder, the opportunity to receive compensation for it. The process also causes participants to work more closely as a team, rather than individual silos, thus, greatly increasing the communication among all the team players, as well as focusing on collaboration efforts. The end result impacts all those involved in the risks, as well as any financial reward. IPD can generate many legal questions, such as “What do you mean I can’t sue the other guy that I’m working with?” Large firms often say they want to do things this way because there are no turf boundaries, and because there is a chance to make additional profit.

Another benefit is that the IPD process can be a bit easier for small firms due to the fact that relationships tend to be less formal and there is typically more collaboration in smaller firms. As we know, it can be difficult at times to turn a battleship, therefore, making it tough for larger firms to change course.

Project obstacles created since the economic collapse have caused owners to forget why they didn’t like design bid build, but now they are finding out that problems in the design bid build process still exist. The past couple of years generated a drop in the use of IPD, but recently IPD has started to pick back up with the economy picking up a bit. In moving forward the structure of IPD will be successful, it’s just getting people on board with the idea. Getting the assembly right from the outset is crucial. There are many successful examples of the IPD process working well in the development of projects, especially in the healthcare field. One of these examples is the eight-story Encircle Health Center in Appleton, Wisconsin. A 150,000 sq. ft. outpatient facility that includes primary care, internal medicine, various physician specialist suites, imaging, labs and more. This project utilized BIM and 3D software to model the building. And a website was maintained to provide continual updated information for all project participants, as well as information exchange.



The AIACC represents the interests of more than 11,000 architects and allied professionals in California. Founded in 1944, The AIACC's mission supports architects in their endeavors to improve the quality of life for all Californians by creating more livable communities, sustainable designs and quality work environments.

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