Fast Schedules for Lab Delivery

The April 2002 roundtable dealt with issues in laboratory design, and this deep link offers the panelists' thoughts on project schedules.

By Staff April 15, 2002

The M/E Roundtable in CSE’s April 2002 issue focused on designing quality lab environments, with participants from a number of design firms offering their input. The following is how the panelists responded when asked about schedule, and the implications of more jobs being fast-tracked or delivered design-build.

STEVEN WALLER, P.E., CUH2A, Princeton, N.J.: Most clients treat building design like their manufacturing operations: expecting just-in-time delivery. Because clients are waiting longer for project inception, this mandates that almost all projects be fast-tracked or delivered design-build. The biggest implication is quality. If we, as engineers and architects, don’t have the time to test alternatives or coordinate designs before construction begins, the final quality tends to suffer.

JEFF BOLDT, P.E., KJWW Engineering Consultants, Rock Island, Ill.: We see a mix of traditional design-bid-build and design-build projects. Design-build works well when we are teamed with a contractor who truly wants to give the owner a quality project. Avoiding the confrontational nature of traditional projects saves overhead for both the contractor and the design team. The key is in picking partners carefully. As far as fast-track design, it is fairly common, but definitely not the norm. It works well as long as the parties involved realize that there can be additional costs if construction proceeds prior to completion of design.

MICHAEL LORENZ, P.E., Kling Lindquist, Philadelphia: We’ve experienced the opposite. It is very rare today to see lab projects that are not fast-tracked. Typical sequence would be for a sitework and foundation package, followed by a structural package, sometimes also with core and shell M/E/P, an exterior wall package, then a series of lab fit-out packages. This approach demands that the project requirements be thoroughly defined in the schematic design phase and that the building footprint, floor-to-floor heights, and major system sizes, configurations and routing schemes have been established. On the other hand, in our experience, design-build is not yet common for laboratory projects. The complexity of these type projects tends to make owners lean more toward a prime contract arrangement with their architect/engineer and few A/Es have chosen to take the lead in design-build arrangements, at least not yet.