Three important developments at DBIA Expo 2018

The DBIA conference is an event that unites AEC professionals, building owners, leaders in design-build delivery, and relative newcomers to share the latest trends, ideas and best practices that can fuel both progressive project delivery models for the future.

By Praful Kulkarni, AIA, MBA, Ph.D. (HC) January 2, 2019

The Design-Build Institute of America’s (DBIA) annual conference and expo is one of the most educational and dynamic events to attend each year. I had the great fortune of joining contacts and colleagues at this year’s event in New Orleans. Making this year’s DBIA Expo especially exciting, the event marked the 25th anniversary of the DBIA’s founding – a moment when select AEC industry leaders came together to advance design-build as a successful project delivery platform.

For those unfamiliar, the DBIA conference is an event that unites AEC professionals, building owners, leaders in design-build delivery, and relative newcomers to share the latest trends, ideas and best practices that can fuel both progressive project delivery models for the future. There are scores of educational sessions, countless novel ideas shared, and incredible energy around the built environment’s future at these events. The DBIA also announces awards and its new Board of Directors, which was an exciting moment as my colleague Deb Sheehan was selected to serve on the DBIA BOD for the year ahead.

Reflecting on this year’s conference, I wanted to share three key takeaways that will influence the year ahead:

Further Evidence: Design-Build is Faster, More Reliable and Cost Effective

As design-build continues to gain momentum each year as an effective project delivery platform, new data and evidence to serve as proof is key. There was excitement at the DBIA conference around the organization’s new research report, “Revisiting Project Delivery Performance” that shows America’s design-build projects continue to deliver faster, and with greater reliability in cost and schedule performance, than other methods. Here are some highlights from the data:

  • On average, projects using design-build cost 1.9% less per square foot when compared to construction manager-at-risk (CMR), and 0.3% less when compared to design-bid-build (DBB).
  • Design-build projects also average 2.4% less cost growth than a comparably scoped project using CMR and 3.8 less cost growth than a project using DBB.
  • Design-build projects see 3.9% less schedule growth than CMR and 1.7% less than DBB. They’re also 13% faster than CMR during the construction phase and 36% faster than DBB.

Design-build can continue to drive value on a project level and for our larger built environment. As Lisa Washington CAE, CEO/executive director of DBIA has said, “As our nation continues to struggle with the unmet needs of crumbling infrastructure and budgets stretched thin, it’s no surprise that most states have embraced design-build as a better way to deliver projects vital to our economic growth. Whether it’s a billion-dollar airport or small community library, this research confirms design-build continues to deliver innovative projects that save time and money.”

The report has been covered in the media and it can be read in entirety online.

Design-Build for Transportation & Aviation in 2019

During this year’s conference, I co-chaired a Market Sector Roundtable with Geoff Neumayr, chief development officer for San Francisco International Airport, Aviation which proved remarkably enlightening. Those involved shared their thoughts on design-build’s growing impact and potential in the aviation industry. It became that the potential for design-build in aviation required more than just a singular discussion at the national conference.

So, in 2019, DBIA will take a deep-dive focus on aviation at the first-ever Design-Build for Transportation & Aviation Conference this April in Cincinnati. The DBIA has held an event focused on transportation in the past, but it’s exciting to see the aviation industry elevated in this manner.

Several of our most exciting current design-build projects sit in the aviation industry. We’re currently helping Los Angeles International Airport construct its new Midfield Satellite Concourse and a Terminal Cores and Automated People Mover Interface and doing work with San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Being connected to these projects day in and day has shown our team the remarkable success and potential for design-build in aviation and it’s great to see a dedicated event on the topic for 2019.

Deep Interest in Virtual Design and Construction
Our gkkworks/CannonDesign team brought more people than ever to this year’s conference, including Brian Skripac, our director of virtual design + construction (VDC). In talking with him, he was thrilled with the excitement and energy around VDC. He moderated a technology form titled, “Exploring the Value of BIM on Projects,” and told me this afterward: “One of the important takeaways from the session which really summarized things well was, ‘as BIM adoption goes up, so does group cohesion, facility quality and project delivery speed.’ – all important benefits and outcomes.

Brian also shared that “other presentations on a schedule-driven BIM approach highlighted the value of integrating trade contractors and their models early in the project delivery process while also being able to use big data from the QA/QC process,” and VDC came up when SFO’s Geoff Neumayr talked about the importance of achieving the benefits listed above (group cohesion, facility quality, etc.) which will continue to be value-adds for clients embarking on projects via the progressive design-build model.

I can’t state enough how much I look forward to the DBIA conference each year. The 2018 event in New Orleans did anything but disappoint, and I look forward to advancing design-build in new ways between now and next year’s event in Las Vegas.

This article originally appeared on CannonDesign’s website. CannonDesign is a CFE Media content partner.

Original content can be found at

Author Bio: Praful Kulkarni is the Director of Integrated Services at CannonDesign.