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design-build done badly// No Rooms at the Inn By Patrick A. Burns, Pe, FsAMe, Bgen, usAF(r) this issue’s “design-build done badly” occurred on a hotel project for a major brand-name hotel chain. (As always in this column, the client, design-builder and location are kept confidential to protect the guilty). The $42 million project was to be a flagship attraction in one of the top 10 largest cities in the United States. The client specifically chose design-build as the project delivery method to accelerate project completion and included incentives in the contract for early completion to coincide with end-of-season events at major sports stadiums nearby to capture early revenue. The design-build project team approached the design phase as it had done successfully for numerous other projects for the same hotel chain. Early on, the focus was to get the site layout and architecture right, along with meeting the hotel brand’s standards for the main floor and the upper-floor “cookie-cutter” rooms. So what went wrong with what should have been a routine project for a long-term, repeat client? Three problems occurred that together significantly affected cost and schedule. As a result of these errors, the hotel opened after the sporting events had ended and, therefore, lost planned revenue. lessons learned A post-mortem examination revealed the root cause of how this project faltered: Because the design-build team members had substantial experience with a number of similar projects, they got too comfortable and didn’t pay enough attention to design-build details that led to the three problems that affected the schedule. First, a design-phase problem began with the foundations and structural design of the end wings. The owner decided at the design kickoff meeting to fl ip the wings of the hotel from front to back to give it a cleaner line and make parking in front more accessible. The completion timeline caused the design-build team to initially overlook the fact that geotechnical borings hadn’t been performed for the fl ipped footprint. When the design-build project manager insisted on a couple of additional borings for the new footprint, Murphy’s Law went into effect and the differing soil conditions necessitated a redesign of the foundation and structure. 16 spring//2013 HVAC and bathroom problems on the second floor were similarly owner-induced. After reviewing the architectural package, the owner asked for a more dramatic portico above the main entrance, which at first appeared to be a straightforward enough request. Subsequent coordination with the HVAC package revealed that the larger portico negated the normal use of external fan coil units on many of the secondfloor front-elevation rooms. As a result, bathrooms in that area had to be redesigned to incorporate inceiling fan coil units and associated ductwork. Finally, what would normally be an easy hotel WiFi installation was complicated by the selection of a major Internet and WiFi supplier that was experienced with homes and offices, but had never installed WiFi in hotels, dormitories or similar facilities. The WiFi signal was weak or non-existent in the hotel rooms because the provider’s standard office routers weren’t strong enough to pass through the hotel’s hallway firewalls and metal doors. The three problems led to delays in design packages that hindered the construction phases, resulting in a late project and an unhappy client. These issues were not complicated and, yet, they happened to a design-builder with more than 20 years of experience as a general contractor that builds hotels for major clients. The primary reason behind these errors was the design-builder taking the project for granted because “we build these all the time for the same client.” Quality control and attention to detail following client design requests didn’t get the emphasis they should have from the very start. Do you have an interesting example of designbuild done badly? If so, please contact Pat Burns at or iq@ We will work with you in complete confidentiality to share the lessons you’ve learned with our readers to benefit the industry in a future issue of DBIA’s IQ. PAtriCK A. “PAt” Burns, Pe, FsAMe, Bgen usAF(r), is A ForMer viCe PresiDent With Mortenson ConstruCtion AnD CurrentLy A seMiretireD PrivAte ConsuLtAnt. he PreviousLy serveD 35 yeArs in the Air ForCe in Design, ConstruCtion AnD oPerAtion oF MiLitAry BAses in the uniteD stAtes AnD overseAs. the quarterly publication of the design-build institute of america

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IQ Spring 2013

IQ Spring 2013

IQ Spring 2013 - (Page Cover1)
IQ Spring 2013 - (Page Cover2)
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