Design-Build – the US Army Corps of Engineers Way
November 7, 2018
Design-build (D-B) is one of the primary project delivery systems used in the construction industry. In D-B, both design and construction services are contracted by a single contractor. In the traditional D-B method, the design is completed while construction is ongoing. The biggest values of D-B can be saved time in procurement and a potential for value engineering review and project phasing.
To date, our D-B experience leans heavily toward food and beverage development projects and transportation infrastructure. Although our involvement in USACE D-B is more recent, some key differences between its application in the commercial sector and the USACE approach have emerged very quickly.
- Generally, USACE does not authorize construction until 100 percent of the design is approved.
- A USACE D-B project generally requires multiple design reviews, often at 65, 95 and 100 percent.
- USACE designs must meet the requirements of all applicable USACE engineering manuals, regulations and technical letters.
- USACE D-B requests for proposal are generally much more prescriptive than those for non-governmental clients.
- USACE may require an independent technical review or peer review of the design relative to project size.
Military Construction (MILCON) Design-Build
Mead & Hunt first completed a D-B contract for a fire station at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Fort Polk and USACE Fort Worth District were very satisfied with the final design and construction, deeming the project a success.
Still, the architecture-engineer team learned much through the experience, including these key take-aways:
- The ability to reduce design fees in USACE D-B is limited because USACE generally does not accept reducing the number and detail of drawings, and saving time by overlapping design and construction phases
- Communication among the end-user, contracting officer, builder and designer required extra attention and effort.
- To fully realize the benefits of D-B and be profitable requires a design team dedicated to D-B projects that has solid experience with the builder.
A Civil Works Design-Build Case Study
Next Mead & Hunt tackled a civil works D-B project in 2015 as the D-B team engineer for the design and replacement of two tractor gates (one flood and one emergency) out of the six sets at the Denison Dam in Texas. Denison Dam, a Tulsa District USACE project built in 1943.
Alltech Engineering out of Minnesota, who had replaced three previous sets of gates, was the selected contractor. Alltech selected Steel-fab, Inc. for gate fabrication because they had also fabricated the previous gates. Analysis for fatigue and fracture according to the USACE Engineer Technical Letter 1110-2-584, Design of Hydraulic Steel Structures was essential. This manual contains extensive requirements for evaluating and documenting fracture critical members of hydraulic steel structures. This design also required a peer review by another District.
Ultimately, Denison Dam received two new tractor gates designed for:
- 126 feet of head, earthquake loading and closure under flow
- Gate slot refurbishment
- New flood and emergency gate dogging devices
- New work platform for dogging device installation and maintenance.
READ FULL ARTICLE in The Military Engineer
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