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In Thoughts

By Melville Thomas Architects

A teaming strategy.

On 19, Nov 2013 | In Thoughts | By Melville Thomas Architects

Much of our recent experience is with other Architects on large scale institutional projects where we take on some of the responsibilities for the project development during the design development phase. We are making a concerted effort to coordinate our BIM initiative so the models are collaborative in nature. Our goal is to fully support this effort in ways that build value for the Prime Architect and our other team members.

Consider this. Most of the Maryland public sector RFPs require 10% to 35% participation by MDOT certified MBE firms. This is not only a prerequisite for the contract but part of the review during the quality based selection process. In essence a Prime Architect will not receive full benefit in scoring their RFP submission unless they have complied with (and sometimes exceeded) the MBE participation thresholds in the RFP. In order to accomplish this a typical team may be:

Architect  50%
Structural Engineer  10%
Mech/Elec/Plumbing Engineer  (MBE)  25%
Civil Engineer  10%
Cost Estimator  (MBE)  2%
Other Specialty Consultants  (MBE)  3%

Total  100%

This arrangement insures two things.  One;  Teams across the board are likely to be very similar for all RFP submissions, the only differences being the Architect.  Two;  The Architect is limited in his/her ability to select other consultants that may better service the project, based on experience, and/or provide a more competitive team in the RFP competition.

But opportunities for strengthening a team are significantly improved by awarding say 20% of the project to a qualified MBE like Melville Thomas Architects? Right away the onus of satisfying the minority set aside is shifted away from the Mech/Elec/Plumbing Engineer, allowing the Prime Architect more flexibility in selecting a critical part of a professional A/E team. The emphasis becomes not satisfying the minority requirement but rather finding the best engineers to do the work and presenting the best possible team for the RFP submission.

So, what can Melville Thomas Architects do to earn 20% of the fee?

  • We know the local consulting community and can help assemble a team, including other MBE participants.
  • We know the ins and outs of the RFP process and can advise the Prime Architect with respect to winning strategies.
  • We can help craft the RFP response.
  • We can develop the existing conditions BIM (renovation work).
  • We can track down site specific information.
  • We can “own” part of the project development following the schematic design phase.
  • We can develop and manage the interiors BIM.
  • We can do some or all of the construction documents.
  • We can be the local eyes and ears for the project.
  • We can do the construction administration.

To a large extent these capabilities are made possible through BIM project delivery. Whereas hand drafting or CADD limited a Prime Architect’s ability to monitor our work by virtue of the difficulties associated with printing, plotting, and distributing drawings, BIM is a shared resource and continuously available to the Prime Architect and the project team. This provides a mechanism for sharing a project over multiple offices, in real time, and allows the Prime Architect to monitor our work on a continuous basis. In fact we are currently sharing models, residing on remote servers, over Citrix. Clearly the ability to carve out meaningful scope and produce it thoughtfully from remote locations is a capability that we are promoting aggressively and doing successfully with other Architectural firms on large scale institutional projects. These include most recently:

Inn and Conference Center Renovation
University of Maryland University College (with HKS Richmond)

Health Sciences 3 Research Facility
University of Maryland Baltimore (with HOK Washington and Design Collective Inc.)

The HOK project lead and principal-in-charge said of our efforts to date.

“I just wanted to touch based and let you know that we have been very happy with your team’s performance during DD. We hope that we continue to have great success during the next phases. Thank you for your effort to date.”

Timothy O’Connell
Principal/Director, Science + Technology
(11/5/13 email memo)