Jim Zack, AIA, and Lise de Vito, Assoc. AIA, of Zack | de Vito Architecture Construction wanted the majority of their session to be open for questions and discussion, so they kicked things off by giving a quick overview on how they handle doing design/build as architects. "Our approach is not necessarily the best way," Zack says, "but sharing our experiences will show one way to do architect-led design/build and prompt conversation on other options." Design is the key to their approach—they build their own designs so they know exactly what it will take to build it to fit their vision.
Their design and construction companies are separate entities, primarily for insurance and other bureaucracy issues. However, it's all the same people and office space. The advantages for them include having more control over the completed product, details, development, cash flow, and total revenue. The design/build aspect also gives Zack and de Vito flexibility and diversity to weather economic downturns. And they enjoy more design creativity and connection to craft.
Clients also gain benefits in the form of having a single source of information throughout the design/build process. "They also know all of the project participants and exercise more control over costs," de Vito notes. For the firms' employees, the crossover opportunities to be both architectural and construction project managers enhances their professional experience and careers.
Questions from attendees focused on practical matters such as getting clients on board, the breakdown of a typical day, and their initial decision to do design/build. A lively discussion also took place on the pros and cons of running a design/build firm as one licensed business or two.