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This Strategy Is Boosting The Red-Hot Boston Construction Market

Boston's Back Bay skyline

The pace of construction in Boston is driving fast-track projects, and design assist has become the chosen mode of project delivery, Vidaris Northeast regional director Walter Hartnett, whose firm consults on building envelope design, energy efficiency and sustainability of new and existing construction projects, tells us.

This strategy involves key subcontractors early in design to collaborate and enhance design efficiency, with the aim to streamline the construction process. “Fulfilling the architects' vision, while controlling the budget, is critical,” Walter says. These projects merge budget and design phases, and can involve a fear factor due to uncertainty, but afford a huge opportunity for collaboration and innovation.

This has its merits with custom prefabricated products, those specialty trades with long leads, such as bespoke unitized curtain wall façades, which can take 16 months to deliver.

He says “this trend for early engagement moves risk further down in the supply chain, and when it works, allows for a level of performance and innovation that’s unmatched.”

The culture of constructing a curtain wall via design assist isn’t exclusive to major new projects, like the Millennium Tower and 101 Seaport, where Vidaris was part of the design team, but it is also viable on repositioning existing properties, Walt says. “We’re also seeing building owners and developers looking to revitalize existing properties by recladding their exteriors—a trend that will accelerate.”

Replacing the curtain wall as part of a building retrofit can deliver longevity and give new life where diminished energy performance or marketability have made them functionally out-of-date. “This recycling of the existing building stock in aging Downtown districts will come when there’s economic justification for landlords, and with tenants that see the benefits in greening—we are there now.”

Walter tells Bisnow that “while design, manufacture and installation do have competing needs, you can satisfy each. With the right team of creative, talented designers, as well as engineers and field personnel familiar with using the best tools to bring the project to the field, design assist can be a very effective process."

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Related Topics: Vidaris, Design Assist