Can The Design-Build Methodology Get Pandemic-Delayed Projects Back On Track?
The coronavirus pandemic caused major disruptions to the construction industry across the U.S., including in markets where it was deemed an essential service and allowed to continue operations. Even today, despite the fact the construction sector experienced a strong recovery this past spring, supply chain issues, labor shortages and elevated materials costs all threaten to derail the progress the industry has made in the past few months.
In Texas, the rise of the delta variant and ongoing supply chain disruptions are causing significant delays. While the state is experiencing a major population boom and high demand for housing, there are still projects that are stalled or unable to get off the ground due to these uncontrollable issues.
Despite these challenges, some Texas construction firms have been able to keep up business as usual thanks to their unique approach to each project. LGE Design Build, which is headquartered in both Phoenix and Dallas, has been rapidly expanding its project pipeline across Texas for the past several months in spite of the challenges. Mark Cone, director of business operations for LGE, believes a lot of that success has to do with the company’s methodology.
“Our design-build methodology has allowed us to avoid many of the pitfalls of the pandemic,” Cone said. “We have access to project design elements early on, which means we can work through contracts early with our owners to secure long-lead products in time to avoid delays.”
LGE is a design-build firm, meaning owners work with just one point of contact to both design and construct a project. Cone and his colleague Grant Blunt, LGE’s vice president of construction, sat down with Bisnow to talk more about the design-build process, what it could mean for the post-pandemic construction landscape and what lies ahead for the Texas market.
Bisnow: What does design-build mean to you?
Blunt: From a construction perspective, it is a delivery method that we utilize to provide our clients with a single source of contact. So instead of being contracted with an architect and then contracted later on with a general contractor, they come straight to the GC. And then we put together the engineering team consultants and it puts everyone in line with the owner’s goals. It gives us a lot of leeway to make decisions quickly and upfront before they become impactful to construction later on.
Cone: Architecturally, it’s a similar approach. We're able to coordinate more efficiently and be better aligned with the construction team as well as the owner to get things answered quickly and move faster. This especially pays off when we're working through construction documents or looking for any kind of additional value engineering-type items because we can get real answers and real data in real time.
Bisnow: What role do you think design-build firms will play in getting construction back on track after the delays caused by the pandemic?
Blunt: In my opinion, if you're not in design-build right now, you're behind the curve. As I mentioned, thanks to this methodology we have been able to avoid some of the pandemic pitfalls that have severely impacted other firms, like supply chain concerns. Joists, for example, have been a big problem to secure, plywood has been hard to find, and we have been able to find those materials thanks to early intervention with our clients.
Out of all the projects we've had, I can't think of a single one that's had a serious pandemic-driven impact. And I give credit to the process, being involved very early on, getting those materials and making decisions sooner. So I think design-build will be a big player in how people will be moving forward to keep their projects on track post-pandemic.
Bisnow: What projects is LGE working on in Texas right now?
Blunt: We’re working on a wide range of projects, but primarily warehouses and logistic centers, along with some retail and restaurant projects, medical office projects and built-to-suit opportunities. We're able to pursue all of this because we have extensive experience in both architecture and construction.
Cone: We just finished 1M SF of industrial space in Haltom City, a project called 820 Exchange. We also have Mesquite 635 coming online, which is a 550K SF, three-building logistical center that is getting ready to kick off, and Fort West in Fort Worth, another three-building logistics center that will be very similar to The Mesquite.
Bisnow: How have you been getting involved in the Texas communities that you're building in?
Blunt: We have a foundation called the David R. Sellers Foundation and we partner with various charities throughout the year. In Dallas specifically, we've partnered with two foundations: one is the Children's Advocacy Center of Collin County and the other one is The Family Place in Dallas, and we're currently doing a drive for them. We’ve also been getting to know some of the subcontractors in the area and charitable events they have been involved with and donating as we can.
Bisnow: What lies ahead for the Texas market?
Cone: We've been here for two years and we're growing rapidly, constructing millions of square feet of industrial space and getting tapped into the market. It's hard to say when the industrial market is hot or cold or when it's ending, but thanks to the number of people who are moving here and the companies that are moving their businesses to Texas, all signs point to the market staying strong. Texas seems to do well through any kind of recession. Pair that with the influx of people, and the outlook is positive for sure.
This article was produced in collaboration between LGE Design-Build and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.
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