Design-Build

Design-build, or D/B, is the simplest approach to skatepark design and construction, and tends to produce the highest quality facilities in the least amount of time. Some experts claim D/B is 33% faster than design-bid-build, or D/B/B. Administrative costs are also reduced with this process, and that saves money. It is the optimal approach to skatepark procurement.

The term, design-build, describes a hiring scenario where a single company is hired by a City to perform both design and construction services. The city hires the skatepark company who then handles everything. A primary benefit of design-build is that the company that meets with the community to evaluate their skatepark needs is the same company in the field building that park.

Unfortunately, many cities prohibit D/B practices for things like skateparks due to state or local regulations. Design-build is a capital improvement process typically reserved for public art and structures that are so specialized that only the designer is qualified to build it. Some states are more liberal with their design-build policies than others. There’s little that a skatepark advocate can do to change these state policies. The best way to find out what your local opportunities are for considering a design-build scenario is to have a frank conversation with a local parks or city planner.

In the United States, about half of the states will engage in design-build scenarios. Of the others, D/B may be a limited option.

The regulations that often prevent D/B processes is intended to provide greater opportunity to companies that would like to bid on the project and (as a result, hopefully) create a more competitive bidding atmosphere. To find out if design-build is permissible in your town, you should discuss the design-build option with your city liaison.

The criteria for hiring a design-build contractor is simple. A list of notable skatepark companies desired by the skateboarding community is supplied to the City by the skatepark advocates. The managing agency, usually a city or county government (but sometimes a general contractor or landscape architect), creates Request for Information. That request is either published to the city’s website or sent directly to the companies they are interested in hearing from. If the skatepark company is interested in the project, they will respond with their portfolio and company information.

The City then reviews the information supplied from the interested companies and determines which of the applicants are qualified to submit a proposal. That determination is made by a committee. Some individuals on that committee should be volunteers from the skatepark advocacy group.

The City invites the qualified companies to “make their pitch” for the skatepark project based on the available budget. When all of the proposals are received, the review committee looks them over and scores them based on their relative merits. One vendor should emerge as the most qualified, and that company is then offered the project. Ties, when they occur, are generally resolved through an open conversation.

That’s basically how design-build works.

Strengths:

  • Faster and more cost-efficient
  • Reduced administrative load
  • Encourages innovation

Weaknesses:

  • May introduce unexpected changes during construction
  • Prohibited in many areas