Design-Bid-Build

It cannot be stated enough: skatepark design is best managed by professional, experienced skatepark designers. Every effort should be made to decrease the chance of a non-qualified builder being responsible for the skatepark design and/or construction.

The design-bid-build (DBB) process is the most common method for creating skateparks. This process requires the city to first hire a skatepark designer then the final design is used to describe the project for potential builders to bid on. The process for choosing the designer is frequently less rigid than the process for hiring the builder.

The designer works with the local skaters and produces a set of blueprints and construction documents that are then delivered to the City. The City, usually with the help of the designer, develops the eligibility criteria from builders before they are even allowed to bid on the project. The City then publicly invites construction companies to bid on the project. Companies that do not meet the qualification requirements are removed. Of those remaining (the qualified ones), the one with the lowest bid is awarded the job.

It is called design-bid-build because the park is designed, then the project is put out to bid, then it is built. (The other common process, design-build, eliminates the construction bidding process and the designer goes on to build the skatepark themselves.)

Strengths:

  • Standardized practice
  • Awarded to the lowest bidder

Weaknesses:

  • Less ambitious skatepark
  • Risk of unqualified vendor involvement

Many skatepark companies offer design-only, design-build, and build-only services. Some companies will not build another company’s design. Many companies that only offer design services prefer that their designs be built only by a specific building company. These allegiances can be confusing but can also produce the best skateparks. The skatepark advisory group should spend some time researching the companies creating skateparks today. The style of their work, the regions where they are most active, and the relationships they have with the other companies (and the communities where they’ve created parks) should begin to reveal themselves.

An interesting aspect of DBB is the possibility that a company may submit a bid for the project that is significantly under cost in the interest of winning the bid for strategic business reasons. For example, a company struggling to build a park in a particular region may provide a dramatically low bid knowing that they will break even, or maybe even lose a little bit of money, simply to have built the park in the area…or to prevent another company from winning the bid. The skatepark industry can, on occasion, be competitive in this way. The local core group has little influence on these matters but understanding the project’s “industry context” can sometimes explain why a project is getting extraordinarily low (or high) bids, or no bids at all.