American Philosophical Society: Design-Build

Earlier this year our American Philosophical Society renovations received the Best Design-Build Project Award from the General Building Contractors Association (GBCA). Always by Design (AxD) provided the architectural design leadership while J.S. Cornell & Son (JSC) served as the project lead and construction manager for the four phases of this $6.15M project. This marks the second time that I’ve received a GBCA award working in a design-build relationship with JSC. (The Chemical Heritage Foundation’s Ullyot conference center addition received the Best Institutional Project Award the year it was entered.)


In my experience, the strength of the design-build process has been in fostering teamwork and shared responsibility among Builder, Designer and Owner. In contrast to the myopic, mine-versus-yours provincialism and frequently adversarial environment engendered by a conventional low-bid process, design-build encourages thinking in terms of achieving the best shared outcome. Particularly when working with a non-profit institution relying on receiving grants for a phased renovation involving multiple existing buildings, the ability to accommodate incremental funding and concealed or unforeseen conditions is invaluable. The design-build methodology represents a very useful project delivery option, facilitating the shift toward greater teamwork. The evolution of holistic, “sustainable” thinking and availability of new tools (such as object-based Building Information Modeling (BIM) software) is allowing an even more fluid, integrated, and productive approach to design and construction.

[3 Nov. ’08 GBCA awards program – Ed Barnhart, AIA]

2 Responses to “American Philosophical Society: Design-Build”

  1. 1 Anne Downey
    December 1, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    As a user in the APS project, I was pleased to be included in the team process of the design of my conservation lab. This was a satisfying process, with an end result that continues to serve us well….the space is beautiful, well-crafted, and multi-functional. It is a joy to come to work.

  2. December 5, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Hear! hear! for design-build. I was the “owner” on the Chemical Heritage Foundation project referred to and the process was an incredibly smooth one. Now, that said, it may also have something to do with the fact that Ed Barnhart is/was also a carpenter and so knows that beautiful designs actually have to get built with nails and hammers and pieces of wood.

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