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Ask IONIC #10 – What is Design/Build?

Ask IONIC is a napkin series of questions that we often hear from our client and others that may assist those who are also seeking answers.

No question is dumb… just the ones you don’t ask.

We hope these will help you understand our industry just a little better so you can make informed decisions on your project.

Information that leads to knowledge is the key to success.

The Benefits of Design-Build Construction

What business wouldn’t want to choose a building process that offers opportunities to save money, to reduce construction time, to allow customization, to optimize quality, and to streamline the entire experience?

So before you answer that question… don’t you think you should understand what design-build means?

Unfortunately it means different things to different people. There are pros and cons with everything. IONIC has worked with hundreds of clients over our many years in business, and finding the key advantage that each project requires is the right process our clients should utilize.

Choosing the right process should be the best for the client… not everyone else.

We hear a lot of suggestions from many individuals that have very little experience in project management processes trying to influence how a project should be managed.

Question: Would you listen to your financial adviser if he has only made a few investments? What experience does he have? What is his track record? Exactly! Today, we’re pleased to be regarded as an industry expert in determining our clients’ most suitable process for their specific project.

Not all processes are created equal! Neither are the projects!

This blog post will highlight a process loaded with many intrinsic benefits. Known as “Design-Build,” its cost efficiency, time savings, and collaborative nature have made it popular among clients for everything from commercial and municipal buildings to sports facilities, churches, restaurants, manufacturing plants, medical facilities, and more.

1. The Design-Build Team Selection Process
To begin with, the design-build process has the ability to be much more fluid than traditional design-bid-build. (If it’s approached the right way. The problem is that too many times it isn’t done the right way) In design-bid-build, the owner hires an architect to design a set of plans then puts the job out to bid. Instead of long gaps of time and (remember, time is money) between different phases of a project being completed by different participants, each member of a design-build team works together from the start and during every step of the process to help move things along quickly and more smoothly.

In truth, the idea that the design-bid-build process is entirely antiquated and riddled with inefficiency and waste is not true. Remember what we said at the beginning: it’s a process, an option to consider for your particular set of circumstances. Some contractors do not approach it as a team effort but rather that the architect is a luxury (I take great exception to this). The right architect has their unequivocal talents no different than the contractor does. It’s a team. A quarterback can be great, if he has his lineman, but can’t achieve anything at all without quality teammates.

The idea that any contractor can build anything is just as wrong as saying that any architect can design anything. They all have their specialties and experiences. Architects shouldn’t be lumped into the same pile together any more than all contractors should be grouped together with the “two guys and a pick-up truck.” That’s why the selection process is a critical step. Our goal at this stage is to ensure that you find the team whose goals for success are as cohesive as possible. Design-build can allow you to vet potential candidates based on experience, then dig into the details of your specific project.

2. The Pre-Construction Phase
This design-build selection process often overlaps with the next phase—the pre-construction phase—since the design-build team selected will likely have already done a significant amount of research and analysis of the construction site and other particulars of the project. Conceptual drawings and vivid visions are produced in the form of conceptual floor plans, exterior elevations, renderings and even a conceptual site plan.
Our goal at this stage is to provide the image that everyone on the team can focus toward without question. A sort of dream board without all of that cutting and pasting.
Notice that you’d have the potential to save time even at the very beginning of the project. The key to this savings was that you found the right team with right linemen (the contractor) and the right quarterback (the architect).

This pre-construction step is critical. Attention to detail is paramount. This is when the design team will learn about the owner’s business, including goals, challenges, budget, and overall vision for the project and put that into a vision. The contractor or build team will ask as many questions as necessary, so as to get a solid picture of what is expected to be delivered. Our clients tell us that they find this phase invaluable. This is when our experience can help you fine-tune plans based on what we have learned from more than 40 years in architecture.

3. The Evaluation Phase
Efficiencies, added benefits, cost reductions, and enhancements have grown out of this collaborative, team-focused process. During this phase, the owner, architects, engineers, contractors, and other consultants work together as a team to assess existing structures, electrical systems, HVAC systems, operational necessities, and more to determine what needs to be done before construction starts. These assessments allow for a thorough analysis of the construction site, which helps the design-build team maximize efficiency throughout the project.

At this stage, we view our work—together with you and the entire team—as an excellent opportunity to assess areas for cost savings and optimized productivity, while also meeting functional requirements. We’ll leave no stone un-turned when it comes to suggesting ways to save time, money, or logistical hassles. This process helps us deliver a product that suits your needs and schedule.

4. Ready…Set…
The overall project vision is established during this phase, and design development drawings are produced. Pricing estimates can be established during this phase as well, and a firm budget is provided. In addition, we’ll have a timeline for you so that you understand start and end dates, and every critical point in between.
Our goal at this stage is to ensure that you find the construction experience as disruption-free as possible.

Bottom line: IONIC has often experienced that fewer design changes and construction mistakes are made due to miscommunication when design-build is employed. The increase in collaboration enables customization and innovation, which results in less time and fewer materials being wasted at each stage of the project.

The result?

A higher quality deliverable—with no surprises—ultimately resulting in increased satisfaction by the owner.

Let us know if we can help you on your next project and find the riht solution for your needs.

Our Amazing Intern – Jaxon

Right after the presentation, a father brought his high school son to introduce to me and talk about the project in further detail. He also shared that his son was doing some AutoCAD in high school and wondered if we considered any internships. IONIC had considered summer interns in the past when there was a good match. We’ve even hired college students that worked part-time and went to school the other. Dahlia White is a testament to that success as she began with us that way more than 10 years ago.

So when this proud father introduced me to his son, Jaxon, a high school student, I must say that I was a little bit leery as to his ability to do much around our office. Honestly, everything we do is on the computer these days. And most high schools don’t teach the level that we would use in our office. However, I was very impressed with his portfolio work and found out that he had been in training with AutoCAD for three years. That’s just unheard of!

Jaxon was a pleasure in our office during his time with IONIC. He continued to grow and develop and not only honed his skills with AutoCAD, but quickly jumped into helping produce construction documents. We were excited to hear that this wasn’t just a job to make a few bucks but the beginning of a career and that he intended to go to architectural school at Virginia Tech.

Thanks Jaxon for all of your participation and energy that you shared in our Richmond office. We look forward to hearing and seeing great things from you in the future.

P. S. There are always summer breaks and holiday weekends!

Here is a quick note he shared with us:

My experience with IONIC started when they came to do an addition to my church; my dad dragged me along to the meeting just in case they offered an internship of some sort. I was doubtful that anyone would want a 17 year old kid working for them, but I went along anyway. After the meeting, I was super nervous about asking these two strange men (Eugene and Aaron) that I had never met about coming to work for them as it was my first time doing something similar to this.

However, it went smoothly! I secured the internship as well as a small pay, which was just unbelievable, and I went from there. When I first started at IONIC the one thing I remember is how welcomed I felt while I was first starting, almost like the family just took me under their wing immediately.

My first project I remember was a small project off of Twin Oaks, and Jeff gave me the floor plans and told me to put them into AutoCAD, no big deal right.

However, as I progressed I realized how hard it was! But with the help of Aaron and Google, I was able to continue to grow and learn. I am forever grateful for the opportunity that was given to me by IONIC and I am super excited to be back next summer!

IONIC isn’t only a business, it’s a family who care for one another deeply.

Thank you Jaxon for the kind words…Looking forward to seeing your success at Virginia Tech!

Crescent Community Center

Team IONIC is excited to share a sneak preview of the project that is currently in development. Crescent community center is a project in Virginia Beach off of Salem Road where the clients had received the condition of use approval back in 2013. The design that was completed at that time was very adventurous but didn’t quite capture the cultural desires of the client.

IONIC was brought in to assist the client in completing the vision that they so desperately desired. WPL is the civil engineer of record and had completed an approved site plan for the client to proceed with developing the infrastructure, grading and  parking but the client hadn’t move forward with any of the building documents.

The original plan called for 12,400 square feet of new construction. However this was too much for the congregation to afford. Originally a tower was included along with a dome structure both of which needed to be eliminated to bring the cost of construction within budget. After several years of frustration the client brought the issues to IONIC for assistance. We had previously worked with Syed Haider on other convenience store projects and had an excellent relationship with him over the years. When he walked in the door he told us that if anybody could make this happen it was us.

What a great testimonial!

And what a great responsibility to perform!

So after our discussion talking about the desires, goals and potential reduction in square footage for the initial phase, IONIC went to work on creating a plan that could be implemented. Our team of designers researched ideas, materials, and cultural impact that would make this project a success. All of these things needed to come together to meet the restricted budget.

IONIC first started with a floor plan and shared our initial ideas with client. After several back and forth conversations we were able to come up with a plan that fits the needs of the client and seemed to allow us to produce a structure within budget. This plan would also allow future growth to the full 12,000+ square feet whenever the church/mosque was capable of moving forward.

The next phase was researching ideas of how to keep the structure both contextual, cultural, and affordable. Yes, all those things usually do not go together. Regardless, that was our task.

Our team sketched ideas and concepts back and forth deliberating on an approach.

IONIC shared our Visioneering Master Plan with our client and achieved outstanding success!

Once we presented the idea and walked through the concepts as well as the interiors of the space by utilizing a three-dimensional model and capabilities of spinning the structure around so the client could see all sides different angles and interiors of our proposed design. Alongside our model we shared samples of exterior finishes which included porcelain tile on higher impact areas and stucco on the remaining portions.

Our primary focus was to have the front of the building become dominant in the design so the two key bookends were featured on the front utilizing the porcelain tile with tall glass entryway fronted by a simple arcade. To accomplish some of the blending of culture we proposed sandblasted storefront that characterized the Mosaic pattern often found in similar structures. This idea would allow sun to stream in from the outside and create a shadow cast across the floor replicating the Mosaic feel. Conversely at nighttime when interior lights are gleaming brightly, the shadows would be cast outside onto the paving in front of the entryway.

The effects will be dynamic!

After receiving accolades from our client in accomplishing exactly what they desired, our next hurdle was to see if we could get approvals administratively from the City of Virginia Beach on our new design. The primary concern here is that if they felt our design deviated too far from the original plans, we would have to go through the entire condition of use process again. This would delay the construction document phase by over three months if it was required.

With great joy the city’s planners saw that our design as being compatible with the original plan and found it pleasing. With this information we were granted an administrative approval to move forward!

Let us know if we can help you finish your master plan and help your project move forward. Send all questions and inquiries to info@ionicdezigns.com

We look forward to hearing from you.

Visioneering or Vis(ion-ic)eering For Your Church Project

Developing a plan for a group can have its challenges if you don’t have your act together. It takes a carefully crafted process to guide a church’s building committee successfully.

We have been told by so many of our clients that our process was the most thorough and detailed that they had ever experienced. Our step-by-step process that leads a committee from the beginning of a program guide to a projected budget has helped our clients fully understand the process of renovating or modifying their church facility.

First let me share that it isn’t an easy process. It can be very time consuming, if done improperly. There are many factors that go into developing a master plan for a church and any one of them can create chaos if not approached properly. We feel we have been given an opportunity to be good stewards for our church clients and not lead them down a path that would create hardships or delays in their projects.

Here are a few of the issues that we have helped our clients face:

1. Budget

2. Re-purposing existing spaces

3. Expansion of new facilities

4. Focusing on priorities

5. Committee members’ different desires

6. Providing solutions when the budget doesn’t allow them to fulfill all their wishes.

7. Creating a phasing plan

8. Team involvement

Any one of these can be a challenge to the committee and it helps to have someone steering the committee in a direction that will get them positive results.

IONIC’s goal is to assist the church in recognizing its own VISION and allowing it to rise to the surface. We are not here to push our own agenda but rather carefully take the needs and requirements of the church and help craft a plan that can be successfully implemented.

Building your Retail Project

When was the last time you hired an architect to design a retail facility for your organization? Next question: How long did it take them?

Yes, that’s what we thought. Most of the time we hear from our clients about the dissatisfaction of waiting for a set of construction documents from their past architectural firm.

 

 

The second biggest complaint we hear is that the details are not conducive to a retail structure. The contractor has to change or simplify how it is built to fit the budget.

That’s unfortunate.

We might have a solution for you when it comes to your next retail project. Whether you are building new, adding an addition or doing a facelift, IONIC can find the right solutions to address your concerns. That’s what we’ve been doing for nearly twenty years. Making your projects successful, both financially and aesthetically.

We understand that not all architectural firms are created equal. The best price doesn’t always equal the best value. Our clients come to IONIC because we address the challenges they’ve experienced with previous inattentive design firms failing to provide what was promised. For the right organizations, our clients tell us that we swiftly solve that challenge with amazing results. But, our approach might not be the right fit for every organization. We won’t know if we can help you until we learn more. If solving the challenge you are experiencing is important to you, we are happy to talk.

 

 

Here are a few questions to ask when you are looking for the right design partners for your next project. What is important to you?

  1. Do you want a team that is responsive to your needs and requests and looks out for your best interests or one that’s just told what to do and ignores best practices?

  2. Do you want an architect that seeks creative solutions to minimize costs and time or are you more concerned with someone that can just give you exactly what you’ve asked for, right or wrong?

  3. Are you looking for a team that is:

    A) Minimally Involved

    B) Adequately Engaged or

    C) Fully Invested?

  4. Finally, are you looking for someone who is interested in YOUR results not their own?

Feel free to reach out to anyone on our team and we look forward to an opportunity to serve your architectural needs.

IONIC Vision: Creating Places and Spaces that Enrich the Lives of Those Who Use Them.

Two offices to serve you better.

www.ionicdezigns.com