Winning the “bridging” design-build contract for the University of California, San Francisco’s stem-cell research laboratory, a serpentine cliff-hanger in a high seismic zone, put the design-build team on a slippery slope. The steep hillside site for the 660 x 70-ft lab, set on an external, expressed and base-isolated space truss, was unstable, inaccessible and squeezed on one side by active hospitals on the university’s Parnassus campus. When bridging documents were released in January 2008, conceptual design by Rafael Vi�oly Architects was for a lab that would have cost at least $20 million more than the approximately $76-million target cost. And
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.