The State Dept.'s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) manages U.S. embassy construction around the world. Last year, OBO launched a Design Excellence initiative, modeled after the General Services Administration's long-established program. Over the past year, State Dept. working groups have studied OBO's programs and policies and came up with more than 60 recommendations for changes in how it does business. ENR's Washington bureau chief, Tom Ichniowski, spoke with OBO's acting director, Adam Namm, and its deputy director, Lydia Muniz, in late April during a meeting of the bureau's Industry Advisory Panel, and followed up with Muniz on May 4,
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.