Look Again

To attribute the tragic Maryland garage collapse on a "flawed design-build process" suggests an inadequate understanding of the methodology (ENR 6/16 p. 12). The essence of true design-build delivery is an integrated team approach where all members of the project team are able to exchange and agree to ideas at every phase of the project. Choices on material or process should reflect the collective wisdom of the design-build team and must always embed safety as a prime consideration.

Under truly integrated design-build, if a design is to be modified, the team must consider the structural and financial impact. The design-build team, as led by the contract-holder, assumes financial risk and overall project liability. The unseemly finger pointing between designer and constructor should not occur with the underpinnings of a design-build contract if these teammates are working together as a single unit.

The firms involved in the Maryland garage collapse may attribute their failure to design-build, but the failure really reflects their misunderstanding of what design-build can and cannot do.

Jeffrey L. Beard
President, CEO
Design-Build Institute of America
Washington, D.C.

Value Engineering

Way to go Jeffrey Sells and Timothy Cohen on writing about the oxymoron we call value engineering (ENR 07/14 p. 55.) The poor quality decisions made in school construction may have some of the longest reaching effects, but these types of decisions happen regularly in all types of construction. If more people had a better understanding of why design decisions are made in the first place, there might be more appreciation and less slashing when it comes to "value engineering" time.

Mary Ellen Lynch
Principal, MLCD Architects Inc.
Toronto, Canada