Photo by Drew Kelly
Christian's hospital team of 10 plus Sutter even included the fire protection contractor.


Digby R. Christian plans to take a three-week vacation in his native England after his Sutter Medical Center, Castro Valley, team hands over its $320-million hospital in early July. After that, the Sutter Health senior project manager doesn't know where his next assignment will take him. Having pioneered a successful 11-party contract for integrated project delivery, he doesn't seem worried about his future.
With the 230,000-sq-ft job 85% complete and on or slightly ahead of schedule and budget, the first use of IPD "on steroids" in the U.S. already has become a de facto model for extreme integrated hospital delivery in seismic California and beyond. And it is thanks to Christian.Prior to Castro Valley, Christian had not managed a hospital job. His only experience with a tri-party agreement was on Sutter's first IPD job—a small clinic.

That seems like a long time ago. Based on its Castro Valley experience, the health-care system is using the IPD-on-steroids model on at least two other California hospitals. "Sutter is taking the delivery model forward in the sense of getting a significant number of design and trade partners 100% at risk," says Christian.

When Christian arrived at the Castro Valley job, Sutter had assembled a team with three partners expected to share risk and reward. Based on the job's complexities, instinct told Christian to get all the profit at risk. He expanded the agreement.

It wasn't an easy road. The behaviors of the parties at risk were not aligning at first because behaviors traditionally align with transferring risk, not managing it.

"Digby is one of a few owners who gets involved and stays involved on a daily basis," says Ralph E. Eslick, Castro Valley's senior project manager for DPR Construction Inc., Redwood City, Calif. "He kept us focused on the client's success. And if the client is successful, we are."

Hospital builders are not the only ones drawn to Castro Valley. Even members of Disney Imagineering visited the project.