Design-build construction methods made a big resurgence at the end of the twentieth century. A design-build is where a designer and the constructor are the same person, or group of people, as opposed to hiring someone separately to design, with someone else hired to build it. Generally such design-build projects are led by a contractor who hires an architect to draw up the designs, which are then put together and brought into the world by the contractor. Over the past 50 years, some architects have even started to enjoy the lead role of a design-build project. They will contract with their client to both design and construct a building, even going so far as to procure the services of a construction team through subcontracting or going directly through the various construction trades themselves.


While some see this as a new approach to construction, it is in reality an older method that has reemerged. Before the twentieth century, and the differing in construction methods, the design-build method was used for almost every building made. Then, the architect would take up that lead role, the so called Master Builder. So, rather than only draw up some designs to be passed along to someone else who would then construct the building, the architect would oversee the entire project. Now, OSC are masters of these practices. They have learned that the architect’s role can change at any time, due to several different developments that might come up during design and construction.


For instance, back before design-builds came about, there were the traditional design-bid-build projects; the building owner hires the architect to design the building, with a full set of design and construction documents. Then several different contractors bid to be the ones to do the actual build. This means that the design and construction are two completely different tasks, which could lead to confusion between the designers and the team of contractors; making responsibilities unclear and the possibility are overlapping tasks. This obviously isn’t very good halfway through a project.


While the design-bid-build method is still suitable for many differing projects, the reemerging design-build, where the architect remains in control of the project as a whole is definitely preferable. There are even different ways of doing a design-build; some can be led directly by the architect while others will be directed by the contractors, with the architect advising. The main thing is that the architect is still on site to clear up any confusion when it comes to the implementation of his designs. This makes for projects being completed quicker, and much smoother.


Tim Aldiss writes for OSC.