Failed procurement models

There are many models …

I’ve seen more than two dozen procurement models come and go, as clients continue in the never-ending quest of ensuring quality outcomes without exposure to cost and time growth. The most durable model is the so-called DBB or Design-Bid-Build method, which evolved out of the long-gone “master builder” model where the architect controlled everything. Its essential problem is that it usually does not provide certainty with respect to cost or time.

Only 3 of the new models have been developed and promoted by design professionals; the rest have come from the project management or construction sectors. Consequently, design professionals have been perceived as clinging to obsolete procurement models that have failed to provide the certainty that clients demanded, and other players have been perceived as at least trying to find new solutions.

One of those 3 is the “bridging” model developed by Atlanta architect George Heery and Houston architect Chuck Thomsen. In my view, bridging is one of the best procurement models ever created, but for some reason it just never “caught on”.

The current and ambitious movement toward IPD (Integrated Project Delivery) is one more such attempt: holding promise but certainly not without flaws nor immune to abuse. A future paper will explore the IPD model’s strengths and weaknesses.

The 3rd of these models is “architect-led” or “designer-led” design-build (D/B) approach. The idea is borrowed from the construction industry, that created the D/B model, but sees the architect as being in control. That model works in some cases – but only where the architect can (a) fund the project and (b) is willing to carry the construction risks.


This page is under construction – keep your eye on the hole in the fence.

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