NYC’s building department wins prize for first design-build job

DDC staff pose during the construction of the community space (DDC)
New York City’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC) announced today that its first design-and-build project was named project of the year at the Construction Management Association of America’s awards for New York and New Jersey.

The DDC used the design-and-build route to build a garage and community space in Queens as part of the City’s programme to replace Rikers Island with borough-based jails.

The award is politically significant, given New York’s drive to break free from state rules requiring the use of lowest-bidder contracting (see further reading). A rally was held at City Hall in May under the slogan “Let NYC Build Better, Faster and Cheaper”.

The campaigners were lobbying the state government in Albany to let them use procurement methods such as “construction manager-build” and “progressive design-build”.

The project, which was the department’s first, was completed in 22 months, which the DDC says is less than half the time expected under a lowest bidder system.

It was awarded a LEED gold certificate, thanks to sustainability features such as a planted roof, EV chargers, solar panels and on-site stormwater retention.

There were no delays caused by change orders, and there was a 90% participation of minority and women-owned businesses in the main contractor and 60% among subcontractors.

The department added that a cost saving of $13m was made, and the project’s $9.5m contingency fund was not used.

The structure, behind Queens Borough Hall, has parking for 600 vehicles and a 2,300 sq m flexible community space.

Thomas Foley, the DDC’s construction commissioner, commented in a press statement: “This sustainable multiuse building was the first in our design-build pilot programme and immediately showed the benefits of design-build over lowest bidder contracting … We are continuing to bring the benefits of design-build to other projects including several large recreation centres that are being built years faster than before.

“We’re planning a design-build program for park restrooms. And this summer we’re starting work on our first design-build infrastructure project on Lexington Avenue in midtown, where we expect to save at least three years.

He added that New York State’s legislature was considering a bill that would allow DDC to use construction manager-build for library and cultural institution projects, and another that would give us a form of progressive design-build for future resiliency projects.

“We now need those bills to be signed into law so we can continue to reform city construction,” Commissioner Foley said.

The DDC is the New York Ciiy’s primary project manager for work on its £33bn property portfolio. , and provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, as well as roads, sewers and water mains.

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