George Wilkinson's Blog

Sound and ethical business practices for integrated services

The Wilkinson Project Group

The School Of Architecture at Taliesin West; (disclaimer: this document is solely the opinion of George Wilkinson and Wpg Ltd, and does not represent that of any of its clients or employees)


In the middle of the last century, various practitioners began to assemble teams of designers and builders under single contracts and the label “design-builders” was coined and applied to these business arrangements. This was a watershed idea provoked substantial protest in special organizations such as the AIA. It was not until the last decade or so of the last century that the AIA recognized the role of design-builders. Since then what started as a revolution has become ordinary. In fact, the language is even changing still, for example "integrated project delivery."

Amid all of these changes and in this writer's opinion, there are several themes: i) value arises when design and construction are closely intertwined in the earliest planning stages of a project, and ii) integrated delivery requires effective interaction between a wide variety of professional disciplines.

The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, MNSilly Fight... designers and builders have a lot in common

The Wilkinson Project Group

In the traditional design then bid and build process, the architects and the builders are often put at odds with one another. Unfortunately, there are some repeating human frailties underneath this. More importantly, the linear process sets them up to be adversaries.

Someone is typically to blame when the market does not substantiate the vision of the design professionals and others that support them in the process. On the other hand, design professionals often stereotype the builders as hardheaded business beasts unwilling to embrace the vision.


Why design-build is Hard.. and every Owner should insist

The Wilkinson Project Group

The cultural headwinds have always been on the bow of the so-called design-build movement. It took nearly 50 years of cultural warfare for the various participants to see their integrative potential.

That truth notwithstanding, it is easy to see how the cultural divide is built into the DNA of the various designers, engineers, builders, salespeople, financial engineers, business managers….; they are all different people with different world views and ways of behaving.

Unfortunately as in work and in greater life, people have an affinity for their group (sometimes known as the tribe in the social sciences, and known as a silo in business planning lingo)

Even if the prospective workgroup is able to conquer its interpersonal differences, there are additional hurdles with respect to standards of practice:

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