Design Assist Impacts Project Delivery


In recent years, a trend toward early integration of the design/build process has developed into what is now called design assist.

In this process, the precast concrete producer is selected based on qualifications for executing the demands of the specific project, PCI Certification, and the capability for technical expertise to assist the design and construction team in the development of the project. A contract is then awarded and should, at a minimum, include compensation for the design assistance. Significant benefits can be achieved if the contract also includes the supply and installation of the final products.

Benefits of design assist include development of concrete mixtures and finishes during the development process rather than going through a sample approval process after bid and award. Requests for information are eliminated with the precast supplier as a participating member of the design team. Precast erection drawings are prepared as design development nears completion, leading to a much smoother shop drawing review process. The structural design of the precast panel connections are completed in collaboration with the Engineer of Record to assure coordination with the design of the supporting and bracing structural system. The construction schedule is coordinated with the precast production schedule to assure timely delivery and installation. Any activity that normally occurs after award in a typical bid/build arrangement would be coordinated much earlier when the total precast contract is executed shortly after the design and construction team is assembled.

Precasters can offer detailed expertise that allows for expedited development of the design with engineering innovations and scheduling improvements while enhancing aesthetics and controlling budgets from conceptual design to project completion. Each element can be made as cost-effective as possible, taking advantage of the inherent performance characteristics of precast concrete. The precaster will be able to contribute design and detailing suggestions to ensure that maximum efficiency is achieved at the lowest erected cost. The result should be a functionally efficient and aesthetically pleasing enclosure that meets or exceeds the expectations for the project. Finally, the precaster should be considered as a partner on the design team. This will impose a responsibility on the precaster to understand related construction materials that must interface with the precast concrete so details appropriate to all the materials can be developed.

- Information courtesy of PCI