How Owner-Developers Can Solve Their Top AEC Project Challenges

December 2, 2021

Many architecture, engineering, and construction firms spend time and resources refining their brand and project approach in an attempt to adapt to the changing needs of building owners. As the pandemic continues to impact the industry-altering on-site and in-office processes and best practices—these needs have become even more difficult to predict.

New research conducted by Building Design+Construction (BD+C) gives firms a few pointers with data from nearly two hundred owner-developers who shared their top development challenges and the biggest factors they weigh when seeking prospective AEC partners. The 2021 Owners Survey Report shares valuable insights on what owners and developers consider crucial for optimal results in new development, reconstruction, and renovation projects.

It’s clear that many of these professionals share the same concerns. So how can owner-developers find high-performing teams that fit the bill? By moving through their own list of top challenges and actively seeking a partner that is willing to address them.

Controlling Overall Project Costs

Building owners are eager to explore new concepts and tools to create an effective design that produces optimal results for occupants, but cost control will always be a motivating factor in their final decisions. Responses to the BD+C survey reveal that owners and developers are more than ready to embrace innovative project solutions. In fact, they admire firms that frequently bring new ideas to the table in terms of products and delivery methods. What will make these ideas work, however, is having an AEC partner that’s skilled at problem-solving when cost impedes creativity in a commercial building plan. You’ll also want to choose firms that offer high-quality, cost-effective, durable materials and products that add to the longevity of structures, such as precast concrete—a multifaceted material that can also ultimately reduce mechanical-system requirements and energy consumption.

Implementing Sustainable Solutions

Owners and developers are increasingly on the lookout for green, energy-saving building systems and designs from AEC partners who remain cost-conscious in their proposed solutions. Wrapped up in this request is their desire to implement new environmental, health, and wellness strategies that benefit building occupants. Achieving sustainability and health-related goals means navigating mandates and meeting minimum program requirements for various certifications as well as contemplating adjustments that may help build stronger communities for lasting project ROI. Satisfying these needs while staying on budget is possible with the right AEC contractors. “Efficient buildings are not more expensive to build; they need system-level thinking,” said one of BD+C’s survey respondents, underscoring the importance of approaching sustainable designs piece by piece to decide what can be optimized and what can’t. Even down to the material level, using precast concrete to construct an energy-efficient building envelope can completely change a building’s environment. Switching from steel to precast can help regulate building temperatures and transform the thermal efficiency of a structure, contributing to larger sustainability objectives.

Designing Standout Structures

Every owner wants to produce an impressive commercial building project. But it’s not uncommon for architects to run rampant, designing and tweaking their plans in ways that may delay the final results. You need to find flexible contractors that come with novel project concepts and products to create something that truly stands out. And again, you don’t need to sacrifice innovation and appearance for a price tag. Precast concrete producers are known for their ability to work with designers to meet their aesthetic ambitions, and their precast products are available in a variety of textures and finishes that can achieve your architectural style and appearance requirements. Project partners should be experienced in adapting to unique requests and new needs, offering architects the chance to review finish samples, range samples, and large-scale mockups to give teams the confidence that designs will translate to reality.

Collaborating on Project Delivery

Seamless collaboration throughout the entire execution of a commercial building project plan is one of the biggest asks of owners and developers. With so many people involved in a typical job, it can be tough to encourage smooth site operations, reduce complexities, and help colleagues stay on schedule. Utilizing a design assist procurement method instead of a design-bid-build approach may enhance team-wide collaboration, prevent cost overruns and other risks, and more accurately reflect an owner’s needs, budget, and timeline. To do so, you’ll need to have architects, engineers, producers, and erectors come together during the design phase of a project so all stakeholders can share their expertise and ideas to uncover valuable benefits as plans formulate. Early team integration can eliminate extra requests for information and ensure all parties have the opportunity to recommend tools and tactics that affect function, cost, appearance, scheduling, and other project aspects. Selecting AEC partners like precast producers that use off-site labor for their products and support all-weather, year-round construction will also organically improve collaboration and accelerate time to completion. Look for firms that go the extra mile to oversee the granular details that lead to successful on-site operations.

Hiring high-performing architects, engineers, and construction contractors is only half of the equation. As an owner or developer, you have to trust that they will meet you halfway and deliver on their promises, all the while voicing your concerns and expectations so the community knows how to power continuous improvement on their part. The Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute is home to many professionals who understand the high standards required of today’s AEC teams, especially as the industry evolves to incorporate advanced techniques and make pandemic accommodations new best practices.

Connect with the PCI Mid-Atlantic Chapter to learn more about our members and the benefits that precast concrete provides for a variety of project types.



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