“If you are on a term contract as a design consultant and you are sitting around waiting for us to give you task orders, then you are doing it all wrong – Insert yourself into our team”
— Tom Nicholas, PE; City of Virginia Beach Facilities Engineer
ACE Virginia Joint
Owner Forum Recap with Hampton Roads Local Governments
ACE is a
joint venture of the American Institute of Architects, Associated General
Contractors, and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Virginia, to educate and promote best practices of the
design and construction industry. The unique component to these forums is
that it includes those with the authority to hire architects, engineers, and
contractors or those that possess influence during the selection process of
these professionals. What has resulted
is an improved understanding of what makes projects successful from the
perspective of these key stakeholders, an intimate forum for business
development, and an opportunity to learn about future projects.
In 2019, ACE plans
to hold four collaborative events that engage various local governments
from around the Commonwealth. On April 23rd, ACE had its second forum
of 2019 in Downtown Norfolk. This event
hosted stakeholders and decision makers from the Cities of Norfolk, Suffolk,
Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach. The
event was followed by a networking reception that allowed for more intimate
conversation with the panelists.
The panel consisted of the following participants:
Wilbur Hogge, PE – Facilities Construction Manager [Chesapeake]
Gerry Jones, RA – Director of Capital Programs [Suffolk]
Oliver Love, Jr. – Building Systems Bureau Head [Norfolk]
Tom Nicholas, PE – Facilities Engineer [Virginia Beach]
As a region, issues of importance that were identified were transportation, resiliency, and environmental stewardship. As such, great dialogue was exchanged regarding sustainability, upcoming projects, how to get work, and procurement vehicles. Each segment included the audience in a question and answer period that proved to be engaging and valuable. The below sections provide a high-level overview of the discussion.
Sustainability: In general, each municipality is a firm
believer in the importance of sustainability and has made it an integral
component of the project delivery process.
As such, design professionals and general contractors are required to
design and construct to identified sustainability standards. However, it is not uncommon for the
municipality to apply for an official sustainability certification only in
special circumstances. The conversation
on sustainability also included resiliency.
For example, the City of Chesapeake requires structures to be built 18
inches above the 100-year floodplain.
Upcoming Projects: Each panelist provided insight on current and
upcoming capital projects. In general,
public safety projects are being undertaken throughout the region (ex: fire
stations). It is noted that the City of
Virginia Beach is investing significantly in stormwater management projects, to
the tune of $644M over the next five years, to counteract sea-level rise.
to Get Work:
The below outlines the most prominent
tips offered by these decision-makers:
- Honesty – Tell me if the proposed
budget is not going to be feasible
- Quality Control – Please incorporate
our review comments
the team that will be doing the work to the interview
regional presence can be important – You are an extension of our staff
to the schedule
realistic with your construction cost estimates so that the City can have
realistic expectations on bid-day
you are on a term contract as a design consultant and you are sitting around
waiting for us to give you task orders, then you are doing it all wrong –
Insert yourself into our team
Vehicles: Each locality uses a variety of
procurement methods for project delivery identifying advantages and
disadvantages of each. Design-Bid-Build
continues to be the most common delivery method, however, each Owner shared
their concerns about lack of control over the selection of the general
contractor. Norfolk and Suffolk have
used Design-Build on projects and find it favorable. It appears that Construction Manager At-Risk
and PPEA models are the least utilized. It
was noted that annual services contracts, or term contracts, are great vehicles
for design consultants to build relationships with City staff.
The next forum will
take place in September with Northern Virginia area local governments.