Real-Life Tales of IPD

Case studies examine real-world, completed building projects that use integrated project delivery

There’s a project delivery method – IPD – that allows risk and reward to be shared, and where stakeholder success depends on project success.


Integrated project delivery (IPD) is that process, and it’s distinguished by a contractual agreement between the owner, design professional, and builder. For architects, IPD is a change in the boundaries of the work and the sequence in which it’s done. It changes the way work is done. “Time is pulled from the construction documents and contract administration phases – and the bidding/ negotiation phase completely goes away – and we add those hours to early design,” says architect Tom Van Landingham of Christner Inc.


Instead of issuing packages of documents – schematics, design development, construction documents – architects involved in IPD issue documents on a “just-in-time” basis and in a collaborative relationship with builders and suppliers. Documents generated from a single BIM model may be used for permitting, analysis, bidding, fabrication, etc. Appropriate information is exported from the model as required and when needed. Architects can informally convey design intent without having to draw or model details that will be drawn or modeled again by fabricators.

IPD is most often defined by:

-Early involvement of key participants

-Shared risk and reward

-Multi-party contract

-Collaborative decision-making and control

-Liability waivers among key participants

-Jointly developed and validated project goals

-Intensified early planning

-Open communication

-BIM used by multiple parties

-Lean principles of design, construction, and operations

-Co-location of teams (“Big Room”)

-Transparent financials (open nooks)


Here are two examples of IPD in action:


Case Study No. 1: Autodesk


Autodesk Inc. wanted to highlight ways in which its own technology could support BIM, design-to-fabrication, sustainability, building performance analysis, and integrated project delivery.


Its Waltham project made use of IPD and is a 55,000-square-foot, 3-story interior tenant improvement that uses all of the space in a new speculative office building in Boston’s technology corridor. Program elements include offices, conference rooms, training facilities, a café, and a 5,000-square-foot customer briefing center featuring an electronic gallery of Autodesk’s products.


The Waltham contract established an Incentive Compensation Layer (ICL) in which the architects’ and builders’ anticipated profit is put at risk. If specific goals are met, they receive their normal profit jointly, not separately. If they’re exceeded in measurable ways, the firms are eligible for additional compensation. The ICL could adjust from -20 percent to +20 percent, depending on whether project goals were met or exceeded.


Three levels of collaborative teams were established to manage the project. A Project Implementation Team (PIT) handled day-to-day issues. The PIT included project participants whose work could impact the project’s outcome. A Project Management Team (PMT), with representation of the owner, architect, and builder, managed the project and made decisions by consensus. If issues arose that couldn’t be resolved by the PMT, they were taken to a higher level for final resolution: a Senior Management Team (SMT), with representation of the three parties.


In terms of IPD, one lesson learned by the project team was to eliminate contingency. The IPD design/build team, because of financial incentives, may want to treat every change as a scope change and not as an item to be subtracted from the contingency. Phil Bernstein, Autodesk’s vice president for industry strategy and relations, felt that the financial incentives were causing unwelcome changes in behavior. “I can see IPD projects in the future where incentives are paid as an annuity based on long-term operational performance and user satisfaction.”

Autodesk Project Team

Owner: Autodesk
Architect: KlingStubbins
Builder: Tocci Building Companies


Although all the major players in the project used BIM, “interoperability of systems was a challenge,” says Chris Leary, KlingStubbins’ principal in charge, “because the mechanical, plumbing, and millwork subcontractors used specialized design-to-fabrication software rather than Revit.”


KlingStubbins also learned that close collaboration with builders made redundant detailing unnecessary. The process also freed architects to spend more time on-site and much less time reviewing RFIs and submittals. In many cases, shop drawings were eliminated altogether.


Case Study No. 2: Cronkite School of Journalism, ASU


The Cronkite School is a build-to-suit venture by the City of Phoenix for Arizona State University (ASU), and is financed by a city bond measure. The 6-story, 230,000-square-foot project consists of classrooms and offices for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, a university-operated public television station, general-purpose classrooms, and ground-floor retail. The program required studios, control rooms, a master control room, editing suites, post-production suites, computer labs, media-intensive classrooms, etc.


The project had to follow the City of Phoenix’s design/build contract, which didn’t allow for a shared “pain-and-gain” mechanism. Nevertheless, many IPD features were put in place on a non-contractual basis. The project had to be completed by a drop-dead date and for a sum set by the bond measure so the budget and schedule were absolute. But project participants believed that their risk was reduced due to the completely transparent way in which the project was managed.


A “Big Room” was set up at HDR’s office. Howard Shugar, HDR’s project manager, says, “If you didn’t have the right people in the room, you couldn’t make the decisions when they needed to be made.” Every Monday, the latest design ideas were published as a set of 20 or more 11-inch by 17-inch sheets.


ASU Project Team

Owner: City of Phoenix
User/Occupant: Arizona State University
Design Architect: Ehrlich Architects
Executive Architect: HDR Architecture
Builder: Sundt Construction
The tight schedule, coupled with a lengthy review process, meant that aspects of the design had to be fast-tracked and accomplished out of normal sequence.  A structural and foundation system was designed that could flexibly accommodate ongoing design refinement.


BIM was used through programming, design, and construction, but there was no standardization of software. Ehrlich had extensive experience with Revit and discovered in the process of program validation that it was also useful as an interactive 3-D programming tool in live user group meetings. HDR’s engineers developed single-line diagrams of systems that were turned over to subcontractors for detailed modeling. The transition from consulting engineers to design/build subcontractors was almost seamless. The two sets of engineers sat across from each other in the Big Room and designed collaboratively.


When design began, Ehrlich was working in Revit. HDR, which, at the time, was still using Architectural Desktop, determined that there was insufficient time to train personnel on new software. Translating the models back and forth turned out to be a cumbersome and problematic process, and a major inefficiency. As a result, Sundt Construction now requires its major subcontractors to model systems in 3-D as a condition of working together.


Michael Jackson of HDR says, “Owners aren’t used to the level of commitment of taking responsibility equally with architects and builders, and accepting some risk. The owner has to be at the table. In the old-fashioned relationships, we’re always thinking, ‘How can I shift that risk to the other two parties?’ But it’s just pushing the shells around. The reality is that, when you’re willing to take responsibility and provide the builder with those materials quantities, the risk goes down for everybody.”

Research and report by Jonathan Cohen, FAIA. For more information, refer to Integrated Project Delivery: Case Studies.