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Integrating Landscape Architecture with Design-Build Project DeliveryJeff Stump

Design-Build has quickly become one of the most popular project delivery methods for some of the country’s most complex and sophisticated projects, both in horizontal and vertical construction. According to studies performed by the Construction Industry Institute (CII) and The Pennsylvania State University, Design-Build construction and delivery speeds are significantly greater and unit costs, cost growth, and schedule growth are significantly lower than those of traditional Design-Bid-Build projects.

What is it that really makes Design-Build a superior delivery method, even while pairing the sequential construction process with the iterative design process under the same contract? The most successful Design-Build projects all have one thing in common, a fully integrated project team who has  fully embraced the Design-Build process, changing the mindset from traditional Design-Bid-Build to Design-Build.

In my experience, Landscape Architecture has often been an underutilized design partner in a Design-Build industry that is often dominated by contractors, engineers, and architects. Landscape architects are almost always part of the project team but are rarely considered key personnel; therefore, a landscape architect’s scope is typically not designated as critical path  during the early phases of a Design-Build project. Because of this a landscape architect’s scope is often limited to planting design, with much of the site design having been advanced by other design disciplines, well before the landscape architect has a chance to become an integrated part of the project team.

While we as landscape architects do consider ourselves experts in planting design, it is only one of the many tools we use in our daily work. As defined by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), landscape architecture combines art and science; it is the profession that designs, plans, and manages our land. In other words, we design outdoor spaces, paying close attention to both the function and the aesthetic  of a project. When a landscape architect has been integrated into the project’s design team at the beginning of the design process, and in collaboration with all other design disciplines, they will be able to offer design solutions that will enable maximum positive project impacts with minimum impacts to overall project cost. A landscape architect’s expertise and knowledge of site circulation, adjacent land uses, stormwater BMP development, sustainable design, and much more can significantly help improve the functionality and aesthetic of a Design-Build project, ultimately delivering a solution that otherwise could not have been envisioned.

To become a better integrated part of the project team, we at Floura Teeter have taken the initiative to promote landscape architecture within the Design-Build industry. This past year I earned my certification as a Designated Design-Build Professional through the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA). With well over ten years of Design-Build experience, and as one of the few Professional Landscape Architects with a DBIA certification, I understand what it takes for a Design-Build project to be successful and the role the landscape architect can play in making that success possible. With experience on both horizontal and vertical Design-Build projects, my team at Floura Teeter and I are valuable additions to any Design-Build project.

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