VDC Project Delivery 101

Many engineers and architects have spent a larger proportion of their careers on the design side of the project lifecycle. As we evolve to using VDC methodology on an increasing number of projects, it’s important that each individual grows their understanding of what happens after design to achieve a better, more constructible design. This understanding is critical for implementation of VDC and integrating design and preconstruction services into the project delivery process.

An important part of VDC project execution is collaboration and interactive planning with the full project execution team, which is enhanced when all team members understand the roles and needs of the other stakeholders and their customers. The increased level of design (LOD) required in VDC projects also benefits greatly when we better understand how our models will be fabricated, constructed, and used in the field.

A group of individuals at SSOE looked at this need for understanding past the design phase and realized a gap in knowledge. They saw an opportunity to further educate design staff and proposed a program to gather a multi-disciplined group of individuals across SSOE’s offices to take a deeper dive into project delivery approaches as well as topics such as safety, procurement, preconstruction planning, construction, estimating, scheduling, commissioning, and start-up. As a result of this program, SSOE is implementing a staff rotation program into our construction management group, where employees will get a chance to experience the execution phases of a project, first-hand.

The marshmallow challenge activity: build the tallest free standing structure in 18 minutes using only 20 sticks of spaghetti, 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string, and 1 marshmallow. The marshmallow must be on the very top, it must stay in one piece, and you may break apart the other materials.

Why? The exercise mirrors the process of project delivery in many ways, requiring the team to work around constraints (time limit) and risks (marshmallow has to be at the top). Ultimately, it shows how collaboration, teamwork, and communication can improve overall project delivery – as opposed to the traditional method of each individual solely concentrating on their discipline’s portion of a project, then passing it off to the next.

Click below to watch the TedTalk by Tom Wujec for more on “the marshmallow challenge”.

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