Your team is ready, you know the owner requirements (12 inches tall, must support 2 bricks, and total cost cannot exceed $300,000).

Ready. Set. Go!

This was the scenario in class this week. Our building material were K’NEX, and we had 35 minutes to design, and submit a materials procurement request.

This design-build construction method was much more stressful than the design-bid-build method we explored last week. The stress came from a number of sources. First, we had a limited amount of time to design a structure that would meet specification. In the previous exercise we were given a design to build, and we could assume that it met the client’s specifications. This week we had to design without fully testing the building plan, and we had to be sure we did not go over budget. This caused the second stressful aspect of the project: keeping the design under budget. Initially we created a design that we were sure would hold the bricks, and was not susceptible to side-sway, because we used a very conservative factor of safety. The problem was that them materials were too expensive, so we had to remove support members until the budget was met. We had to take a large amount of risk, because we are not 100% sure that the structure will meet the load requirements. The third difficult aspect of this exercise was submitting the proposed design and materials/costs list to the owner. The reason this was a hassle is that we did all our design on paper and a spreadsheet, but the owner required designs in a google-drawings file and the costs breakdown in a google form. This added additional time crunch because we had the designs and materials completed, but needed to input them into the owner required programs in the last minutes of the allotted time. Our team was actually a couple minutes late, because we struggled to upload the design file to the google form.

Overall, this activity was fun, and the pressure from the time constraints and owner specifications made me think and plan much more than the design-bid-build exercise. I enjoyed the design-build project more because it encompassed aspects of design. Having the freedom to work with the materials to meet the specifications in a creative way is what I enjoyed most. I wish there was more time, so we could optimize a good design into a great design, but time is an important constraint.

As General Patton said “A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied ten minutes later.” This is evident explicitly in this activity.