Service Summary: What Is Design-Build and Why Is It a Good Idea for Your System?

As you may have heard from us and the press in recent months, RJN recently received national recognition for its design-build project, West Park Wet-Weather Storage Facility, completed for the Village of Wilmette with Boller Construction Company as Design-Build Partner. The APWA recognized this as a Project of the Year.  Learn more about this project on the RJN website, in our press release, and elsewhere on the RJN blog.

On September 26, 2016, RJN CEO/President Alan Hollenbeck, P.E., BCEE, will be presenting at WEFTEC 2016 about this award-winning project and how the design-build model allowed for it to be such a great success. For more details about this presentation, including time, location, title, and description, read our press release about WEFTEC 2016.

In anticipation for this presentation at WEFTEC 2016, we have decided to further elaborate on what “design-build” is and how it can be a very effective means to a successful final project.

Design-Bid-Build vs. Design-Build

For years, projects have been completed with a conventional “design-bid-build” process in which owners, design engineers, and contractors work independent of each other, oftentimes at odds with one another. With design-bid-build, separate groups are hired for both the design and the construction of a project often at different times.  Rarely are they on the same team  This not only slows down the project’s completion but also makes it difficult to quickly resolve any constructability, scheduling, or budgetary issues.

Where design-build differs is in its overall organization and execution. Design-build is an alternative project delivery process.  With design-build, rather than there being an isolated, almost adversarial relationship between the owner, design engineer, and the contractor, the owner’s design and construction groups collaborate and work together at the same time on the same team from the start.  No longer do the design and construction teams have to seem at odds with one another and in each other’s way when attempting to achieve the owner’s goals.  From day one, there is a oneness in the team and its coordination that enables quicker project delivery, as evidenced by the comparison between design-bid-build and design-build shown below.








As you can see, design-build is clearly a faster and more streamlined way to deliver successful projects. What’s more, with design-build, the owners are more prone to meet their goals for the project from the start since quick and clear communication and collaboration between the teams ensures accountability and unity of vision.  This encourages a more proactive approach from the design-builder.  As such, the design-builder quickly and easily identifies and resolves any major problems as early in the process as possible, ensuring that deadlines are met, budgets are not exceeded, and goals of the owner are achieved.

Client Willingness to Pursue Design-Build Projects

Most clients are receptive to pursuing the design-build model over the design-bid-build model, primarily because of the numerous benefits in choosing this alternative project delivery process. However, especially with the client’s/owner’s first design-build project, there is some reticence in following through.  This may require the education of City Managers, City Attorneys, and other elected officials about the process in order to address their initial reservations.

What Makes RJN a Great Choice for Design-Build Projects

RJN is particularly qualified to engage in design-build projects, as evidenced by recent successes like Wilmette’s West Park Wet-Weather Storage Facility. In fact, according to RJN CEO/President Alan Hollenbeck, P.E., BCEE, “Our 40 years of wastewater experience has resulted in the development of a large number of long-term client relationships. These relationships, built on delivering results,  coupled with our niche expertise in wastewater collection and treatment projects and our proven success in several wastewater design-build projects over the last five years are the key success factors for future RJN client design-build projects.”

To learn more about design-build and to see case studies of RJN’s success with design-build, visit our website at