Kitchell’s Design-Build Center of Excellence reinforces commitment to collaboration


We can all agree the Egyptians knew a thing or two about architecture and construction. After all, the Great Pyramids at Giza are one of the world’s most extraordinary engineering achievements. What strategy did the Egyptians use to accomplish this feat? It’s a good bet that the design and construction was guided and executed with a single point of responsibility: a “master builder,” today known as “design-build.”

Collaboration and trust: true markers of design-build

One single point of responsibility. One contract. These are the hallmarks of design-build. But it’s the collaboration and trust behind the contract and delivery method that truly defines design-build and makes it an ideal option to meet schedule, cost and quality goals.

To ensure we not only successfully embraced this relatively new delivery method, but to truly excel and lead, we developed the Design-Build Center of Excellence (DBCEx) in 2009, to educate, mentor and advise Kitchell project teams with an ongoing, hands-on role: Design-build Done Right™ (the Design Build Institute of America’s raison d’etre). The DBCEx is led by an advisory board of six experienced design-build professionals, each active members in DBIA with the Designated Design-Build Professional accreditation.

“As an architect who has been working for construction companies for most of my career, I cannot overstate the value of the design-build delivery model,” said Kitchell Director of QA and one of the founders of the DBCEx Bill Vandrovec. “The notion of not having to redraw anything in a plan is, in a word, staggering. That constructability reviews are ‘baked in’ to the early stages of design is a tremendous benefit to the entire team, especially, of course, to the owner.” It is for these reasons, among many others, the Design-Build Center for Excellence was formed.

As a result of our investment in mastering design-build, some of our most successful projects, 65 of them totaling $6.5 billion in California, Arizona, Nevada and Iowa, have been created via this delivery method. Two significant projects, California Health Care Facility (Stockton, Calif.) and Dignity Health’s Chandler Regional Medical Center Dignity (Chandler, Ariz.), were singled out by the Design Build Institute of America with its distinguished Design-Build awards. Chandler Regional Medical Center Chief Operating Officer Jane Hanson captured the value of design-build with this comment: “The team exemplified collaboration, integrity and excellence in execution. Its members worked together and with us and the architect to the benefit of patients, healthcare providers, hospital administrators and the community.” We hear similar comments on every design-build project.

Taking our design-build expertise one big step further with education

Our close work with architects and owners prompted us to create a comprehensive design-build curriculum to keep us at the forefront of design-build as it evolves.

Our comprehensive training comprises eight distinct modules over the course of 20 continuing education hours. For example, Module 2 focuses on Team Establishment and Leadership, exploring the dynamics and techniques of creating a high performance integrated team and how to draw out the best attributes of individual members, while keeping owners engaged as full practicing collaborators and partners. For our 2016 educational series kick-off, Dr. Barbara Jackson, a guiding force in the design and construction arena, shared her philosophy harvesting input from all of the various players to ensure success with a crowd of design-build enthusiasts from across Kitchell.

“Kitchell is a company with a very diverse offering of construction services,” said Kitchell Regional Executive Dave Kirn, another DBCEx co-founder. “We work for both public and private clients in many market segments. The goal of the DBCEx is to bring this diverse experience into focus and educate/train our staff as the knowledge and experience grows.  We share lessons learned and points of view from many diverse perspectives to grow knowledge exponentially rather than individually.”

Or as the great philosopher Phil Jackson once said so eloquently, “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”


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