Focus on Technology: Design Build vs. Design Bid for Technology

It is a common question: Should I have it designed or should I just go to a vendor to have the technology installed? When you break the question down, it comes down to Design (Planning) or Contracting (Building).

Are design services needed? Yes, in all cases. It might be as simple as pointing to a spot on the wall where you want the control panel, or to the ceiling tile where you want the projector. But that is still design, and in most cases this is where design build in the audiovisual (AV) world should end.

We were asked by two different architects through our GSA Schedule 58 for audiovisual technical design to work on two almost identical projects. Both were major renovations: one for the Army in North Carolina, the other for the Air Force in Alaska. Both were briefing rooms for the base command, seating over 40 people in each room, requiring multiple displays with multiple sources.

The room in North Carolina was about three months ahead of the Alaska project. Our feeling was positive – we could take our recent work and apply it to the second space. The program submitted by the GSA Procurement Officer was almost identical line by line. However, it wasn’t that easy. It seems that the Alaska project’s electrical contractor knew a source for the table boxes that were requested, and felt design services were not necessary.

Because of that we lost the Alaska project. It is likely that this project, which is now lacking the AV design component, will require modifications down the road to achieve the intended outcome, which ultimately translates into more cost for the taxpayer.

It’s important to remember with any project that “Proper Prior Planning Prevents Pitiful Poor Performance” and that makes any architectural or engineering design, including audiovisual, a total success.