At the Construction Owner Association of America (COAA) conference we recently attended in Baltimore there were a lot of sessions and even more discussion on Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). One of the critical items for success was identified as collocation of the team. The consensus was that to truly collaborate teams need to be put together and removed from “silo’s” and sometimes office influences (I think this means ownership and their own agendas). This integrated approach goes beyond just putting people in the same room but removes them from the culture of their office and thrusts them into a level of communication not normally practiced in the industry.

Although a great ideas in concept the conversation led to some real issues that would need to be addressed.


  1. Location: So if you are going to collocate where do you put the people. If it is a truly neutral site is it a new lease and a cost to the project, strike one against streamlining costs. It was decided that it would make the most sense to have it at the owners location if possible as if the owner is truly to part of the collaborative process that they need to be in proximity to them and their staff involved in the project. This also will.
  2. Technology: So you have identified the room but that’s all it is. Decisions need to be made on how to set up the internet structure that allows for fast connections required by BIM and other technology. Who is supplying the printers, plotters, computers and all the other items shared within an office? Many things you can bring from your original location of work but some things will need to be duplicated. Strike two against streamlining costs.
  3. Furniture: This is something that most likely would not be relocated from an office. If you have to buy the furniture, strike three. If you can reuse existing furniture great but note that architects and contractors like big layout areas for drawings and dual monitors.
  4. Who shows up: We have established it’s a good idea to be near the owners as otherwise we would expect them to not show up as this is not their primary responsibility.
    • BIM Manager (you may call them drafts people or worse draftsman which is so old school).
    • Structural Engineer. We’re not sure
    • Mechanical Electrical Plumbing. We really hope so
    • Landscape Design. Probably not
    • Civil. We hope so
    • Owner’s Representative, Yes but probably only if he is invited
    • General Contractor project lead, as available
    • General Contractor estimation, yes and especially at the onset
    • General Contractor Superintendent, in our discussion, rarely
    • General Contractors sub contractors, for meetings and only body, not spirit (if you have the wrong one)

As you can see the collocation has challenges but they can be overcome and the difficulties vary depending on size of the project. If the project is extremely large it begins to make more sense as staff are typically dedicated to one single project, but as they get smaller isolating them prevents you from maintaining efficiency on your other projects being managed. As a small mobile business we don’t subscribe to the notion that proximity equals increased communication, we believe increased communication increases the exchange of ideas.

When starting a project that is truly integrated it does begin with the owner and their goals. You must clearly outline goals and select your team with those goals in mind. IPD is in its infancy and like anything new it has its pros and cons, in this case it may come with a new tenant as well.

Paul Wember, Wember Inc. ~ Owner’s Representative