Commercial Design-Build - Trends and Major Players

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Commercial Design-Build - Trends and Major Players

In the US commercial design-build category, current trends involve the upswing of collaborative project delivery, prevalence of labor shortages, increased use of offsite construction, influences of the current political climate, rising construction costs, upsurge of technological innovation applications, revival of sustainable construction goals, and more scrutiny on safety and fraud incidents. Major players based on consistency in revenue ranking includes Kiewit and The Walsh Group, which also provide design-build services to collegiate and sports sectors. Key consumer benefits being offered by these key design-build players includes cost, quality, safety and sustainability benefits that will stem from their differentiated offerings of fully-integrated services, breadth of experience, and industry understanding.


Based on a construction publication report, there are several trends in the year 2017 that are currently being seen as prevalent in the US design-build category. One of these trends includes the surge in the popularity of using more collaborative project delivery methods like the design-build process where design and construction phases terms can be included in one contract. This can allow teams to collaborate more in order to build stronger relationships that can result in better project delivery.
There is also a rise in finding ways to minimize the steps involve in the construction process. This gave way to an increasing use of offsite or prefab construction options. Most see this as a way to save on time, control the quality and eliminate some common labor concerns. The pace of modular construction development is seen as slow but there might be more support in the future for this alternative due to the cost and labor benefits.
Another trend is the escalation of the labor shortage problem. Lack of skilled workers, less focus on trade education and increasing availability of construction projects all contributes to the situation.
Construction companies are also cautious of committing into projects as the current political environment in the US is uncertain. Confusion in the implementation of policies, regulations and tax procedures somehow hinders commencement of new projects. This can be tempered though by planned infusions of funds into the construction industry.
Rise in construction costs are also on the top of the minds of construction industry players as this will cut into their bottom line. Labor costs increases brought about by the labor shortage and upsurge in material costs all contribute to this trend.
As more construction projects come in, there are now many incidents occurring. This prompted authorities to call for more investigations on safety and fraud incidents. Unlike in the past where these are treated as traditional accidents, contractors will now be liable for criminal prosecution.
A more positive trend is geared toward the upswing in the use of technological innovations like IoT-connected construction gadgets and equipment, use of AR/VR and software advances. These innovations can help streamline processes through more intuitive data analysis, minimize material costs through drone monitoring for example, build better designs and anticipate structural problems via visualizations.
Another socially-relevant trend is the revival of sustainability commitments in the industry. Companies are continuing their goal of using more sustainable processes and materials to eliminate waste, save on materials and save the environment.


As per the Engineering News Record (ENR) Report, there are seven top players in the design-build category based on their ability to keep their revenue-based ranking in the ENR list. Out of the seven, only Kiewit and The Walsh Group take on projects that are sports or collegiate-related.
The top key player is Bechtel. The company is more focused on delivering projects for the infrastructure, nuclear, security & environmental, oil, gas, chemical, mining and metals industries. Their main consumer benefit promise is giving them peace of mind due to their focus on safety, ethics, quality, and sustainability. Their differentiated offering is more on long experience and ability to incorporate major innovations into their service.
Next in the list is the Flour Corp., which specializes in providing services in the energy, power, infrastructure, mining, metals, life sciences, chemicals, advance manufacturing and government services areas. They offer cost and productivity benefits to their customers with their integrated solutions for challenging projects.
For CB&I, they mostly serve the energy industry and the natural resources sector. The company sells its services to its customers by highlighting the time and cost benefits of delivering full-scope projects with their own in-house resources as their service differentiation.
Jacobs’s services span across a broad range of industries that includes infrastructure, nuclear, security & environmental, oil, gas, petrochemicals, chemical, mining and minerals, aerospace and defense, automotive and industrial, buildings, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, power and utilities, pulp, paper, and consumer products, refining, telecommunications, transportation and water and wastewater industries. They promise their customers long-term client relationships, cost savings, profit and growth with their distinct service of having intimate knowledge of their clients and their diverse range of services.
Kiewit’s portfolio includes educational and sports projects on top of their services for buildings, mining and minerals, oil and gas, power and utilities, water and wastewater and transportation industries. Kiewit has completed over $1 billion in educational institution-related projects in various locations like Nebraska, Colorado, and Hawaii. Specific projects include the TD Ameritrade Park stadium, Nebraska Uno Community Arena for hockey and basketball, Cardinals stadium in Arizona, Stocker Stadium in Colorado, Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts and Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. The main customer benefits they provide are focused on delivering good performance, on-time schedule, safety, and cost efficiency. These benefits can materialize with their differentiated service that includes deep knowledge of educational and sports installations, their focus on sustainability and innovation.
KBR meanwhile concentrates their services within the hydrocarbons and government services sector. They aim to provide consistent delivery with expected results to their clients. They differentiate their services through their full cycle packages, value-added services, long term support and proprietary professional technologies that include innovations on the monetization of hydrocarbons.
Last is The Walsh Group, one of the key players in the educational installation industry. Their projects in the educational arena include installations that can be found in Northwestern University, University of Iowa, Tarrant College, Williams Jones College, Central Michigan University, Lake Forest College, Georgia Tech, University of Notre Dame, and West Point Military Academy. On top of this, they also serve the building, transportation, water, hydro and power industries. Key client benefits that they are offering includes the promise of delivering exceptional services based on sound ethics, quality and safety foundations. They plan to deliver these benefits through their differentiated service that is built on their good reputation, their highly disciplined process and their partner commitment philosophy.


Collaborative project delivery, manpower concerns, political currents, construction costs, sustainability, technological advances, modular construction options, and construction incidents investigations are the key trends in the US commercial design-build category today. Revenue-based top-ranking players in the industry include Kiewit and The Walsh Group, which also provide services to the educational and sports industries. Some consumer benefits being offered by these companies include savings in time, cost, productivity and other value-added advantages. They plan to deliver these benefits through differentiated services that revolve on broad experience, long term commitments, ethics, quality and safety principles, integrated service packages, industry knowledge, sustainability and innovation.