NYCDDC contracts with 20 architecture firms for public buildings designs

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nyc fire station
The new environmentally sustainable firehouse for FDNY’s Rescue Co. #2, which opened in Brooklyn in November 2019, was designed by Studio Gang under DDC’s Project Excellence Program

The New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) has contracted with 20 firms to provide architectural design services for NYC’s future public buildings projects under the latest round of DDC’s Project Excellence Program.

Ten of the firms are certified Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs), helping the agency meet the city’s ambitious goals for contract awards to M/WBEs and increasing the agency’s ability to create culturally competent designs.

“The firms selected for Project Excellence went through a rigorous review process to ensure they can deliver inspirational and functional designs using sustainable and durable materials that can be built on time and on budget,” DDC Commissioner Thomas Foley said in a March 16 statement.

“This is an extraordinary moment in the city’s history, and we’ve restructured Project Excellence to make it more beneficial for our design firms so they can truly commit to executing the best designs that will serve the most New Yorkers in the best way.

“We are very pleased that half of the firms who will design the city’s public buildings are certified M/WBEs,” Foley said. “DDC builds in every part of the city and we have always sought firms that can create culturally sensitive projects which best serve the people who use them. Congratulations to all the firms that were selected for architectural design. We anticipate announcing soon the firms that will provide technical design services for the next generation of projects.”

“A great diversity of architecture firms, including many Minority and Women-Owned Businesses, have been selected for the latest round of DDC’s Project Excellence program,” said Benjamin Prosky, executive director of the American Institute of Architects New York. “We are confident that the next generation of New York City public buildings will be of the highest quality and reflect the values of our city.”

DDC is the city’s principal construction management agency, building infrastructure in addition to public buildings such as firehouses, libraries, community health centers, recreation centers, theaters and museums. The agency’s Public Buildings Division works with more than 20 city agencies plus numerous cultural institutions that receive funding from the city.

DDC’s Project Excellence Program (previously known as Design and Construction Excellence) pre-qualifies firms to provide design services for its public buildings projects, reducing the time required to procure design services while ensuring the highest levels of quality and professionalism in construction projects managed by the agency. The agency contracted with 26 design firms for the last round of the program, which expired in 2021.

For the program’s next round, the agency sought to contract for three years with as many as 20 firms for architectural design services, including for new construction and major renovations, and up to 10 firms for technical design services, which can include structural, MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing), historic preservation, envelope, roof and landscape design. Firms receiving contracts for technical design services will be announced next month.

Two Requests for Proposals (RFPs) soliciting firms to provide architectural design and technical design services were issued by DDC in July 2020. There were 190 responses to the Architectural Design RFP, of which 20 were chosen to participate, which was the agency’s goal.

Selected firms have been categorized according to the size of their professional staffs. For architectural design services, five small firms (professional staff size 5 – 20) have been selected to receive projects with estimated construction costs ranging from $100,000 to $10,000,000; 10 medium firms (professional staff size 21 – 50) have been selected to receive projects with estimated construction costs ranging from $10,000,001 to $50,000,000; and five large firms (professional staff size above 50) have been selected to receive projects with estimated construction costs ranging from $50,000,001 up to $200,000,000.

Firms chosen to provide architectural design services under the next round of DDC’s Project Excellence Program include:

SMALL (5 – 20 professional staff)

  • Verona Carpenter Architects (WBE)
  • nARCHITECTS (M/WBE)
  • Shakespeare Gordon Vlado Architects (WBE)
  • Ricardo Zurita Architecture & Planning (MBE)
  • Murphy Burnham & Buttrick Architects (WBE)

MEDIUM (21 – 50 professional staff)

  • Selldorf Architects (WBE)
  • R2Architects (Ronnette Riley Architect/Ross Barney Architects JV) (WBE)
  • ikon.5 architects
  • Leroy Street Studio
  • BKSK Architects
  • ROGERS PARTNERS Architects+Urban Designers
  • Allied Works Architecture
  • TOD WILLIAMS BILLIE TSIEN Architects + Partners (M/WBE)
  • H3
  • PBDW Architects

LARGE (More than 50 professional staff)

  • Studio Gang (WBE)
  • SHoP Architects
  • Marvel (MBE)
  • Snøhetta
  • Grimshaw

The upcoming round of Project Excellence will emphasize the principles expressed in DDC’s Strategic Blueprint for Construction Excellence, which was introduced in January 2019 as a strategy guide to delivering DDC projects faster and more cost effectively. Firms selected for the program will be evaluated on performance, on the ability to meet new standardized design durations and on the ability to create designs that lead to projects that are delivered on time and on budget.

The next round of Project Excellence includes several changes intended to guarantee fair compensation and flexibility for firms as they seek to meet those goals:

  • Unlike in past rounds, where selected firms responded to mini-RFPs to compete for project assignments, the next round will award projects to participating firms on a rotating basis;
  • All contracts to participating firms will be architect prime contracts, with subconsultants defined after the contract award;
  • Time spent by participating firms on construction administration will be billed as time card, as opposed to a percentage of the fee curve. Firms will also receive an hourly rate equal to direct salary reimbursement for all time card services;
  • All-inclusive hourly rates for time card services have been replaced with Direct Salary Rates and multiplier to support fair compensation practices;
  • The agency’s fee structure has been adjusted to reflect the more demanding environment in which the next round of public buildings will be executed.

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