NYCDDC issues RFQs for two large community recreation centers under its design-build program

basketball court queens nycdob
A basketball court at the Forest Hills Community House in Queens (Image from NYCDDC)

The New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) says it has issued Request for Qualifications (RFQ) under the agency’s developing design-build program for two large community recreation centers in Brooklyn and Staten Island, together valued at more than $215 million.

“As part of the de Blasio Administration’s goal of a fair and equitable recovery for all New York City neighborhoods, DDC is working with the Parks Department to deliver two large recreation centers through its new design-build program,” DDC Commissioner Jamie Torres-Springer said in a May 17 statement. “All interested firms are encouraged to respond including those that lack previous design-build experience, and we’re prepared to assist qualified firms in forming design-build teams. We are also emphasizing a strong M/WBE role in our growing design-build program.”

The RFQs being solicited now are the first part of a two-step procurement process for each project. DDC will rank the Statements of Qualifications (SOQs) it receives and place up to three of the most highly qualified proposers on a short list for each project. Those firms will then have the exclusive opportunity to respond to a future Request for Proposals that will determine which team is awarded each project.

The two planned recreation centers are known as the Shirley Chisholm Recreation Center (Brooklyn), with an anticipated design-build contract value of $130 – 135 million, and the North Shore Recreation Center (Staten Island), with an anticipated design-build contract value of $85 – 88 million. The procurements for the two projects are distinct from each other, with separate processes and separate evaluations of Statements of Qualifications and future Requests for Proposals (RFPs).

Other firms that had not been involved in the RFQ process will have an opportunity to partner with the design-build teams on the short lists after they are published.

The RFQs can be viewed or downloaded here. Responses in the form of SOQs must be received by DDC by June 17 for Shirley Chisholm Recreation Center and by June 24 for North Shore Recreation Center.

Firms interested in responding to either RFQ are encouraged to participate in the virtual, online information session DDC is holding for each project; May 20 for Shirley Chisholm Recreation Center and May 27 for North Shore Recreation Center.

Firms that qualify for one of the short lists and perform design work in order to respond to each project’s RFP, but which are not awarded design-build contracts, may qualify for a stipend. For Shirley Chisholm Recreation Center, a stipend of up to $170,000 may be issued to firms that advance to schematic level design with a preferred scheme by the time of contract award; for North Shore Recreation Center, a stipend of up to $100,000 may be issued to firms that present a technical approach that includes investigations of project requirements by the time of contract award.

Previous design-build experience and past partnering experience is not a requirement for firms seeking to contract with DDC for these projects. Generally, SOQs should collectively represent the work of the design-build team members, including the work of the designer and the work of the builder, and are not required to represent prior experience working together.

Required experience includes demonstrating projects successfully completed using alternative delivery methods in which the design and construction personnel collaborated throughout project delivery. This may include design-build based delivery or other alternative approaches. Roles like Project Manager and Design Lead have qualifications requirements including 10 years of relevant experience practicing architectural design on projects with similar scopes of services.

DDC says in its statement that it is seeking “design-build teams that are dedicated, responsive and collaborative, exemplifying the principles that guide the agency’s Project Excellence program. This will be reflected in the evaluation of SOQs and in subsequent RFPs and Design-Build Agreements.” Information about DDC’s Project Excellence program can be found here.

There is no role-requirement for the leadership of the design-build team; for example, teams may be designer-led. It is desirable that teams have collective experience in design-build project delivery methods, however if key members of a team do not have that experience the proposer can indicate familiarity with the objectives of design-build and also demonstrate understanding of the interrelationship between design and construction under design-build.

“The design-build method of project delivery offers several advantages over the traditional low-bid method that city government has been required to use in the past, including reducing project costs and durations and improving coordination between designers and builders,” the statement says. “DDC and several other city agencies received permission from the State of New York in December 2019 to begin using design-build for a variety of projects. Since that time, DDC has been working to identify suitable projects to proceed under design-build and to develop a program and materials to proceed with the necessary procurements.”

DDC intends to use in its design-build program qualified firms that have a demonstrated history of hiring, training, developing, promoting and retaining minority and women staff and to encourage participation by city- and state-certified M/WBE firms. Each design-build project will be subject to M/WBE participation goals for both design/consulting and construction activities.

Eligible firms are encouraged to get certified, and/or to get their eligible trade partners certified, well in advance of SOQ submission. For information about getting certified and assistance in contacting qualified M/WBE firms for partnering and subcontracting opportunities, please visit the website of the NYC Department of Small Business Services here.

Firms may submit questions about the RFQ process to DDC at All solicitation documents and amendments will be posted on DDC’s website at


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