NYCDDC seeks as many as 30 firms for architectural and technical design opportunities

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The $32.4 million Elmhurst Library, one of the busiest branches in the Queens Public Library system, opened in December 2016 and was designed by Marpillero Pollak Architects under DDC’s Project Excellence Program

The New York City Department of Design and Construction (NYCDDC) is seeking to identify as many as 30 firms to provide architectural and technical design services for the next generation of New York City’s public buildings under the agency’s Project Excellence Program.

The city issued two RFPS on July 31 and held a virtual pre-proposal conference on Aug. 17.

Responses to the architectural design services RFP are due by Sept. 4 and responses to the technical design services RFP are due by Sept 25, the department said in a statement.

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

NYCDDC 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.

“The firms selected for the next round of Project Excellence will be tasked with creating inspirational public buildings while ensuring we meet common-sense goals for on-time and on-budget performance,” said commissioner Lorraine Grillo. “Given the extraordinary moment the City is enduring, this RFP offers an opportunity for our industry partners to reimagine how we can work together to incorporate all of the essential components of well-designed buildings: aesthetics, functionality, cost, constructability and durability.

“We’ve made several important changes to the program this year to incentivize and challenge design firms to meet the city’s objectives. I strongly encourage designers who want to make a difference to respond to our RFPs and help build the next generation of great public works that will serve millions of New Yorkers,” Grillo said.

The department says in its statement that it  highly encourages participation in the Project Excellence Program by Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs).

To learn more about how eligible firms can become certified as an M/WBE, visit: Certify With the City.

NYCDDC has been one of the city’s leading agencies for M/WBE contract awards in Fiscal Year 2020, with a utilization rate of 25 percent and contract value of more than $447 million, the statement said.

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 current round of the program, which will expire in 2021.

For the program’s next round, which will begin during a time a fiscal restraint because of the ongoing COVID crisis, the agency will seek 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 responding to the RFPs will be categorized according to the size of their professional staffs. For architectural design services, up to five small firms (professional staff size 5 – 20) will be selected to receive projects with estimated construction costs ranging from $100,000 to $10 million; up to 10 medium firms (professional staff size 21 – 50) will be selected to receive projects with estimated construction costs ranging from $10,000,001 to $50 million; and up to five large firms (professional staff size above 50) will be selected to receive projects with estimated construction costs ranging from $50,000,001 up to $200 million.

For technical design services, up to five small firms (professional staff size 5 – 20) will be selected to receive projects with estimated construction costs ranging from $100,000 to $10 million, while up to five medium firms (professional staff size 21 or over) will be selected to receive projects with estimated construction costs ranging from $10,000,001 up to $50 million.

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 will include 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;
    • 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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