Sunday, July 30, 2017

Being Part of the Solution

Let's Fix Construction workshop in Eugene, July 28, 2017. Eric Lussier (standing, red shirt) and Cherise Lakeside (standing to Eric's left) preside over the meeting.

This past Friday’s Let’s Fix Construction interactive workshop (conducted at PIVOT Architecture’s office in Eugene) was an unqualified success. Kudos to Cherise Lakeside, CSI, CDT, and Eric Lussier, CSI for facilitating an energetic discussion intent on identifying solutions to what have too often been intractable AEC problems. The workshop was true to the Let’s Fix Construction mission, which is to better the industry by sharing knowledge through open, positive communication and collaboration.

Twenty-two attentive and engaged participants—a good mixture of design professionals, contractors, and product reps—contributed to the lively and thought-provoking discourse.(1)  Cherise and Eric split the group into five teams, and assigned each a challenging question:
  1. Is there an alternative project delivery model that would better address the challenges and realities of today’s design and construction industry?
  2. Clients often ask for impossible schedules. What can be done to address the issue of severely compressed project timelines?
  3. What can be changed to achieve truly meaningful (and cost-effective) sustainability goals?
  4. Are LEED and other rating systems really effective, or do they incongruously reward, as in the case of the new Apple headquarters, Gold or Platinum ratings to projects that are actually examples of what we shouldn’t do? Are we and our clients blinded by the pursuit of LEED points?
  5. Baby boomers are retiring in unprecedented numbers. The AEC industry is woefully short of Gen X’ers and Millennials to fill their shoes. What out-of-the-box steps can we take to promote young professional development at a much faster pace? 
While each question prompted specific responses, a thread common to all was a belief in the value of collaboration early in any project, at the highest levels possible. Additionally, everyone agreed the intricacies and pitfalls associated with every construction project demand a fundamental understanding of the processes involved and the importance of construction contract document literacy. 

The breakout group comprised of Randy Evans of KPFF, Shyla Keays-Goodman of PAE, Christopher Deel of Studio-E Architecture, and Marina Wrensch of Cameron McCarthy ponder the question posed to them prior to sharing their thoughts with everyone.

Cherise and Eric masterfully shepherded our diverse group, eliciting some truly insightful exchanges. The principal takeaway is we can all be part of the solution, as opposed to being part of the problem. Adopting the right perspective and applying it to the work we do is a prerequisite to “fixing construction.”

Alas, the workshop’s two short hours went by all too quickly. No matter, the exercise fruitfully planted a seed in our minds. If we didn’t before, we all now understand the exponential power of collaborative problem-solving as a means to ensure the best possible outcome for any construction project. 

Me presenting Group 2's "solutions" to the problem of unreasonably compressed project schedules, as Jan Filinger (foreground) of Studio-E Architecture takes notes. 

Thank you Cherise and Eric! Your passion and personal investment in the Let’s Fix Construction project is not going unnoticed. Thanks too to Scott Huff of Versico Roofing Systems for sponsoring the workshop, and to PIVOT Architecture for accommodating our group! 

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As Cherise mentioned, because the organization’s membership represents the entire spectrum of the building industry, the Construction Specifications Institute is uniquely positioned to tackle its challenges. If you’re not yet a member, join today and become part of a dynamic association in need of individuals like you who care about the future of construction. For membership info, click the link below:

Membership in CSI comes with a variety of benefits. First and foremost though, being a member means you’ve invested in your career and are committed to becoming a better-informed, highly valued construction industry professional.

(1)   Unfortunately, no one was on hand to represent a key player in every construction project: the owner.

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