It was supposed to usher in the next generation of high-performance projectswhere silos would be destroyed, building information modeling (BIM) would be harnessed, and both risk and reward would be shared across all major stakeholders.

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) has been touted for its many potential attributes. As a collaborative project delivery method, IPD utilizes the talents and insights of all project participants through all phases of design and construction. It fosters early goal definitions, collaborative innovation and decision-making, shared risk and reward, and (in theory) positions project teams to have greater success toward realizing high-performance outcomes.


IPD Basics

One can find plenty of resources exclaiming IPD's philosophical underpinnings. For instance, see Integrated Project Delivery: A Guide published by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 2007.

In fact, the AIA has done an outstanding job of defining specific structures between Owner, Architect, and Contractor with regard to IPD. Through AIA Contract Documents, one can preview any AIA model contract for IPD free of charge. In general, the AIA has defined three "levels" of integrated project delivery:

  • Transitional Forms (e.g., Documents A195–2008A295–2008, and B195-2008) are modeled after common/traditional construction manager agreements and offer a comfortable first step into integrated project delivery. 
  • The Multi-Party Agreement (Document C191-2009) is a single agreement that the parties (i.e. Owner, Architect, Contractor, plus any additional Parties) can use to design and construct a project utilizing integrated project delivery. 
  • The Single Purpose Entity (SPE) creates a limited liability company (LLC) for the purposes of planning, designing and constructing a project. The SPE can be comprised of Owner/Architect/Contractor (per Document C195-2008) OR Architect/Contractor (per Document C196-2008) in which case, the A/C SPE would need to enter into a contract with the Owner). The SPE allows for sharing of risk and reward in a fully integrated collaborative process. 


If the case is compelling, then where are all of the IPD projects?

However, for all of the model contract documents; for all of the guides and other publications that highlight the potential benefits of IPD, one may struggle to find a resource of considerable substance with regard to the execution of IPD on actual projects. Perhaps this is because structured IPD agreements have not taken to the market quite as much as we would care to admit. According to the AIA Firm Survey Report 2018, basic design services continue to dominate as the top source of firm revenue at 64.5 percent; while IPD-related services were reported at 2.6 percent. This data may under-report IPD utility as architects could provide "basic design services" within an IPD Multi-Party Agreement or SPE, for instance; in which case such work may not be reported as IPD-specific services. Nevertheless, IPD has not exactly taken the market by storm over the past decade.


Barriers to IPD projects

There are a number of factors that present hurdles to teams interested in an IPD structure for project delivery. While not an exhaustive list by any means, some of the most common hurdles are offered below:

Traditional project delivery models are largely institutionalized

Many public entities require construction projects to be competitively bid, which naturally restricts them from implementing IPD. Moreover, whether it is IPD, design-build, or a construction management (CM) model, new project delivery models face an uphill battle against long-established regulations and adopted framework that identify and promote the traditional design-bid-build delivery method.

IPD is unfamiliar and stakes are high on building projects.

There are founded and unfounded perceived hurdles when it comes to IPD. In 2015, BuildingGreen published a thorough feature article about IPD and addressed many of the concerns head-on. The bottom line is that in a robust economy, project teams appear to be defaulting to what is familiar and thus popular. According to the latest figures from the AIA Firm Survey Report 2018, design-bid-build accounted for approximately 68 percent of projects by contract value in 2017up from 61 percent in 2015. Over the same period, the percentage delivered via an IPD structure dropped from 3 to 1 percent.

The execution of the structure is not so clear

IPD has been touted in marketplace for well over a decade, but oftentimes the reportage beyond basic IPD principles becomes convoluted. (Just try Googling for images on "integrated project delivery" and you'll see my point through the sheer variety of diagrams that appear.) Moreover, a semantics issue has persisted as the industry seeks to distinguish the terms integrated (as in project delivery) and integrative (usually used in reference to a type of design approach).


Is IPD dead... or just reborn? 

From my own professional experience, I would offer that perhaps the biggest reason why structured IPD projects are not more common today is because the principles of IPD have manifested themselves in the market within the context of traditional (and often institutionalized) contractual relationships.

The evolution of cloud-based BIM has naturally shifted the MacLeamy Curve

Whether or not we call it IPD, BIM has evolved over the past decade. Today, cloud-based collaboration using BIM is increasingly common. Cross-disciplinary collaboration is more fluid and sophisticated and all parties are beneficiaries of this technology.

An "integrative process" is becoming standardized

High-performance codes, standards, and ratings systems such as the IgCCASHRAE Standard 209, and LEED are prompting project teams to be more structured and intentional with regard to collaboration. By reference in LEED, the Integrative Process (IP) ANSI Consensus National Standard Guide for Design and Construction of Sustainable Buildings is a watershed standard that seeks to provide busy building professionals and clients with a simple standard for implementing an integrative process into a building design and construction project.

Project teams see the value

With clarify comes efficiency. Clarity is cultivated by a timely definition of goals, collaborative decision-making, and higher degrees of coordination among project stakeholders. An integrative process allows projects teams to do more with less.

Perhaps such manifestations of IPD principles in the marketplace is why we see so few structured IPD projects in the practice today? In any event, whether contracted as such or not, an integrative process to building design and construction is a critical aspect to realizing high-performance project outcomes.