Daniel L. Hightower
U.S. Public Health Service
The symposium emphasized that the partnering concept is not a new management tool, but it is relatively new to the architecture and engineering world. The objective of the symposium was to review how partnering has been used in the construction phase of a project and explore how it could be used in the design process.
The concept, as used in the building industry, was developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They defined it as the creation of an owner-contractor relationship that promotes the achievements of mutually beneficial goals. The Corps found that it takes a major cultural change from the traditional relationships between an owner and a contractor to form a partnering team. But, once the bond has been formed, it is for the mutual benefit of the parties and the project. In construction contracts using the partnering tool, the Corps experienced a reduction in project time, cost growth, and accidents.
Changes are a natural part of the building design and construction process, and with changes come problems and disputes. It is a well established rule that problems can be resolved most easily during the planning or design phase of a project. Partnering provides a method of solving problems before they lead to arbitration and litigation. Therefore, the partnering tool could be most successful if utilized during the planning and design phases of a project.
The symposium verified that the partnering concept can be used not only during construction but also during the design phase. Jerome Sincoff, presenting the AIA's perspective, indicated how his firm has been successful in using partnering from the start of design to completion of construction. Rex Ball's firm found that partnering is very useful at the beginning of a project; or, especially with the federal government, when the project is funded. John Becker and Barry Finkelstein emphasized that partnering was an extremely useful tool during the design of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Ross Research Building. And Fred Kitchens pointed out how the Corps has been successful in using partnering in three major design projects.
The building design and construction industry is a paradox. We seek to do things in the best way, but, on the other hand, we fight change. The building industry,
government, and society, must be willing not only to seek new and improved ways, but also, be willing to accept and use them. As noted by one of the speakers, all technological knowledge doubles every five years. By the year 2000 that time frame is expected to be reduced to only a single year. We are going to have problems dealing with this rate of change unless we develop strong working relationships like PARTNERING.
In summary, partnering is a “Total Quality Management” tool. It is a good faith relationship, not a contract, between the providers and recipients of a product or services. It is a tool that seeks to minimize the necessity for arbitration and litigation. It is a tool that works to everyone's benefit, and should be considered for use during particular phases of a project or for the entire duration.
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