Recently, there has been a common question from clients: What is the best method for our city to acquire a public skatepark? Design/Build or the Design-bid-build approach? Pillar Design Studios wants to ensure every municipality, community and or private organization looking to build a skatepark is properly informed.
Skatepark Design Bid Build
The skatepark design bid build approach has been the method used for the majority of the U.S. public skateparks. The design-bid-build approach has three key advantages:
1. A Professional Landscape Architect that specializes in skatepark design and skatepark construction will lead the project. The advantage to the client is the fact that a Landscape Architect is able to seal their own drawings, has extensive knowledge on the skatepark construction process, has worked with municipalities, communities and the public process and is able to reduce skatepark design liability for the client. By setting the criteria high with expertise and experience you are assured the best possible fit for your community.
2. The Contractor awarded the skatepark construction is selected through the public bid process, guaranteeing only qualified skatepark contractors can apply. For the project to be built per plan the contractor needs to be licensed, bonded and insured – as well as posses the experience necessary to construct the park. There is always the option of choosing a qualified specialty skatepark contractor who will work under the local general contractor and completed the specialty services such as fine grading, coping fabrication and installation, shotcrete application and shotcrete finishing. This is often appealing to municipalities since the majority of the labor is local.
3. The Skatepark Design Firm’s assistance during the construction process is a crucial asset. Being available to answer any questions or address concerns during the critical stages of construction will eliminate any miscommunications and protect the integrity of the project. Often, the design of the park can be changed during construction which can cause the price to increase and or the design structure to be compromised. With the Designer visiting the project site at key stages, the client is protected from any unwarranted changes on the field as the skatepark build progresses.
Skatepark Design Build
The Skatepark Design Build approach has become a popular trend in the past few years. There are advantages to this approach if a qualified company (team) is selected to head up the project. Please keep in mind that a team of professionals from a Landscape Architecture firm as well as a general contractor can also provide Skatepark Design/Build services, it is not necessary to limit your choices by choosing from Design/Build companies only.
1. The City is able to reduce administrative fees due to the fact that only one RFP/RFQ process will be going held, instead of two, thus cutting the administrative time and efforts in half. An added benefit is that the city is able to deal with one main point of contact throughout the entire project; usually the contractor is the lead on a Skate Park Design/Build project, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.
2. Another advantage is the time saving abilities. If the entire project is completely funded, the City has the option to begin the initial skatepark construction before the construction documents have been completed. This can be valuable if the project has time restrictions.
Often Cities are not aware of the risks or disadvantages of the Design/Build approach. Being completely informed and educated on the process will and can circumvent any unfortunate surprises/problems later on.
Laws and regulations were put in place to prevent unqualified individuals or companies to design recreational facilities. Thus making it illegal to design skateparks without proper licensure and insurance, rules and regulations vary from state to state. This approach provided a way for design/build companies to get around these rules and regulations that govern licensed designers. Usually, design/build companies do not have the knowledge or practical expertise in Landscape Architecture, they do not prepare or seal construction documents nor do they have the proper insurance needed to protect the client.
There is no way to compare cost between the two services. Each skatepark is unique; there are many variables that can modify the skatepark cost. Such as site location, lighting, amenities, etc.
When using the Skatepark Design Bid Build approach from a qualified you are given a breakdown of fee’s and charges as well as estimates on the construction cost through out the design phase. This ensures the design created and approved by the municipality, community and or private organization is also the park that will be constructed. Not only is the actual skatepark cost broken down, but the entire project such as lighting, restrooms, landscaping, etc. as well.
When using the Skatepark Design/Build approach the entire contracted amount goes to the Design/Build Company, making it difficult to compare services. The amenities are not always included in the contract and or estimate provided. As a result the contractor does not complete the project in its entirety, leaving the burden on the client. The client must know exactly what services are included, ask questions and make sure the estimate provided covers everything needed.
Overall, the most important issue is not which method you choose but to make sure that each and every firm hired for the project has experience in skatepark design and skatepark construction, they are licensed in their profession and have the expertise needed to complete the project successfully. It is imperative that you keep in mind when choosing a qualified Landscape Architect for your public skatepark they must have comprehensive knowledge of skate/bmx park design. Choosing a designer that has experience in skateboarding or BMX riding is key to the success and efficiency of your park. Understanding and knowing your options will ensure you have the best end result…A world class facility that your community will enjoy for years to come.
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[About us: Pillar Design Studios, based in Tempe, AZ is a design/build landscape architecture firm specializing in both public and private skatepark facilities. Led by Brad Siedlecki, Pillar Design’s reputation has been built on integrity, quality of service, the ability to deliver progressive designs and impeccable skill in construction document production.]