New York appoints ‘alternative delivery’ chief to speed up projects

New York City’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC) has appointed its first “Associate Commissioner of Alternative Delivery” to move tendering beyond the century-old lowest-bidder model.

Alison Landry, a licensed architect and expert in capital project delivery, takes up the new position.

She led the DDC’s design-build pilot programme and oversaw the use of alternative delivery approaches to build Covid field hospitals in Queens and Brooklyn, completing the first in 11 days, the DDC said.

Under design-build procurement, the contractor assumes responsibility for having a structure designed, as well as for building it. The DDC believes it leads to faster and more efficient project delivery.

The DDC’s pilot now includes seven public buildings and three infrastructure projects. Across all city agencies, 44 design-build projects together worth nearly $8bn were underway at the end of last year.

“This new senior management position represents DDC’s commitment to quality-based contracting that provides taxpayers the best value for their money, not just the lowest bid,” said DDC Commissioner Thomas Foley, adding: “This is the future of City construction and it’s a critical part of our Blueprint for improvement.”

New York State law required the DDC to use lowest-bidder tendering for more that 100 years before the state legislature passed the “New York City Public Works Investment Act” in December 2019. It allowed design-build for certain projects.

The DDC’s first design-build project was a community space and parking garage in Queens, which started construction in mid-2021 and is scheduled for completion by the end of this year. The DDC said this was “a full three years faster than would have been possible using the old lowest bidder contracting method”.

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