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Governor signs bill creating school design-build pilot program

Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed a bill establishing a pilot program for school districts to use the design-build construction delivery method.

illinoisealThe method under House Bill 5593 allows architects, engineers and construction contractors to pick their partners and be hired as a team, expediting project completion by allowing early phases of construction to begin as the building design is still being developed. This legislation permits up to five design-build demonstration projects to be undertaken in Illinois. Each must be shown to be in a school district’s best interest as determined by the State Board of Education.

“The State has proven the benefit of using the design-build method on vertical infrastructure projects,” Rauner said in a statement, “and by piloting this valuable delivery method tool in the K-12 system, it will help to explore ways to increase efficiency and speed in school construction projects.”

Before a school district can issue a request for proposals, its school board would contract with a licensed professional to serve as the bridging firm. The bridging firm helps to develop the project scope and performance criteria. Once the school district develops a vision for what they would like to construct, the entity would engage in a two-phase selection process. Phase 1 focuses on the qualifications elements of the design-build team, and Phase 2 focuses on a technical and cost evaluation.

An added layer of transparency and accountability is included in this legislation, which requires the superintendent of a school, the State Board of Education and the design-build entity to annually submit reports to the General Assembly. The report must include comparative data on a given design-build project relative to if the project was undertaken using the traditional design-bid-build construction delivery method. This oversight will help K-12 schools pilot this method and learn when and how to maximize the benefits of using design-build.

“As a state, we are always looking for better tools to enable Illinois public entities to construct and renovate buildings more effectively and cost-efficiently,” said state Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City. “Design-build has proven in national studies to deliver the lowest cost, fastest schedule and highest quality. As representative, I will look to work with local officials to implement this important cost savings tool.”

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