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'Kit of Parts': new design approach.

Public sector clients from tile federal to tile local level are aggressively seeking ways to contain costs associated with building projects, both construction dollars and professional service fees.

The practice of demanding lump sum proposals from architects has grown significantly in today's competitive economy.

The United States Postal Service has been among tile most innovative agencies in addressing this area. The Postal Service has implemented a uniform CAD (computer-aided drafting and design) program for new facilities known as the "kit of parts" program. As its. name suggests, kit of parts consists of standardized building elements, originally developed under a national contract that can be combined in many ways to meet the requirements of any specific site or community demand. Working with this computerized design kit, USPS Regional Offices then select local professionals to implement their own building programs.

In 1990, H2M Group of Melville was selected as tile architect/engineer for tile New York and New Jersey region. The first kit of parts building on Long Island, tile Central Islip Post Office, was designed and completed under H2M's direction, and was opened in May of 1992.

Like a Tinkertoy set, tile kits of pails' elements allow many possible configurations. Facades can be modified to reflect tile character of tile community. We work closely with tile local postmaster to make sure the building will work for tile community it serves, and with local planning officials to develop an acceptable site plan. Then, because the kit of parts has been well designed and refined with use, we are able to produce a full set of contract documents within six weeks. With tight contract documents, change orders go way down, giving tile client confidence that project costs will come in at close to award prices.

Each site requires its own blend of the architectural elements, the associated site engineering, and construction monitoring. H2M's competitive advantage in securing its current contract grew from its full service capabilities including architecture, structural, HVAC, civil, electrical and environmental engineering, as well as its strong CAD experience. In addition to the Central Islip facility, H2M's Post Office projects include facilities in Mount Kisco, New York and Pennington and White House Station New Jersey.

The kit of parts represents is a significant departure from the architect's traditional design and fee system, but it can certainly be a 'win-win' for both tile client and tile design professionals. With lump sum pricing required, tile architect has to bring strong project management and CAD capabilities to the table. The client certainly benefits from tile speed, cost-containment and quality that is achievable using this approach.

There are many sectors where the kit of parts approach can be applied, from banks to franchises to national chains. Developers and owners who adopt it will not have to maintain an in-house design capability to get the kind of results they need. The long range implications present both challenges and opportunities to design professionals, as it becomes an approach used more and more throughout the 90's.
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Architecture & Interior Design; computerized architectural design kit enables public sector clients to standardize building elements and keep costs down
Author:Scheiner, Robert M.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Dec 16, 1992
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