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Total control via design/build.

A little more than two years ago, Rocky Meli and John Borrelli decided to launch their own full-service interior "design/build" firm that would specialize in design, construction and project management by providing complete single-source responsibility on all projects.

The two principals of MBA met approximately six years ago while working at the same firm and decided that they made a perfect match, offering the specialties of construction and architecture, to start a successful company of their own. Meli Borrelli Associated opened for business on July 8, 1991.

"We had a choice of taking over something built ourselves or working for someone forever," said John Borrelli, 37, who has a degree in civil engineering from Columbia University and attended Pratt Institute's School of Architecture. "Our clientele has been loyal to us and we unexpectedly became a major force."

Stressing the design/build concept to maintain quality and eliminate cost overruns, MBA has achieved more than $140 million in revenues and 1.8 million square feet in projects since the company's inception.

"Design/build allows us to do construction in a coordinated fashion," said Meli, 34, who holds an honorary diploma from the Yale School of Architecture and a BA from the New York Institute of Technology. "We're constantly monitoring design and when a project comes out, it's been budgeted 15 times."

Meli and Borrelli both maintain that design/build will be the trend of the future, especially when companies are demanding more value for every dollar, because the "one stop" shopping concept provides a single source of total control for architecture, design, budget, engineering and construction, and assumes liability for any problems.

"We have the ability to execute quickly because we have everything in one office," said Borrelli, a licensed architect in several states, including New York, New Jersey, Vermont and Connecticut. "We put the whole thing together and the project is cohesive."

According to Borrelli, design/build allows MBA to complete projects with astounding speed. Mattel Toys, for example, gave MBA just four weeks to design and construct 15,000 square feet of showroom space for the spring and fall toy seasons, a process that usually requires four to five months, and MBA completed the project on time.

MBA is comprised of licensed architects and engineers, draftsmen, designers, project managers, estimators, construction superintendents, laborers, and carpenters. As a result, Meli noted, each project has the benefit of a coordinated team working for the ultimate benefit of the client.

"When a project starts, we assemble a team for each project from day one," Meli said. "For the whole project, everybody is there and the client is dealing directly with a principal. With our report system, we're always aware we're spending the client's money and they should know where every dime is going. We send the client a report every week on the project's status. "

At MBA, the firm has the in-house capacity to control and perform every facet of a project from planning to design through engineering and construction for one guaranteed maximum price, thus eliminating cost overruns.

Meli's expertise in project planning has enabled him over the years to achieve the highest level of efficiency in schedule and cost, as evidenced by - he execution of World Financial Center, 237 Park Avenue, and over 8 million square feet of commercial space.

"We guarantee that final projects will not exceed original budgets," said Meli, a member of the New York Board of Trade and a member of NACORE. "Time is money, and that's part of the challenge, that's what motivates us, but we don't compromise on quality."

By guaranteeing final projects that will not exceed original budgets, MBA has attracted such prestigious clients as Thomson Financial Services, Credit Suisse, Burlington Industries, Alitalia, John Hancock, National Bank of Canada, and ING Bank.

The MBA team recently completed a project with The Walt Disney Company, at 114 Fifth Avenue, working with their Consumer Products Division, as both their design and construction management firm, to complete a project consisting of two floors and equalling a total of 33,000 square feet. The project was completed, ready for move-in in eight weeks at a construction cost of $2.45 million.

Meli and Borrelli have also been working with Credit Suisse since 1989 on various projects, including a project at 12 East 49th Street comprised relocating the "Front Office" departments of Credit Suisse into a total of seven floors equalling approximately 115,000 rentable square feet of space. The total construction cost for the project was under $7.35 million and was completed in a total of 20 weeks, with Credit Suisse able to move in two months ahead of schedule on Oct. 25, 1991.

"Most architects and designers rarely get to the field and they start losing touch," said Meli, who has more than 18 years experience in all aspects of design, construction planning and construction implementation. "You end up with conflicting interests between the theoretical versus the practical with everyone sheltered in their specialty. With design/build, you're constantly working together."

Borrelli, who is NCARB-certified, as well as a member of the American Institute of Architects and a member of The American Society of Civil Engineers, analyzes each project during the preliminary plan, schematic design, and design development stages. His comprehensive background in all phases of building design and development has produced the design and construction of more than 4 million square feet of office space, several buildings, hotels, and mixed-use parking structures, as well as a winning design for the Garibaldi-Meuci Museum.

"More architects are getting involved in construction and it looks like design/build is the way to go," Borrelli said.

Earlier this year, MBA merged with SPGA Group, a 26-year-old firm headed by Sidney Philip Gilbert, FAIA, one of the first architectural firms to specialize in interior design. SPGA joins MBA as a powerful force in the architectural industry, with over 100 employees and 200 million in construction volume.

"Sidney is a renowned architect and in many ways a pioneer in the industry," said Meli. "He recognized early on that the true nature of the industry was design/build."
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Meli Borrelli Associated merges with SPGA Architecture and Planning; offers interior design, construction and project management services
Author:Alger, Derek
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Aug 18, 1993
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