In a closely collaborative project, Haskell helped restore Tavares, Florida, to its status as “America’s Seaplane City.”

July 15, 2021

Cities Benefit from Qualification-Based Selection of Design-Builder

Haskell’s collaborative approach to municipal development expedites delivery, lowers costs and provides strategic vision.


Government entities increasingly are asked to do more with less, and many cities are seeing populations and demand for services grow at the same time they are facing budget and staffing constraints.

Municipalities that engage Haskell and its collaborative approach to project delivery ensure that they receive the greatest value for their investment.

Traditionally, municipal construction projects are built following a design-bid-build procurement format in which the city contracts architects and engineers for the design work, then awards construction to the lowest bidder. But the lowest bid seldom equates to the greatest value, and it sometimes doesn’t even mean the lowest price.

Haskell prefers to pursue and perform jobs based on qualifications rather than low price, which allows its teams to work collaboratively with the project owner beginning with the design phase. By involving professionals across disciplines early, Haskell can effectively “design to a budget,” said Charlie Rocheleau, leader of Haskell’s Municipal division.

“The design effort is about 5%, but if done poorly, or not managed well, the design effort can have a huge impact on the other 95%,” Rocheleau said.

A case in point: Tavares, Florida.

Rebuilding “America’s Seaplane City”

Opened in 2010, Tavares, Florida’s multimillion-dollar seaplane base and marina was the centerpiece of its campaign to brand itself “America’s Seaplane City.” The strategy worked, attracting pilots to land, fuel their aircraft and, while they were there, fuel the economy in a bustling downtown entertainment district.

When Hurricane Irma destroyed the base and marina, city planners vowed to rebuild the facility stronger than before.

“They wanted to really use that opportunity to re-envision what the new seaplane base and boating marina operations along the waterfront in their town look like,” Rocheleau said. “So, they chose a Progressive Design-Build delivery method and specifically asked us in the early design steps to really think outside the box.”

Under the Progressive Design-Build model, Haskell was selected on the basis of its qualifications rather than on a figure submitted in a competitive bidding process. Therefore, it was able to work with Tavares’ planners to progress toward a design and a contract price.

The City of Tavares now has a new seaplane base and marina and a comprehensive design that imagined an evolving facility.

Tavares officials wanted to see the possibilities for a better and stronger base and marina, even though they understood that the most creative product would likely exceed the budget. As the city negotiated with its insurer to secure funding, Haskell’s team worked collaboratively with city planners to design a plan, remaining mindful of budget constraints but also thinking outside the box to stretch the boundaries of design.

“As we advanced design,” Rocheleau said, “we included feedback from staff into the design process and slowly scale things back to budget, at the same time maintaining the ability for future expansion within the master plan design.”

Haskell was awarded the contract in January 2018, then worked with the city for two years to negotiate a design and cost for the insurance settlement and gather the necessary approvals from the Army Corps of Engineers. Actual construction started in November 2020, and was substantially completed in May 2021. Funding was provided primarily by the insurance settlement, and the City of Tavares covered only 2% of the costs.

Haskell also provided the city a comprehensive design that imagined an evolving facility.

“The client now has a plan for the future,” Rocheleau said. “If in two or three years down the road, they can get more funding, they already know how to advance the design and even have some idea of what it might cost, because we’d already done some budgeting for them.”

Transparency Through Collaboration

Tavares city officials were able to maximize their budget by selecting Haskell on its qualifications and employing its integrated, collaborative approach to delivery.

Had they chosen the hard-bid approach, they not only would have sacrificed creativity and concepts for future upgrades, but they inevitably would have encountered additional costs caused by unforeseen issues, changes and overruns.

Once selected, Haskell selects subcontractors and makes choices based on both budget and qualifications. Further, the transparent selection process is shared with the project owner and ultimately, together, they arrive at an itemized breakdown of the costs related to safety protocols, subcontractors and management on the project.

“Adopt the customer’s goals, and then figure out together with them what the solutions are going to be,” Rocheleau concluded. “Our system is more transparent, more participative, and so we feel like our customers get a better-quality project as a result.”

Haskell delivers $2± billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,200 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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