The Training and Communications Center, the largest building on site, is built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane.

January 5, 2022

Progressive Design-Build Saves St. Johns Sheriff’s Office Time, Cost

Officials in the fast-growing county leveraged Haskell's integrated delivery expertise to make its much-needed training and communications facility a reality.


With the 10th-fastest-growing population of any county in the United States and its operations spread throughout 20 different buildings, the St. Johns County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office had an obvious and pressing need for a new, state-of-the-art emergency communications and training center.

With a tight timeline and a limited, publicly funded budget, St. Johns County officials determined that integrated delivery would be the best way to expedite the project and manage its costs.

In late 2019, the county chose nearby Jacksonville-based Haskell, a design-build pioneer, to deliver a 48,000-square-foot (SF) facility on a 67-acre campus that included the following:

  • An administrative and training building with a 911 dispatch center, auditorium, training and cardio room with locker rooms
  • Defensive tactics and virtual firearms training facilities
  • Two firearms training buildings with outdoor shooting ranges
  • A tactical driving track
  • An underwater scuba training area.

“Haskell was selected as design-builder in part for their experience with Progressive Design-Build, which allowed the County to begin the design and permitting process early, providing the opportunity to establish a fixed price, secure permits and begin construction early. This was critical in order to achieve an aggressive delivery schedule,” William Freeman, St. Johns County’s Chief Engineer, wrote in a July 15, 2021, letter of recommendation.

The 911 communications center receives more than 300,000 calls annually through various agencies.

Why Integrated Delivery?

Integrated, design-build delivery has grown to be the single most-popular project delivery method – it now accounts for 44% of all construction spending – for the very reasons St. Johns County officials identified. Numerous advantages stem from the fact that the project owner signs one contract with one entity responsible for architectural, engineering and construction services.

  • The design-builder bears responsibility, and risk, for completion of both design and construction.
  • Delivery schedules are compressed by expediting design and construction procurement; allowing early release of long-lead materials and equipment, which mitigates cost escalation; phasing design and construction so that activities take place concurrently rather than sequentially; and eliminating change orders through close collaboration.
  • It allows for the identification of cost early in design instead of after completing design. This lets the project team respond accordingly should a project be over or under budget.
  • It eliminates the contractual barriers of conventional delivery, which leads to enhanced collaboration and innovation, resulting in schedule, cost and client-experience benefits. 
  • It creates an environment in which technology can be maximized, producing improved results in schedule, cost and client experience benefits. 

Haskell and the county partnered in a Progressive Design-Build relationship, a phased application of design-build in which the project team worked collaboratively with county personnel to arrive at a design and a contract price. Haskell then performed pricing-level design development, preconstruction services and negotiated the project’s guaranteed maximum price (GMP).

“Our working relationship was very collaborative, and I was impressed by the Haskell team’s client-focused culture and willingness to adapt to changing conditions,” Freeman said. “Once the GMP was established, they were able to maintain the budget and schedule, other than owner changes in scope, despite escalating material costs, program changes and the COVID pandemic.”

Relationships and Collaboration

The project team took advantage of business relationships close to home to make the St. Johns County work more effective. Additionally, Haskell provided information, guided design and provided options to align the county’s program needs and wants with the budget.

“We understood the challenges and felt we had the local connections with subcontractors to help pull levers and to keep things on budget,” said Charlie Rocheleau, Haskell’s Regional Vice President in Charlotte, N.C., who was heavily involved in the St. Johns project.

Throughout the project, Freeman wrote, Haskell “quickly addressed all changes and updated permit documents and performed in-house design changes to reflect the desired changes. They provided cost alternatives to keep the project within the original budget. Haskell rose to the occasion and graciously accommodated any changes.”

The largest building on site is built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane and houses a 911 communications center that receives more than 300,000 calls annually through various agencies, the real-time crime center that tracks crimes in progress and relays the information to deputies in the field.

More than half of the building is dedicated to training functions.

The adjacent state-certified driving track provides the required training for the operation of emergency vehicles. A large retention pond accommodates drainage on the property but also contains part of an airplane, a school bus and a vehicle used for practice drills by the Sheriff’s Office dive team.

The firearms training facilities include two high-tech shooting ranges with rotating targets and speaker systems. A larger range is used primarily by more than 500 deputies and another, smaller range for law enforcement partners such as the Jacksonville-based FBI and St. Johns County’s SWAT team. One range features a Jedburgh Target System, which uses a programmable logic controller (PLC) and allows officers to be trained to react to random situations, according to Haskell consultant Scott Watson, a U.S. Military Academy graduate, former Green Beret and St. Augustine resident. A Spire Ranges system on the other range uses paper targets to meet statewide and national training qualification standards and was introduced when the facility was completed.

“Their business is to protect the community and that really resonated with us,” Rocheleau said. “We presented a few ideas they hadn’t really thought of and got creative in making sure things fit in their budgeting. We started with their wish list and then developed the budget from there.”

Consult Haskell’s experts in Progressive Design-Build delivery to learn how to meet deadlines and control costs on your organization’s next project.

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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