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Edward C. Wundrum Remembers

Edward C. Wundram, AIA, CSI, DBIA, joined the Design-Build Institute of America in 1994. A graduate of Georgia Tech’s architecture program he became a partner with George Heery at what is now Heery International. “George taught me how to use performance specifications for major building systems,” Wundram says. He left Heery in 1970 to run a systems building program for Portland (Oregon) Public Schools funded through a grant from the Ford Foundation’s Educational Facilities Laboratory.

Eight years later, Portland’s Director of General Administrator asked Wundram to write a letter to contractors to allow the City to solicit building designs and construction cost proposals in one process. The result was the Michael Graves-designed Portland Building, completed in 1982. The Tacoma Dome design-build project followed soon after. On that project, he served as the City’s design-build consultant responsible for program, budget, performance specs and the RFQ/RFP. At completion, it was the largest wood dome in the world.

By 1980, Wundram had opened his own Portland office specializing in design and design-build competitions for significant public buildings. Notable projects include, Washington State’s Department of Ecology Headquarters, Chicago’s Harold Washington Library Center (largest municipal library in the US), and U.S. Federal Courts at Tacoma Union Station, Hawaii Convention Center, and the first 30-year, DBOM research center for the University of Washington in Seattle. Currently, Wundram serves as Senior Design-Build Manager for Los Angeles Unified School District.

Ed is a dedicated DBIA volunteer who received a Leadership Award in 1995, served as an advisor to the National Board, and chaired or co-chaired numerous committees dedicated to best practices and policies. He has authored a variety of books and articles on design-build. He is an author of the now classic 2001 textbook Design-Build: Planning through Development. Most recently, he was the principal author and editor of the 2011 Design Management Guide for the Design-Build Environment.

We asked Ed to share his perspective on DBIA and design-build over the last twenty years.

When did join DBIA and why?

Edward C. Wundram: In 1993, when Preston Haskell announced the formation of DBIA, the initiation fee was $10K, too much for a one-man consultancy. However, the next year I was prompted to write Preston to tell him about the design-build projects I was involved in and to plead for a place for us “little fish” in DBIA. In 1994, when the Institute established membership categories for allied professions, I joined. I traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with Jeff Beard to see how I could help (the DBIA staff at the time was just two people). Soon after, then-DBIA President Rik Kunnath asked me to serve as the chairman of the Policy and Process Committee. In those days, because DBIA was so small, if you returned a call to a DBIA officer, they made you a committee chair. That committee recommended establishing a DBIA Manual of Practice. It was to be composed of different modules by various committees and members. I wrote the first DBIA pamphlet: Design-Build RFQ/RFP Guide for Public Sector Projects, DBIA’s Document No. 210, in 1995. Later, Preston asked me to write a Code of Ethics for the Institute. It continues to be the basis of the current Code of Ethics.

What was the design-build market like at that time?
Edward C. Wundram: Owners loved it; architects hated it! There were no laws to allow design-build for public buildings at the time. Oregon allowed certain large cities to rewrite their own public contract laws. Washington State had no design-build law at the time of the Tacoma Dome, but the City Engineer thought that it was so obviously competitive, that we proceeded based on the fact that we were selecting design professionals and the construction component was incidental to the process.
Describe your level of engagement over the years?

Edward C. Wundram: Since 1978, design-build has been a significant part of my entire professional life, much of it through DBIA .

In your opinion, what is DBIA’s most significant accomplishment over the last two decades? 

Edward C. Wundram: I think the most significant contribution DBIA has made to the building design, construction and ownership industry is to “sell” design-build as a best-value, alternative – and now primary – project delivery method to public agencies at all levels.


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