Designs Constrained by CMAR

A/Es do not feel their designs are constrained by CMAR.

A/Es do not feel their designs are constrained by CMAR.  The other parties are neutral on the issue. 

In DBB work, the Owner and A/E work together to design a structure with the maximum benefit that the budget will allow. Often there is a user group within the Owner’s organization that is the ultimate beneficiary of the structure and essentially defines the “benefit” of the structure. So the A/E is always “constrained” by Owner and users. In CMAR the CM and Subs will also try to influence the design and this might be construed as a “constraint” by the A/E – more than in DBB. Besides that fundamental issue there are others that are rare, but certainly do happen. An unfortunate but not uncommon situation is that users’ wants far exceed the budget. Although it is often unethical, an A/E might design without too much heed of the budget, especially if they see the budget is clearly inadequate, with the expectation that at some point the budget will be increased. In the intricate political dance associated with public funding, the Owner and/or users may conspire with A/E in that regard. In CMAR work, the CM is likely to throw cold water on that process. In fact, the CM has a bias to overestimate, as we discuss in another part of this paper. In addition, CMs have a strong bias towards structures and building systems with which they have experience and feel they can price accurately. So we asked, “Do A/Es feel their designs are constrained – less opportunity for aesthetic improvements and innovations by CMR project deliver systems than DBB? (If you are not an A/E, please give your impressions anyway.) Score 1-5, where 1 means strongly agree and 5 means strongly disagree.”


The average response, 3.13, indicated very mild disagreement, a 3.0 would be neutral. A/Es, who would know how they feel, had an average score 3.65 indicating they disagreed with the thesis. CMs and Owners were neutral and Subs agreed slightly. There was not a trend for CMAR experience.

The question specifically asks about “feelings,” a value laden concept. The A/E would know how they feel, while the other parties would be guessing.  It seems to bode well to teamwork that the A/E felt they were not constrained. However, in the QBS for A/Es, knowing it will be a CMAR contract, the A/Es would be proud of their ability to design what is needed despite constraints.