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All the cool kids are doing IPD. Here’s how modular construction can help

Planning modular building team

Integrated project delivery—or IPD for short—is both a loathed and loved buzzword in construction and design circles right now. But the reality is that savvy building owners are embracing projects that can be delivered in a collaborative way, where risk is shared among the partners.

Enter modular construction—a building methodology where building components are manufactured under controlled conditions off the building site. Off-site construction is not only able to produce the same architectural results as conventional construction (think 70’ modules that allow the design possibilities of large clear spans) but in less time, with higher quality, improved safety and less waste.

Modular construction is a perfect fit for IPD projects. That’s because a successful modular project can’t be delivered any other way than collaboratively.

Design and production teams must work together early and effectively if modular construction is going to be used to its fullest benefit. What IPD does is add the incentives and penalties of performance contracts into the mix.

According to Dr. Ryan Smith, director of the Integrated Technology in Architecture Center, the AIA looked to the automotive industry to develop its series of IPD contracts. The product design and production delivery mechanisms in these types of industries, he says, aren’t too far from modular.

Architects are accountable for building performance. Modular manufacturers, brought into the process early in the design phase (as IPD would require) can provide that performance—sharing the accountability.

In the end, a modular mindset provides a link between design and construction that reduces waste—both in terms of time, money, and material—and increases quality. What IPD team (or client) wouldn’t be happy with that?