Ping Pong, Plants & Paws: A Tale of Progressive Design-Build Success

By Hennebery Eddy

Rendering of the City of Bend Public Works Campus, currently under construction via progressive design-build.

To replace their aging and spread-out public works facilities, the City of Bend, Oregon, embarked on a plan to design and construct a new, $130M campus with ambitious resiliency goals. The city selected progressive-design build (PDB) delivery with the hope that it would offer the best value, encourage early and often collaboration, and provide better opportunities to engage local small and disadvantaged businesses. Hennebery Eddy’s Bend studio teamed up with Kirby Nagelhout Construction Company to tackle this project and prove that PDB could deliver on those aspirations.

To set the tone, the team scheduled a two-day, all-hands workshop once all consultants and trade partners were on board. We wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page with the city’s goals and get to know one another — the teammates we would work with day in and day out for the next four years. Each person completed a DiSC assessment to map personalities and working styles, followed by break-out sessions to role-play problem-solving exercises based on our profiles. This bonding was critical to building our team foundation and setting up the infrastructure for how we would work together.

Progressive design-build team members mapped on an assessment of personality types: (D)ominance, (i)nfluence, (S)teadiness and (C)onscientiousness.

To establish a hub for team synergy and streamlined communication, the city asked the project team to co-locate in a shared workspace. In a fast-paced, large and complex, and sometimes stressful project, simply being together in the space was not enough — our team needed to establish a work rhythm and culture of trust. It became a full-team effort to evolve this “CoLo” space to suit all our needs.

Informal collaboration at the CoLo ping pong table.

Ping Pong

To spur informal collaboration and provide a dedicated space for quick chats separate from workstations, we first introduced a ping pong table into the CoLo — which was less costly than a conference table and added opportunity for team comradery. (Because why sit at a conference table when you could lob a ping pong back-and-forth?) The PDB team also scheduled weekly huddles and regular touch-base meetings to check in, review design solutions, and confirm project schedule and budget were on track. Huddles were often held offsite to allow us to get to informally know each other outside of the workplace.

Biophilia spruces up the CoLo.

Plants

The project’s landscape architect, PLACE, helped us introduce biophilia into the CoLo, promoting wellness and stress relief while providing personal touches to the formerly auxiliary space. Many team members took it upon themselves to become plant parents, keeping the foliage fresh and lively. As another way to promote wellness and trust, we implemented team health surveys, which help paint a bigger picture of how things are going, both for individuals and the team as a whole. The anonymous surveys allow us to trouble-shoot issues as a group and relieve stress.

Canine collaborators in the CoLo.

Paws

A benefit of a healthy CoLo is the personal connections and friendships developed among team members. We routinely organize happy hours and outdoor activities like biking, camping, and skiing. This collegiality was extended to “man’s best friend” when dogs were invited into the space, giving us a chance to connect with our coworkers through their pets and further contributing to a positive atmosphere.

“We created a space customized to our team, a place that promotes wellness and team-building and has natural stress relievers. We didn’t realize that it would become the “secret sauce” to maintaining a healthy team.”

— Camilla Cok, Project Design Manager

Co-locating was a fairly new experience for many on the project team but was an enormous success, facilitating communication, efficiency, camaraderie, and a willingness to make continual adjustments. The result is a creative, collaborative environment and an “everyone wins” ethos that allows us to maintain a sustained commitment to the end goals.

Members of the progressive design-build team present at the DBIA national conference in Washington D.C. in November 2023. Left to right: Joe Rundle, Mike Taylor, Jo Wells, Camilla Cok.

This case study was presented at DBIA’s national 2023 Design-Build Conference & Expo as a best practice example of fostering a collaborative, diverse, healthy team culture within PDB — in turn promoting high performance and value.