The New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) issued two requests for proposals (RFPs) last week for its Project Excellence Program, seeking firms to provide architectural and technical design services "for the next generation of New York City's public buildings," DDC said in a press release.
The first RFP seeks up to 20 firms for architectural design services to support new construction or major renovations, while the second RFP seeks up to 10 firms for technical design services in single or multiple systems upgrade projects. Responses for both RFPs are due in September.
Selected firms will be tasked with "creating inspirational public buildings," DDC Commissioner Lorraine Grillo said in a statement. "Given the extraordinary moment the City is enduring, this RFP offers an opportunity for our industry partners to reimagine how we can work together to incorporate all of the essential components of well-designed buildings: aesthetics, functionality, cost, constructability and durability."
The Project Excellence Program is an opportunity that only comes around every few years, with the last round of RFPs issued in 2015, said Michaela Metcalfe, director of project excellence, in an interview. The rounds are generally 3-year terms, she said. However, DDC extended the previous round for time to rethink and improve the program.
"There have been quite a few ways in which our agency has been looking internally to see how we can do things better, and every time we do that and every time we see an opportunity, we want to seize upon that," Metcalfe said. This next round of the program will put a stronger emphasis on the DDC's Strategic Blueprint of Construction Excellence, and will see a number of changes to guarantee "fair compensation and flexibility" for firms, according to the release.
A key change in this round of the program is DDC's decision to award all contracts as architect prime contracts, allowing subconsultants to be defined on a project-specific basis. With each project will be a new opportunity for firms to reconfigure their teams, creating more opportunities for subcontracters, Metcalfe said.
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may also influence new approaches to public building design. DDC anticipates "some significant changes to how we think about public space," Metcalfe said, noting that the department works with a variety of sponsor agencies that "may have different ways they think about serving their communities in order to keep them safe."
Becuase of this, DDC is looking for firms that are "very flexible and very dedicated or able to serve the city in ways that may not even be evident to us right now," Metcalfe said. "We want to make sure the firms that we’re contracting with are firms that can be nimble and can be very responsive to the needs of the city."
Metcalfe also emphasized the importance of minority- and women-owned business enterprises, saying their participation in the Project Excellence Program is "fundamental."
While the RFPs were issued only days ago, Metcalfe said there has already been high interest from architecture firms. The DDC is hosting a virtual pre-proposal conference on Aug. 17 to review the RFPs and address any questions that interested bidders may have.