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About DBIA and Design-Build

DBIA's Offices
The Design-Build Institute of America is the only organization that defines, teaches and promotes best practices in design-build. Design-build is an integrated approach that delivers design and construction services under one contract with a single point of responsibility. Owners select design-build to achieve best value while meeting schedule, cost and quality goals.

DBIA represents the entire design and construction industry. As an institute, our primary objective is to provide education, training, networking and support to all players involved in the design and construction industry. Members span the entire spectrum of design and construction professionals, including architects, engineers, specialty contractors, owners, consultants, lawyers, business development professionals, students and teachers. Non-members are also welcome to participate in courses, conferences and in earning their certification.  In addition to the DBIA headquarters in Washington, D.C., a network of 14 Regions work collaboratively to deliver products and services to members and customers.

DBIA has recently completed strategic planning for 2016-2018, and we are excited to announce that our three top priorities for these next few years will be (1) to universalize Design-Build Done Right; (2) to leverage the existing strengths of design-build, and (3) to continue to deliver high value to all members and customers. More details of the strategic direction can be found here.



​DBIA promotes the value of design-build project delivery and teaches the effective integration of design and construction services to ensure success for owners and design and construction practitioners.

DBIA will be the industry’s preeminent resource for leadership, education, objective expertise and best practices for the successful integrated delivery of capital projects.
Our Values
  • Excellence in integrated design-build project delivery, producing high value outcomes.
  • An environment of trust characterized by integrity and honest communication.
  • Mutual respect for and appreciation of diverse perspectives and ideas.
  • A commitment to innovation and creativity to drive quality, value and sustainability.
  • Professionalism, fairness and the highest level of ethical behavior.

 History of Design-Build


The following comes from "Design-Build: Planning through Development" available for purchase here.

As students of architectural history, we recall the ancient master builders or master masons: Ictinus and Callicrates, builders of the Parthenon in Athens; Abbe Suger for his twelfth century Gothic Royal Abbey Church of Saint Denis, outside Paris; and Filippo Brunelleschi for the Dome of the Florence Cathedral in the early fifteenth century. They each provided a seamless service that included what we now refer to as design and construction, or more recently as design-build.

The singular responsibility for design and construction had been codified long before these master builders in Hammurabi’s Code. The Roman writer, engineer and architect, Vitruvius, wrote the original design handbook in 40 B.C.E. The handbook assumes that the responsibilities for design and construction were vested in a single individual.
Industrial Revolution
Well into the nineteenth century, architects continued to retain responsibility for both design and construction. The Industrial Revolution, however, had a profound effect on how design and the construction were organized.  Because of the complexity of new industrial facilities, design expertise and specialization were required of the designers, but not to the same degree from the builders. As people moved into cities, a standardized system of drawings and written instructions was employed so designers (whose services did not have to be performed locally) could communicate to builders. The Industrial Revolution also called for dividing the production process into basic, individual tasks. The dramatic difference between the intellectual process of design and the physical act of construction made the design and construction industry easy to split. Once designers and builders had separated, professional societies such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) formed. These organizations were symptomatic of the attempts by the design professionals to separate themselves from the sometimes corrupt builders of the era.
Legal Separation
A significant cause of the absolute separation of the design professions from the construction trades in America was, and remains, the Miller Act of 1935. This law requires a contractor on a federal project exceeding $100,000 to post two bonds: a performance bond and a labor and material payment bond. Additionally, states and almost all local jurisdictions have enacted legislation requiring surety bonds on public work projects.  Public contract laws also tend to mandate a separation of design and construction services. The first architectural licensing laws were passed in the United States in 1897. Now, in each of the states, the professions of architect and engineer are regulated for the protection of the public. In most instances, professional licensing laws do not require that design and construction be separate functions, but like the public procurement regulations, they reflect the prevailing practice at the time they were first enacted.
The Advent of Modern Design-Builders
Technically more demanding building systems, and systems for the concealed distribution of power, lighting and telephones, required responsible designers to coordinate their efforts with builders. This led to the development of construction management (CM) procedures. This delivery method was an improvement, but still lacked the single point of responsibility that owners sought.  The first use of public funds involving the design-build process in the United States probably occurred in Indiana where an assistant superintendent of public instruction convinced a small community to purchase a school building by the design-build method.  The early 1970s saw competitive design-build procurement utilized by several public agencies, primarily in the area of educational facilities and university dormitories. In an action that brings public contracting for buildings and infrastructure project full circle, the U.S. federal government, in 1997, modified its Federal Acquisition Regulations to include new regulations for design-build procurement (read about DBIA’s role in this here).

 Contact Us

Design-Build Institute of America
1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, 4th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20004
Tel: 202-682-0110
Fax: 202-682-5877
Map Us
DBIA is located between 13th and 14th Streets, NW, in the National Place Building. The entrance to our building is across from Freedom Plaza in between the National Theater and the JW Marriott.
The nearest Metro stop is Metro Center (Red, Bluie, Orange and Silver Lines). Exit toward 13th Street and walk south two blocks and west one and a half blocks.
Map Us
You can find DBIA staff email addresses on our Staff page. Individual staff electronic addresses are first initial last name If you are unsure who the best DBIA contact is, please use dbia@.