ASPIRE is a quarterly magazine published by PCI in cooperation with the associations of the National Concrete Bridge Council. The editorial content focuses on the latest technology and key issues in the Concrete Bridge Industry.
Issue link: http://www.aspiremagazinebyengineers.com/i/306186
F O C U S Growing stakeholder needs, more c h a l l e n g i n g t e r r a i n , a n d n e w technologies require designers to work closer with everyone on the construction team. These trends play to the strengths of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. (VHB) in Watertown, Mass., where close collaboration is seen as a core strength. "When we founded the business more than 30 years ago, the principals of VHB wanted to create a consulting practice that broke out of the typical model," says Bob Brustlin, president and CEO. "No longer was it possible to succeed in our business with only technical skills. Process knowledge, an awareness of the context of the project, and political acumen were also needed." No Design Cocoons A high level of collaboration has become critical, says Christopher D. Baker, principal and national director of structural engineering. "Necessity is the mother of much invention these days," he notes. "The biggest change in the industry is that we're not in a little cocoon as designers today, where we go into a room and return with a design that we give to others to construct. Interaction and collaboration are real, and they create more efficient designs." The key to designing and building successful bridges today is "building t r u s t w i t h c o l l a b o r a t o r s a n d t h e community," he says. "It's a different world today, and there are many more 'stakeholders' with specific needs. That requires everyone to work on the same page and to use everyone's expertise to its fullest." Emphasizing collaboration encourages the firm to work in a design-build format. "Clients expect us to find the most cost-effective approach, whatever that requires," Baker says. "So we really drill into costs and ask our partners for more efficient ideas." The firm works with contractors as part of a design-build team and also produces documents for design-build teams on behalf of owners, including the Departments of Transportation for Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. "The design-build process creates deep relationships for us, which are important today," Baker says. "These integrated relationships help us understand all the needs on the project, even when we do design-bid-build projects." Cross Street Bridge Those relationships came to the fore on the Cross Street Bridge in Middlebury, VHB's design-build expertise helped the firm create the precast concrete Cross Street Bridge in Middlebury, Vt., with a center span of 240 ft. The span is the longest post-tensioned, simple span, spliced precast concrete girder in the country. The design allowed the bridge to eliminate piers near or in Otter Creek. Photo: VHB. by Craig A. Shutt Building Bridges and Partnerships Vanasse Hangen Brustlin— Focus on constructability creates close relationships throughout the team Book_Sum11.indb 6 7/1/11 9:59 AM