Relationships: The WD-40 ® of Success – Delivering Labs Using Design/Build

Tracey Abel, Colorado State University’s Department of Facilities Management
Jennifer Cordes, Hord Coplan Macht

Higher Education institutions are challenged with maximizing project ROI against decreased funding and increasing enrollments. This session will showcase a study on delivering three laboratory buildings for Colorado State University (CSU) using three different delivery methods with the same integrated Architect/Owner/Contractor team. The presenters will dissect the pros and cons of different construction delivery method through the lens of Colorado State University's recent concurrent laboratory projects delivered through CM/GC, design/bid/build and design/build.

CSU has maximized their value by utilizing a variety of different delivery methods for their recent projects. CSU recently completed a 122,000 SF Bioengineering building, a 154,000 SF Biology building and a 61,500 SF Research Chemistry building. CSU chose to utilize a different delivery method for each to maximize value for the University; CM/GC, design/bid/build and design/build lump sum. The buildings each have customized laboratories, were near each other, were constructed within the last ten years and were designed and constructed by the same team. Analyzing these different delivery methods, while holding the owner, designer, and contractor as a constant allowed us to truly study the value provided by each method while analyzing the design & construction quality of design/build seen through the lens of a complicated project type. Our data/analysis is varied and surprising, but the success of these projects came down to the relationship-based culture created by CSU.

Learning Objectives

  • Discuss how different delivery methods might help your campus maximize funding by shortening overall project schedule to decrease risk in this volatile market.
  • Plan for a Design-Build lump sum laboratory.
  • Analyze the design & construction quality of complex laboratories under different delivery methods.
  • Explore the relationship-based culture that CSU strives to create in every project.


With over 25 years in construction, interior design, and customer service, Tracey Abel has taken her experience and applied it to her project management role at CSU. She has been with CSU for 10 years leading capital construction projects. Tracey understands that collaboration and honest open communication produces great teams that can come up with great ideas and solutions that result in great buildings. Tracey managed the CSU Biology project for Colorado State University.

Jennifer Cordes is a principal and owner of Hord Coplan Macht. With more than 22 years of experience in architecture, Jennifer leads the Hord Coplan Macht Higher Education Design Studio. She has a Master of Architecture and a Bachelors in Economics from the University of Colorado. Jennifer led the design efforts for a variety of CSU projects including the Suzanne & Walter Scott Jr. Bioengineering, Chemistry Research, and Biology.


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