Current Building Construction Methodology

November 5, 2001

The current practice in commercial office building design and construction has not changed in many years. Typically, the developer or owner of the site defines the scope of the project and publishes a Request for Quotes from general construction companies and architects. Once a construction contractor and architect have been selected, plans are drawn up, budgets are finalized and construction can begin. The general contractor will typically publish Requests for Proposals from a number of subcontractors for various sub-systems of the building, including the plumbing, air-conditioning and heating, security systems, electrical systems, elevator systems, flooring, and many other subsystems.

In some cases, buildings are "built to suit", or built to the specifications of the intended tenant, in which case the amenities provided in the building are installed at the request of the tenant. In most cases, however, the amenities are designed by the architect and often include only basic space allocations for the telecommunications infrastructure. Historically, the telecommunications infrastructure has been left for the individual tenants to design and install. Table 3 shows the Subsystems of a building that typically fall under the responsibility of the general contractor and various sub-contractors.

Responsible Party
Site Investigation General Contractor
Site Layout Architect
Excavations and Excavating Equipment General Contractor
Foundation Layout General Contractor
Foundations General Contractor
Formwork Sub-Contractor
Concrete Work General Contractor
Structural Timber Frame General Contractor
Reinforced Concrete Frame General Contractor
Structural Steel Frame General Contractor
Floor Systems and Industrial Flooring Sub-Contractor
Roof Systems and Industrial Roofing Sub-Contractor
Masonry Construction General Contractor
Curtain Wall Construction General Contractor
Building Insulation Sub-Contractor
Finishing Sub-Contractor
Electrical Sub-Contractor
Plumbing Sub-Contractor
HVAC Sub-Contractor
Telecommunications Sub-Contractor/Tenant
Table 3. Commercial Office Building Construction Responsibilities

Broadband Building Design Methodology

In order for building owners to realize the full value of the broadband telecommunications infrastructure they must also own as much of the telecommunications infrastructure as is practical. Such ownership allows the owner to make residual income, by leasing the cabling, the rooftop, the conduits and the telecommunications closets to the service providers and the tenants. In order to achieve this return, the building owner should include the design of the telecommunications infrastructure in the architecture and structural design phase of the project. Telecommunications should become another of the building sub-systems, as are the electrical infrastructure, the environmental and security systems, and any other sub-systems. Many building owners recognize this value, butfew have implemented this methodology into their construction practices, due to several major reasons:

1. Historical relationships and methods
2. Unproven revenue models
3. Confusion about the future of telecommunications service providers and industry

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About the author
Steve Downing | Contributing Editor