May 29, 2018


Hello this is David Supple- I’m here with Mr. Kevin Sullivan from Shawmut Design & Construction.

Hey Dave

Thank you for being my guest

You bet.

Kevin is the President of the New England office of Shawmut Design & Construction. They are a large commercial firm, construction primarily. Until we just had dinner, I always thought they were design-build from the beginning. And they are, and we’ll talk about that, but Shawmut Design & Construction you know- in our area you guys are very well known. You do lots of institutional, civic, very large, large, multi- multi- multi- million dollar projects. This is the Design-Build show and Shawmut Design & Construction, and you guys do do Design-build too, your largest projects right now.

We do quite a bit.

Are design-build.

Yep. Yep.

Could you tell the story of design and construction? Shawmut design and construction?


So first Dave, I want to thank you for the promotion. I am the Vice President of Shawmut Design & Construction

-well you’re the real boss man, I mean…
I apreciate that
There is no president though, right?
We do have a CEO, yes.
Of all of Shawmut.
But you’re the boss-man in New England?
I am one of the bosses within the New England Business. But thank you for that. But yeah, it’s interesting. So Shawmut was founded 36 years ago.

And you’ve been with them for 25 years?

Yeah, I’ve been with Shawmut for 25 years. And we operate as Shawmut Design & Construction. So the story goes- so Jim Ansara, the founder of Shawmut-

-That’s one person’s name, not a husband and wife-

Jim Ansara, yep. So when Jim was incorporating the company 36 years ago. Jim lived in Dorchester. Lived on Shawmut Ave in Dorchester, and was like, “I gotta get a name for my company!”. And it became as he was on Shawmut Ave and he was by the Shawmut T station in Dorchester, he said, “I’m gonna name it Shawmut Construction”. As it had, as it had it, Shawmut Construction was already taken. So he said, “Alright, lets go with Shawmut Design & Construction”.


So here we are, 36 years later operating a 1.4 Billion Dollar Company, 9 offices across the company, as Shawmut Design & Construction. So a very successful first 36 years.

That’s awesome. Do you know how many years into it you did your first design-build project?

You know what, it’s a good question.

How about you, inthe 25 years you’ve been in it.

For me, it’s probably been in the last 5 years that we… it really- it’s our clients that started to bring this to us. They started to give us the opportunity to think differently about how we can procure work. There’s a lot of different ways you can show up. You can show up as a lump sum contractor. Which we’ve done a fair amount of that. You can show up as a CM at-risk, so a GMP Contract.

And just to translat, because Kevin had to describe these a little bit further to me. A GMP is like a fixed-cost contract. The design is completed and then the General Contractor is brought in. All the planning is done, all the specs are done, so you have a fixed cost that’s a lump sum, versus uh… a GMP, Guaranteed Maximum Price, where it’s… go on.

On the Guaranteed Maximum Price, we have the opportunity early in what’s called the PreConstruction Process to engage with the client, engage with the architect, and really start to bring some value in the PreConstruction Process. So as the design is being developed, we’re developing the budget along with the development set of drawings. We’re developing the schedule approach, we’re developing the logistics, so it starts to build that level of collaboration. We’re filling in the gaps in the drawings that are not yet 100%.

And that’s not even on a design-build project, right? That’s..

That’s CM at-risk.

That’s a CM at-risk GMP, where you’re brought on earlier. What phase typically- what design phase?

It could be as early as conceptual, Dave. It could be conceptual, schematic- it’s typically early in the process, before a set of drawings we’ll say gets to DD. Because the client does value the level of expertise and collaboration that the contractor can have early in the process. So it helps influence, it helps to mitigate risk. It could be- if you’re doing a renovation, it could have an opportunity to do exploratory work. There’s a level of teamwork and partnership that really shows up.

Collaboration is the word you used..


And we talked a little bit about how I’m writing a book right now, on design-build, and how the role of the architect traditionally was all-encompassing. That was the person that designed the project, was responsible for the cost, executed the project- and now that hat has been split up to different parties. And what you’re describing, Shawmut’s role, is taking a large part- even when it’s not design-build, even when you’re brought on in the conceptual stages of design, it is a little bit design-build there because your expertise is being utilized int he design process to make sure that that design is able to be executed, that the cost is gonna be- you’re not gonna have to, the client’s not going to have to design the whole project, find out what it’s going to cost,



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Published May 29, 2018 | By