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Adams Administration, Labor and Construction Leaders Call for Albany to “Let NYC Build Better, Faster”

Design-Build now taking years off project timelines

Group calls for Progressive Design-Build, CM-Build to meet the scale of climate change, maintain aging infrastructure of libraries & cultural institutions

DDC: Ian Michaels,, 646-939-6514

(New York, NY – May 8, 2024) Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi, Comptroller Brad Lander, the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) and members of the Mayor’s Capital Process Reform Task Force joined labor, civic and construction industry leaders at City Hall today to call on State government to ease restrictions and “Let NYC Build Better, Faster and Cheaper” using the same modern construction and contracting tools that the States around the country and private sector use successfully every day.

“There is no reason building a bathroom should take years and cost millions—to say nothing of the complex infrastructural demands that the climate change crisis places on our city,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “We need every tool in our toolbox to maintain New York’s infrastructure within timelines and budgets that make sense for New Yorkers. It is our duty to be good stewards of our city and taxpayer dollars; these tools, like Progressive Design-Build and Construction Manager-Build (CM- Build) are critical to helping us do that.”

commissioner foley at event with city officials and industry reps

DDC Commissioner Thomas Foley explains the advantages of progressive design-build and other forms of alternate project delivery on the steps of City Hall

Much of the City’s capital work is managed by DDC, which has a portfolio of active projects that is growing; today the agency oversees $33 billion worth of projects, including massive new resiliency and sustainability projects to manage the effects of climate change, and maintaining the city’s aging cultural and civic institutions which are the social home to tens of thousands of New Yorkers.

“Every time DDC has been given the chance to use common sense design and construction practices, we knock it out of the park, we build faster and more efficiently,” said DDC Commissioner Thomas Foley. “We have taken a chainsaw to the bureaucracy with our growing design-build program, completing major projects more than two years faster than we could before. We’ve proven during emergencies that we can use construction methods like CM-Build effectively. It’s past time for Albany to acknowledge these successes, hold us accountable and cut the red tape.”

Together these four bills would speed project completion and reduce costs:

  • Allow the use of the CM-Build and Progressive Design-Build. Both contracting processes team designers and builders early in the process so they can work together as a team to innovate and solve problems. Under lowest bidder contracting, where a completed design is handed off to a contractor to build, designers and builders have a harder time working together.
    • CM-Build: DDC used CM-Build successfully during the pandemic to build testing and vaccination centers and during the migrant crisis to build asylum centers. Now, it hopes to be able to use these tools to renovate libraries and cultural institutions to help the City withstand climate change.
    • Progressive Design-Build: A streamlined contracting process that helps designers and builders create projects that works side-by-side with existing infrastructure. This saves time and money on resiliency and infrastructure projects without sacrificing oversight or standards. Mayor Adams in October 2022 called for progressive design-build for more than $8.5 billion in future resiliency needs.
  • Expand public notice and comment requirements to save time on registration and increase opportunity and access to comment, allowing for simultaneous public notice and comment on certain City contracts, potentially saving weeks of time for thousands of contracts;
  • Establish new insurance options via the ‘Small Contractors Relief Act’ to make it easier for small and emerging firms with less than $3 million revenue and M/WBEs to qualify for insurance the City requires, compete for City projects and complete them successfully;
  • Make DDC into an authority with leeway to create new procurement rules specifically geared towards design and construction, along with the ability to boost M/WBE utilization.

The call for better construction tools follows the release of DDC’s latest progress update to its Strategic Blueprint to improve project delivery. Since its Blueprint 2022, DDC has looked inward and partnered with industry leaders, City agencies, and Mayor Adams’s Capital Process Reform Task Force to implement City- and State-level changes needed to complete capital projects faster and more efficiently, as well as pushing for the expansion of alternative delivery tools beyond design-build.

DDC has awarded over $575 million in its growing program of design-build public buildings and infrastructure projects. In October 2023, Mayor Adams broke ground on the new $141 million Shirley Chisholm Recreation Center in Brooklyn. That project is expected to be completed by the end of 2025, a full two years faster than under lowest bidder contracting. The $92 million Mary Cali Dalton Recreation Center in Staten Island, where Mayor Adams broke ground in February alongside the family of the late Mary Cali Dalton, is on track for similar time savings. DDC will soon break ground on its first design-build infrastructure project, installing water mains and new pedestrian safety improvements on a stretch of Lexington Avenue in Midtown. The agency is also using design-build for the citywide program to upgrade pedestrian ramps and is in active procurement for Parks restrooms and raised crosswalks.

Reforming Project Delivery in Conjunction with the Legislative Agenda

While continuing to push Albany for reform through legislation, DDC's Blueprint update details several additional strategies that have successfully saved time, improved collaboration, and expanded the pool of contractors and consultants designing and building City projects. DDC took the first steps to launch its Advanced Capital Planning (ACP) program; the agency launched several initiatives that will limit scope changes and streamline design review.

DDC continued to expand its use of the Expanded Work Allowance (EWA), which saves months on certain types of change orders by allocating funding upfront. Updates to DDC’s construction contracts include enhanced mobilization, price adjustments for fuel, steel and asphalt, early completion incentives and allowance for overtime and value engineering and contract substitutions where appropriate.

“The city’s shoreline projects, libraries, and our neighborhood dog runs shouldn’t be stymied by our capital projects process,” said New York City Comptroller Brad Lander. “Albany needs to give New York City the power to speed up construction and curtail budget overruns for our capital projects. In order to build a better city while ensuring the existence of appropriate safeguards, we need the ability to execute projects through alternative delivery methods such as progressive design-build and construction manager-build.”

“Extreme weather caused by climate change is becoming all too common in New York City and we will never be able to achieve the type of resiliency we need to keep New Yorkers safe if DDC isn’t equipped to deliver the projects we require,” said NYC Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala. “From water mains to sewers, Bluebelts to rain gardens and permeable pavement to coastal protection, these capital projects are what will make life possible in the greatest city in world and we need Albany to Let NYC Build Better, Faster!”

"As we strive to strengthen and protect our city against the effects of climate change, it’s more important than ever to improve efficiency on construction projects. In recent months, the city has employed the design-build process in the construction of two new Parks recreation centers in Brooklyn and Staten Island, which will allow us to complete both projects two years faster than usual,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “These progressive measures slash red tape and save taxpayer dollars, and we commend the Adams administration for championing reduced restrictions to get things done faster for everyday New Yorkers."

“When New York City is allowed to work faster and more efficiently, we always ‘get more stuff done,’” said NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “We see the examples in the countless projects that DDC has done in partnership with DOT: whether it is recently completed public safety work along Grand Concourse or in the coming year along Lexington Avenue, New Yorkers will benefit from reforms that get these projects done sooner. This package of bills will get us there.”

“We have no time to waste on tackling the climate crisis, and it is imperative that State authorize progressive design build for energy projects, as it provides a faster and more efficient means of delivering projects that reduce carbon emissions,” said the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) Deputy Commissioner of Energy Management, and the City’s Chief Decarbonization Officer Sana Barakat. “Not only will Progressive Design-Build help the City reach its emission reduction mandates, namely Local Law 97, but it will also deliver co-benefits such as improved air quality and associated health outcomes for millions of New Yorkers.”

"New York invests in its cultural facilities like no other city in America, and as a result, we have delivered for residents accessible, extraordinary cultural facilities that serve residents in all five boroughs," said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. “But with additional tools, we could work with DDC to build these facilities faster and more efficiently, making the most of our public investment and dramatically reducing the amount of time it takes to complete a project. We join our colleagues in city government and throughout the cultural sector in calling on our partners in Albany to empower us to make the most of these critical investments!"

“To address the infrastructure demands of climate change, we must act with speed,” said Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Executive Director Elijah Hutchinson. “That’s why we need Progressive Design-Build and other tools to deliver adaption projects that protect our frontline communities, create good green jobs and advance better health for all New Yorkers.”

“The Brooklyn, New York and Queens Public Libraries commend Mayor Adams, Deputy Mayor Joshi, the NYC Department of Design and Construction and the Capital Reform Task Force for identifying solid solutions to renovate and construct our libraries with increased speed and efficiency,” said Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda E. Johnson, New York Public Library President and CEO Anthony W. Marx and Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. “We encourage the legislature to approve these reforms and look forward to working with all our partners in government to continue delivering the welcoming, inspiring spaces New Yorkers deserve.”

“As more major projects come down the pipeline, we must make it easier to not only complete them efficiently, but also unlock the thousands of family-sustaining union careers and economic stimulus they create,” said Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “This package of bills will enhance the impact of these projects by cutting down costs, opening up more capital for much-needed upgrades to our infrastructure, and paving a path to the middle class for more hard-working New Yorkers. We applaud Mayor Adams for pushing forward these initiatives and look forward to supporting more projects that will improve our cultural and transportation hubs, fortify the city to withstand the changing climate, and bolster the economy across the five boroughs.”

While the New York Building Congress’ members are ready, willing, and able to improve our city’s infrastructure, they need all the tools available to them to do the job safely and efficiently while saving taxpayers’ hard-earned money,” said Carlo A. Scissura, Esq., President and CEO of the New York Building Congress. “Albany is at risk of ignoring crucial tools for alternative delivery if not addressed by the end of this legislative session. Design-Build allows contractors to be at the table from the beginning of a process, saving money, time and unfortunate eleventh hour surprises while also creating opportunities for M/WBE firms. Without this, Albany will be costing crucial projects time and money that the city cannot afford. "

“The collaboration between the various industries and partners has enabled the Mayor’s Capital Process Reform Task Force to develop a number of top-notch proposals. From the design perspective, we welcome expanding the City’s use of efficient alternative delivery methods under state law such as Progressive Design-Build and Construction Manager-Build. This is about giving the city more tools at its disposal to deliver project concepts and ideas into physical infrastructure for New Yorkers as efficiently as possible. We join City Hall in calling on Albany lawmakers to act on this package prior to adjournment to help New York City build for the future,” said John Evers, President & CEO, American Council of Engineering Companies of New York (ACEC New York).

“DBIA commends the Mayor’s Office and the NYC DDC on these important initiatives that will continue to not only enhance cost and schedule performance of capital projects, but also drive innovation and resiliency in New York City’s infrastructure,” said Lisa Washington, CAE, Executive Director and CEO of the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA).

"The Commission firmly believes that efficiency does not need to come at the expense of good design. We support the call for better construction tools to expedite the delivery of high-quality facilities to the communities that need them," said Public Design Commission Executive Director Sreoshy Banerjea. "As the administration has sought methods to expedite capital project delivery, PDC and DDC have dedicated countless hours soliciting feedback from stakeholders, working with City agency partners and identifying ways to fine-tune its project review procedures together—all while carrying forward equitable design principles that have stood the test of time. We look forward to continuing to work together with our agency partners."

“Leveraging alternative delivery methods during the Covid crisis, we achieved on-budget and record-time project completion for our city,” said Raquel Diaz, Vice President, Gilbane Building Company. “It’s only just that we incorporate these effective tools, like Progressive Design-Build and Construction Manager-Build, into our regular operations. This will ensure design-build excellence for our city and value for our taxpayers. Let’s make this our new standard!”

"By transforming the relationship between designers and builders into an alliance that fosters collaboration and teamwork, NYC will directly benefit from faster delivery, a smoother process, cost savings, and meaningful community inclusion,” said Elizabeth Velez, President of the Velez Organization, and Chair of the New York Building Foundation. “This effective approach has been proven successful, and is an essential tool for New York City."

"By expanding the procurement tools available to NYC with the authorization of alternative delivery methods, these changes will allow for increased use of quality-based selection and improve fairness and transparency," said Jesse Lazar, Executive Director, American Institute of Architects New York. "These five proposals by the Capital Process Reform Task Force are practical, common-sense solutions to enable a more efficient and cost-effective procurement process. These tools will also enable greater M/WBE participation by creating additional opportunities for firms to work with the City on capital projects."

“The common-sense reforms proposed by the Capital Process Reform Task Force will streamline the delivery of essential capital projects benefitting all New Yorkers, provide increased opportunities for all subcontractors, and start to address the structural barriers to obtaining affordable liability insurance in New York,” said Felice Farber, Executive Director Subcontractors Trade Association and Arthur Rubinstein, Board Member, Subcontractors Trade Association.

“For decades municipalities across the county have used modern construction design and building delivery methods in the construction of public facilities and infrastructure and now it is time for NYC to implement proven methods that work,” said Elizabeth Crowley, President and CEO of the Building Trades Employers’ Association. “The proposals that Mayor Adams and the DDC have put forward will go a long way toward delivering public projects faster, more efficient and cost effective, giving our city a solid foundation for success for generations to come.

"We are proud to support Mayor Adams, Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi, Commissioner Tom Foley and the DDC team as they reform the building process for New York City and prioritize providing opportunities for M/WBEs in the building of infrastructure for our City,” said Nayan Parikh, President of the National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC) and Ashnu International.

“Given how desperately needed many public infrastructure building projects are, radically reforming the capital delivery process with tools like Progressive Design-Build and Construction Manager-Build will help us be quicker and more efficient with faster approvals,” said Dr. Sam Bowden Akbari, Director of Communications at Regional Plan Association (RPA). "We join the call for Albany to let NYC Build Better, Faster!"

“New York City’s tremendous, forward-thinking plans to protect people, property, and infrastructure from the impacts of climate change are facing a stark reality: the pace of climate change is outstripping our ability to build quickly and at the scale this moment demands,” said Cortney Koenig Worrall, President and CEO, Waterfront Alliance. “The Waterfront Alliance strongly supports legislative reforms that would give City agencies the flexibility to design and construct projects more quickly, at lower cost, and more effectively. This is a critical piece in the large portfolio of climate resilience strategies that New York must commit to. We look forward to advocating in Albany for necessary reforms in 2024.“

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor Adams’ long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $33 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit