CIC Blog: procurement

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Master of Design Administration (MDA)

Professor Sarah Lupton MA DipArch LLM RIBA CArb

Course Director for the Master of Design Administration

Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University

It is generally recognised that the huge increase in the range and complexity of methods of procuring buildings, with the design process increasingly split across a wide range of different bodies, leads to fragmentation in design decision making. This in turn can result in lack of clarity in who is responsible for which aspects of design, confusion of liability issues, and failure to achieve initial project objectives.

A key challenge facing the industry is the successful integration and management of the design process, which can run from project inception through to handover and post occupancy feedback. This challenge applies both to the demand side, i.e. to clients seeking to establish accountable and efficient procurement arrangements, and to the supply side, i.e. firms working with clients to provide design services and/or combined design and construction packages that deliver optimal design solutions.

Essential to meet this challenge is the use of innovative processes for the identification, communication and realisation of design intent. These processes must be supported by clear contractual frameworks that accurately reflect the participants’ independent and shared responsibilities for achieving the design requirements in practice.

The MDA has been developed to meet the growing need for experts in design management, both within client bodies, consultancies, and within contractors and specialist sub-contractor firms.

The course focuses on developing the advanced knowledge and skills required to successfully manage the developing design process, including the identification and articulation of client requirements, completion of feasibility studies and establishment of measurable project objectives, the formation and management of the project team, including the use of interlocking contracts and design responsibility matrixes, the integration of contractor and specialist design input, collaborative working, dispute avoidance and resolution, and the successful delivery and handover of the project. It examines these issues in the context of both the UK and international procurement.

The course is intended for those in full time employment, with qualifications and experience in a relevant field. By bringing those with current relevant experience together, it allows for shared experience and a forum for debating and analysing the collective experience of students from a range of disciplines, both client side and supply side.

The MDA is delivered using ‘blended learning’ (a mixture of distance learning and short on-site courses). Regular on-line seminars and tutorials ensure that students are kept up to date with the latest developments in the field.

Although new, the MDA has been developed from an existing degree that has been running very successfully for over twelve years. It receives excellent feedback and has been commended by RIBA over successive visits, with students submitting the best adjudicator award receiving a prize form the Society of Construction Law. We have taken the best elements of the existing degree and combined them with several new features to create an exciting and unique programme.

This programme is led by Professor Sarah Lupton, a personal chair at the Welsh School of Architecture and a partner in Lupton Stellakis architects. She is dual qualified as an architect and as a lawyer. She lectures widely on subjects relating to construction law and is the author of many books, including ‘Design Liability in the Construction Industry’, a series on standard form building contracts, and is co-author (with Manos Stellakis, who also teaches on the course) of ‘Which Contract?', of a series of books on the use of performance specification, and of a series on legislative controls.

The Welsh School of Architecture welcomes applications for its MDA programme, starting this October. Anyone interested should contact Professor Sarah Lupton at lupton@cardiff.ac.uk. She would be happy to receive queries direct, and to discuss the course over the phone. More information can be found at here.

Tags: Construction, Design, Cardiff, University, Architecture, Procurement, Education, Training, Skills