Last edited 24 Sep 2020

Design manager

Design managers initially emerged in contractor organisations as they started undertaking a portion of design, which involved their specialist sub-contractors. They can also be known as design co-ordinators.

Traditionally the contractor was presented with a well-developed design that had been produced by the client’s designers. The detailed design of elements such as cladding, lifts, services and joinery were left to the construction stage once the main contractor and its sub-contractors had been appointed.

However, the movement towards management types of contract, private finance initiatives and design build contracts started to put contractors into more of a client role, responsible for developing the building design from the client's brief and sometimes even developing the initial concept design. This was a big jump in terms of the skill set of the design manager and some would say it was usurping the pre-construction role of the project manager.

This new role favours individuals with training in design as well as an understanding of the contracting processes. The design manager has an enabling and co-ordinating role, but is not acting as a designer themselves. The role should not be confused with the lead designer, who heads the decision making and co-ordination of the actual design, or with the lead consultant, who directs the work of the entire consultant team.

The main tasks of the design manager are to:

The role requires various capabilities, including:

All this means that design managers require considerable experience and so tend to come from the ranks of the professions or from design and build contracting organisations and will have experience on a wide number of projects.

The advent of Building Information Modelling (BIM) may present an opportunity for design managers to acquire new skills and establish themselves as the independent controller of the BIM model on behalf of all parties.

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki:

[edit] External references

  • The Design Manager Handbook - author John Eynon, published by CIOB & Wiley-Blackwell.


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